Close Icon
Plymouth city drone

Come rain or shine, Plymouth is a vibrant waterfront city packed full of attractions, eateries and things to do. 

Our comprehensive guide will give you all the information you need to plan a fantastic holiday or day out to Plymouth. From breathtaking views to world-class experiences, there is no place quite like it.

Looking for something specific? Use our quick links below, or carry on reading for our comprehensive guide to Plymouth:

Where is Plymouth?

Plymouth is a historic port city situated on the southern coast of Devon, in the southwest region of England. Geographically, it is positioned between the mouths of two rivers—the River Plym to the east and the River Tamar to the west. This prime location offers stunning views of the English Channel, with Plymouth Sound providing a natural harbour.

Plymouth is approximately 190 miles (310 kilometres) southwest of London and is easily accessible by road, rail, and sea. The city is well-connected with major motorways and has regular train services to and from London Paddington. For those travelling by sea, Plymouth’s ferry port offers services to France and Spain, making it a gateway to mainland Europe.

Surrounded by areas of outstanding natural beauty, Plymouth is close to the rugged landscapes of Dartmoor National Park to the north and the picturesque coastlines of the South Hams to the east. This strategic and scenic location makes Plymouth not only a hub of maritime activity but also a fantastic base for exploring the diverse landscapes of southwest England.

A Brief History of Plymouth

Plmouth Mayflower bell

Plymouth’s origins can be traced back to Saxon times, more than a thousand years ago, and has a vast history reflecting its maritime location. The city has established a strong and proud reputation as a centre of voyage, discovery and military importance. The sea continues to touch the lives of everyone who has lived in or visited Plymouth, and shapes the modern city we see today.

Here are just a few mementoes of Plymouth’s fascinating history:

Sir Francis Drake

Legend has it that English Explorer Sir Francis Drake, born just outside of Plymouth in Tavistock, was playing a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe when he was first told of the Spanish Armada invasion.

Plymouth Mayflower

In 1620, the famous Mayflower set sail to America with 102 Pilgrims and 30 crew on board, from Plymouth’s Mayflower Steps. Today, you can explore the Mayflower Trail to discover the life of the Pilgrims, the troubles they faced and the bravery they endured.

When did Plymouth become a city?

Plymouth officially became a city in 1928.

‘The Plymouth Blitz’

During the Second World War, Plymouth was one of the most bombed cities in England with the ‘Blitz’ causing widespread damage. It flattened large parts of the city centre. Before the end of the war, there was a revolutionary plan to recreate Plymouth as a new modern City.

Things to do in Plymouth

Plymouth Hoe and Barbican

Plymouth is packed full of attractions and activities. Come rain or shine, you’ll always find something to fill your day with. From the city centre to the surrounding countryside, you’ll find walks, boat rides, museums and famous monuments worth seeing.

Here are some of our favourite things to do in Plymouth:

National Marine Aquarium

Plymouth National Marine Aquarium

If you have children or are interested in marine conservation, then a trip to the National Marine Aquarium is a definite must. Open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm, you’ll be able to marvel at sharks and be awed by a wealth of aquatic life from our vast oceans.

Learn about conservation projects, and protected marine areas, and have immersive experiences from dining underwater to swimming with great whites (advanced booking required).

Smeatons Tower Lighthouse

Originally built on the Eddystone Reef in 1759, Smeaton’s Tower has become one of the South-West’s most iconic landmarks. Approximately two-thirds of the lighthouse you see today was moved stone by stone from its old resting place.

Now standing as a centrepiece on Plymouth’s Hoe, you can ascend 93 steps and steep ladders, duck under low ceilings and through small openings to the top. Here you can enjoy spectacular views of Plymouth Sound and the city from its lantern room.

Tinside Lido

Plymouth LIdo

Consistently voted in the top 10 of Europe’s outdoor pools, and offering beautiful views over Plymouth’s seafront, Tinside Lido allows you and your kids to have fun in the sun. It’s open only in the summer months and is perfect for all ages.

As well as the saltwater pool, you’ll find a glorious sun deck which is generally considered one of the best spots in Plymouth to soak up the sun. Other facilities on-site include a shop, toilets, and a café. This lido is a place not to be missed.

Plymouth Gin Distillery

Every year thousands of visitors come to sample the unique character and taste of Plymouth Gin. With three different tours available, you can choose how you want to spend your day. Choose from the classic tour of the distillery, an enhanced connoisseur’s tour with a gin tasting, or a Masters’s Distillers tour where you’ll be able to distil and take home your very own homemade tipple.

A gin lovers’ paradise, you’ll get to learn about all things gin. Booking in advance is advised to guarantee your space.

Drake’s Island

Guided tours are in abundance all around Plymouth, but none are quite as interesting as an excursion around historic Drake’s Island. Considered to be one of the most unique and interesting guided tours in Plymouth and the South West, Drake’s Island is full of history.

Explore tunnels which take you deep into the island itself, cast your eyes upon the vast array of wildlife that calls this island home, and gain a brand new perspective of Plymouth from the highest point on the island. It’s the perfect family-friendly day out.

Starting from The Barbican landing stage, the guided tour takes you by ferry through Plymouth Sound and out to the island. Enjoy over two hours of history, wildlife and mystery. Book your tickets through their website today.

The Box Plymouth

We all know that things are more expensive than ever before, so finding free activities to keep you busy and the children entertained is always a bonus. The Box, which opened in 2020, is Plymouth’s new cultural destination proudly led by Plymouth City Council.

It’s a museum, gallery, and archive all rolled into one. It’s a place where there is always something new to discover. Holding a range of exhibitions throughout the year, it’s always worth popping in to see what delights you might find.

Events and Festivals in Plymouth

Plymouth Fireworks Championships

Renowned for its spectacular events schedule, Plymouth has everything from music festivals and fireworks to pirate weekends and food festivals.

Here is a selection of events in Plymouth, not to be missed:

The Weekender Festival

Dance, sing and soak up the festival vibes. Enjoy cocktails, a fun fair, and a host of local talent for what promises to be one of the best festivals in Plymouth. To view the line-up and to book your tickets visit The Weekender Festival website.

British Fireworks Championships

If you and your kids love the sound and colour of fireworks, do not miss out on this spectacular fireworks display. The beloved British Firework Championships see six top pyrotechnic companies showcase their best work in the skies above Plymouth Sound.

Each company puts on an extra special, ten-minute display to see who will be crowned champion. The theme changes every year, so be prepared to be awestruck and enjoy a lovely evening out in Plymouth. Our team highly recommends watching the fireworks with a view over the water, so you can watch the illuminations reflect on the harbour.

For additional information including timings and entertainment, please visit the Visit Plymouth website.

Plymouth Seafood and Harbour Festival

Seafood lovers are in for a treat! This free festival takes place on The Barbican and Sutton Harbour, hosting a vibrant celebration of amazing, sustainably caught, fresh fish and seafood from the waters around Plymouth.

There’s always a wealth of fun activities for children throughout the two-day event, as well as a chance to learn from amazing chefs who cook up a storm of mouth-watering delights. You and your loved ones can find out about the fisherman’s experience out on the sea and taste a range of seafood dishes.

The Visit Plymouth website has plenty more information regarding this event such as timings, trade stalls, and entertainment.

Plymouth Pirates Weekend

Looking for a family-friendly day out in Plymouth? Then the Plymouth Pirates Weekend is just the thing. Enjoy two days of fearless fun with plenty of activities for all ages. Kids and adults alike will love exploring the Pirates Treasure Trail, before jumping on board one of the many ships moored at Plymouth Sound and Quay Square.

For dates and more information check out the Visit Plymouth website.

West End Carnival

Organised by the Plymouth City Centre Company, the West End Carnival takes place on the streets around Plymouth Market. Promising a jam-packed day of free family activities and an amazing entertainment line-up. The main stage hosts a number of musical performances and a variety of fun-filled entertainment.

Check out the Visit Plymouth website for more information.

Places to Eat and Drink in Plymouth

Plymouth is known for being a foodies paradise where you’ll find several top celebrity chefs. Most notably Macro Pierre White, and James and Chris Tanner. From delightful cafées and plenty of pubs to stunning waterfront restaurants and bars, Plymouth is teaming with eateries.

Rockfish Plymouth

Here are our five top places to eat in Plymouth:

1) Maritimo

If you love tapas there is no place better than Maritimo. Offering breathtaking views across Plymouth Sound you’ll be able to imagine you’re looking out over the Mediterranean whilst enjoying truly delicious food.

Their menu changes according to the Spanish seasons, so expect to find classics such as patatas bravas, paella, garlic king prawns, and more. Choose from a range of specially selected wines, ciders, spirits, beers, and cocktails for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Location: Hoe Road, Plymouth, PL1 3DE


Contact Number: 01752 222938

2) Ocean View

With a circular bar taking centre stage and a contemporary art-deco design, Ocean View offers guests a unique dining experience complete with panoramic views of Plymouth Sound. Enjoy a range of magical cocktails prepared lovingly by their mixologists.

Choose from delightful nibbles to delicious mains and rich desserts, with a stunning backdrop. They believe in keeping it local and use only local produce wherever possible. Have a dietary requirement? Don’t despair, they cater to a range of dietary requirements including vegans and vegetarians.

Location: Ocean View Bar & Dining at the Dome, Hoe Road, Plymouth PL1 2NZ


Contact Number: 01752 393 777

3) Rockfish

Rockfish in Plymouth

The perfect destination for seafood lovers, Rockfish allows you to enjoy sustainably caught, fresh, local fish and seafood. Watch the fishing boats haul in their catch of the day whilst your server talks you through the daily selection.

Located right next door to the National Marine Aquarium, the Mayflower Steps, and Plymouth’s Fish Market, it’s the ideal place to grab some lunch.

Location: Rockfish Plymouth Sutton Harbour, 3 Rope Walk, PL4 0LB


Contact Number: 01752 255974

4) Barbican Kitchen

If you’re spending the day at Plymouth Gin Distillery be sure to enjoy a tasty meal at The Barbican Kitchen, housed in the same building. Established in 2006 by brothers, Chris and James Tanner, their aim is to provide fresh local food at a reasonable price.

They showcase stunning local meats, vegetables, and of course, top-quality fish. Be prepared to have your taste buds tantalised by seared scallops from Brixham, homemade Westcountry steak burgers, and sumptuous rib-eye steaks.

Location: Plymouth Gin Distillery, 60 Southside Street, Plymouth, PL1 2LQ


Contact Number: 01752 604448

5) Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill

Offering stunning views over the Hoe and out to Cornwall, Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill is a contemporary and glamorous restaurant not to be missed. With a menu that’s been carefully curated by Marco himself, you can expect to taste some truly delightful food.

With incredible steaks, fantastic service, and an amazing setting, it’ll be hard not to feel like royalty. However, it’s not all about steak, why not enjoy a luxurious afternoon tea with friends, family, or loved ones made with fresh sultana scones and charming finger sandwiches?

Location: Armada Way, Plymouth, PL1 2HJ


Contact Number: 01752 639937

Beaches near Plymouth

Enjoy some fresh sea air and make the most of the outdoors at one of Plymouth’s neighbouring beaches.

Whether you need a sandy shore that’s dog-friendly or ideally equipped for hassle-free family days out, here are our five best beaches near Plymouth:


Bigbury Beach near Plymouth

Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Bigbury-On-Sea is perfect for families and dogs alike. Offering calm shallow waters, rock pools and stunning views of iconic Burgh Island, you’ll be able to spend the whole day here soaking up the sun.

For those heading to Bigbury with their four-legged friend, please note there is a seasonal dog ban on the main beach from the beginning of May to the end of September. However, dogs are allowed on the smaller beach, located to the west of the causeway all year round.

For more information, check out our comprehensive guide to Bigbury-on-Sea.

Wembury Beach

Owned by the National Trust, Wembury Beach has its own Marine Conservation Centre, which offers guided rock pool rambles so children can learn about the marine life they find. The award-winning waters are clean and calm, providing great conditions for a paddle.

While dogs are not permitted on the main beach between 1st May and 30th September, they are allowed on the beach west of the main beach year-round. From Wembury, you can also enjoy stunning cliff walks to Bovisand, Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.

Bovisand Beach

Located within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bovisand is a popular choice with locals, families, and dogs. The large expanse of flat yellow sands at low tide makes the beach perfect for ball games. Enjoy stunning cliff views from both Bovisand Bay and Crownhill Bay.

Jennycliff Beach

Jennycliff Beach near Plymouth

Located on the east coast of Plymouth Sound, Jennycliff Beach is made up of coarse sand, rock and shingles. It offers guests stunning views from the cliffs above the beach, as well as a café and grassy area for picnics. Be mindful though, access to the beach is down a steep cliff path.

FAQ: All About Plymouth

Smeatons Tower Plymouth

Where is Plymouth?

Plymouth is a historic port city located on the south coast of Devon, in southwest England. It lies between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, facing the scenic Plymouth Sound.

Is Plymouth worth visiting?

Yes, Plymouth is definitely worth visiting! The city offers a rich blend of maritime heritage, beautiful waterfronts, and vibrant cultural scenes. From the historic Barbican and Plymouth Hoe to modern attractions like the National Marine Aquarium, there’s something for everyone.

What is the city of Plymouth known for?

Plymouth is known for its maritime history, being the departure point for the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower in 1620. The city is also famous for its naval base, the Royal Citadel, and its stunning waterfront areas. Additionally, Plymouth hosts the annual British Firework Championships, attracting visitors from all over.

How do I spend a day in Plymouth?

Start your day with a stroll along the Hoe, enjoying views of the iconic Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse. Visit the historic Barbican area to explore its cobbled streets, independent shops, and the Mayflower Steps. Head to the National Marine Aquarium for an underwater adventure. In the afternoon, take a boat trip around the harbour or visit the Royal William Yard for lunch. End your day with a walk along the waterfront at Sutton Harbour, perhaps enjoying dinner at one of the many excellent seafood restaurants.

Holiday Homes in Plymouth

Plymouth holiday home

Whether you’re looking for a luxury cottage, sea view property, family-friendly holiday home or dog-friendly retreat, we’ve got a range of properties just for you.

Located all across South Devon, our collection of over 500 self-catering properties offers something for everyone including close proximity to beaches, coastal towns, and top attractions.