Here are a few ideas of things to do and see while you are enjoying your City Break in Plymouth
Start your exploration by visiting Plymouth’s historic Barbican. This is the oldest part of the city and it is truly steeped in history. See where the Pilgrim Fathers left England from on their voyage to the New World. This spot is marked by the famous Mayflower Steps, the perfect place to start your tour.
Across the road from here, visit the Mayflower Visitor Centre and learn more about the Pilgrims, who they were and why they undertook such a monumentous voyage. A little further along is the Island House, on the side of which is a plaque with all the names and occupations of the Pilgrims – it makes a fascinating read.
Meander around the cobbled streets taking in more than 400 years of history. You will find New Street, one of the oldest streets in Plymouth, and The Elizabethan House which contains furniture and household effects of the period. A little further along New Street is local historian, Chris Robinson’s shop which is a goldmine of historical publications and pictures of old Plymouth. Further again is The Elizabethan Garden, a hidden gem. It is rumoured that the Pilgrim Fathers ate their last supper before embarking on their epic voyage at the building which now contains Plymouth Gin, one of Britain’s oldest working distilleries. See the gin being made and sample it too.
If all this walking has made you hungry, turn back taking in the galleries, gift shops and art and craft workshops and head for one of the many tea rooms and restaurants serving traditional Devon lunches. Seafood is a speciality and is usually freshly caught on the same day.
The National Marine Aquarium is located opposite the Mayflower Steps and is accessible across the lock gates. The NMA has one of the biggest exhibit tanks in Europe and houses thousands of species of fish and marine life.
There are choices of several tours either by foot, boat or landtrain which can be taken from The Barbican. Select South West Tours offer very informative walking tours of The Barbican and Plymouth Hoe. Plymouth Boat Trips run 1 hour cruises taking in the historic Naval dockyard and panoramic views of Plymouth Hoe, Drake’s Island and the Cornish coast. Plymouth Landtrains offer tours aboard the Mayflower Express with running commentary of the many parts of this wonderful, historic city.
In the evening, head out into the city or Barbican and sample some of the delights of the many restaurants and pubs or perhaps visit one of our theatres: Barbican Theatre / Theatre Royal /Plymouth Pavilions.
After a sumptuous full English Breakfast at Edgcumbe Guest House or The Invicta Hotel, head for the Plymouth Hoe. Stand on the Promenade from where Sir Francis Drake played his legendary game of bowls before defeating the Spanish Armada. Take in the wonderful vista of Plymouth Sound, Drake’s Island and the coast of Devon and Cornwall. You are now admiring one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. Smeaton’s Tower is sited on Plymouth Hoe, having been moved here stone by stone by the Victorians from The Eddystone Reef where it stood since 1759. At the end of The Promenade stands The Royal Citadel which was built by King Charles II in 1665. It is still used today and is home of 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery. It is possible by prior arrangement, to tour this fortification (details here).
The Royal William Yard is the former Royal Navy Victualling Yard. This can be accessed by road or water taxi from The Barbican. There are arts and craft galleries contained within the Yard along with several restaurants and cafes and wine bars. From here walk along the Georgian streets to Admiral’s Hard where the foot ferry will take you across the River Tamar to Cremyll in Cornwall. The entrance to Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park is a few yards from the quayside. The house is open to the public and there are formal gardens as well as a deer park to explore. The Edgcumbe Arms pub offers a selection of Cornish Real Ales and a delightful menu.
The above is just a hint of the numerous options available to you on your voyage of discovery. Why not use Plymouth as your base for exploring the whole South West Peninsular of Devon and Cornwall from its quaint fishing villages, rugged coastline and, of course not forgetting the wild and beautiful Dartmoor National Park. We will be happy to help and advise you and make reservations on your behalf.
Please follow the hyperlinks to the various places of interest to find out more information. Also feel free to ask us! We have a good knowledge of historical locations and will be happy to help you explore the many historic locations of Plymouth.
Useful links for visitors
Owner run guest house a stone’s throw from the sea front.
Three Star family run Hotel on Plymouth Hoe.
Lots of information on places to go and things to see and do in Plymouth.
Volunteer page and social media channels celebrating the #BestOfPlymouth
The Plymouth Barbican Waterfront showcases the best of what the Plymouth Barbican has to offer, from pubs to restaurants, attractions, event news and more.
The Plymouth Hoe Waterfront showcasing the best of what the Plymouth Hoe has to offer, from pubs to restaurants, attractions, event news and more.
Visit the UK’s largest Aquarium and be amazed by our fascinating underwater world and how we all play a part in conserving it.
Everything you need to know about the Theatre Royal in Plymouth, including how to find the theatre, whats on, show times and full theatre guide.
Plymouth Pavilions is the South West’s premier leisure and entertainment venue, boasting a versatile Arena and family-friendly Ice Rink!
The original Plymouth Gin – England, the history, the culture, the links, the pilgrims, the distillery.