There’s always a lot going on in Portsmouth, especially this time of year, and it’s so easy to get worn out by the hustle and bustle of the city.
Don’t let it get to you – instead, kick back at one of our ten top spots to chill out in Portsmouth, and give your batteries a chance to recharge before you get back on with any frantic last minute Christmas shopping.
Home Coffee is a speciality coffee shop and alternative café in Albert Road, home of the quirky in Southsea. You’ll spot the funky sea-themed décor as you walk past the King’s Theatre. It’s got a really chilled atmosphere, with a garden to relax in out the back, as well as a huge selection of coffee to choose from.
The larger tables have signs on encouraging patrons to share the space and chat to one another, creating a friendly, diverse and welcoming environment. If you’re feeling peckish, try one of Home Coffee’s gluten free and vegan cakes, or maybe even a smoothie developed in-house by one of the café’s expert nutritionists.
36 Albert Road, PO5 2SL, 02392 176240
The Rose Gardens in Southsea are surprisingly quiet for their location – right next to the play park near Canoe Lake. During the summer months, it’s particularly lovely with blooming roses and benches located around the garden, where you can sit and enjoy some peace and quiet.
During the winter months, it’s still a great place to sit and unwind – my favourite place is on the top of the hill near the model village, which you can find by walking through the adjacent Japanese Garden and up the steps. You’ll have some amazing views of the Solent, right over to the Isle of Wight – although be sure to wrap up warm this time of year, because it certainly gets breezy.
Southsea Beach Café
If you’re looking for something tasty to snack on while you’re relaxing on the seafront, try out Southsea Beach Café, which is right next to South Parade Pier and just over the road from Canoe Lake. Breakfast is served from 9am to 12pm daily (Saturdays and Sundays until 11.30am), and then lunch is served until 5pm. Enjoy Southsea Beach Café’s Velvety Luxurious Hot Chocolate (£2.50, £3 for the Fully Loaded) while feasting your eyes on the sea views.
Esplanade, PO4 0SP, 023 9283 2854, southseabeachcafe.co.uk
Victoria Park is located near good old Guildhall Walk, and covers 15 acres of grassed area. In the centre of the park, there is an aviary with peacocks, parrots and other exotic birds, as well as rabbits and guinea pigs. If you fancy doing a guided tree walk, the park offers them throughout the year. Situated just up the road from the particularly manic Commercial Road, Victoria Park offers you the opportunity to get away from the noise and the crowds, grab a cup of coffee, and read your book on one of the benches. There’s also an on-site café and a picnic site, if the weather’s on your side.
Portsmouth Central Library
Shh! There’s plenty to do at the library, as it’s a key place for several resources, including computer and IT training, activities for children and young people, reading groups, school library services, and health, wellbeing and support services. However, it’s also a quiet spot in the centre of Portsmouth where you can set your laptop up and do some work in peace, or just sit and read distraction-free. Right outside the library, Guildhall Square is a great place for people watching, so sit up on the steps opposite the great building itself and have a gander at all that’s going on.
Guildhall Walk, PO1 2DX, 02392 819311
The Belle Isle
The Belle Isle has a really relaxed, chilled out vibe, where you can kick back with some great food or a pint in a quirky, artsy atmosphere. There’s some interesting items to try out on the menu, too – Alabama Hotpot. Jerk Chicken Curry, Ericeira Chicken, Salmon & Dill Linguine, Chicken Jambalaya, Spiced Lamb Skewers, and Shipwrecked Mussels.
A personal favourite is the Falafel dish, which is served in a toasted flatbread with slaw, tomato, and skinny fries. They’ve also got some great deals – a free drink with any burrito every Monday, and a free drink with any nachos every Tuesday.
39 Osborne Rd, PO5 3LR, 02392 820515, thebelleisle.co.uk
Cumberland House and Gardens
Tucked away as it is, the entrance to the gardens at Cumberland House can be walked straight past very easily. It’s a peaceful little spot for walking around, or simply sitting and enjoying the views in, right behind Cumberland House, which is the home of Portsmouth’s Natural History Museum.
Between May and September, you can also walk through the museum’s Butterfly House, which is filled with living insects and plants. If you visit the museum during its opening hours, you can also take a walk around the ‘An A to Z of Natural History’ exhibit and have a look at some of the 114,000 specimens that Portsmouth Museums look after.
The Garage Lounge has a great atmosphere; relaxed, quirky and inviting. With mismatched sofas, comfy chairs, and old fashioned crockery, this restaurant and café, which has an impressive range of cakes and a fantastic breakfast menu, is a great place to kick back. Pick a warming beverage from the entire shelving unit of tea the restaurant boasts and chill out. It’s also an ideal location to meet up with some mates for lunch, especially as you’ve got all the quirky shops in Albert Road right next door to have a look around.
1 Albert Road, 023 9282 8432
If your idea of chilling out is a relaxing stroll along the beach, then head along to South seafront. There’s plenty of walks leading to a number of interesting spots – a personal favourite is the hill next to the Pyramids centre, where you can sit and watch the waves, as well as everyone enjoying the beach. There are a couple of cafés and other places to stop along the seafront,so you can warm up with a cuppa before resuming your relaxing walk.
Take a walk up to the top of Portsdown Hill – or drive up if you don’t fancy the almighty climb to the top of the hill from Cosham – and enjoy the views of Portsmouth from one of the benches near Monster Mick’s. The view from the top of the hill can be utterly glorious during sunny days, stunning during sunsets, and beautiful at night time, especially during firework displays and when all the lights are on. It’s easy to get tired or even disillusioned with the hustle and bustle constantly going on in Portsmouth, so enjoy some time relaxing at the top of the hill and remind yourself of how charming the city can really be.