Voted Bristol’s number one tourist attraction, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Britain sailed around the globe 32 times as a luxury liner and coal carrier. For the full experience of this super- sized Victorian ship, you can climb the huge main mast, head below for a peek into the luxury First Class cabins, the kitchens and so much more.
Step aboard the wooden world of the Georgian Navy by visiting Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, best known for her role in the Battle of Trafalgar. Explore the cramped confines of the ship and tread over the 200-year-old planks of the lower gun deck. If you don’t want to associate with the rank and file crew, visit the admiral’s living quarters to get a taste of 17th century high-society living at sea.
Keeping watch over the River Thames is the British Navy’s largest preserved warship in Europe, HMS Belfast. Launched in 1938, this iconic warship has sailed the seas from the Arctic to the Far East. Visitors can take their own tour of duty around the engine room or re-enact a thrilling battle scene in the Gun Turret Experience, but don’t make it too realistic – the guns are trained and elevated on the London Scratchwood motorway services.
Get there: Nearest tube, London Bridge
One of the last remaining British tea clippers, the Cutty Sark is much admired for her striking profile and enchanting figurehead. Walk along the decks in the footsteps of the merchant seamen who sailed her over a century ago, explore the hold where precious cargo was stored, and discover why the Cutty Sark became the fastest vessel of her time.
Get there: Take the DLR to Cutty Sark
An outstanding piece of naval architecture, the sleek black lines of Britain’s first iron-hulled warship still fire up the imagination today. HMS Warrior, launched in 1860, was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet and was at one time the largest warship in the world. Visitors are encouraged to fully explore Warrior’s four decks and if they wish, join in a gun drill. To get there make the most of First Great Western’s cheap rail fares to Portsmouth