Plymouth has a rich maritime history with many areas of interest including the historic Barbican and the Hoe overlooking the natural harbour of Plymouth Sound. Home to the Royal Citadel and the naval dockyard at Devonport, this waterfront city is a fascinating place to explore.
Here are our 5 worthwhile reasons to visit Plymouth:
- The historic Plymouth Barbican is within easy walking distance of the city centre yet offers a totally different atmosphere from the modern shops and cafés of this busy city. Take a guided tour of the 400-year old Black Friar's Distillery, explore the Elizabethan House and Tudor Garden or visit the nearby National Marine Aquarium in its iconic wave-shaped building.
- Climb Smeaton's Tower, a red and white lighthouse that formerly stood on nearby Eddystone Rocks until it was replaced in 1882. Now relocated to the Hoe, it offers great views of Plymouth Sound and Drake's Island from the top.
- Take a commentated boat trip from the Mayflower Steps and see the warships and submarines that still return to Devonport between assignments. Sail past Drake's Island, the ferry port and historic naval dockyard. View the impressive breakwater and see the Tamar Bridge and the Royal Albert Bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to carry the railway into Cornwall.
- Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has an interesting collection of local artefacts, including an extensive collection of Plymouth porcelain in the Atrium Gallery.
- Take the passenger ferry across the River Tamar from Devonport to Cremyll and spend the day at Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park in Cornwall. Tour the historic house and beautiful gardens which are famous for their camellia collection. Relax on the beach or hike the coastal path to the fishing village of Kingsand for a pub lunch.
5 fun facts about Plymouth
- As an important base for Royal Navy vessels, Plymouth was heavily blitzed during World War 2 with 59 air raids that claimed 1000 lives and destroyed 3,700 houses. Most of the city centre had to be totally rebuilt, resulting in the rather bland concrete structures seen today.
- Prysten House on Finewell Street is the oldest surviving house in Plymouth. It dates back to 1498 and was built from local limestone and Dartmoor granite.
- In 1588 history records that Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls on the Hoe when the Spanish Armada was sighted. Drake insisted on completing his game of bowls before engaging in battle. Clearly he was winning at the time!
- In 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers departed from the Barbican in the tiny Mayflower to found the new Plymouth colony near Boston, Massachusetts. A list of all the people onboard, along with their professions, can be seen on display near the Mayflower Steps.
- Eighteenth century artist Sir Joshua Reynolds was born and educated in Plympton. He worked as a portrait painter in Plymouth before moving to London to become the founder and first president of the Royal Academy.
Have you visited Plymouth recently? What would you say is the most important reason to visit? Feel free to join the conversation by adding your comments below.