Just a few weeks after waving off my eldest to his new temporary home in Portsmouth (where he is embarking on a work placement), we followed him down for a series of long weekends.
With hugely positive reports reaching us of this previously undiscovered Hampshire island city, it was definitely the perfect excuse to experience it properly as a family for the first time.
On this visit, we decided to get a very different perspective on this historically fascinating area by taking a trip up Spinnaker Tower.
About the Tower: Visible from more than 23 miles away, the striking 170-metre tall Tower stands loud and proud in Portsmouth Harbour and will, more likely than not, be the first familiar landmark you spot on your drive – or sail – into the city.
Opened in 2005, it was built as part of the Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour Project as a public and educational facility to celebrate the new Millennium.
My Verdict: Visitors can’t help but to start their experience by appreciating the prowess of this stunning structure before then entering the Tower and watching an animated introductory film show. After a quick photo opportunity, the high-speed lift whisks you up to 100 metres above sea level (travelling at four metres per second!) where a unique 350-degree panoramic view of Portsmouth awaits. There’s also the option of learning more about what you’re seeing with the help of interactive touchscreens.
‘Highlight’ for me though (if you’ll excuse the pun) is the glass Sky Walk in the centre of the view deck floor. No better vantage point from which to gain a literal insight into the building’s construction beneath your feet.
If it’s still not high enough for you though, a few stairs will take guests up to the next viewing level at 110 metres above sea level. Standing here, as we did, on a wet and windy day, you really do feel open to the elements. Not a reason however, to not make the journey. In fact, you really get a sense of the remarkable engineering skills that went into building this unique structure.
Views were still breath taking – although a Viewing Guarantee for foggy days is offered if the three Solent Forts aren’t all visible- so no need to wait until that one day in August!
We were pleased we’d visited the Tower on our second visit to Portsmouth rather than our first as it was enjoyable picking out in the distance many of the landmarks and attractions we’d previously experienced.
For those who have an ‘appetite’ for more, there’s a delicious-looking High Tea offering available in The Clouds restaurant on the middle viewing level. The perfect vino and vista combination for a special celebration perhaps. (Yes, they’ll even host your wedding reception here!) Or, back on the ground, the Spinnaker Kitchen and Bar, is a handy sustenance stop-off before or after your visit.
More adventurous types might be tempted by the ultimate Spinnaker Tower abseil experience, available on selected dates. Undoubtedly views to rival anywhere else in the city, but not one for me – at least not until the winds die down!
Coming Soon: The return of the Tower’s VR game (suspended throughout the pandemic), an update of the Sky Garden and facelift for the kitchen and bar area.
Whatever the time of year, a trip up Spinnaker Tower is definitely worthy of your itinerary. In fact I look forward to also returning on a drier and sunnier day to compare the view and check out the updates.
I am relishing my journey of discovery around this beautiful island city of which the landmark Spinnaker Tower is most definitely a ‘high’ point!
- The concrete used to build the Tower would fill five and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.
- The 1,200 tonnes of structural steel used to form the Tower’s distinctive bows is roughly the same weight as 12 blue whales.
- In high winds the Tower can flex approximately 150mm – that’s about the length of a standard pencil.
- There are 587 steps from ground level up to View Deck 3.
- The total weight of the Tower exceeds 30,000 tonnes.
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Read Portsmouth Reviews Part 1 here
Read Portsmouth Review Part 2 here