18 Off Beat Portsmouth Attractions

Portsmouth – a town famous for its maritime heritage, where history meets seaside charm and quirky surprises wait around every corner.

Our latest guide showcases some of the more unusual things to do in Portsmouth, from the unexplored to the underrated.

So, get ready to venture off the beaten path and delve into Portsmouth’s unknown treasures.

First on our list of unique things to do in Portsmouth is a rather quirkly museum.

1. Cumberland House Natural History Museum

Butterfly on a Leaf

Ah, the Cumberland House Natural History Museum – an offbeat Portsmouth treasure box.

Who’d expect a sophisticated 18th-century house to be bursting with nature’s oddities?

This place spins a captivating tale of the city’s wild inhabitants and their evolution.

Wander through butterfly houses, admire taxidermy exhibits and get lost in the geological collections.

It’s a portal to Portsmouth’s natural past that’ll leave nature enthusiasts and curious minds gleefully satisfied. You’re in for an unexpected treat!

Telephone – 023 9281 5276

Address – Cumberland House Natural History Museum, Eastern Parade, PO4 9RF

2. Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower

Unleash your inner adventurer at the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower.

Tucked away in Gosport, this explosive secret is a real boom – literally! It’s an epic journey through the big bangs of naval history.

Be dazzled by the collection of missiles, mines, torpedoes and guns, as you uncover the powerful stories of the Royal Navy.

This museum is sure to light a spark in any history buff’s heart. An unusual Portsmouth attraction that’s, undeniably, a blast!

Telephone – 023 9250 5600

Address – Priddys Hard, Gosport PO12 4LE

3. Southsea Model Village

If you’re looking for a taste of the quirky in Portsmouth, the Southsea Model Village is your stop.

Imagine strolling through a miniature world, with tiny houses, pint-sized people and a Lilliputian landscape.

This quaint attraction nestled in Southsea is a delightful paradox – a huge hit in a small package.

Wander the charmingly miniscule streets, enjoy a mini-train ride, and take a step back to your childhood.

Southsea Model Village is big on charm, even if it’s small in scale! Ideal, if you’re looking for quirky Portsmouth attractions!

Telephone – 023 9275 1443

Address – Lumps Fort, Eastney Esplanade, Southsea, PO4 9RU

4. Portsmouth City Museum’s Arthur Conan Doyle Collection

Sherlock Holmes fans, rejoice! Portsmouth City Museum houses a peculiar treat – the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.

Immerse yourself in the mind of the legendary detective’s creator through this fascinating collection of memorabilia.

Conan Doyle’s time in Portsmouth is intricately woven through the exhibits, offering an intriguing, behind-the-scenes look into the world’s most famous sleuth.

This is one mystery you’ll be thrilled to unravel! An unconventional Portsmouth attraction that’s a must-see for any literature enthusiast visiting this part of the world.

Telephone – 023 9268 8043

Address – City Museum & Records Office Museum Road, PO1 2LJ

5. HMS Warrior 1860

No Portsmouth travel guide would be complete without this historical attraction.

The HMS Warrior 1860 is a riveting journey into maritime history like no other.

Imagine stepping aboard the world’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship and soaking up centuries of nautical tales.

This floating museum, moored in Portsmouth’s historic harbour, offers a glimpse into Victorian naval life that’s unlike any textbook account.

From the awe-inspiring firepower to the intriguing crew quarters, every corner tells a story.

An unconventional tour aboard the Warrior is nothing short of a maritime time-travel adventure!

Telephone – 023 9277 8600

Address – Victory Gate, PO1 3QX

6. The Mary Rose’s Resident Dog, Hatch

The Mary Rose's Resident Dog, Hatch
Image: maryrose.org

Meet Hatch, the loyal pup of the Mary Rose, who will steal your heart while adding an unexpected twist to your historical voyage.

The remains of this adorable sea-dog were found on Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, giving a touching and personal insight into the lives of those onboard.

The story of Hatch – complete with his own dedicated display – offers a unique, heart-warming perspective of maritime history that’s sure to resonate with animal lovers and those seeking unusual things to do in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.

Telephone – 023 9281 2931

Address – Main Road, HM Naval Base, PO1 3PY

7. Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge

Venture off the beaten path to Hilsea Lines and Portsbridge, Portsmouth’s hidden historical gem.

These underrated 18th and 19th-century fortifications weave a fascinating tale of the city’s defences.

Hike along the ancient lines, spot unique wildlife, and take in the blend of urban and natural landscapes.

Don’t miss the stunning views of Portsmouth from Portsbridge! This quirky attraction is a vivid reminder of Portsmouth’s past that also serves as a serene escape from the city bustle.

An adventure that’s uniquely Portsmouth!

Address – Hilsea, PO3 5LD

8. D-Day Story Museum

For a distinct and moving perspective of history, drop into the D-Day Story Museum.

This isn’t just any war museum – here, you’ll walk in the shoes of those who lived through the pivotal D-Day invasion.

Explore personal accounts, see unusual wartime artefacts, and experience the interactive displays that bring history to life.

This museum is a tribute to heroism that provides an extraordinary lens into the human stories behind the world-altering event.

Get ready for a journey back in time that’s poignant, powerful and undeniably personal.

Telephone – 023 9288 2555

Address – Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, PO5 3NT

9. Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum

Embrace the charm of the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, an off-the-beaten path Portsmouth attraction.

Tucked away in a quaint Georgian house, this museum transports you straight into the world of one of literature’s giants.

Dickens’ life, work and connection to Portsmouth unfold room by room. It’s a glimpse into Victorian life and a homage to the author’s genius, wrapped in one.

For literature lovers and the curious alike, a visit here feels like flipping through the unseen pages of a Dickens novel – an experience uniquely Portsmouth!

Telephone – 023 9282 1879

Address – 393 Old Commercial Rd, Portsmouth PO1 4QL

10. The Round Tower

Steeped in history and offering unparalleled views, the Round Tower is a captivating oddity that’s one of the most highly recommended alternative Portsmouth attractions.

This stalwart of the city’s fortifications, perched at the harbour mouth, serves as a unique vantage point.

From atop, watch the bustling marine traffic or gaze at the expansive sea merging with the horizon.

Venture inside to discover the tower’s role in Portsmouth’s history, or catch a pop-up art exhibition.

The Round Tower blends the old and new in a fashion that’s uniquely Portsmouth. A quirky, offbeat attraction that’s a must-visit!

Telephone – 023 9282 7261

Address – Broad St, Old Portsmouth, PO1 2JE

11. Southsea Rose Garden

Whisk yourself away to a fragrant paradise at the Southsea Rose Garden.

This vibrant, aromatic hideaway blooms with charm and is a quirky surprise in the heart of the city.

Delight your senses with hundreds of roses exhibiting a riot of colours and a symphony of scents.

Stroll through the maze of vibrant blossoms, or just sit and soak up the tranquility.

Not your usual tourist attraction, the Southsea Rose Garden is a quaintly romantic escape that’s one of the more peaceful and tranquil hidden gems in Portsmouth.

Address – Southsea, PO4 9RU

12. Clarence Pier

Clarence Pier
Image: clarencepier.co.uk

Get ready for some seaside fun at Clarence Pier, an eclectic gem on Portsmouth’s coastline.

This is no ordinary pier – it’s one of the largest amusement parks on the South Coast.

With a whirl of rides, arcade games, and food stalls, it’s an exciting detour from the traditional tourist trail.

Take a ride on the Sky Trail, play a round of mini-golf, or just enjoy the classic British seaside atmosphere.

Quirky, nostalgic, and utterly entertaining, Clarence Pier is a burst of fun that adds a dash of the extraordinary to your Portsmouth itinerary!

Address – Southsea, Portsmouth, Southsea, PO5 3AA

13. Farlington Marshes

Escape the city’s hustle and venture into Farlington Marshes, Portsmouth’s hidden wildlife haven.

This unexpected sanctuary amid the urban sprawl is an oasis for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Spot rare migratory birds, delight in the sight of grazing cattle, or simply soak up the peace.

Walk along the marshland trails, and breathe in the bracing sea air.

Farlington Marshes offers a tranquil, offbeat diversion from Portsmouth’s usual attractions.

Telephone – 01489 774 400

Address – Solent Way, Farlington, PO6 1UN

14. Portsdown Hill

If you’re exploring Portsmouth and have your heart set on this part of the city, prepare for some breathtaking vistas.

This local secret overlooks the city, the Solent, and the Isle of Wight, offering panoramic views like no other.

Pack a picnic, watch the sunset, or simply bask in the serenity. For history buffs, the old forts scattered along the hill make for a unique sight into the region’s eventful past.

Portsdown Hill is an offbeat destination that rewards you with stunning landscapes and a dash of history.

Take a breather from the city and let Portsdown Hill elevate your Portsmouth adventure!

Address – Fareham, PO17 6AR

15. The Still & West

Sit back and soak up the sea at The Still & West, a delightful oddity in Portsmouth’s dining scene.

Housed in a Grade II listed building, this pub and restaurant offers stunning harbour views alongside hearty food.

Watch the boats glide by as you sample local ales and tuck into fresh seafood.

It’s a dining experience that’s quintessentially Portsmouth – the salty sea air, the historic ambiance, and the delicious fare.

Unconventional and utterly charming, The Still & West blends gastronomy with a side of maritime charm like nowhere else in the city.

Telephone -023 9282 1567

Address – Bath Square, Old Portsmouth, PO1 2JL

16. Wymering Manor

For thrill-seekers and ghost-story enthusiasts, the Wymering Manor ghost hunt is a heart-pounding divergence from the norm.

This reputedly haunted historic manor (according to some the most haunted house in the UK) is Portsmouth’s answer to the supernatural.

As darkness descends, join the ghost hunt, traverse the eerie halls, and listen to chilling tales of the spectral residents.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the spine-tingling atmosphere and the rich history make for an unforgettable night.

Wymering Manor takes Portsmouth’s unusual attractions to an entirely different realm – the paranormal. Dare to discover the city’s spooky side!

Address – Wymering Manor Trust, Old Wymering Lane, PO6 3NL

17. Fort Cumberland

Embark on a historical adventure at Fort Cumberland, an underrated treasure in Portsmouth’s heritage trove.

This star-shaped fort is a captivating remnant of Britain’s coastal defences. Follow the fort’s intriguing timeline, explore the hidden tunnels, or join a guided tour to dive deeper into its history.

It’s a bit off the beaten path, and that’s where its charm lies. This architectural gem offers an unusual perspective of Portsmouth’s past and a tranquil seaside setting.

For a history-rich detour with a slice of the unconventional, Fort Cumberland is a must!

Telephone – 023 9285 6704

Address – Fort Cumberland, Fort Cumberland Road, Southsea, PO4 9LD

18. Portsmouth Cathedral

Portsmouth Cathedral

Immerse yourself in tranquility and history at Portsmouth Cathedral, an unexpected spiritual landmark amidst the city’s maritime character.

This cathedral isn’t just about religion – its stunning architecture, beautiful stained glass, and peaceful ambience make it a unique spot in Portsmouth.

Beyond its spiritual role, the cathedral also hosts concerts, exhibitions, and community events.

An unusual underrated Portsmouth attraction provides a serene sanctuary that adds a contemplative note to your journey.

Telephone – 023 9282 3300

Address – High St, Old Portsmouth, PO1 2HA

Official Portsmouth Tourism Sitehttps://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.