Portsmouth’s seafront is a huge attraction for visitors – with around 70% of Portsmouth’s tourists heading to the seafront at some point during their break.
The walking route between Old Portsmouth and the very top of Eastney Esplanade stretches along the coast for 3.33 miles. It’s a popular route, taking in the beaches, piers (both Clarence and South Parade), rock garden, Southsea Castle, Southsea Common, Royal Garrison Church and more.
There’s an additional walking route along the paths of Eastney, stretching from the University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus to the top of Portsea Island. This route, which avoids the busy Eastern Road for most parts, is 2.7 miles in length, and takes in the Langstone Harbour viewing point, Watersports Centre and Milton Common.
Portsmouth’s seafront area also includes the perennially popular Southsea Common. This 100-acre expanse of grassland is popular during the summer months for games, picnics and barbecues (in the specially designated barbecue areas).
Within Southsea Common is the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Southsea Tennis Club, beach volleyball courts, Southsea Splash Pool and Southsea Skatepark. There are also tea rooms, cafes and a seasonal mini golf links. Just at its perimeter are Southsea Castle, the D-Day Story, Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, Southsea Rock Gardens and Clarence Pier.
There is paid parking for the Common along the seafront, at the car parks on Clarence Esplanade and opposite the Osborne Road junction, and along most of the surrounding roads.
Southsea seafront has two piers – one rather traditional and the other somewhat less so. South Parade Pier is the more typical of the two and dates back to 1879. Since then it has had a long and varied history, including being used in the filming of The Who’s classic film Tommy in 1974, which caused a huge fire. More recently, storms had damaged the pier and it fell into disrepair, but a huge investment has seen it restored and fully re-opened. The amusement arcade has returned, along with the Gaiety Suite and a new fish and chip restaurant.
Along to the west is Clarence Pier, though this is less traditional. This pier does indeed go out to sea, but parallel to the coast rather than stretching out beyond it. It’s home to a fairground that works on tickets or an all-day wristband, as well as a traditional seaside arcade with all the typical games and machines. The Sky Trail is the UK’s first double decker urban extreme aerial high ropes challenge course, whilst the nearby crazy golf course offers two routes around a pirate-themed landscape. Clarence Pier is also home to eateries, the seasonal Solent Wheel, a restaurant and more. Opening times and details can be found on the website.