Things to see and do in Southsea

PUBLISHED: 11:51 13 December 2016

The spectacular Solent Wheel dominates the skyline

The spectacular Solent Wheel dominates the skyline


With its lively, bohemian style, Southsea is a great place to eat, shop and explore at any time of year. It may be referred to as a town, but many agree it has a very ‘villagey’ feel, as Claire Pitcher discovers

Getting there

Leaving the M27 at junction 12, take the M275 heading for Portsmouth. Take a detour along the M3 to drive through Old Portsmouth on to Southsea. Postcode for your satnav is PO5 3QG.

The town is served by stations at Fratton and Portsmouth and Southsea station and on to Portsmouth Harbour (also called The Hard), with regular trains to London Waterloo.

Did you know?

Southsea has had its fair share of personalities making it their home over the years. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle moved there in 1882, setting up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove. Peter Sellers, right, was also born in a house on the corner of Castle Road and there’s a Blue Plaque marking the spot. Rudyard Kipling was moved from Bombay to Southsea when he was just five years old. Author HG Wells also spent time in Southsea working as an apprentice draper at Southsea Drapery Emporium.

Dates for your diary

On the third Sunday of every month, Hampshire Farmers’ Markets set up on Palmerston Road. Pick up some of the county’s best local produce; a great way to support Hampshire’s small businesses.

Every August visitors flock to Southsea Common to witness the Portsmouth International Kite Festival. This year’s theme was ‘Retro’; keep an eye on for the 2017 details. Also every August is the Southsea Thai Festival at Castle Field. There are cookery demos, live singers, a beauty contest, traditional dancing and stalls selling freshly cooked Thai Cuisine.

Village voice

Joanna Bennington is Youth Theatre Coordinator at the Kings Theatre. She’s spent many wonderful years working for the Kings in a variety of ‘hats’. “I started nine years ago as a member of front of house staff ushering and working on the bars. From this I transitioned to work in the group bookings and promotions office, helping to promote the theatre’s shows and events alongside working to welcome in the big groups that come to enjoy the shows and events.

“No two days are ever the same here,” she continues. “Whether there are 300 young people dancing on a stage vying for a place in the pantomime dance teams, or holding donkey auditions for a supporting role in the next opera; every day there is something new to see.”

Joanna has lived in Southsea ever since she went to university in Portsmouth: “So that’s over 10 years now!”

“Growing up in an inland town, in order to enjoy the seaside it took a whole day out to get there and back again. Having the sea on my doorstep so that I can go down and enjoy the waves whenever I want still doesn’t get old.”

When she’s not busy at the theatre, Joanna loves meeting up with friends and chilling out on Southsea Common. “Despite being a really densely populated city, we have got some amazing open spaces to sit back, relax and enjoy.”

Making the headlines

The 35-metre Solent Wheel at Clarence Pier was dismantled back in October, as it was feared Brent geese could fly into in on their way to feed at nearby mudflats. A flock of more than 2,600 were due to fly in the same month to eat the local eel-grass and it was thought the tall structure could increase the risk of collisions and put the geese off returning. The owners of the wheel say they are hoping to move it to another resort.

To take home

On the first weekend of each month the Love Southsea Street Market takes place in Palmerston Road. Vintage clothes, art, handmade jewellery, antiques and plenty of street food can keep you fully occupied until closing at 5pm on Saturday, 4pm Sunday. Take a look at some of the artists involved at

Grabbing a bite

Try the funky Garage Lounge on Albert Road. The interior is pretty special, with ornate decorations and antique furniture. There are homemade cakes to tuck into, plus loose leaf teas and a range of coffees. Try their American pancakes for breakfast and range of delicious salads for lunch. They’re open until 11pm too. You can book a table by calling 023 9234 3630.

Rated number two of 491 restaurants in the Portsmouth Area, Cheese & Cheers, right, is for lovers of a good glass of wine and a slice of tasty cheese. They do breakfast too, offering sweet treats, as well as cheese-based delights. Book a table online at

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