Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Southsea Beach this summer. From where to eat, drink and park, and what to do when you’re on Southsea seafront too.
I want to introduce you to Southsea Seafront. Over the past year I must’ve walked it over 200 times, as it’s only a mile from my house. Portsmouth Southsea Beach is one of my favourites. It’s not as hectic as other English beaches (looking at Brighton and the sandy shores of Cornwall) but, has a unique character of its own.
Like all good beaches there are enough restaurants, arcades and places to get ice cream, yet it’s definitely not overwhelming. Southsea Beach is a great size beach to have nearby, and the fact that it’s shingle means that you don’t bring half of it home after a visit.
If you’ve never been to Portsmouth seafront before, then let me show you what to expect from a day out at Southsea Beach.
What is Southsea Beach like?
Southsea Beach is shingle, big stone shingle. As the waterline retreats in low tide you might see some sand in the right spot. Apart from that, Southsea does not have a sandy beach.
The sea on Southsea Beach can get deep pretty quickly. I wouldn’t recommend anyone but a really competent swimmer to go in more than a few feet. Especially if it’s cold as that cold can really give you a shock.
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Southsea Beach is less than a mile south of Portsmouth city centre, making it the perfect place for a weekend with all the delights of the city not far away.
From Southsea Beach, you can see out to the Isle of Wight, and all the boats passing in front of you too. Amazing to see, but calming too, when you’re sat on the beach admiring the view.
Southsea Beach map
Here’s a map of our Victorian seafront, Southsea Beach. As you can see on the video, we have a clear beach road, a promenade for exercise, a run of restaurants and a pier too. Most of the buildings along Southsea seafront are residential, apart from the Royal Beach Hotel.
Watch my video to see more of Southsea Beach…
What to do on Southsea Beach
Southsea is on the southern shore of Portsea Island. The beach road along Southsea Beach makes it the perfect spot for riding your scooter and cycling, although if you’ve spent more than a day here you’ll realise it can be pretty dangerous.
Drivers parking up don’t look when they open their doors into the cycle path, pedestrians don’t look as they cross the road and speedy cyclists don’t stop at zebra crossings. It’s easy to get annoyed at people down here but I once nearly took out a cyclist with my paddleboard as I crossed over without looking properly, still makes me shudder to think of. He shouted some earned expletives at me and now I’m extra, super careful crossing there – as everyone should be. I’ve also been a victim of rogue car doors when I cycle down, and pedestrians too involved in their ice creams to look where they’re going. Just watch yourself down here. I’m sure that cycle path was created with good intentions, but it’s a pretty hazardous part of Portsmouth.
Public Service Announcement over, let’s move onto the FUN to be had on Southsea Beach.
As you know, I love living in Southsea. Here are just a few of the great things you can do on the beach here.
Paddleboarding on Southsea Beach: In summer on Southsea Beach you can rent paddleboards from Island Feather, outside Southsea Beach Cafe. It’s pretty pricey at £35 a session, but good to give it a go. Although, if it’s your first time I’m not sure I’d recommend going on the sea.
At least wait for a calm day!
Check out my tips on paddleboarding in winter and buying a paddleboard if you want more info.
Swimming on Southsea Beach: Swimming is of course the obvious thing to do on Southsea Beach. We have a lifeguard on Southsea Beach in summer, but you need to check the times and dates. I’d definitely recommend either some neoprene socks or some sea shoes, those shingles are tough on your trotters!
Running on Southsea Beach: The Southsea Beach promenade is great for runners, at quiet times. It can get pretty busy after work and at weekends, making it difficult to get your pace on but the promenade is pretty wide.
Rollerskates and skateboarding on Southsea Beach: I’ve seen more and more rollerskaters over lockdown, although the fact the promenade is slightly ridged rather than smooth cement could make it a little more difficult for beginners.
Skaters love it down here and there’s actually a saved space for skaters down at The Briny. Although there’s a whole skate park over on Southsea Common so I’m sure some pedestrians would rather they just go over there.
Canoe Lake near Southsea Beach: this article is about Southsea Beach, but I can’t really mention the beach without talking about Canoe Lake. Canoe Lake is just behind the main stretch of Southsea Beach and has swan boats, crabbing, and a playground too. The Portsmouth Natural History Museum is here, with free entry.
Southsea Castle at Southsea Beach: Southsea Castle was famously built by Henry VIII’s skivvies, for fear of the French attacking. They didn’t need it and now it’s a lovely place to spend a few hours, exploring inside and enjoying the brewery and cafe that are now in the walls too.
Southsea Common: Just a few minutes walk from Southsea Beach and you have the almighty Southsea Common, home to Victorious Festival – one of the biggest festivals in Southsea.
Where to eat on Southsea Beach
The Coffee Cup
The Coffee Cup marks the start of Southsea Beach. This is a really popular spot year round. In the past I’ve loved going for a few hours on a rainy afternoon to see the beach and the weather lashing from the windows. To be honest, the coffee isn’t my favourite – I’d rather the next spot on our list – but, I love what they’re doing and they have a great outdoor area on the beach with picnic tables.
You can buy sandwiches, soup, cakes, ice cream and all kinds of coffee and soft drinks from The Coffee Cup.
Southsea Beach Cafe
The Southsea Beach Cafe menu is fab. You can get crab sandwiches, fish and chips, brunch, cake and alcoholic beverages here. Inside they have a window wall to watch the sea from, and just outside they have tables in the Southsea sun. I love it here!
Through most of 2020 they’ve served the BEST sausage rolls, drinks and local ice cream from the takeout window. They’re now serving a range of meals too. The breakfast burrito is all kinds of special.
I like to support them as much as possible as its the best place to eat on the seafront.
Occasionally they’ll do evening events for us, and BBQs too. Southsea Beach Cafe is in an absolute prime location right on Southsea Beach.
Southsea Beach Takeaways
There’s a run of takeouts on Southsea Beach. I have it on good authority that the samosas from the Indian Food Hut are amazing, and I know from first hand experience that the bacon sandwiches at the blue one are pretty sweet too. Buy from there and you can sit on the benches to eat, too.
Don’t even try if you’ve bought your food anywhere else!
The Old Pier Hut
I haven’t had the pleasure of an Old Pier Hut feast yet, but it’s always popular. Looks like they’re building another seated area behind too, so soon there’ll be even more reason to eat here.
Deep Blue Fish and Chips Restaurant
If you want fish and chips on Southsea Beach, then this is the place to get them from. You can expect long queues in the summer. There’s a huge restaurant on the pier, but there’s also a takeout service on the east side of the pier too. This is my favourite option as I swear they give you more chips, and you get to go and eat it on the beach a few steps away.
The Briny is a really lovely seafood restaurant. I’ve only actually managed to eat there twice as they’re always booked up so get your booking in if you want some oysters while looking out to sea.
Their cocktail menu is delightful and the interiors are decorated beautifully. Since lockdown they’ve been offering a takeout service from a window hatch that I definitely need to try ASAP.
Dogs on Southsea Beach
You can bring dogs to Southsea Beach from September to March but over summer, the beach is off limits for dogs.
What to do on Southsea Pier
Apart from eat at the Old Pier Hut, Deep Blue and the cafe inside, there are a few things to do on Southsea Pier. Mainly, the arcades and the rides. You can have a lot of fun on the 2p machines in the arcades, and there’s even a bowling alley in there too.
Southsea beach parking
Where to park near Southsea Beach hey?
Well, we have lots of parking spaces along the promenade if you get in here early and pay the premium. There’s also a car park almost opposite Southsea Beach Cafe, for a charge.
If you want free parking you’re going to have to park in Southsea and walk back to the beach – but bear in mind that most of it is two hours maximum so you’d have to go back and move your car anyways.
Hotels on Southsea Beach
The most obvious choice for a hotel on Southsea Beach is the Royal Beach Best Western. My parents have stayed here a few times and been happy with it. I’ve been inside and seen the rooms, and drank in the bar. It’s not modern, or fancy, but it’s in a great location for Southsea Beach, and has all you need.
You could also try the Seacrest Hotel a little further along.
If it’s an apartment in Southsea you’d like, take a look at these…
More about Southsea and Portsmouth
Want to know more about Southsea Beach, Southsea and Portsmouth? Here’s how you can have an excellent 48 hours in Southsea. Check out the rest of my England travel blogs here too.