Portsmouth's strong economy and rich seafaring culture make it an exciting prospect for first-time buyers, investors and families alike.

Where is Portsmouth?

Portsmouth is the UK's only island city – it's mostly located on Portsea Island on the south coast of England. It sits 20 miles south east of Southampton and 50 miles west of Brighton within the county of Hampshire.

The city is perhaps best known for its port. It is home to a Royal Navy base, several ferry and cruise operators, and historic ships including HMS Victory and the Mary Rose.

Portsmouth’s history, university and attractive surroundings have kept house prices buoyant. The current average value stands at £224,000, which is up a healthy 30.7% compared to five years ago. Use the Zoopla House Price Tool to check the latest prices.

Take a look at our guide on Hampshire to find out more about the county.

Living in Portsmouth: what to expect

Portsmouth's historical role in the defence and commerce of Britain can still be seen in its museums, historic dockyard and the 15th- and 16th-century coastal fortifications.

Today, the city’s lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere makes it a key destination. It acts as a hub for entertainment and retail, serving diverse residential areas such as Fratton, North End, Southsea and the prestigious Gunwharf Quays.

The city is also home to the University of Portsmouth, which provides higher education to more than 22,000 students. Much of the university’s campus is based in the city centre, but there is also a smaller campus in Milton.

Portsmouth is also well placed for travel and commuting, with several railway stations, ferry services and the M275 providing access to the national motorway network.

Both the South Downs National Park and the New Forest National Park are within easy reach of the city. And with plenty of coastline to explore on your doorstep, you’ll be able to enjoy the great outdoors at your leisure.

Aerial view of Portsmouth

Top places to start your property search

Southsea: This is one of the most popular residential areas in the city, and perhaps the trendiest. Its proximity to the university makes Southsea a good area for property investment. It has a large student population, especially to the north near the campus and lively Albert Road and Elm Grove.

Here you’ll find lots of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, with a network of terraced streets offering two- and three-bedroom properties, some with bay windows. These are perfect for first-time buyers, couples, small families and buy-to-let investors.

Southsea also offers a wide variety of flats. Period conversions, modern maisonettes and apartments are all up for grabs.

On the seafront roads of Clarence Esplanade and South Parade, Victorian seaside architecture sits side-by-side with modern apartment blocks, such as Homeheights on Clarence Parade. Here, and on neighbouring roads such as Auckland Road East and West, prices tend to be higher and student lettings become few and far between.

Sought-after addresses include Craneswater Park, with its large Edwardian villas, as well as the grandiose Queens Crescent conservation area. Eastern Parade, close to the canoe lake, also boasts desirable double- and triple-fronted villas complete with sea views. These luxurious homes regularly fetch in excess of £1 million.

Gunwharf Quays: Gunwharf Quays is the most prestigious contemporary development in Portsmouth.

The luxury apartments of Brecon House, Anson Court, the Crescent Building and Jupiter Court carry substantial price tags. However, they also offer spacious living areas with modern fittings, terraces, balconies and parking spaces.

Residents also have direct access to the marina, the iconic Spinnaker Tower and a plethora of retail and leisure amenities. Most highly prized are the apartments that boast panoramic views over the harbour and out across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.

Old Portsmouth: The most historic properties can be found in Old Portsmouth – the original 18th-century city location. This is another particularly sought-after area of the city, with its large townhouses – many holding fascinating histories and plenty of original features – hitting the market for £700,000-plus.

Milton: Families seeking a little more space but wanting to remain close to the city hub may consider Milton on the eastern side of Portsea Island.

Here you’ll find both period and modern homes, with three and four bedrooms, and access to green areas such as Milton Common nature reserve.

Cosham: Cosham is a northern suburb of Portsmouth, located on the opposite side of the M27/A27 Havant Bypass in mainland Hampshire.

It's a large area with modern housing estates and new-builds, as well as 1920-30s semis and terraces. It's a good spot for families seeking spacious three- and four-bedroom homes with driveways, gardens and good schools nearby.

If you’re set on a new-build, the new Southampton Road development of three-bedroom town and terraced houses is the place to go. It's located between Cosham and Portchester on Paulsgrove Lake, close to the M27, Port Solent, Watersedge Park and Portchester railway station.

Plenty of modern one- and two-bedroom flats are available in the area too.

A Georgian house in Portsmouth

Best ways to get around Portsmouth

By rail: Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth & Southsea stations serve the dockyard, old town, ferry port and university, as well as the Gunwharf Quays and Portsea areas of the city.

Southsea, Fratton, Milton and the Langstone campus of the University of Portsmouth are close to Fratton station, while to the north of Portsea Island is Hilsea station. Inland, on the opposite side of the motorway, is Cosham railway station.

All of these stations are located along the same line. They offer regular services to London (90 minutes on the fast train), Southampton (45 minutes), Cardiff (three and a half hours), Littlehampton (50 minutes) and Brighton (90 minutes).

By car: Portsea Island is connected to mainland Hampshire by the M275. This in turn joins up with the M27 westbound to Fareham, Southampton and Eastleigh, and on into the New Forest National Park. To the east, it connects with the A27 to Chichester, Brighton and Eastbourne.

London can be reached in less than two hours via the A3 northbound through the South Downs National Park.

By air: Southampton Airport is 30 minutes away from Portsmouth by car and an hour away by train.

From here, passengers can reach a variety of domestic and European destinations with airlines such as Flybe, KLM, Aer Lingus and Thomson. For more international flights, Gatwick Airport is less than 90 minutes away by road or rail.

By ferry: Regular ferry crossings are available from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands, France and Spain.

By Hovercraft: The city also has the world’s longest running hovercraft service. Passengers can travel from Clarence Pier in Southsea across to Ryde on the Isle of Wight in just 10 minutes, making it by the fastest option for reaching the island.

Old Portsmouth and Spinnaker Tower

Best things to do in Portsmouth

History: The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has exhibitions, artefacts and ships of the past. Its famous collections include the 16th-century Mary Rose, Admiral Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and the world’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship, HMS Warrior 1860.

Examples of 15th- and 16th-century coastal defences, such as Southsea Castle and the Square and Round Towers, provide further insight into Portsmouth's history as an important harbour. Life in the city throughout the generations can also be discovered through exhibitions at Portsmouth Museum.

Cultural: Portsmouth Guildhall is a key venue that stages music, comedy and dance performances, as well as events and exhibitions. Its Portsmouth Music Experience gallery introduces visitors to the city’s music scene and the history of the Guildhall as a venue.

For visual arts, the Aspex offers a busy programme of events, workshops, screenings and displays. For performance arts, the Kings Theatre stages West End touring shows and world-class dance and amateur productions.

The Wedgewood Rooms is an independent alternative music venue on Albert Road. It’s been known to help launch the careers of festival headliners of the future.

Shopping: The main retail destination in Portsmouth is Gunwharf Quays shopping centre. It boasts more than 90 premium outlet stores offering up to 60% off retail prices, as well as a variety of coffee shops, restaurants and leisure facilities.

Further shopping opportunities can be found in the city centre, on the pedestrianised Commercial Road and in Cascades Shopping Centre. Quirkier independent outlets are most easily found in the bohemian Southsea, with its antique and vintage shops, and at the western end of Albert Road.

Sports: Boat trips and charters can be arranged from the harbour for fishing, diving and sightseeing. Yachtsmen and women can also enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and convenient location of Southsea Marina.

Those interested in watersports should head to the Southsea Rowing Club, the Portsmouth Watersports Centre or South Coast Wakepark.

Food and drink: In addition to chain eateries, restaurants in Portsmouth include eclectic places such as Southsea's Pie & Vinyl. It combines classic comfort food with a record shop of new music and artists. Try pies such as the Fat Cat and Poppadum Preach.

Sophisticated venues such as Cheese & Cheers are also popular. This wine bar and deli serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as patisserie and, of course, cheese and wine. Mains include tartiflette and baked cheese.

Detached Edwardian house in Southsea, Portsmouth

Hidden Portsmouth

Charles Dickens is one of Portsmouth's most famous residents. You can find out more about his childhood at the Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum, which is housed in a small terraced property on Old Commercial Road.

5 reasons to live in Portsmouth

  • Lively and thriving city
  • Excellent transport links, including ferry travel
  • Easy access to coast and countryside beauty spots
  • Plenty of amenities and leisure opportunities
  • Wide variety of properties

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