Located on south coast beautiful Devon, Plymouth is a historic city with hundreds of years of maritime history. And not only that, there are plenty of places to look and the best things to do in Plymouth that make it a great little city getaway while exploring the wider Devon.
Over the centuries, Plymouth has seen its considerable share in history; which has shaped the city for years. Home to the largest seaports and naval bases in England, the city is bathed in a rich naval history, which includes its role in the defeat of the Spanish army.
Nowadays, you don’t have to worry about sailboats, and you can walk around the city with ease! So to help you get the most out of your trip, I wanted to share some wonderful places you shouldn’t miss when you visit Plymouth.
Check out the best activities in Plymouth below Devon. I wish you an amazing visit.
1.) Plymouth hoe
Plymouth Hoe, or simply “hoe”, is considered the center and heartbeat of the city.
Located high above the harbor, this beautiful park offers beautiful views of the city and the wider area around Plymouth Sound. These are absolutely stunning, especially on a sunny day!
On the walk you will notice the Naval War Memorial and the Armadi Monument designed with the coats of arms of the cities that helped in the battle of the 1500s.
After walking the Promenade, proceed to an art installation known as the “Beatle Bums”. It serves as a reminder of the time the Beatles came to Plymouth back in the 1960s.
Oh, and don’t forget the Tinside Lido, an outdoor pool worth visiting on a hot summer day.
With the Smeaton Tower viewing platform, a magnificent red and white striped lighthouse that stands proudly, you’ll also get a few perfect places to picture.
2.) Plymouth Sound
Plymouth Sound, or locally known as “The Sound”, is a natural harbor that stretches from the southwest corner of Penlee Point in Cornwall to the southeast point of Wembury Point in Devon.
This six-kilometer bay area is the perfect place for hiking trails. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the best things about Plymouth if you get a little away from the city itself.
You see, from here you can join the famous southwest coastal road. It’s one of the great ones to join (so prepare well) or just pick out the parts to walk around (as we usually do).
In addition, you will get a beautiful view from Mount Edgecumbe Village Park. It is easily accessible via the Cremyll ferry and is worth the walk.
3.) Royal Citadel
Right next to Hoe Park, the Royal Citadel is a historic fortress that has defended the coast since the 17th century.
Today you can head inside to explore the castle and visit places like the Royal Chapel of St. Catherine on a Hoe. In addition, from here you will also get a remarkable view of Plymouth Sound (from near the ramparts that are still armed with cannons).
It is a cult part of Plymouth and cannot be missed.
The two-hour guided tours of the Royal Citadel are open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from April to September.
4.) Plymouth Gin Distillery
Do you like a tip? Then the Gin Plymouth distillery should be your port!
It is one of the most prominent gin distillers, producing its famous nectar since 1793. The gin product has even become an alcoholic beverage that has been regularly delivered to Royal Navy officers for centuries.
Today you can go on a guided tour of the facility and learn all about the gin distillation process itself. You will also learn more about its connection to some key parts of Plymouth history. Such as Mayflower and Pilgrims.
Best of all, you’ll even try a few!
It goes east, across the South Devon Natural Beauty Area (AoNB), the coastal village of Wembury.
It’s another little gem worth visiting and it feels like you’re going back in time. Today the village is guarded and overseen by the Devon Trust Wildlife Trust, which means it is beautifully protected for enjoyment.
Take a walk through the cozy village and spend some time on the coast. It is a very quiet and peaceful and perfect place to visit if you want a quieter day away from the city. The views from the surroundings of Mill Cottage are beautiful, especially at sunset.
6.) Royal William Yard
On the waterfront, west of Hoe Park, is the Royal William Yard – an impressive 19th-century naval building that stands proudly on the waterfront.
Here you will be able to wander through refurbished buildings filled with small shops, restaurants and stalls that set the route. You may also notice some art studies in the yard.
If you like a wider walk, head to nearby Devil’s Point with a beautiful view of Firestone Bay.
If that’s none of your business, head to Crownhill Fortress – right in front of the city center. Fortified in the 1860s, the fort is considered the best-preserved stronghold among Lord Palmerston’s ‘Ring of Fire’ that protected the city of Plymouth during the Victorian era.
Today, the Landmark Trust manages Crownhill Fortress and opens it to the public every last Friday of the month. During the excursion you can explore the ramparts and mysterious tunnels of the fort and revive memories of the battlefield with historical reconstructions. In the spring, Firepower Day is a long-awaited event where visitors can witness historic artillery rifles in action.
In addition to tours, the former officers ’quarter and fully furnished luxury apartment structures are also available for overnight stays.
7.) House of Saltram
One of the best things about Plymouth (it’s a shame from Saltram Beach) is a visit to Saltram House and Gardens. This National Trust property has a huge 500 acres of breathtaking research property.
Once here, be sure to explore the Orange and Untouched Gardens before you jump inside and take a look at the collections of pottery and artwork on the manor.
History flows through the narrow cobbled streets of Barbican, a circle of ancient streets housing 200 buildings of Tudor and Jacob architecture.
It is simply one of the most famous places and the best thing to do in Plymouth if you want to take a little walk, buy a shop or cafe and eat something.
A walk through the area around Sutton Harbor will take you to the Mayflower Stairs.
It is known that the Pilgrim Fathers took them after leaving England on the ship Mayflower to look for a new life in America in 1620.
Are you getting hungry? Stop for lunch at Bonne Santé for their delicious firecracker prawns.
9.) Devonport Maritime Heritage Center
If you are interested in exploring the more maritime history of Plymouth, head to the Devonport Maritime Heritage Center.
The museum guides you through the entire development of Dockyardanda and keeps records of Plymouth’s key support to the Royal Navy. It’s all pretty interesting.
And not only that, the Devonport Maritime Heritage Center provides shelter for the canceled ‘Courageous’ submarine.
Then head towards Fletcher’s Restaurant for their delicious seasonal menu. The game was so good.
10.) Fuel tank
Right in front of Plymouth is the beautiful Burrator Reservoir. It is a unique and relaxing escape to nature that is within easy reach of the city and is completely beautiful for a walk.
Along with a bunch of woods and trails, you might even spot some deer along the way! It will now take you about two (or more) hours to fully cover it – so plan your trip in advance.
Oh, and if you’re looking for parking, go to Fuel quarry. It is probably the easiest place to park.
When you return to Plymouth, head down the street Tudor Rose Tea Rooms for some of their freshly baked rolls. They are delicious.