I live 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.
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…
You can check out the trains, buses and flights for Southsea on Omio.co.uk.
The nearest train station is Portsmouth and Southsea, and the nearest airport is either Southampton or London Gatwick.
48 Hours 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 the 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 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
– 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 the beach.
Midnight – bed time
Relax, enjoy and listen to the sounds of the sea – if you’re close enough.
10am – breakfast time on the beach
– Photo from Taste of Portsmouth
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 the 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.
3pm – shop 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!
5pm – check out Albert Road
– 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 choices
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 time
– 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…