Plymouth city guide
Plymouth, the largest city in the South West, has beautiful scenery, a wealth of attractions and a fascinating maritime history. In 1577 Francis Drake launched his circumnavigation of the globe from Plymouth and repelled the Armada a few years later, the Pilgrim Fathers set sail from here in 1620, and in 1831 Charles Darwin departed for his pioneering trip to the Galapagos Islands.
The city overlooks the English Channel and is flanked by the river Plym to the east and the river Tamar to the west. It is broken up into three main sections: the Barbican with its narrow streets and Tudor and Victorian buildings, the Hoe, with its famous promenade overlooking the Plymouth Sound, and the modern central section, flattened during the war and then rebuilt.
Most of Plymouth's attractions are centred around the Barbican and The Hoe, but a short drive will allow you to experience the delights of Dartmoor, Buckland Abbey and Crownhill Fort.
The Barbican is the prettiest and oldest area of Plymouth, and the site of the original fishing port. It has a number of must-see attractions, quaint shops and excellent restaurants. The Barbican Glassworks have glassblowing demonstrations to show how their delicate wares are made. The Elizabethan House on New Street, and the beautiful Merchant's House on St. Andrews Street offer a fascinating glimpse into Plymouth's medieval past. By the water's edge, The Mayflower Steps, built in 1934, are a permanent memorial to the Pilgrims' voyage to America. From the steps, you can also take high-speed boat trips, or cruises to Saltash, giving stunning views of Plymouth from the water.
Mount Edgcumbe Country Park
From the Mayflower Steps or the Cremyll Quay, take a ferry to the grand Mount Edgcumbe House, built in the 16th century. Once you've visited the house, you can stroll through acres of landscaped park, or enjoy a Devon cream tea in the Orangery Tearooms which overlooks Plymouth Sound.
Plymouth Hoe is a large area next to the seafront, with magnificent views over the Plymouth Sound. It is here that Sir Francis Drake is believed to have insisted on finishing his game of bowls prior to his assault on the Spanish Armada. Smeatons Tower is one of the world's most famous lighthouses, which was moved from the Eddystone rocks by the Victorians to the Hoe in 1877. It overlooks Tinside Pool, a unique 1930's outdoor Lido, where you can have a splash with the kids in the summer months.
Crownhill Fort, known locally as Plymouth's best kept secret, is an elaborate Victorian fort built in 1863. There's a daily gun firing at 1:30pm and the staff dress up in Victorian costumes, and offer period outfits for younger visitors.
National Marine Aquarium
Britain's biggest aquarium and Europe's deepest tank, was voted 'Aquarium of the Year' by the good Britain Guide.
The second oldest house in Plymouth, built in 1498, is a fine limestone building with a galleried courtyard. It houses the 28-foot Plymouth Tapestry and the bottom floor is let to Tanners, one of Plymouth's finest restaurants.
A few miles from the city is Dartmoor, one of the largest National Parks in Britain and the last great wilderness in Southern England.
Francis Drake's beautiful stately home is eleven miles from Plymouth, and offers revealing insights into the daring explorer's life.
Eating & Drinking
There is a buffet serving hot and cold food in the Plymouth ferry terminal which is open for all arrivals and departures.
In and around the city itself, you'll find a great choice of restaurants, pubs and cafés. Seafood here is a speciality, with fresh fish caught daily. Most of the restaurants with the best views over the water can be found in the Barbican. Piermasters, Southside Street, (01752 229345) and Platters, The Barbican, (01752 227262) are highly recommended for great fish and good service. The Italian Barbican Pasta Bar (01752 671 299) is also very popular, serving award-winning Italian food. Wet Wok (01752 664456) overlooks Plymouth Sound and serves top quality Chinese food.
At The Brasserie (01752 500008) you can enjoy views of the marina as you eat. For dramatic, historical settings and traditional British food, head for Tanners (01752 252001) in Plymouth's oldest building, the Prysten House, or try the 500-year old Artillery Tower on the waterfront (01752 257610). You can also enjoy tea in an Elizabethan setting at the Tudor Rose Tea Rooms (01752 255502).