Long heralded as one of Britain’s largest seaports, Plymouth, Devon holds a whole host of historical importance that attracts as many as 5.4 million tourists, a figure that’s risen by an impressive 5% in recent years. Aside from just seeking fun, sun, and the beach (although Plymouth offers each of these in spades), visitors can enjoy a historical education in all things naval, with Plymouth having once played host to the British defeat of the Spanish Armada. But, you don’t need to take our word for it. Here are five top reasons why more visitors than ever are heading to Plymouth right now.
Visit Plymouth in Devon
1 – The Barbican
Within easy walking distance of the city centre, a trip to The Barbican feels like walking straight into the heart of Plymouth’s iconic history. With cobbled streets and iconic historical references galore, tourists certainly won’t be disappointed.
Barbican locations of note vary vastly, from the iconic National Marine Aquarium through to the Mayflower Museum, host to an anniversary festival that played an undeniable role in Plymouth’s recent resurgence. Equally, guests can enjoy a guided tour of 400-year-old Black Friars Distillery before winding down with the impressive 16th-century Elizabethan house on New Street. Put simply, The Barbican brings the best of Devonshire history, all within one destination. Miss out on a visit here, and you’ll undeniably miss the best Plymouth has to offer.
2 – Plymouth Hoe
While the Barbican offers the best in Plymouth history, Plymouth Hoe is the ultimate for enjoying the city’s stunning seaside scenery. Opened in 1817, the spacious Hoe extends an astounding 14 miles, past the promenade and right up to the iconic lighthouse on Eddystone Rock. Here, tourists can enjoy the best possible views of not only the town but also Plymouth Sound – a deep inlet in the English channel.
Plymouth’s history also features heavily in this location, with the 1888 Armada monument depicting the towns that helped in the Spanish struggle. And, of course, there’s Smeaton’s Tower to enjoy, featuring parts from the original 18th-century off-shore lighthouse. Here, guests brave enough to tackle the 93 steps + ladders get the privilege of enjoying what has to be Plymouth’s best view by far.
3 – Royal Citadel
While we’re by the sea, it’s worth mentioning Royal Citadel. Built on the site of Sir Francis Drake’s 17th-century fort, this English Heritage site was England’s most important line of coastal defence for over 100 years.
Currently still used as a military base, visitors do need to book guided tours in advance, so be sure to check availability ahead of your visit. That said, if you’re lucky enough to take a look around, you’ll be at the heart of naval Plymouth, while also enjoying yet more of the city’s astounding sea views.
4 – Devonport
By heading west of the city centre, tourists will find themselves in the historical haven of Devonport. This regenerating neighbourhood hosts some fantastic sites to the backdrop of a well-marked heritage trail linking it straight to the Naval Heritage Centre. Here, visitors can enjoy displays and exhibits outlining the city’s naval history.
Devonport itself is a Georgian hotspot, including countless regency houses, a royal dockyard, and more. Grade II listed Davenport park is also well worth a visit. The oldest formal public path in Plymouth, this 150-year-old wonder is located on a hilltop with views right down onto the River Tamar and is the ideal place to sit quietly and watch the city bustling beneath you.
5 – Bridging the Tamar Visitor and Learning Centre
While Plymouth’s history is definitely the city’s top attraction, there are plenty of new developments to take into consideration. By heading down from the aforementioned Devonport Park, guests will find themselves at Bridging the Tamar Visitor and Learning Centre, another must-see during any visit.
This most recent free exhibition opened in 2019 to outline the two main bridges crossing River Tamar – the Tamar Bridge (1960) and the Royal Albert Bridge (1850s). Standing side-by-side across the River Tamar, these structures have had a huge impact, a fact that the learning centre outlines perfectly. Using interactive displays, the centre shows the construction, history, and modern usage of each bridge in turn. A trip here is certainly an excellent way to wind down your visit and see where Plymouth stands today.
These attractions and more put Plymouth very firmly on the map as a Devon hotspot. If any of this naval history sounds appealing, then it’s certainly worth booking a visit today.
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