Where & What is Portsmouth?

In the heart of New England an hour north of Boston, an hour south of the White Mtns.


A picturesque setting in a colonial-era seaport.

On the coast of New Hampshire is the seaport city of Portsmouth. Incorporated in 1653, Portsmouth is home to a rich history that includes being NH’s oldest settlement and the first capital of the colony of NH.

Portsmouth is located nearly equidistant from the cities of Boston to the south, and Portland, Maine to the north, and is situated ideally along the banks of the Piscataqua River, just before the mouth of the river feeds into the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf of Maine.

Portsmouth’s proximity to the ocean, mountains, woods, rivers, and lakes is one of its defining features. With 23,000 residents – and many more working at companies in the city, Portsmouth is neither a “small town” nor a “big city.”

Its oceanside location makes for an idyllic pocket of favorable weather. It is consistently milder in Portsmouth than in even its closest neighbors, causing many of us here to purport a certain “magic” quality to our town. With fewer inches (sometimes fewer feet) of snow, shorter duration (or altogether avoidance) of passing storms, warmer winter temperatures, and cool summertime ocean breezes, Portsmouth residents live in a perfect alcove of verdant, four-season New England weather.

Portsmouth’s strategic geographic location attracted the founding of two military bases: the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, founded in 1800, and the former Pease Air Force Base, whose airport is still operating in a civilian capacity as the Pease International Tradeport.

Portsmouth is a true destination town that visitors from all over the country and world flock to. Downtown Portsmouth boasts hundreds of local shops and restaurants – arguably the densest concentration of restaurants and bars in New England – that attract shoppers and diners from all over, as well as students from the nearby University of New Hampshire (campus is 11 miles inland, in Durham, NH). The resulting mix of world-class restaurants, live-music-filled bars, and youthful awesomeness equals a kick-ass, fun nightlife.

Portsmouth is home to two craft breweries: Red Hook and the Portsmouth Brewery. Heck, there are so many great places to get a drink, the good people of Portsmouth created an interactive map for you:

View Portsmouth, NH Watering Holes in a larger map