University of Portsmouth students on pier at Southsea beach

Get outside in the UK's only island city

There's so much to explore outdoors in Portsmouth – including miles of beaches and plenty of parks and green spaces

When you live in Portsmouth, you'll have an abundance of natural playgrounds on your doorstep. The Solent is to the south, South Downs National Park to the north and the New Forest to the west.

The seafront

When you live in our halls of residence you'll be close to Southsea seafront and the beach. The 3-mile long promenade takes you from Old Portsmouth to Eastney Beach. Plan a walk at the right time in the evening and watch the sunset over the Solent.

The seafront is the perfect place to spend hot summer afternoons with friends. Living by the sea means you can swim on hot days and do water sports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Aerial shot of Southsea beach and common

Southsea common

Behind the seafront promenade you'll find Southsea common.

Go there on a sunny day with a group of friends, a BBQ, some ball games or just to relax with a book. The common hosts events like Victorious Festival, the Race for Life and Beach Dubbin'

The common is a 3-minute cycle or 12-minute walk from the centre of campus.

southsea pier

South Parade Pier

South Parade Pier is the second pier along Southsea seafront and the only pier to extend out over the sea. It was opened in 1879 and has an arcade, restaurants and the Gaiety Bar where you can attend glamorous events, dinners and music festivals.

You can get to South Parade Pier from campus in 10 minutes by bike, or 35 minutes walking.

female stood on southsea pier smiling in the sun

Clarence Pier

Clarence Pier has a classic seaside arcade and rides, including an iconic ferris wheel overlooking the Solent. Spend the day playing crazy golf or ten-pin bowling. Grab some candy floss and enjoy one of the largest amusement parks on the South Coast.

It takes 15 minutes to walk to Clarence Pier from the centre of campus or 5 minutes by bike.

Cannon in brick castle in Southsea

Fortifications

Walk along the seafront and you'll come across most of Portsmouth's fortifications including Southsea Castle, the Round Tower and Square Tower in Old Portsmouth. Portsmouth was one of the most fortified cities in the world by the 19th Century.

You can walk to the Square Tower from the centre of campus in 15 minutes or cycle there in 5 minutes.


Parks in Portsmouth

You'll always find green open space wherever you live. Victoria Park is close to the centre of campus making it the perfect place for lunch in the sun. Further away from campus, visit Milton Common and Alexandra Park.

Man at Canoe Lake, Southsea

Canoe Lake

Canoe Lake is a popular park close to the seafront where you can ride the lake on a pedal boat shaped like a swan, relax in the cafe and much more.

You can get to Canoe Lake from the centre of campus in 10 minutes by bike, or 35 minutes walking.

Friends in Victoria Park, Portsmouth

Victoria Park

Beside our Catherine House halls, Victoria Park is a popular, peaceful space where you can revise in the sun, have a picnic lunch, or feed some of the animals. The park's aviary has exotic birds include peacocks and parrots as well as rabbits and guinea pigs. 

Female student relaxing on grass with headphones in

Alexandra Park

Alexandra Park is in the north-west of Portsea Island. Visit the park to walk, relax with friends, use the cycle path, or play cricket, hockey, football or American Football on the playing fields. The Mountbatten Centre sports complex is in the park.

Student laughing with colourful scarf

Milton Common

This large park is built on the grounds of a former lake and has 3 small freshwater lakes. The Solent Way, a 60-mile walk, crosses the park.

Milton Common is a great place to spot wildlife. The freshwater lakes have frogs, toads and newts and attract swallows, swifts, house martins and dragonflies in summer. The native grasses of the common feed caterpillars and field voles, which attract kestrels, owls and foxes.

The council website has a list of common species found on Milton Common.

Baffins Pond

Baffins Pond and Tangier Field are north of Milton Common. You'll find 5-a-side playing fields and wild birds and plants. Buy grain in local shops to feed the ducks and wildfowl.

Hilsea Lines

The Hilsea Lines are 18th and 19th century fortifications reclaimed by nature. They're a wild place for walking and getting fresh air in the north of the city.

Portsmouth City Council has information on self-guided walks along Hilsea Lines.


Nature reserves

There are many nature reserves around Portsmouth and in Hampshire. You'll find the closest reserves on this map from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Milton Locks

Milton Locks is south of Milton Common, part of Langstone Harbour and home to starlings, house sparrows, butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets. There's a small wood with plants only found in saltmarsh.

Farlington Marshes

A flagship reserve of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, you can walk the 2.5-mile path around the marshes to see many different birds – including dark–bellied brent geese, redshanks, short–eared owls, warblers and wheatears. Visit the Trust's website for more information on the wildlife and to download an illustrated map.

Eastney Beach

Eastney beach is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The plant life on the shingle includes nationally rare plants. These plants also act as a valuable roosting and feeding area for birds.

Other reserves

Other nature reserves close to Portsmouth include Langstone Harbour, Chichester Harbour, Broadmarsh Coastal Park, Wildgrounds (Gosport) and Priddy's Hard (Gosport).

Starling bird in park

Further afield

Portsdown hill

If you want an aerial view of Portsmouth to watch the sunset or experience bonfire night, head to Portsdown Hill. You'll need a bicycle or a car (or a friend with a car) to get up there. But the view on a clear day or night is worth it. If you forget to take a picnic, grab a bite from Mick's Monster Burgers – more of a local landmark than a burger van.

National parks

Just a short drive off Portsea island, you'll find yourself in the New Forest or South Downs National Park. These national parks are the perfect place to go for a hike, explore the wildlife and take a break from the city.

south downs national park scenic shot

South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park is the largest national park on the South Coast. It covers more than 1,600 square kilometres and passes through Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex.

Perfect for long walks and hikes, cycling and horse-riding, the park hosts events throughout the year including bonfire celebrations in Lewes, Opera at Glyndebourne and the Chichester Festival.

The park is an International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), and one of the best places in the world to enjoy the constellations on a clear night, or during the annual Dark Skies Festival.

horse in a field eating grass

New Forest National Park

The New Forest National Park is another great place for walking and hiking in nature. There are dedicated walking and cycling paths, and an open bus tour along scenic routes.

The New Forest has many conservation projects to protect the extensive wildlife that live there, including wild horses, hares, deer, bats, butterflies, reptiles and wading birds. You can get involved in these projects or experience the culture and history of the national park at their events.

The New Forest also has many historic houses and buildings.


Find out more about life in Portsmouth

Take a closer look at more of the exciting things on offer in our amazing city.

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