Plymouth stands at the gateway between Devon and Cornwall by the mouth of the Tamar, Plym and Tavy Rivers. The city's maritime history saw Sir Walter Raleigh, Captain Cook and, perhaps most famously, the Pilgrim Fathers set sail from here, with the Mayflower's 1620 voyage to the other side of the Atlantic being commemorated in the name of their landing spot - Plymouth Rock.

Because of the importance of its docks, Plymouth was heavily bombed during the Second World War, and the city centre had to be entirely rebuilt in the post-war era. In the 21st century, Plymouth is undergoing yet another makeover, with architects changing the landscape of the city centre in the hope of undoing the bad work of their predecessors. Although this modernisation of the city can seem bland and faceless, it is simply the latest part of Plymouth's highly-visible heritage. A short walk can take in Elizabethan half-timbered houses at the Barbican, grand Georgian terraces on the Hoe, and stark 1950s blocks in the city centre.

The popularity of the stunning nearby countryside and coastline mean that nowadays the city is more a base for tourists exploring Devon and Cornwall than it is a naval base for exploring the world.


Most of Plymouth's tourist attractions are clustered together around the city centre. Plymouth Hoe is a vast promenade on the crest of the sea front, with views back down onto the city or out to sea. Smeaton's Tower, a lighthouse that once stood out in the bay, has been re-erected on the Hoe brick-by-brick. You can climb to the top of it for a small fee.

From the Hoe a short walk brings you to the Plymouth Dome Museum and the newly restored Tinside Lido which is full of bathers in summer. Down the road, around The Barbican you can visit the Mayflower Steps - Drake, the Pilgrim Fathers and Captain Cook all set sail from here. There are more museums down here concerned with Plymouth?s Maritime and Elizabethan history, as well as the Plymouth Gin Distillery, for touring and tasting.

From the Mayflower steps a small ferry runs every half an hour across the bay to Mount Edgcombe Park, an historical stately home with beautiful extensive parks that are popular with dog-walkers as well as heritage tourists. Tourist trips round the sound are also offered here in summer.

Plymouth Argyle Football Club is extremely popular - during the season, a match in Home Park is a true Plymouthian experience. Plymouth is also a good base for exploring Devon, Dartmoor and Cornwall - long Cornish beaches are around half an hour's drive from the city centre.


Unlike many seaside resorts, Plymouth is not dominated by shops selling cheap, brightly-coloured souvenirs. However, the malls and walkways of the city centre do not offer anything much more exciting for the shopper. Dingles in the city centre is an old-fashioned department store which stocks some designer clothing, cosmetics and homeware. The cheap cafe on the top floor has long views across the city to the sea. On the other side of town, the indoor market sells cheaper goods, from fresh crab to fake Rolexes to second-hand crockery. Building is underway on a huge new mall to open in 2007 that promises an influx of the chain stores that seem to have avoided Plymouth - Starbucks, French Connection et al. already have their pitches staked in the giant orangey building.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Union Street is the famous locus of Plymouth's nightlife. Previously the haunt of sailors and dockyard workers who visited the brothels and pubs down this stretch of road, its salty flavour is tempered by a strong police presence nowadays. Nonetheless, the rather run-down bars and clubs are invariably heaving on a Saturday night, pumping out pop music and pouring out pints for anyone who has the stomach for it.

The Barbican plays host to a slightly classier nightlife, with old fishermen's pubs with names like The Dolphin or The Smugglers, as well as a few clubs with regular hip hop, R & B or indie nights.

Tourist Information

Tourism Service, Plymouth City Council Civic CentrePlymouth PL1 01752 306330


The nearest international airport is at Bristol - bus, train, ferry and motorway offer alternative routes.

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