The South Sights

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

  • HM Naval Base Map It
  • Portsmouth
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 08/30/2016

Fodor's Review

The city's most impressive attraction includes an unrivaled collection of historic ships. The dockyard's youngest ship, HMS Warrior (1860), was England's first ironclad battleship. The flagship of British naval hero Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, HMS Victory, is in the process of being painstakingly restored to appear as it did at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). You can inspect the cramped gun decks, visit the cabin where Nelson met his officers, and stand on the spot where he was mortally wounded by a French sniper. Another museum houses the Mary Rose, the former flagship of Henry VIII's navy. Built in this very dockyard more than 500 years ago, the boat sank in the harbor in 1545 before being raised in 1982. Described in the 16th century as "the flower of all the ships that ever sailed," it's berthed in a special enclosure where water continuously sprays the timbers to prevent them from drying out and breaking up.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy

has extensive exhibits about Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar, a fine collection of painted figureheads, and galleries of paintings and mementos recalling naval history from King Alfred to the present. Action Stations, an interactive attraction, gives insight into life in the modern Royal Navy and tests your sea legs with tasks such as piloting boats through gales. Dockyard Apprentice showcases the skills of the shipbuilders and craftsmen who constructed and maintained the naval vessels, with illustrations of rope making, sail making, caulking, signals, and knots. You should allow one or two days to tour all the attractions in the Historic Dockyard. The entrance fee includes a boat ride around the harbor, and the all-attractions ticket is valid for one year.

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Sight Information


Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, PO1 3LJ, England

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Sight Details:

  • £18 each HMS Victory, The Mary Rose, HMS Warrior, Action Stations; £13 Museum of the Royal Navy; £32 includes all on-site attractions plus Explosion! and Royal Marines Museum
  • Nov.–late Mar., access to HMS Victory by 50-min guided tour only

Published 08/30/2016


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