As one of England’s principal port towns, Portsmouth has a long history as a center point for the British Royal Navy and there’s plenty to see and do on a day trip from London. Many visitors head to the southern coast to catch a ferry over to France or the nearby Isle of Wight, but for those preferring to stay closer to shore, a boat trip around the harbor is a great way to take in the sights. Discover the city’s rich maritime heritage on a tour of the Portsmouth Historical Dockyard, home to two of England’s most famous ships – Lord Nelson's warship HMS Victory, which led naval fleets to victory at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, and Henry VIII's fated Mary Rose, the sunken 16th-century warship that was raised from the seabed in 1982 and now houses the fascinating Mary Rose Museum.
Don’t spend all your time at sea though – Portsmouth’s lively city center offers many good reasons to keep your feet on dry land. Stroll the shops and restaurants of Gunwharf Quays; climb the 170-meter-tall Spinnaker Tower for expansive views along the coast or visit the suburban beaches of nearby Southsea, also home to the 16th-century ruins of Southsea Castle. You can also pay a visit to the city’s many renowned museums, including the Royal Marines Museum, the D-Day Museum, the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Charles Dickens museum, occupying the house in which the literary icon was born.