Take in the sights, sounds and the smell of the sea air in Plymouth, with a stay at a Best Western hotel.

Britain’s Ocean City wears its title with pride and is filled with nods to its seafaring past. Whether you visit the Mayflower Steps to remember the journey of the pilgrims to North America, or explore the 17th-century Royal Citadel, reminders of the region’s rich history can be found at every turn. For something a little bit different we recommend heading to the waterfront in August to see the British Fireworks Championships, when the city really puts on a show.

Between visits to museums and galleries try refuelling on some of the best seafood in the country. From restaurants with a view to contemporary flavours at the city market and traditional fish n’ chips in-between, you’re never too far from exciting cuisine. And when the buzz of the city gets too much, you can explore the surrounding South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or put your feet up on one of many secluded beaches.

dartmoor national park

Things to do in Plymouth

There’s so much to do beside the seaside and that’s before you head inland to a city with some of the best tourist attractions the South-West has to offer.

  • Visit the UK’s largest aquarium - You’re never too far from sealife in Plymouth even while on dry land. The National Marine Aquarium is split into four distinct zones taking visitors on a journey from the local waters at Plymouth Sound all the way to the Great Barrier Reef. You can even book yourself in for a Yoga session surrounded by sea horses and squid.
  • Hit the beach - Take a short trip out of town to feel the sand beneath your feet. Beaches at Wembury, Bigbury-on-Sea and Blackpool Sands can all be found in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) so you’re guaranteed picture-perfect views.
  • Explore Dartmoor - Dartmoor National Park is a short drive away from the city centre. A haven of natural beauty filled with wooded river valleys and miles of heather-covered moorland. Hike your way through signposted routes or pedal through mountain bike trails, the choice is yours.

eat drinking plymouth

Eating and drinking in in Plymouth

No trip to Plymouth is complete without sampling the seafood and as the spiritual home of gin (pun intended) the city is the perfect place to sip on a cocktail to accompany your meal too.

  • Rockfish Seafood & Chips - Can you say you’ve visited Britain’s Ocean City without sampling the fish and chips? We think not. Rockfish is perfectly situated next to Plymouth Fish Market and makes full use of the locally-sourced ingredients.
  • Black Friars Distillery - England’s oldest gin distillery can be found in The Barbican, Plymouth’s old port filled with narrow cobbled streets. The 15th century building opens its doors to visitors for guided tours to walk and talk you through the distillery process and ends in the Refectory cocktail lounge, the ideal spot to enjoy a gin and tonic.
  • Plymouth market - Open six days a week in the city’s West End, the market has been feeding Plymothians since 1959. Today, all kinds of cuisines are served from bustling stalls under a Grade II listed roof. The most stressful part of it all will be picking the right food for you.

plymouth shopping

Shopping in Plymouth

Shop ‘til you drop in the South-West’s retail capital. Whether you prefer shopping centres with all the big names or independent boutiques in more quaint settings, there are plenty of destinations available to spoil yourself in.

  • The Barbican and Sutton Harbour - If quirky boutiques are more your thing head to Plymouth’s beautiful waterfront for an eclectic collection of independent shops. The area is made up of over 200 listed buildings from the Tudor and Jacobean period and just a stone’s throw away from the Celtic Sea.
  • Royal William Yard - Have you ever caught a boat to visit a shopping centre? At the Grade I listed Royal William Yard, you can. After landing at the Victorian building’s purpose built harbour, you’ll find independent retailers, arts and crafts markets and restaurants overlooking the ocean. All aboard.
  • Drake Circus - Drake Circus is home to more than 70 of the UK’s favourite brands. The indoor shopping centre offers a chance for retail therapy, pit stops for food and even a 14-screen cinema. Just look out for the large building on Charles Street surrounded by tilting tiles.

plymouth hoe

Culture and history in Plymouth

Stroll through cobbled streets once trod on by the sea-faring pilgrims or retrace Sir Francis Drake’s steps before he went into battle with the Spanish Armada, it all happened here.

  • Plymouth Hoe - Perched on top of The Hoe is Smeaton Tower, the red and white lighthouse that has become a symbol of the city and the perfect viewpoint across Plymouth Sound. The lawn provides the perfect vista for a picnic and a chance to relax and we’re sure Sir Francis Drake would agree. The sea captain famously finished his game of bowls on this site before defeating the Spanish Armada.
  • The Mayflower Museum - 2020 marked the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ journey from Plymouth to settle in America. The voyage into the New World was made onboard the Mayflower, a three-masted ship that is remembered at a museum in The Barbican. We recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • The Box - The Box opened in 2020 combining and transforming the former City Museum, Art Gallery and Central Library to create an immersive museum like no other. The real crowd pleaser has to be the life-sized woolly mammoth inspired by local fossils. Just don’t let the elephant in the room distract you from the 3,000 other natural history specimens on show.

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