I have vague recollections of visiting Portsmouth when I was a child. A few years earlier the Tudor ship, the Mary Rose, had been raised from the Solent after 437 years. Any memories of the ship wreck – or Portsmouth itself – are extremely hazy. Fortunately, a recent trip to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has given me a brand new perspective on the Hampshire port city.

A haven for history buffs and naval fans, there’s plenty to discover at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on England’s south coast. The wooden warship HMS Victory, where Nelson died in the Battle of Trafalgar is open to visitors as well as the armoured HMS Warrior 1860. Of course, there’s the remains of the Mary Rose and a submarine museum. Plus, tons of activities for children. At around an hour and a half drive from south-west London, it proved an enjoyable and enriching day out.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

It was busy when we arrived at the dockyard with security checks to enter. Once in, we studied the map. With so much to do and see, we were at a slight loss where to start. But putting the children’s needs first, I decided to test out the Action Stations building.

Action Stations, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

It was a good choice. Designed for children, the amount of activities contained in this old boathouse is staggering. You could spend a day just there. The interactive space has everything including a helicopter simulator (not as easy as it looks), Laser Quest (for over 6s), the UK’s tallest climbing tower and a Ninja Warrior assault course.

We started at Sky Tykes, a rope course designed for children aged 2-7. Although Mrs T wasn’t best pleased about changing from her sandals to a pair of hire plimsoles, she loved traversing across the course and spent quite some time exploring it.

sky tykes, Action Stations. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

After a couple of failed attempts at the helicopter simulator (less said about that the better), we headed upstairs where we played a game of giant Connect 4 (Mrs T loves that game at the moment). Then it was onto the Ninja Warrior course. It looked a little advanced for a (just turned) five year old but Mrs T was keen. Although there were some stages she couldn’t do, she gave it a very good go and never gave up (that’s my girl). I was very impressed!
ninja warrior course, Action Stations. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

After Mrs T had had her fill of activities, it was time fill our heads with naval history as we went abroad HMS Victory. One of the Royal Navy’s most famous ships, it is best known for its role in the Battle of Trafalgar and is where Lord Nelson died. It is a magnificent ship.

HMS Victory, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

What amazed me was its depth. You could keep going down and down into its hull. We only made it down to the second floor before my youngest, Cheeky, decided she’d enough. But what we saw was incredible. There’s an audio guide which will talk you through the ship’s history. I’d have loved to listen but as I on my own at that point with a wriggling one year old and five year old – it wasn’t going to happen.

HMS Victory, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Inside, you can see the spot on the quarter deck where Nelson died – it’s marked by a brass plaque. The ship, which is undergoing a huge restoration project, serves as a living museum to the Georgian Navy. You can see where the sailors would have eaten and slept, where their food would have been cooked and where battles would have been plotted. All amongst the sizeable cannons which adorn its decks.

Inside HMS Victory, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

After exiting HMS Victory we headed to Boathouse 7 for something to eat then onto HMS Warrior. I didn’t think another ship could outshine Victory. But this did. Take a look at its figurehead for starters. This one is the third incarnation after the others were either lost or  damaged.

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Warrior was the pride of the Victorian navy and due to its size, power and stack of armour, it never had to fire a shot at enemies who, quite rightly, were intimated by her.

The restoration of the ship shows off her grandeur wonderfully. We loved exploring. It started well too with this enormous deckchair for the girls to sit on.

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Inside, you don’t only see where the sailors would have slept, eaten and had their food cooked but also where they’d have put their kit and how the ship would have been powered in its sizeable engine rooms.

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

You can also take a closer look at where those of a superior rank would have had their dinner and slept. HMS Warrior, dining room

The contrast is huge.

Captain's sleeping area on HMA Warrior

While we were exploring, one of the kind volunteers allowed Mrs T to try out the sailors’ hammock which was a great experience for her. She didn’t seem too keen on swapping her own bed for it though.

Mrs T in a hammock in HMS Warrior

HMS Warrior 1860 was Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship. The ship’s armour is evident everywhere.

HMS warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

It’s clear why HMS Warrior was known as the ‘ultimate deterrent’.

HMS warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

It was soon time for us to leave Portsmouth but not before we had a glimpse at the new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. It is the largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy and at a rumoured £3bn probably the most expensive. The size is simply staggering. It can hold 40 aircraft and is longer than the Houses of Parliament.

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, Portsmouth

Finally it WAS time to go. It’s a shame we missed the Mary Rose museum but I know we shall be back. I certainly won’t be leaving it so long until l visit Portsmouth again.

How To Get There
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is around a two hour drive from central London or a two hour train journey from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour.

Tickets
An adult ticket to visit all the attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is currently £28. The ticket gives you access for one year.
Children (5-15) – £12
Family tickets are also available. 
Visit the website to book and for further information

*We were very kindly given complimentary tickets to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. All opinions are my own. 

Pin for later

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard: Why it's a great family day out #familytravel

38 Comments on Family Day Trip To Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

  1. Lolo
    October 10, 2017 at 7:08 am (2 months ago)

    Ooh fun! I love old ships! Would be cool to see this! It would really be like stepping back in time! #CityTripping
    Lolo recently posted…Passionate About Passau, GermanyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 10, 2017 at 12:46 pm (2 months ago)

      It was – you’d love it!

      Reply
  2. Smith
    October 10, 2017 at 8:01 am (2 months ago)

    Thanks for the wonderful article.

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm (2 months ago)

      You’re welcome. Glad you liked it!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 10, 2017 at 12:47 pm (2 months ago)

      They were incredible!

      Reply
  3. Baby Loves Travel
    October 10, 2017 at 9:33 am (2 months ago)

    This sounds like a great day out for little ones – I too haven’t been since I was a child! #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 10, 2017 at 12:47 pm (2 months ago)

      Definitely worth another visit!!

      Reply
  4. Claire at Tin Box Traveller
    October 10, 2017 at 11:20 am (2 months ago)

    This has made me a bit home sick for Hampshire! The historic dockyard has so many memories for me – I got married just around the corner from HMS Victory! Luckily we still have family in the area so we’ll have to put our tourist hats on and head to the dockyard again when we visit #CityTripping
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Monday Escapes 9/10/17My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 10, 2017 at 12:47 pm (2 months ago)

      Oh wow, I didn’t know that. What a great place to get wed. Hope you get back soon. It’s an amazing place!

      Reply
  5. Elizabeth
    October 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm (2 months ago)

    This looks like a perfect day out. I love the SkyTykes and have never seen anything like that. We see the ropes courses around the Netherlands but they are always for 6 or 7 plus. My little guys would love this adventure. And ships are always a hit. Thanks so much for sharing. #CityTripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:38 am (2 months ago)

      Oh, they would. It was a fun course for Mrs T to do. She loved it.

      Reply
  6. Nicky @GoLiveYoung
    October 10, 2017 at 2:02 pm (2 months ago)

    Great post. Have never been but want to go. Recently visited Charlestown Historic Harbour in Cornwall and went on board a tall ship. It’s fascinating to see the inside of these ships #citytripping
    Nicky @GoLiveYoung recently posted…Road Trip Along the Garden Route With KidsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:38 am (2 months ago)

      It’s really fascinating and how the ships have been recreated is incredible.

      Reply
  7. Lisa
    October 10, 2017 at 2:21 pm (2 months ago)

    Never heard of Portsmouth before but this definitely looks like a fun trip. Need to add this to my bucketlist! 😀
    Lisa recently posted…TEN THINGS TO DO IN BERLIN, GERMANYMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:37 am (2 months ago)

      Absolutely! Glad to have introduced it to you!

      Reply
  8. Keri | Ladies What Travel
    October 10, 2017 at 3:28 pm (2 months ago)

    I’ve never been here but it totally looks like my kind of thing. We have SS Great Britain here in Bristol which I love visiting when I can, and I always love going along to the Cutty Sark when Im near Greenwich. I think I should sort out a day trip of my own to here! #citytripping
    Keri | Ladies What Travel recently posted…A tour of the Houses of ParliamentMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:36 am (2 months ago)

      Sounds like you’d love it in Portsmouth. I need to explore the Cutty Sark. I’ve heard they have done an amazing job with it.

      Reply
  9. Johlene Orton
    October 10, 2017 at 4:49 pm (2 months ago)

    I just love places that keep your kids busy all day!

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:34 am (2 months ago)

      It was brilliant. I was gutted we missed the Mary Rose but we’ll be back one day.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:33 am (2 months ago)

      Really good. We definitely need a second trip as there’s so much to see.

      Reply
  10. Annabel
    October 10, 2017 at 9:37 pm (2 months ago)

    Wow, I’m definitely taking my kids to Portsmouth. That trip around HMS Warrior looks brilliant. #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:32 am (2 months ago)

      Do it! They’d love it there.

      Reply
  11. Katherine
    October 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm (2 months ago)

    What an awesome museum! The helicopter simulator sounds like something I’d want to try (and would probably fail miserably at). All of that naval history and the beautiful (and more austere) lodgings! #Citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:32 am (2 months ago)

      The helicopter simulator was so hard! I think we were doing it completely wrong though.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:31 am (2 months ago)

      Thanks for pinning. Yes, add it to your list. The boys would love it (as would you).

      Reply
  12. Lisa
    October 11, 2017 at 12:56 am (2 months ago)

    This looks like great fun and something for everyone. I loved the movie “Master and Commander” and was fascinated by the ships, so this would be a win for me. Thanks for sharing #citytripping
    Lisa recently posted…What To See On Prince Edward IslandMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 22, 2017 at 12:56 pm (2 months ago)

      It certainly would be a win. I need to watch that movie and I’m totally fascinated now! Very much ignited an interest for me and family.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 23, 2017 at 11:30 am (2 months ago)

      It was such an interesting experience. Brilliant day out!

      Reply
  13. Kat
    October 13, 2017 at 4:35 am (2 months ago)

    Very interesting to see how the sailors operate and live in the ship at that time. I’m glad that they have great activities for kids because it’s education for them and a great way to get them interested and occupied 🙂 #citytripping

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 20, 2017 at 7:51 pm (2 months ago)

      Absolutely! There was a good mix of activities for everyone.

      Reply
  14. Sharon
    October 13, 2017 at 7:44 pm (2 months ago)

    What a fun place! We are looking at a possible trip to this area. And your daughter is truly lovely 🙂
    Sharon recently posted…Touring the ReichstagMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      October 14, 2017 at 7:36 am (2 months ago)

      Oh thank you Sharon. It’s an incredible place!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *






CommentLuv badge