You may have heard of London’s famed “Borough Market” and its spectacular array of street vendors, but have you heard of its “mini-Borough Market”? Situated along the seafront in Downton, the village in front of the O2 Arena, the Portland Fish Market is a wonderful little hub of hustle and bustle, where you can buy the most delicious haddock, plaice and pollack cooked to your taste. You’ll often see families and couples going there for a romantic dinner or a spot of shopping, so it’s a real heartbreaker when the shops and restaurants close at 5 pm, meaning that you have to rush home for a relaxing night in front of the TV.
But does this hustle and bustle over fish represent the whole of the Portland area? From its bustling port, to the beautiful Beaches and the mild maritime climate, there is so much more to the place than meets the eye. Many people have bought homes along the waterfront, which they treat as an extension of the city, while others have bought property in the nearby town of Seaford, keen to escape the hustle and bustle of urban living.
If you are keen to discover more about the area, we’ve put together a short guide, describing some of the best things to do in and around the Portland area, along with some helpful tips on how to make the most of your visit.
Things To Do In And Around The Portland Area
Whether you’ve heard of Portland or not, you’ve probably seen it on TV. The city is best known for its coastline and its fishing villages, which you can explore by boat or on foot. There’s also the Portland Museum of Art, which holds an exceptional collection of international galleries and sculptures. In the city itself, you’ll discover bars, clubs and restaurants, many with outdoor seating and quirky interior design, and of course the Portland Winterhawks, one of the US’s top ice hockey teams, whose matches are a real joy to behold.
One of the things that makes the Portland area so appealing is the blend of old England and fresh Americana. You’ll find classic English terraces next to grandiose American corporate buildings. The city is home to a large and vibrant arts community, with an impressive array of galleries and exhibition spaces. It also hosts the annual Portland International Film Festival, showcasing the best in world cinema, and the fantastic Fringe Theatre Festival.
Speaking of world cinema, the Portland Public Library is one of the region’s biggest movie collections, which you can access free of charge. You can also use the library’s wifi to keep up to date with news, views and events, as well as hunt down a suitable book for an ideal summer read.
If you visit the city between May and October, be sure to catch one of its many world-class music festivals. The Portland Chamber Music Festival presents classical and jazz musicians from around the world, while the larger and more established Vibes Music Festival focuses on ska, rock and indie bands from the region and beyond.
But the Portland area’s appeal goes beyond its museums and galleries, climate and coastline. Bordering the iconic Oregon Coast, the city is surrounded by some of the country’s most iconic and recognizable landmarks. There’s the glorious Portland Sparetime Society Swimming Pool, the world-class Biketoes candy store, the Hollywood Theater and the wonderful O’malley Pub and Brewery. Plus, just beyond the city limits is the charming seaside resort of Curlew, with its own beach, pier and children’s amusement park.
But perhaps the area’s most unique selling point is its food. From the fish market to the farmers’ market, there’s an abundance of choice when it comes to eating out. If you’re looking to spend a pleasurable and memorable evening, there are so many great restaurants and eateries to choose from.
One of the best things about the Portland area is that it’s such a friendly place. Locals are generally very welcoming to visitors, and the residents of Downton in particular, have turned this welcoming spirit into a real tourism draw. Especially so since the opening of the O2 Arena in 2015, which has brought increased focus and interest to the area.
The Arena is located in the heart of the city, next to the waterfront, and is easily accessible via the Light Rail, which stops right outside the venue’s gates. If you visit the O2 Arena anytime soon, why not ride the rails and explore the city while you’re at it? You can even buy a discounted day pass if you visit the arena between April and October, to help make the most of the area’s glorious outdoor seating.
How To Make The Most Of Your Visit
So you’ve made it to Portland, or are nearing the end of your trip and thinking about what to do next. If you’re looking for some ideas on how to make the most of your visit, read on. You may want to book tickets to one of the city’s world-class art galleries, or take a stroll along the waterfront towards the O2 Arena, for a view of this year’s International Festival of Music and the Arts. From there you can walk via the Morrison Bridge and catch a bus back to the city center.
Another option is to visit the Portland Public Library. Here you can find hundreds of novels, thrillers, comics and much more, all for free. Just bring photo ID and join the club. You can also borrow books and stream movies via the library’s online platforms.
If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s going on in the area, be sure to download the free Portland Local app, which provides quick access to a variety of local events and attractions, as well as being a handy guide to where you can eat, drink and be merry in the city. And last but not least, should you find yourself in the city between October and April, you must visit the Portland Winterhawks. Here, you can catch a game or two, and you’ll be treated to some world-class hockey performances. The team plays at the arena, which was originally built for the 1976 Olympics.
The Portland Winterhawks are one of the league’s most successful teams. They’ve won the Western Conference four years in a row, and this year they’re heading for a fifth straight title.
Is Downton A Scared City?
If you’ve ventured as far as the paragraph above, you’ll no doubt have noticed a theme. This is merely a small guide, but if you’re really interested in exploring the place, you’ll find much more information online. For example, the Portland Area Historical Society has an entire website devoted to the history of the region, which you can access online. Similarly, the Portland Business Journal has an in-depth online newspaper, which provides lots of information about the city. And speaking of newspapers, if you’ve visited the UK at all in the last year, you’ll know that the quality of reporting and the sheer amount of content is varied and impressive. It’s definitely not just one or two newspapers that cover the city, but the whole media landscape in the UK is really buzzing, which means that lots of news outlets cover lots of topics. If you’d like to keep up with the latest news, views and events in the city, there are lots of options. Not only do the weekly and daily newspapers provide extensive coverage, but so do the various specialty magazines and websites. There’s also the excellent Free Press newspaper, which you can download and read online.
Is This The London Of The West?
Not really. Although there are many aspects that make the Portland area similar to the great city of London, there are also notable differences. For a start, the climate is more suited to enjoying outdoor activities, such as fishing, jogging and riding bikes. Also, the UK’s smallest city is a lot more compact than London, which means that there’s more space for individuals and households to enjoy. Last but not least, although many of the city’s oldest buildings date back to the 1800s, the area doesn’t have the same feeling of nostalgia, as there were few devastating fires, and the city as a whole was relatively unscathed by bombing during the Second World War.
In conclusion, the UK capital is definitely one of the world’s most photographed cities, which is probably why so many people want to visit it. It also hosts some of the planet’s best-loved annual events, such as the Notting Hill Carnival and the London International Film Festival. There’s something for everyone. If you are considering a trip, make sure to research the place well and consider all the options available. You’ll have an unforgettable experience, and you’ll enjoy visiting a city that’s rich in history.