Museums, ships and a boat ride make this a must for sea lovers or young history fans. 

What is it?

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a huge tourist site where families and other visitors can explore the UK’s naval past.

It includes museums and some of the most famous ships in British history including the star attraction HMS Victory.

It is part of the Royal Naval Dockyard and is run by the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Where is it?

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is on the waterfront in the centre of Portsmouth, Hampshire.

What did we think?

It is massive! To get around everything is more than a full day out and it has some of the most important living history in the country.


*HMS Victory – stand in the spot where Nelson fell on the top deck of this famous warship during the successful Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

The plaque on HMS Victory where Nelson fell

The plaque showing where Nelson fell

The ship he sailed is beautifully restored with a simple, clever route through the different decks. She has sat in a dry dock on the site since 1922. There is a free audio guide to carry around.

Hammocks on HMS Victory

We also enjoyed seeing how the 800 sailors on board lived.

A word of warning though, there are steep steps and low ceilings throughout so keep a close eye on children.

A gun deck on HMS Victory

*Harbour tour – a 45-minute ride on the Solent Cat boat – it takes you around Portsmouth’s waters with an on-board commentary, seeing existing navy warships and getting a sense of the scale of the dockyard. It is also a good chance to sit down after walking around the large site.

*Action Stations – an entire building with hands-on activities for children including rope courses, the tallest indoor climbing wall in the UK and a helicopter simulator. There is also a Laser Quest (for an extra charge).

*Other highlights include HMS Warrior, Mary Rose and the Royal Navy Museum.

Our top tips 

*Cut down on walking by doing the harbour tour last and jumping off at Gunwharf Quays for food, shopping or the Spinnaker Tower (read more about the tower here).

*Tackle HMS Victory either early or late in the day, especially with younger children, so it isn’t too crowded walking around the narrow decks.

*Consider paying for a Full Navy ticket giving repeat entry for up to a year as there is enough to occupy a few separate visits if you want to do more than see just the Victory.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard information

Food: There are four different options. Boathouse 7 offers full meals, Boathouse 4 sells sandwiches, snacks and a children’s menu, the Copper Kettle serves cake and coffee or there is a Costa Coffee as well. The site has three picnic areas too.

Opening hours: Daily 10am to 5.30pm in summer, 10am to 5pm in winter.

Cost: A ‘Full Navy’ ticket costs £31 per adult with children free in the summer holidays and allows a year’s access to all the naval attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – except for the Mary Rose, Mini Ports and Laser Quest.

You can also buy single attraction tickets for £18 per adult for one attraction, £25 for two attractions and £32 for three. Again children go free in the holidays.

Best for: Ages 5-10

Time needed: All day to see everything. Allow at least one hour per attraction.

Access and restrictions: There is a Special Access Route around the site with ramps for wheelchairs and buggies. There is also wheelchair access to the lower decks of HMS Victory.

Address: Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, PO1 3LJ.

There is a nearby railway station, Portsmouth Harbour Station. Plus there is a large car park (£5 for four hours) 400 yards away.

Now read our full review of a break in Portsmouth here.

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