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Visitor's Guide to Plymouth

Visitor's Guide to Plymouth With a population 241,000, Plymouth is Devon’s largest city. It has a colourful maritime history that attracts thousands of tourists every year through the wealth of museums and exhibitions dedicated to it.

But those who don’t already know, it was from Plymouth’s famous docks that Captain Cook set off round the globe and Sir Francis Drake played bowls as the Spanish Armada approached in 1588. Plymouth was also the departure point for the Pilgrim Fathers when they left to settle in North America, and where Sir Walter Raleigh began his journeys.

Despite the important links to the past, the Plymouth of today is a distinctly modern city, as most of it had to be rebuilt after extensive bombing during World War II.

Luckily some old buildings remain around The Barbican, including the 16th century Elizabethan House [map] and The Mayflower Steps [map], where the Pilgrims began their journey.

Plymouth’s two largest docks are Millbay Docks and Sutton Harbour and with the Plymouth Sound [map] on its doorstep, the city is also home to an array of water sports centres, where you can have a go at wreck diving or jet skiing. Also worth a look is the hugely popular National Marine Aquarium [map] that provides visitors a glimpse into life under the ocean waves.

The city centre's main street is Armada Way [map], a wide, tree-lined street, which has the train station at its northern tip and the famous Hoe Park at the south, where you’ll find attractions such as the Sir Francis Drake statue and the Royal Citadel [map], a magnificent fort commissioned by King Charles II.

Running off Armada Way, are Plymouth’s three pedestrianised shopping streets: Mayflower Street, Cornwall Street and New George Street, where you can pick up everything from designer clothes to visitor souvenirs.

The city centre is also home to an array of luxury hotels, B&Bs, trendy eateries, bars, nightclubs and theatres, including the renowned Theatre Royal [map], which attracts West End musicals.

The best way to get around Plymouth is on foot as the city is fairly compact and has numerous pedestrianised streets. There is also the wonderful Waterfront Walkway, which follows a marked path from Admirals Hard in the west to Jennycliff in the east at a distance of 10 miles. Along the route you will meet famous historical characters, such as Drake and Raleigh, visit parts of Plymouth not usually seen by tourists and stop off at little pubs and cafés.

Other attractions worth visiting include the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery [map], the Smeaton Tower lighthouse [map], the Merchant’s House [map] and Plymouth Arts Centre [map].

powerboat champs

Culture Guide

Powerboat Champs in Plymouth For spectacle and sheer excitement the annual World Powerboat Championship at Plymouth Hoe takes some beating...   Plymouth Culture Guide If it’s culture you’re after then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Plymouth, what with its heady mix of exciting museums, traditional theatres, historic architecture and new buildings...

Plymouth History

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Plymouth History Plymouth is perhaps most famous for its links to Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada, but the city’s history goes a lot further back than the 16th century...   Plymouth Voyagers An array of pioneering adventurers have set sail from Plymouth with the aim of building a new life in the Americas, stealing Spanish treasure and discovering the meaning of life...

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