10 best places to visit in Plymouth | A situ guide

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Plymouth is a city at the extreme southwestern corner of the county of Devon. So, what can you do when you visit? Here are our 10 best places to visit in Plymouth!

  1. The Barbican
  2. National Marine Aquarium
  3. The Mayflower Steps
  4. Plymouth Hoe
  5. The beaches
  6. Central Park
  7. Elizabethan House
  8. Devonport Naval Heritage Centre
  9. Saltram
  10. Tinside Lido

The Barbican 

The Barbican district is Plymouth’s old town area. Amongst its narrow, cobbled streets, you’ll find more than 200 listed buildings. Lovers of independent shopping will be very much at home here, especially if you like art galleries. The area is also home to the Royal Theatre, a second theatre actually called the Barbican, and the Plymouth Pavilions events arena. 

National Marine Aquarium 

Plymouth is very much a seafaring city. Indeed, the local authority markets it as ‘Britain’s Ocean City’, and this particular place isn’t just any old aquarium. Not only is it the largest aquarium in the country, and home to more than 4,000 species, but it also offers guided boat tours of the local fisheries. 

The Mayflower Steps 

This place on the seafront is relatively easy to spot, as both the British and American flags are flying here. It’s reputed to be the place from where the Pilgrim Fathers sailed in 1620 on their way to establish the modern American nation. They named their landing spot in the US Plymouth Rock in honour of the Devon city from where they departed. 

However, the original Steps have worn away now, so the site is marked by an eye-catching Doric portico and some bronze sculptures, together with a commemorative plaque. 

Just over the road, you can visit the Mayflower Museum to learn more about the Pilgrim Fathers story. A fantastic replica of the original Mayflower ship is one of the highlights of this attraction. 

Plymouth Hoe 

Another famous voyage that started from Plymouth occurred in 1588, when legend says that Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing his game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe before departing to defeat the invading Spanish Armada. Today, the Hoe is an attractive public park with superb sea views, and yes, you can still play bowls here! Drake is commemorated by a statue in the park, and you can also climb to the top of the 20-metre-high Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse to enjoy the view. The lantern room at the top of the lighthouse has recently been restored to its former glory. 

Plymouth Hoe – Courtesy of Historic UK

The beaches 

Plymouth has several fantastic beaches to go to, here are just a few for you in our “best places to visit in Plymouth” list. These include Bovisand Beach, a beautiful yellow sand beach, often used for ball games, which lies within the boundary of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

The National Trust-owned Wembury Beach is one of the few places where you can enjoy a guided tour of the rock pools. It’s also popular with kayakers, surfers and other watersports enthusiasts. 

Central Park 

The largest park in Plymouth, Central Park boasts extensive woodlands and meadows, a play area, a skate park, several high-quality tennis courts and a pitch and putt course. You can also stop for something to eat or drink at the Meadow Café, with its stunning roof of wildflowers. 

Elizabethan House 

This is perhaps the best old-world building in the city, and as the name suggests, it dates from the 16th century. It has an eye-catching timber-framed exterior, but to get the full experience, you need to venture inside and take one of the amazing audio-visual tours, where your actor-guide stars as the original owner of the house, and then as a number of the servants from centuries past! 

Devonport Naval Heritage Centre 

This museum tells the story of Plymouth’s 800-year connection with the Royal Navy. It claims to be the only tourist attraction in Britain where you can look around a decommissioned nuclear submarine. For most of the year, it’s only open for pre-booked guided tours, although there are occasional public open days. 

Saltram 

In this National Trust Georgian mansion, the Robert Adam-designed neo-classical saloon is perhaps one of the finest rooms in any Trust property. Inside the house, you’ll also find some superb desks, clocks and ceramics, alongside an extensive collection of Joshua Reynolds paintings. 

In the garden, you should see plenty of colourful flower beds and exotic shrubs.

Saltram – Courtesy of National Trust

Tinside Lido 

This 1935 Art Deco open-air swimming pool is Grade II listed. Situated adjacent to the harbour, its most eye-catching feature is the central fountain. Here, you can swim in either the shallow or deep end or relax on the sun terrace.

Tinside Lido – Courtesy of Plymouth Herald

More importantly, before deciding on the top best places in Plymouth to visit. Be sure to choose the most comfortable accommodations for you. Browse our accommodations in Plymouth for your utmost convenience.