Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the UK’s premier destination for naval history, offering 11 attractions including Lord Nelson’s flagship (HMS Victory), HMS Warrior 1860, the Mary Rose Museum, and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Visitors don’t just get to watch from the shore, but can get out onto the water with Harbour Tour excursions, or take the waterbus to Gosport to see the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and Explosion Museum.
HMS Warrior 1860 is the first sight to greet visitors. This pioneering Victorian iron-clad battleship was once the fastest and most fearsome ship on the planet, but never actually fired a shot in anger.
Deeper into the Dockyard is Nelson’s HMS Victory, frequently referred to as the world’s most famous warship. The painstakingly preserved ship – which fought in the Battle of Trafalgar – welcomes visitors aboard. Now, tourists can stand on the exact spot where Lord Nelson was fatally injured during the battle that was a resounding victory, even if it did cost his life. The ship is undergoing preservation works that will encase her hull in rods of steel. This engineering first will protect HMS Victory for the next 250 years.
Alongside is the Mary Rose Museum, which houses the remains of the flagship that served in Henry VIII’s fleet for 34 years. However, the ship sank during the Battle of the Solent in 1545, with the king watching from nearby Southsea Castle. Her remains were raised in 1982 and are now on display in a state-of-the-art museum, along with thousands of original objects recovered alongside the ship. These give a unique and moving insight not just into the ship itself bit also life in Tudor England.
Timing dependent, some Dockyard visitors will also get an unrivalled view of the country’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, when she’s docked in her home port.
For those wanting to get more hands-on, see what it really takes to be one of the elite corps of Royal Marines and test your speed, stamina and courage at Action Stations, home to the new Making of a Royal Marine Commando challenge. Take flight in the helicopter simulator and run the Ninja Force course, before climbing to the top of the 8m mast in Boathouse 4.
The Dockyard welcomes all visitors, but as the site is a working Naval Base, certain areas may present difficulties for wheelchair users, those with restricted mobility or anyone with visual impairments. In these instances, the Dockyard advises visiting with a carer, who will get free entry. Shopmobility scooters can be booked in advance and collected from the Visitor Centre.
You can keep up to date with ticketing changes and special offers on the Dockyard website.