Portsmouth Dockyard or Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is made up of a number of different attractions, including HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose Museum. We thought it sounded like a great place to explore with the kids and spent a few days exploring Portsmouth Dockyard with kids.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is an area of HM Naval Base Portsmouth which is open to the public. It contains several historic buildings and ships. We found the ticket options really complicated but the kids used their Blue Peter badges for free entry whilst we purchased annual passes. These tickets included all the main attractions in both Portsmouth and Gosport as well as a handy water bus between the two places.
Exploring Portsmouth Dockyard with kids
Our tickets meant we could explore all the main sites. A Portsmouth Historic Dockyard ticket gives access to HMS Victory, the Mary Rose Museum, HMS Warrior 1860, National Museum of the Royal Navy, HMS M.33, Boathouse 4, Dockyard Apprentice, Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Harbour Tours, Action Stations and Victory Gallery.
There are clearly far too many places to visit in a day, or even two days, so we picked the attractions we really wanted to see. Our first stop was the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport. Our favourite part was walking through HMS Alliance, the only remaining Second World War era submarine. Somehow 63 crew squeezed on board and the kids loved seeing their bunks, toilets and the tiny kitchen where all the meals were cooked.
There was even the chance to take a peek through the working periscopes.
The kids loved HMS Alliance so much we actually visited it twice, as well as Holland I. We were able to take the complimentary waterbus across the harbour to Portsmouth Dockyard. There was too much to see on one day but we took a 45 minute Harbour Tour which let us see the boats which were currently in the dockyard, as well as some of the historic buildings and the dramatic Portsmouth skyline.
Of course we had to visit HMS Victory, which was the flagship of Lord Nelson. It’s currently undergoing restoration so covered in a huge tent, but you can still visit. There’s a one-way system to walk around and it took us a long time to explore the ship. The kids loved seeing the hammocks where the sailors slept.
We were also able to visit the Mary Rose Museum. We all remember where we were when they raised the Mary Rose (in 1982!) and it was amazing being able to see it. I remember the old museum where they constantly sprayed the ship with water and the new museum lets you get really close to the Mary Rose and the people who sailed on her.
We could easily have spent another day exploring Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as there were more attractions to visit. However we were all pretty tired even after frequent stops for drinks and snacks!
We had a fab time exploring Portsmouth Dockyard with the kids and will definitely try and use our annual tickets again. The kids really wanted to try Action Stations and we wanted to spend more time looking round Boathouse 4.