An interesting and historic port town 65 mi/105 km southwest of London, Portsmouth, England, is home base for the Royal Navy. Charles Dickens was born there, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and H.G. Wells put in some time at Portsmouth as well. Be sure to visit HMS Warrior (the first armor-plated warship) and HMS Victory (the beautifully restored wooden ship commanded by Lord Nelson during the Napoleonic Wars). For naval history buffs, the Royal Navy Museum is a must-see.

Make a side trip to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and the Museum of Naval Firepower in nearby Gosport (the ferry ride to Gosport is itself an enjoyable experience). There are also boat trips around the harbor, the Spinnaker Tower, and an entertainment and shopping complex at Gunwharf Quay. In Portchester, between Portsmouth and Gosport, there are the impressive ruins of a Norman castle built using the walls of an ancient Roman fort. Just north of town are two Victorian-era forts open to the public.

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