A long nautical history, Plymouth is where the Mayflower left with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620.
Places to see:
The Mayflower Steps are where the Pilgrim Fathers set off for New England in 1620 on the Mayflower. Visit the Plymouth Mayflower for an interactive insight into Plymouth’s nautical heritage and background to the Pilgrim Fathers’ trip.
Robert Lenkiewicz murals are huge murals scattered around the Barbican. Lenkiewicz achieved fame in the mid-1980s when he embalmed the body of a local tramp! Some people find his art disturbing.
If you fancy a tipple, visit the oldest hin producer, the Plymouth Gin Distillery. Making it here since 1793, you can tour around the stills before you take a tutored tasting and free G&T in the bar.
The much-restored Barbican area has over 100 listed buildings. Tudor houses on cobbled streets look out across a harbour filled with fishing trawlers and yachts. A lot of the Tudor and Jacobean buildings have been converted into galleries, craft shops and restaurants. Another historic area worth looking at is Devonport where you can go on the Devonport Heritage Trail with over 70 waymarkers outlining the route. For a good view over the city and surroundings, head for Smeaton’s Tower, an eye-catching 70ft high lighthouse that used to stand on the Eddystone Reef before it was moved here in the 1880s.
Francis Drake was supposed to have spied the Spanish fleet from Plymouth Hoe that overlooks Plymouth Sound. The Hoe became a favourite holiday spot in the Victorian era and now the promenade is backed by grand villas and hotels.
For further views of the surroundings, the Wheel of Plymouth offers 360 degree views from its 60m high moving platform.
Things to do:
Style Plymouth (March) is a live fashion show, where you can try out beauty treatments or can hang out at a ‘man creche’ in front of a big screen where live 6 Nations Rugby is screened.
Sky Ride Plymouth (May) is an eight kilometre cycle ride that starts from Hoe Promenade and passes the city’s famous waterfront and landmarks such as Smeaton’s Tower.
Several cultural trails have been designed to explore the landscape and discover some of its hidden gems. Trails include a variety of themes including Man and the Landscape, Trade and Settlement, Coast in Conflict, a Colourful Landscape and Car Free days out.
Plymouth has one of the largest shopping centres in the South West featuring many independent retailers. National brands and high street names can be found in Plymouth’s Drake Cross shopping centre. Specialist retailers are concentrated in the Independent Quarter where you can pick up unique pieces of art from the Barbican’s historic quarter.
Plymouth is well served by rail, buses and ferries. The railway station is a few minutes from the town centre. Ferries and the Mountbatten Water Taxi operate daily from the Barbican landing stage.
Highly recommended, the Glassblowing House offers good value and high quality locally-sourced fresh produce. Overlooking Plymouth’s majestic Sutton Harbour waterfront, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the historic Mayflower Steps.
Plymouth runs regular farmers’ markets and hosts a number of food related events including the annual Flavourfest. For a real taste of Plymouth and the South West though, visit local organic farm shops, vegetable farms, clotted cream and ice cream dairies, real ale breweries and local vineyards and pick your own fruit for a great foodie day out.
Where to stay:
For a charming B&B, the Athenaeum Lodge Guest House in a Georgian Grade II Listed Building comes recommended. Located close to Plymouth Hoe, it’s just 200 metres from the sea and close to the centre of Plymouth.
Boringdon Hall Hotel is a historic and captivating Grade I Listed Elizabethan Manor House Hotel located on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and just five away from Plymouth. The family owned and run four-star hotel has a number of majestic four-poster bedrooms with oak-panels and antique furnishings in the old part of the building.