I reckon 48 hours in Southsea is the perfectly amount of time to spend here. It’s super chill here, we have a beach, coffee shops and a cool arty culture that people love.
I live here in Southsea, a seaside resort located within the city of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. I’m often asked why I moved here – the usual answer involves…
“The fact it’s by the sea yet not overpriced, it’s an arty town like Brighton but a 5th of the size (and price), I like the villagey vibe, I like the cool shops, boutiques and bars, we’re trying not to let the big chains in, and one of my oldest friends lives up the road. I’ve been here since March, so just six months, but I really love it here.
[Ed: 3 years now!]
– Make sure you check out the yellow beach huts in your 48 Hours in Southsea
I’m planning on staying, and I’d definitely recommend you come and visit. Look, see how much you can do in 48 hours in Southsea…
48 Hours in Southsea
Day one in Southsea
If you’re coming to Southsea on the train, get off at Portsmouth Harbour – the last train stop before you hit the water. It’s the end of the line.
10am – shopping, then lunch
This is the best place to be to check out the outlet shopping at Gunwharf Quays. There are loads of shops here but my personal favourite brands have to be Vans, The White Company and Nike. You can also find Ted Baker, Adidas and Levi’s too. There’s a Vue cinema, all the chain restaurants you could ever want (hello Nando’s, and you Wagamama’s) and it’s all located on Portsmouth Marina. Technically, this is Portsmouth, but you’re just a few minutes walk from Southsea so totally worth the distraction.
One of the highlights here, and a definite must do if you’re spending 48 hours in Southsea, is to go up the Spinnaker Tower. I went up with my parents for an Afternoon Tea and enjoyed beautiful views, lots of food and friendly staff, and entrance up the tower included.
2pm – our maritime history
After that take a walk round to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. If you’re into England’s maritime history you’ll love it here, with the Mary Rose, the HMS Victory and the Royal Navy Subway Museum. There’s also a boatyard where you can see the crafters at work, and look round the little gift shop.
Ok, ok, enough of the tourist stuff, but I actually really enjoy it, and I’m a local so it counts. I have a year pass to the Dockyard so I can go and look around any time. Should definitely make more of that. There’s also the independent No 6 Cinema here at weekends that I still need to check out.
5pm – sundowner drinks
Walk back towards town, through Old Portsmouth and choose your house. There are some very pretty colourful houses here, rows and rows of them. There are also some great pubs – locals love to sit outside at Spice Island and Still and West to watch the sun set over the harbour, or you can just take your own drink and sit on the benches to watch the end of the day.
6:30pm – relax and prepare
– Photo from Queen’s Hotel
You’re probably tired. Go back to your hotel and chill out. All the chain hotels are here, right near Southsea beach and Gunwharf, or you could stay at one of the many seaside B&Bs around. The premium hotel in Southsea is the Queen’s Hotel, right on the Southsea beach front. You’ll get stunning views here of Isle of Wight, Southsea Common and the Solent, and the whole place is decked out in an Edwardian baroque style.
8pm – time for dinner in Southsea
– Photo from LoveYourPub.com
Time for dinner and drinks. My favourite place to eat, in the whole of Southsea, is Old Tom’s. They serve English tapas in a cosy wine bar. The food is so good. And please, make sure you save space for dessert. The Alaska Brownie is sensational. I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever had and totally worth the £6.
Next door you’ll find Monty’s so if you want a change of scene, have a drink there. Although, the cocktails at Old Tom’s are pretty special in themselves. I’d stay in there and work my way through the menu.
If it’s summer, and you fancy something a little different, go and check out the Champagne Bar at Southsea Castle by Southsea beach.
Midnight – bed time
Relax, enjoy and listen to the sounds of the sea – if you’re close enough.
More on travel in England
16 All-Time Best Restaurants on the Isle of Wight
19 Unique Things to Do in Shoreditch, London
22 Reasons Why I Love Living in Southsea
How to Have the Best 24 Hours in Bristol
How to Have a Brilliant Weekend on the Lincolnshire Coast
Day two in Southsea
10am – breakfast time on Southsea beach
– Southsea Beach Cafe is definitely one of my favourite spots in Southsea!
Breakfast is an institution in Southsea. I’d recommend going to the Southsea Beach Café, on the beach, to enjoy the views and the varied breakfast menu. Afterwards you can just relax on Southsea Beach (weather willing) until you’re ready to move again. And to eat.
1pm – feeding time, again
– Photo from Tenth Hole
Just over the Common Tenth Hole is an incredible place for a slice of cake. The portions are huge, the choice amazing and there’s even a crazy golf course to burn off a few calories after, or before, in prep.
Walk down the beach a bit and you’ll find Southsea Castle. The point where Henry VIII watched the Mary Rose sank.
3pm – shopping in Southsea
Next walk up to Albert Road. This is the epicentre of Southsea, where we go to drink, eat and look round the quirky shops. Try Victoriana for furniture, Bored of Southsea for Southsea-emblazoned products and The Emporium for everything you never knew you needed. Take some time to amble along and check out the charity shops too. You never know what treasure you might find!
If you need another restaurant in Southsea, I’d definitely recommend Outside In. Here you can choose from a range of vendors, and enjoy a few beers too – super cool place, with live music too.
5pm – check out Albert Road in Southsea
– Pic from Beavertown Brewery
Stay on Albert Road and pop into the Wine Vaults for a glass of wine, or Johnny Russells for a JD and coke, or Gin and Olive for a G+T. Sit outside around 5pm for the ultimate Southsea look, a few of the outdoors areas are absolute sun traps so you’ll enjoy the warming drink.
If you want to go home to get changed most Uber taxi rides in Southsea are around £3-4, or just invest that money in just staying out and drinking. There are plenty more bars on Albert Road to check out, and if you fancy staying out later head up to the famous Wedgwood Rooms, where people like Vampire Weekend and Primal Scream have played live.
Who knows?? – Bed
10am – breakfast in Southsea
Time for another breakfast! This time I’ll give you a choice – avocado / poached egg / Instagram lovers will enjoy the menu and setting at Southsea Coffee Company. Or if you’re more of a Full English kind of person, try the Full Irish at Shenanigans – Southsea’s most popular Irish bar and home of the self-proclaimed ‘best breakfast in Southsea’.
11:30am – seafront tour
– Pic from Wikipedia
You better walk that off. Head down to the seafront, through Southsea Common, and walk along England’s south coast to Portsmouth Harbour Train Station. You’ll pass Clarence Pier (quick go on the arcades?) and all its games, round the bastions, past the Southsea Bandstand, over the historic fortifications and round to Old Portsmouth again.
Take a little detour to poke your head in at Portsmouth Cathedral – it’s a really beautiful venue to see, whether you’re religious or not.
1pm – lunch in Southsea
– Pic from aboutmyarea.co.uk
If you want a little snack or a quick drink to round up your 48 hours in Southsea I’d definitely recommend you pop into Canteen. It’s a little deli-style restaurant nestled in the fortifications . You can sit outside with a glass of vino and watch as the boats and ferries attempt to get into the harbour. Go on, give those passing passengers a wave.
You’ll be right in the centre of the Hot Walls development here. An initiative to help artists showcase and sell their work. Pop in to any of the studios and they’ll be glad to show you what they’re up to.
3pm – go retro
If you have time in Old Portsmouth you could check out the Game Over Cafe – a gaming café featuring consoles from the Atari right up to whatever the last computer released was (the gaming world lost me at the SNES circa. 1996). It’s a really cool little place underground, for all ages. If you’re the only adults in there sometimes they let you BYOB. Dreamy.
5pm – home time
If not, then off you go to the station. It’s a nice walk along cobbled streets, past boats, ships and ferries, and back through Gunwharf Quays, where you started.
Hope you enjoy your 48 hours in Southsea. If ever you make it here, let me know and I’ll let you buy me a cocktail at Old Tom’s…
More on life on the south coast
The All-Time Best Campervan Routes in the UK
Itinerary for a Jurassic Coast Road Trip
Itinerary for a Weekend on the Isle of Wight
40 Unique Things to Do in the New Forest
58 Brilliant Things to Do on the Isle of Wight
Thursday 9th of September 2021
Hi. I'm coming to Southsea for 3 nights on 24th September. Found your article very interesting and helpful. Just one question, what are food/beer prices like?
Friday 10th of September 2021
Oh, great, have fun! That would depend where you go! We have a few beach bars where you'll pay a premium, but then there are always cheaper options like Wetherspoons etc inland a bit. Or, you can just get your own and sit on the beach. So, you can find anything to suit your budget really!
James O Grady
Saturday 18th of November 2017
Good blog and always nice to see Southsea being promoted in a positive way - it has to be said though that it's a pretty congested place ( Portsmouth itself most populised area outside of London) so you have to accept that and the green spaces are limited other than Southsea Common which is great but to get out to the countryside it can take some planning and effort due to traffic.
I lived here 30 years ago and returned 3 years ago so seeing the changes are interesting with the University now becoming the main player and with 23000 students Portsmouth and Southsea are having to meet the challenge of meeting their needs.
Overall it's a very vibrant place to live with locals who are proud of their heritage but also outward looking to with strong cultural and arts scene.
Price wise - much more affordable than Brighton but if renting take your time to find a good letting company as there are plenty who are unscrupulous and have little interest in responding to repairs and maintenance issues.
Monday 20th of November 2017
Oh I love Southsea :). Definitely congested though. I feel like I live so close to all I could need but whenever I'm in a car it surprises me how long it takes to get to places – that's why I always cycle it. I don't think Southsea needs another car to add to the problem.
It's definitely an interesting place to live but I hope the rents on Albert Road don't ruin the vibe here. Hate seeing all the cool places shutting down!
Tuesday 7th of November 2017
I think you list many reasons why you moved to Southsea - glad you made the right choice. Love the itinery, appears theres lots to do. Nice to hear there arent too many chains - Game over cafe looks awesome - I think my boyfriend would love it there!
Wednesday 8th of November 2017
Oh you should come and explore. Lots of fun to be had in Southsea :) There's definitely enough entertainment for a weekend and it's a really good place to explore more of the south coast from too. Come and explore!
Wednesday 27th of September 2017
It looks lovely. I've been trying to buy a place in Bristol for seven months now and after losing a recent bid on my dream home to someone who offered a whopping £55 k over the asking price I'm starting to wonder if I should be looking elsewhere. Always wanted to live by the sea... If you see any nice places go up for sale, let me know!
Thursday 28th of September 2017
Yikes! That's a crazy amount over! Well, watch this blog, could be some verrrry interesting news on that front soon :).
Southsea is awesome. I'd definitely recommend living here – so liveable and great for freelancers. Come visit whenever you like!
Wednesday 20th of September 2017
I love Portsmouth! I've been going regularly since I was a kid as my grandparents live nearby, so we grew up supporting Portsmouth FC and my parents now own a house down there. You've listed so many great things to do there - I still love going to the Dockyard even though I've been dozens of times haha
C x Say Hello