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In addition to the local services, our Living in Portsmouth guide will give you a sense of what life is like in the coastal city – its history, its culture and its recreational activities.
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What Is Life Like In Portsmouth?
With a population of 205,100, Portsmouth is the second largest city in the southwestern county of Hampshire. Portsmouth is 64 miles southwest of London, and only 19 miles from neighbouring port city, Southampton. Steeped in history, Portsmouth has greatly benefited from government grants intended to draw students to the university and protect the city’s incredible heritage sites. A vast selection of bars, nightclubs, gastropubs and Michelin restaurants mean the city has become a fantastic destination.
Portsmouth is the most densely populated city in the UK, with most of the city’s residents living on Portsea Island. Portsmouth is also the only island city in the UK, bridged to the mainland in six locations. These include three road bridges – the M275, A3 and A2030 – as well as a railway bridge and two foot bridges.
Housing in Portsmouth includes both historic and newly built homes. Much of the Tudor and Victorian housing was lost during bombing raids, but you can still find many outstanding architectural examples. There is a wealth of affordable housing with seaside appeal, perfect for first time buyers, young families and investors. Located closest to the city’s high street, as well as the harbour and museums, Old Portsmouth is the most sought after district on the island.
History Of Portsmouth
Although Portsmouth has been the site of many settlements in the past, even dating back to before the Romans, the city was not founded until 1180 by Jean de Gisor. The earliest recording of the city in literature was in the Southwick Cartularies, an early 13th century text which listed the wealthiest people in England at the time.
Portsmouth’s docklands were known by ancient mariners for the shallow, naturally occurring harbour. With five miles of coastline and a Southerly entrance protected by the Isle of Wight, the city generally avoids the worst of bad weather. Due to its role as a military harbour, Portsmouth greatly suffered from extensive night-time bombing during the Second World War, damaging much of the city’s housing. Housing developments and adverse weather still unearth unexploded bombs in the city and along its beaches, reminding residents of its frontline importance.
Days Out In Portsmouth
There is a lot on offer for days out in Portsmouth. With only a 15 minute drive separating one side of the island from the other, Portsmouth’s condensed location packs plenty of culture into a small space.
Being a coastal city means Portsmouth is perfect for water sport enthusiasts. To the east of Portsea Island is Hayling Island, a fantastic wind surf destination that is 20 minutes by car, or a short 300m paddle across the inlet between the two islands. Portsmouth also has five sailing clubs that welcome beginner and expert helmsmen alike: Portsmouth Sailing Club, Royal Naval Club & Royal Albert Yacht Club, Portsmouth Harbour Yacht Club, Tudor Sailing Club, and Locks Sailing Club.
For historical excursions, view artefacts from Portsmouth’s rich history at one of the many maritime museums located around Old Portsmouth and the docklands. Or, visit HMS Warrior, Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship and pride of the fleet, at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Things To Do In Portsmouth
There are many things to do in Portsmouth, including visiting one of the city’s excellent sports facilities, such as the Mountbatten Leisure Centre which boasts an Olympic-size swimming pool and spa. There are enough clubs and societies in the city to keep anyone occupied, including martial arts clubs, water sports, dance, hockey, and even a knitting and crochet group.
Portsmouth’s bar and restaurant selection has flourished with the lively university population. The night life comes in the form of an eclectic mix of eateries, pubs and bars suitable for students and older residents. Wander through Port Solent and browse the boutique stores, or sit down at one of the fine restaurants and bars with impressive views of the marina.
In addition, a very popular part of Portsmouth is Gunwharf Quays; the South coasts leading designer shopping outlet, offering up to 60% off over 90 famous brands! Discover the extensive range of women’s and men’s fashion, childrenswear, shoes and accessories, sportswear, homewares, lifestyle, gifting and beauty. There is also a large food court, multi-screen cinema, bowling ally and nightclubs to name a few.
Schools In Portsmouth
Portsmouth has several excellent schools.
Pre-schools and nurseries include:
- Langstone Infant School
- Langstone Infant School
Primary schools include:
- Beacon View Primary Academy
- Medina Primary School
- Paulsgrove Primary School
Secondary schools include:
- Miltoncross Academy
- St Edmund’s Catholic School
- Admiral Lord Nelson School
Transport In Portsmouth
Portsmouth is well connected by train and road with direct lines to London, and ferries running from the port city to the Isle of Wight.
Direct trains run from Portsmouth to London Victoria, with journeys ranging between 1 hour 45 minutes and 2 hours.
Buses and coaches
There is a good service that runs through Portsmouth to Southampton and to surrounding towns in Hampshire.
Southampton Airport is only 20 miles via the M27 and Gatwick is 70 miles from Portsmouth. Both can be easily reached by rail or road.
Portsmouth is located on the A3 road that runs directly northeast to London, and junction 12 of the M27 road that runs along the south coast.