With the New Year’s festivities now well in the past for another year, ever get that “what to do next” kind of feeling? While a few quiet weekends tucked up by your own fireplace may be just what’s needed to recharge those batteries (and bank account!), there’s something pretty energising about getting away for a weekend, and seeing somewhere new – and even better, when it’s not too far from home. The team at Vitora have planned a quick getaway with exactly that in mind, so if you’re up for a little adventure to get the new year really going – buckle up and hop aboard!
Where are we going and a few directions
This trip we’re heading from bustling Northampton to the port and historic base of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, on the south coast. It’s about 126 miles from centre to centre along the A34 – and will take you approximately 2 hours 20 minutes – making it the perfect weekender destination.
The all-important question of vehicle and tyres
When it comes to a good weekend away, a comfortable drive is all part of the deal. Making sure your vehicle is up-to-date with its servicing is a vital new year’s resolution to be making good on now before heading off. With its range of tyre options to suit almost any vehicle type and your particular lifestyle, Vitora has your tyre needs totally sorted. That said, an SUV fitted with CountryLife tyres would be a very fitting choice for this trip!
A bit about Portsmouth and what to do when you get there
There’s a certain allure about this historic naval town, with its harbour and historic dockyard, magnificent array of past and present navy vessels on display, and architecture of the “old town” combined with the newer quay buildings along the waterfront. In Portsmouth there’s plenty to fill a weekend away – however if you’re really just hoping for a change of scenery and comfy hotel to settle into for a day or two, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing somewhere to stay. If you’re wondering what exactly there is to do when you get there – here are a few ideas to get you started.
Ahoy there! The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Explore the Royal Navy and its vast history on and under the oceans, by stepping aboard some of its most famous ships, warships and submarines from all times, including the great HMS Victory from the Battle of Trafalgar. Explore museums, an interactive pirate exhibition – or try your hand at some naval adventure activities at the action stations. While you’re there, have a bite to eat – there are cafes, restaurants, picnic areas as well as shops where you can browse and pick up a memento of your visit.
Take in 350 degree views from the Emirates Spinnaker Tower
A stand-out feature of Portsmouth’s skyline, the impressive 170m tower, provides sensational views over the town and coast as far as the eye can see. Travel in the high-speed elevator to viewing platforms, café and take the Sky Walk (only for the brave)!
Shop up a storm at Gunwharf Quays
If you like to shop (with a harbour ambience to boot!) – Portsmouth has plenty of appeal, with its Gunwharf Quays waterfront shopping outlet the home to many major brands at discount prices. There’s also a cinema, bowling alley, art gallery and eateries. Plus — you can hire a miniature, electrical- powered ship from “Miniport” – and go on a little nautical adventure of your own.
Spend a few hours at Royal Armouries Museum and Fort Nelson
Set on 19 acres and showcasing the history of artillery, the restored Port Nelson and the Royal Armouries Museum offers stunning views over Portsmouth harbour as well as a fascinating opportunity to explore the fort’s underground tunnels, ramparts and more while delving into the town’s historic past. And this one is free!
Follow the chain markings along Millennium Promenade
Built of natural stone, lit with lanterns and stretching 3km from Spur Redoubt near Clarence Pier to “The Hard”, the easy-going, Millennium Promenade Trail takes you on a historic walk along Portsmouth’s waterfront.
Don’t forget about Old Portsmouth
A visit to Portsmouth isn’t complete without a look at the old part of town – an absolute treasure trove of cobbled streets, characterful buildings and heritage architecture, the Square and Tound Towers and more.
See creativity at work at Hotwalls Studios
Also within in the old town, Portsmouth’s artists combine with this historical location (in the Point Battery and Barracks) – and you can watch them working their creativity in 13 studios. ‘The Canteen” café hidden within the barracks continues with this innovation — offering delicious meals created from local produce.
Cycle the scenery
Even if you’re not a serious cyclist, for this trip you may want to load up your bike. With lots of flat areas to explore within the city and along the harbour, together with numerous scenic coastal and country trails nearby – it’s the perfect opportunity for a bit of exercise at your own pace!
Pubs, Taverns and Everything In-between
In true navy style, Portsmouth is home to many traditional and long-standing pubs and taverns (including those that are family friendly). It also has an abundance of restaurants in a wide variety of cuisines – and if you’re looking somewhere for a special meal, you’ll find everything from seafood and grills to something extra fancy.
Smell the roses at Southsea Rose Garden
If you’re here in summer, make sure you take time out to smell the roses at this stunning rose garden. Beautiful, peaceful and right by the sea!
Where to park
While you can find parking within Portsmouth itself – there’s a convenient Park & Ride service enabling you to leave your car and the stress of city driving behind. Starting from the M275, Junction 1, buses run regularly (every 10 minutes during peak periods) with a number of stops ending at “The Hard” Interchange.
Anything else you need to know
This trip is a great one for couples, families – or go by yourself for a bit of “me time” shopping, exploring or taking in a movie or two. There’s something very unique about Portsmouth’s nautical and historical appeal that we think may be just perfect to get you inspired for a whole lot more weekend trips as the year unfolds. Accommodation in old and modern settings, offers the best of Portsmouth hospitality – with many rooms complete with a view! So fuel up, pump up those tyres and have a great trip (don’t forget your toothbrush and your bike!)