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a large ship in a body of water with HMS Warrior 1860 in the background

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – what to expect

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard: a tourist attraction that offers exactly what it says on the tin. The UK’s premier destination for naval history, the dockyard plays host to some of the Royal Navy’s most famous ships in its history as well as a variety of museum exhibitions and attractions that offer insight into Great Britain’s vast and storied maritime past.

More or less a must-visit if you’re in Portsmouth – or, indeed, anywhere close by in the south of England – here’s what to expect when you visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

What ships are in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard?

Unsurprisingly, the main attraction at the dockyard is a collection of world-famous warships and submarines much heralded from the British Navy’s past campaigns – many of which you can step on board and experience first-hand.

 a large ship in the background with HMS Victory in the background

The ships in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard include:

  • HMS Victory: HMS Victory is the most famous warship in the entirety of Royal Navy history, having acted as Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Today, it sits in the dockyard as both that flagship and a living museum to the Georgian Navy, both of which are accompanied by a handheld audio guide.
  • The Mary Rose: the flagship of Henry VIII for 34 years before sinking at the Battle of the Solent in 1545, the Mary Rose’s remains were raised back in 1982 and brought to the dockyard for display. Housed in her own £27 million museum, what remains of the ship is supported by thousands of objects found aboard – offering a fascinating insight into Tudor life at sea.
  • HMS Warrior: HMS Warrior resides in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as the Royal Navy’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship – and also the jewel of the navy upon its launch in 1860. A revolutionary piece of steam-age engineering, HMS Warrior is a hidden gem among the other more famous warships in the yard.
  • HMS M.33: HMS M.33 is one of just three British First World War warships still in existence, and the sole survivor of the Dardanelles Campaign (the Strait of Gallipoli) of 1915-1916. One of the most modern naval exhibits on offer at the dockyard.

What exhibitions are on at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard?

Come for the warships, stay for the exhibitions. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard offers seeral museums, tours and galleries to pique the interest of the whole family. Those include:

  • National Museum of the Royal Navy: the primary museum of the dockyard, the National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth brings to life the UK’s naval history of the last 350 years. Discover the stories of the once-globally dominant Royal Navy, and the many lives that it affected over the centuries.
  • Boathouse 4: one for all the family, Boathouse 4 offers a variety of hands-on children’s activities and exhibitions. It also houses the International Boatbuilding College Portsmouth, where a new generation of students is taught the techniques of traditional boatbuilding for conservation purposes.
  • Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower: as the name suggests, come here if you want to find out about the ins and outs of naval warfare in dramatic fashion.
  • Royal Navy Submarine Museum: walk onboard HMS Alliance, the centrepiece of the museum and the only remaining Second World War submarine. Peek through working periscopes and find out the story of every decade of her operational history.
  • Harbour tours: today, Portsmouth is still home to the modern Royal Navy, and a harbour tour will take you around the latest that our navy has to offer, giving you an up-close-and-personal view of the destroyers, frigates and carriers currently in operation.

Getting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard tickets

You can get your Portsmouth Historic Dockyard tickets direct from the official site, with three tiers of ticket from which to choose. You can get a one-attraction ticket for the day, a three-attraction ticket that lasts for 12 months or go all out with an Ultimate Explorer ticket that gives you access to all of the attractions on offer for a full year.

The latter offers the best value by some distance – and you can also buy Ultimate Explorer tickets for the whole family together to save a bit of money.

 a bridge over a body of water

Getting to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The official site offers a handy page devoted to planning your visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, including how to find it and information on all the shopping, eating and drinking spots that are available alongside the attractions.

As for getting to the city itself, we’d naturally recommend hopping aboard one of the many trains to Portsmouth running regularly, every day from all over the country.

You can book your tickets, both for the dockyard and for your travel, today.

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