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Southsea Castle

Located in a dramatic waterfront setting, this historic fort was once the first line of English defense and is now a fascinating museum.

Once an important defensive structure, the beautifully preserved Southsea Castle is now a popular tourist attraction. Walk around the battlements, discover its captivating history and admire the sea views.

In 1544, Henry VIII chose this strategic location to build one of his many “Device Forts.” View these structures lining the south coast, designed to protect England from French invaders. Southsea Castle became the site of tragedy, however, when it saw the Mary Rose sinking not long after the building was completed.

As you explore, notice how well the building is preserved. After an explosion in the 18th century, the castle fell into disrepair. In 1814, it was renovated and expanded to accommodate more troops and guns. This is the incarnation that stands today. Head to the courtyard to see a section of the original Tudor wall.

On the grounds, look for the active lighthouse, originally built in 1820 to guide incoming vessels. Climb to the top of the castle for spectacular views of the ferry-filled waters of the Solent waterway to the south and Portsmouth to the north. Follow the Counterscarp Gallery, the underground tunnel around the moat.

Informative displays inside the keep provide information on Portsmouth's defenses. In the western galleries, watch an audio-visual presentation that narrates the story of the fort.

On Friday nights in summer, go to the Champagne Bar. Listen to live bands and DJs play music, sip drinks and eat snacks. Book your spot in advance to ensure a table.

Check the castle's website for information on events that run here throughout the year, including film screenings and gigs during Victorious Festival in August. The historic oceanfront setting makes it an unforgettable venue.

Buses run from Portsmouth's train stations to outside Southsea Castle. If you’re driving, look for a number of parking spots nearby, including those at the D-Day Museum. Admission to this landmark is free.


Guide to Exploring Southsea Castle


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 320 Hotels near Southsea Castle
Best Western Royal Beach Hotel £39
Best Western Royal Beach Hotel

Best Western Royal Beach Hotel

St. Helens Parade, Southsea
     
    4.1
    of 5, from 395 reviews
    3.0 out of 5.0

    Situated by the sea, this eco-friendly hotel is 0.6 mi (1 km) from Portsmouth D-Day Museum and within 3 miles (5 km) of Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower. Southsea Castle and Wedgewood Rooms are also within 15 minutes.

    Queen's Hotel £71
    Queen's Hotel

    Queen's Hotel

    Clarence Parade, Southsea
       
      3.7
      of 5, from 268 reviews
      3.0 out of 5.0

      Situated by the sea, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Southsea Hoverport and Gunwharf Quays. Spinnaker Tower is 1.3 mi (2.1 km) away.

      Holiday Inn Portsmouth £52
      Holiday Inn Portsmouth

      Holiday Inn Portsmouth

      Pembroke Road, Portsmouth
         
        3.8
        of 5, from 300 reviews
        3.0 out of 5.0

        Situated in Portsmouth, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Clarence Pier and Gunwharf Quays. Spinnaker Tower is 1 mi (1.7 km) away.

        ibis budget Portsmouth £28
        ibis budget Portsmouth

        ibis budget Portsmouth

        Fratton Way, Southsea
           
          3.7
          of 5, from 245 reviews
          3.0 out of 5.0

          Situated in Southsea, this hotel is 0.4 mi (0.7 km) from Fratton Park and within 3 miles (5 km) of Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower. Wedgewood Rooms and Kings Theatre are also within 1 mile (2 km).

          Stattons Boutique Hotel £58
          Stattons Boutique Hotel

          Stattons Boutique Hotel

          6 Florence Road, Portsmouth
             
            4.4
            of 5, from 79 reviews
            4.0 out of 5.0

            Situated by the ocean, this hotel is 0.4 mi (0.6 km) from Portsmouth D-Day Museum and within 3 miles (5 km) of Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower. Southsea Castle and Kings Theatre are also within 10 minutes.

            Seacrest Hotel £62
            Seacrest Hotel

            Seacrest Hotel

            12 South Parade, Southsea
               
              4.4
              of 5, from 257 reviews
              3.0 out of 5.0

              Situated near the beach, this hotel is 0.3 mi (0.5 km) from Portsmouth D-Day Museum and within 3 miles (5 km) of Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower. Southsea Castle and Blue Reef Aquarium are also within 10 minutes.

              ibis Portsmouth Centre £42
              ibis Portsmouth Centre

              ibis Portsmouth Centre

              Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth
                 
                3.7
                of 5, from 928 reviews
                3.5 out of 5.0

                Located in the heart of Portsmouth, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of University of Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays. Spinnaker Tower is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) away.

                The Clarence Hotel £62
                The Clarence Hotel

                The Clarence Hotel

                Clarence Road, Portsmouth
                   
                  4.7
                  of 5, from 151 reviews
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  Situated by the ocean, this hotel is 0.4 mi (0.6 km) from Portsmouth D-Day Museum and within 3 miles (5 km) of Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower. Southsea Castle and Blue Reef Aquarium are also within 15 minutes.