24 hours in Plymouth

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

Many of you reading this probably don't live in Plymouth. Some of you might have visited before. For those of you who are thinking of visiting, and only have a full day to spend here, this is a list of all the fun-filled activities you could fit into just one day in Plymouth, and still make the train home.

Britain's Ocean City, as it's been called for many years, is the largest city on the South Coast. It's easily reached by road or rail and takes just under four hours from London by train. And there are so many things to do in Plymouth!

We're going to start off with a visit to the National Marine Aquarium. Inside you will find a fascinating variety of sea life, ranging from the fish that live in Plymouth's waters in the Eddystone fish tank, to really exotic cretures that you wouldn't find near the British seaside. Plymouth's Aquarium is home to over 70 sharks, and they offer sleepover options for those of you feeling brave. Their main aims are to teach visitors about sea life and drive marine conservation, helping to protect this vulnerable environment.

While we're in the Barbican, another of the city's great attractions is also its biggest export. The Blackfriars Gin Distillery is the oldest of its kind in Britain, and has been producing the gin since 1793. Walk inside and a guided tour can teach you about the history of gin, see how it's made and of course have a taste. One of the choices is the Navy strength variety, which is 57% alcohol, the favourite of Navy officers throughout the years, and also a minimum requirement for consumption on Navy ships, as it would not stop gunpowder igniting if spilled. Local legends say that the pilgrim fathers spent their last night in the distillery's refectory room before sailing on the Mayflower to the New World.

Just a short walk from the Gin Distillery is Sutton Harbour, part of the Barbican area, with its beautiful views and diverse shops, cafes and restaurants. This is the time to enjoy a traditional fish and chips dish, and you can rest assured it's fresh, as the fish market is only a few minutes away.

Don't forget to visit the Mayflower Steps while you're on the Barbican, the place where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World.

If you're an shopaholic, then your next destination should be Drake Circus, the most popular shopping centre in the South West. You'll find all the favourite big names here. It's named after Sir Francis Drake, the former Mayor of Plymouth and a Vice Admiral of the British Fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Take a nice walk down the largest entirely pedestrianised city centre in the UK, and you can enjoy some of the many open-air activities happening by the Sundial in Plymouth's Armada Way.

Another stunning open air attraction is the world renowned Plymouth Hoe. It's a large south facing open public space in the English coastal city of Plymouth. The Hoe is adjacent to and above the low limestone cliffs that form the seafront and it commands views of Plymouth Sound, Drake's Island, and across the Hamoaze to Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon word Hoe, a sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot and heel.

A prominent landmark on the Hoe is Smeaton's Tower. This is the upper portion of John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse, which was originally built on the Eddystone Rocks, located 14 miles (22.5 km) to the south, in 1759. It was dismantled in 1877 and moved, stone by stone, to the Hoe where it was re-erected. It is now open to the public, so you can climb the inside to get stunning views of the Devon & Cornwall coastline. It's the perfect place to get a sense of the size and beauty of Plymouth Sound.

Smeaton's Tower overlooks Tinside Pool, an unusual 1930s outdoor lido which sits upon the limestone shoreline at the base of the cliff. Most of the works to create the swimming areas and Madeira Road were carried out to make work for the local unemployed during the Depression.

Every August Plymouth hosts the British Fireworks Championship, and the Hoe is the perfect place to watch it.

A statue of Sir Francis Drake by Joseph Boehm (a copy of the original in his home town of Tavistock) was placed here in 1884 to commemorate him. There are also several war memorials along the northern side of the Hoe. The largest commemorates the Royal Naval dead of the two world wars; its central obelisk is by Robert Lorimer and was unveiled in 1924, while the surrounding sunken garden was added by Edward Maufe in 1954. The Armada Memorial was opened in 1888 to celebrate the tercentenary of the Spanish Armada.

You will also find a Bowling Green on the Hoe, supposedly the same one where Sir Francis Drake played his game while he spotted the Spanish Armada approaching.

At the eastern end of Plymouth Hoe overlooking Plymouth Sound, and encompassing the site of the earlier fort that had been built in the time of Sir Francis Drake, you will find the Royal Citadel. Below and to the east, perched on the rocky foreshore is the clubhouse of the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club.

A short walk away from the Yacht Club you'll find the ferry that takes you to the Royal William Yard. Jump in this water-taxi and enjoy the Plymouth's wonderful natural harbour, the Plymouth Sound. The Royal William Yard used to be a storage facility for the Royal Navy, but has since been regenerated and now has apartments, cafes, bars and restaurants.

If you're a football fan you're in luck with Plymouth. You might have just enough time to watch an Argyle match before you have to head to the train Station. Since becoming professional in 1903, Plymouth Argyle has won five Football League titles (one Division Two and two Division Three), five Southern League titles and one Western League title. The original ground of the professional club at Home Park was destroyed by German bombers during the Blitz on Plymouth in World War II. Having been rebuilt after the war, Home Park was largely demolished as part of an extensive process of renovation in 2002.

Plymouth is a cosmopolitan city and a must-see for history lovers. We hope you've enjoyed our list of things to do in 24 hours in Plymouth, and please let us know what you think.

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