Britain’s Ocean City is steeped in naval history, so of course, there are plenty of historic places to visit in Plymouth during your. But there are also some truly stunning parks from the city centre all the way to Dartmoor, where you can relax and unwind with a little help from our coastline and countryside.
Attractions in Plymouth
Royal William Yard used to be a victualling yard of the Royal Navy. The Grade I listed military buildings are considered to be some of the most important, not just in the UK, but the whole of Europe. On the outside, not a huge amount has changed, but inside Royal William Yard has been transformed with restaurants, bars, businesses and retailers. There’s so much going on here; it’s a must see destination during your stay in Plymouth. So much so there’s an entire area dedicated to Royal William Yard in our section on the historic buildings in Plymouth.
Likewise, Plymouth Hoe has a dedicated section on our Plymouth’s historic buildings page if you want to read more about the park, Smeaton’s Tower (the renovated lighthouse), and the Naval Memorial, that dominate the panoramic views across the Plymouth Sound.
As one of the oldest areas of Plymouth, the Barbican has its share of historic buildings too. The Mayflower Steps on the harbour commemorate the spot where the Pilgrim Fathers are said to have set sail aboard the Mayflower on their voyage to discover the New World in 1620. Speaking of the Pilgrim Fathers, they spent their last night in England at the Plymouth Gin Distillery, which is just a short walk from the steps. It’s the oldest working distillery in England, so it’s well worth checking out. If you want to find out a bit more before you visit, you can read all about the Plymouth Gin Distillery on our section dedicated to Plymouth historic buildings.
Our video guide to Plymouth attractions
Plymouth has more than its fair share of parks where you can take in the scenery and enjoy a lovely walk along the coast or in the countryside. Burrator Reservoir is on the south side of Dartmoor, just under half an hour away by car from our Plymouth East hotel. It’s a great place to get away and unwind. You can walk, run and cycle your way around its unique views and surroundings – including the old railway line and the massive, granite Burrator dam.
Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park is one of four designated country parks in Cornwall. The gardens are perfectly manicured, taking inspiration from around the world – with notably Italian and French styles. The Country Park itself spans 865 acres, with four trails that cater to all ages and include stunning coastal walks, incredible views and the opportunity to see wildlife like fallow deer. Covering seven kilometres of coastline, there’s so much to see; so to help you get around a little faster you can hire mountain bikes and Segways.
You can also enjoy the rolling hills of Radford Park, with its arboretum and stunning views across both Radford Lake and Hooe Lake. There used to be a resplendent Tudor house in the grounds, which opened its doors to Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, but sadly it has since been demolished.
Devonport Park, or ‘the People’s Park’ is the oldest park in Plymouth, having been built over 150 years ago. It’s well maintained, with a sensory garden, play parks, fountains and a beautiful memorial garden that are all part of the park’s heritage trail.
Last but not least, the Elizabethan Gardens are one of Plymouth’s hidden gems. You can find them tucked away in the Barbican, on Southside Street, with carefully manicured flower beds and gardens housed in its traditional stone courtyards.
Plymouth Pavilions is home to the Plymouth Raiders, the local professional basketball team. There’s so much going on at this famous venue that it’s got its very own Plymouth Pavilions section dedicated not just to the Raiders, but also to the kind of live bands and comedians you can expect to find on one of, if not the best, entertainment programmes in the south-west.
Home Park is where you can watch Plymouth Argyle, the local professional football team, take to the pitch. The Pilgrims have been playing at Home Park since 1901. The ground was seriously damaged during the ‘Plymouth Blitz’ of World War II, with the grandstand all but destroyed. It has been developed over the years and today it seats a capacity of 16,388 – although Home Park’s record attendance is well over 40,000 from the days of standing football terraces.
If motorsport is your thing, specifically motorcycles roaring around a dirt track, often sideways, while making a fine old racket, then you’ll want to check out the Plymouth Devils. They’re the speedway team, who race in the British National League at St. Boniface Arena, less than a five-minute drive from our Plymouth East hotel.