Head to the south coast of Devon to enjoy the sights of Britain’s ‘Ocean City’, Plymouth. From the historic Hoe to the city centre, where you can shop 'til you drop, there's plenty to see and do for all ages.
To help you decide just what you should enjoy on your trip to this exciting Devon city, we've created a list of fantastic things to do in Plymouth.
If you're looking for the perfect base for exploring this great city, here's our handpicked collection of cottages in Plymouth.
1. Head to the Hoe
Best for: lovers of the great outdoors
Plymouth Hoe is a wide-open expanse of green space on the edge of the city, offering incredible views over Plymouth Sound and out towards Drake’s Island.
It’s home to the iconic Smeaton's Tower lighthouse, which was originally built on a reef but was taken down and rebuilt, stone by stone, in Hoe Park. Nearby is The Royal Citadel, a dramatic 17th-century fortress, which is open for guided tours and provides an insight into past military operations.
It’s easy to spend a whole day relaxing on the Hoe. We’d recommend starting with a refreshing salt-water dip in the art deco Tinside Lido before refuelling with a breakfast at The Terrace, where you can take in the waterfront views. If it’s sunny, you can catch some rays on the rocks or take the kids around Treasure Island – a pirate-themed park with trampolines, crazy golf and go-karts.
After working up an appetite, spread out a blanket in Hoe Park and enjoy a picnic while taking in the views. End the day with a drink at one of the many waterfront bars while the sun goes down on a great day.
Looking for a place to stay? This Georgian waterfront apartment sleeps six and has uninterrupted views over Plymouth Sound, less than 500 metres from Hoe Park.
2. Enjoy the Barbican
Best for: food and drink connoisseurs
The historic Barbican area is where you can find some of Plymouth's oldest buildings and ancient sites as it’s formed around Sutton Harbour, the city’s original harbour.
If you are a foodie, you’re in for a treat here – the Barbican is home to a great selection of restaurants offering delicacies from around the world. But due to its waterfront location, it’s fish that’s the star of the show. Pick up some fish and chips from Harbourside to enjoy while overlooking the old harbour, or head to The Harbour Seafood Restaurant for an extra special fish dinner with a view to match.
The Barbican is also home to the Plymouth Gin Distillery – the oldest working gin distillery in England. You’ll see the distillery’s large tower as you walk the charming cobbled street from the harbour. There are a variety of tours on offer where you can learn the secrets of the craft and taste some of the city’s iconic gin.
Also within the winding narrow lanes are a selection of independent shops, galleries and boutiques: perfectly picturesque and great for picking up unique gifts.
Want to be close to the action? This contemporary apartment sleeps four and is right in the centre of the Barbican area.
3. Explore Royal William Yard
Best for: fans of arts and culture
Oozing charm and rich in history, Royal William Yard is a grand group of Grade I listed military buildings and a lovely area to spend the day.
Culture vultures will feel right at home here, as the yard hosts an eclectic mix of outdoor theatre productions, open-air cinema showings, live music events, as well as arts and crafts exhibitions. Keep your eyes peeled for pop-up retail and art studios, too.
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Royal William Yard is also great for fans of the outdoors; here you can stand-up paddleboard, walk the South West Coast Path, charter a sailing boat or simply relax on the grass and enjoy the views.
If you work up an appetite, there’s plenty of restaurants to choose from – both national chains and small independents – serving everything from artisanal baked goods and handpicked wines to South American fusion and Japanese cuisine.
4. Shop ‘til you drop in the city centre
Best for: shopaholics
You could easily spend a whole day dipping in and out of Plymouth’s wide range of shops and refuelling at the city centre cafes and restaurants.
Fans of high street shopping should head to Drake Circus, where you’ll find over 70 big-name brands as well as a selection of places to eat and drink.
If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, the 150-stall Plymouth Market is the place to find unique gifts and fresh food and drink. If you’ve shopped ‘til you could drop, @Kitchen is found in Plymouth Market and is one of the city’s best-loved places to eat – you’ll certainly be restored by its delicious Vietnamese and Thai-inspired flavours.
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Just across Charles Cross roundabout from Drake’s Circus, is Ebrington Street – an unassuming road that’s often compared to London’s Shoreditch for its range of trendy shops, cafes and pubs. It’s home to the super-stylish Bread and Roses, Plymouth’s only social enterprise pub and arts space which promises to nourish mind, body and soul.
5. Check out the local attractions
Best for: families and animal lovers
If you want to keep the little ones entertained, there are plenty of things to do in and around Plymouth that the kids will really enjoy.
Your first port of call has to be The National Marine Aquarium, the UK's largest aquarium which is just over the footbridge from the Barbican. You can come face-to-face with marine life both familiar and uncommon, be amazed by the aquatic creatures in the UK’s largest single tank viewing panel and discover sharks and rays in the UK’s deepest tank.
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Another great activity in the city, whatever the weather, is Plymouth Pavilions Ice Rink. Kids of all ages are welcome to get their skates on at the South West’s only permanent ice rink, located just a short walk from the Hoe. Aids are available for those whose skating style resembles Bambi on ice!
Just outside Plymouth is Dartmoor Zoo, which was the inspiration for the 2011 film ‘We Bought A Zoo’. The zoo is home to over 70 different animal species and has daily talks and feeds, making it a great day out for the whole family.
Ready to book your break? Browse our collection of cottages in Plymouth today!