48 Hours in Plymouth
Recently listed as one of the worlds most underrated travel destinations in Time Out magazine and The Telegraph, Plymouth is fast becoming one of the UK’s top weekend city breaks. Earning its name as Britain’s Ocean City for its fabulous location, wrapped around a stunning natural harbour, Plymouth has a variety of fantastic accommodation, boat trips, activities, cultural venues and waterfront, seafood restaurants to visit. With so many options, a weekend tourist might feel overwhelmed. So, to help you make the most of your break, we’ve created an action-packed itinerary, featuring some of the City’s most authentic experiences that will leave you eager to return.
First, you’ll need a place to stay, and you can’t go wrong with our top two recommendations. First up, Bistro Pierre Rooms, is charmingly nestled within Plymouth’s Royal William Yard. Linked with the successful chain of French Bistrot restaurants, this Grade II listed building was once home to a Royal Navy Admiral and has been restored to its former glory, with a contemporary vibe and 14 rooms. This characterful, boutique B&B, brimming with period features provides a peaceful retreat at the end of a busy day.
Another great stay in Plymouth is the Crowne Plaza, part of IHG Hotels and Resorts. With fabulous views overlooking Plymouth Hoe and stretching out to sea, the Crowne Plaza offers a slice of luxury and calm in the hubbub of the city centre. With an onsite gym and heated indoor pool, you can also indulge in some fitness and relaxation during your stay.
Situated on Devon’s picturesque coastline, Plymouth offers a variety of water links connecting different parts of the City and South East Cornwall. Plymouth Boat Trips ferries depart from Royal William Yard Marina, Admirals Hard in Stonehouse and the Barbican Landing Stage, just a short walk from Plymouth Hoe.
Setting off from the Crowne Plaza, enjoy a morning stroll over Plymouth Hoe, with breath taking ocean views, passing the war memorial and Plymouth’s iconic Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse. Follow the winding coast road until you reach the start of the Barbican district.
Here you can enjoy breakfast at The Boathouse—a charming, family and doggy friendly waterfront bar and restaurant that serves a varied all-day menu for all tastes and specialises in delicious, local seafood caught by its own fleet of fishing boats.
After a hearty breakfast, hop aboard the Cawsand Ferry from the Barbican Landing Stage and enjoy a delightful 30 minute sailing across Plymouth Sound to the quaint Cornish beaches and villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. An area of outstanding beauty, located on the Rame Peninsula, as well as pretty beaches and rockpools, you’ll find a variety of craft shops, traditional pubs and cafés full of Cornish charm.
After enjoying the delights of Cawsand, it may be time to walk off the Cornish ice cream! At your own pace, take the South West Coast Path to Mount Edgcumbe in Cremyll. This moderate 5.7km walk features breath taking coastal views and is mostly flat. For those that prefer, there’s also a scenic bus route that will take you around to Cremyll, where Mount Edgcumbe House and Gardens are situated. The former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe and set within 865 acres of country park, Mount Edgcumbe offers activities for all ages and interests, from a leisurely stroll around the grounds, stately home and local beaches to more energetic Segway tours and even a new alpaca trekking experience, there’s something for everyone. Check out the website to find out more.
Royal William Yard
Return to Plymouth aboard the Cremyll Ferry, an eight minute water taxi, which departs from the quayside at Mount Edgcumbe every thirty minutes. Fabulous views of Mount Edgcumbe, Royal William Yard and Plymouth Sound on the sailing make this a great way to take in the local area, while relaxing on board.
Once back on the Devon side, you will find yourself in the Stonehouse area of Plymouth and, if you’re ready for refreshments, stop in at the V.O.T. (the Victualling Office Tavern). A traditional, family-owned, craft bar with a modern twist, the V.O.T. serves a range of independently produced spirits, expertly roasted artisan coffee and a tapas menu.
A further two-minute walk will take you into Royal William Yard, where Bistrot Rooms is situated. A stunning collection of Grade I listed buildings, developed to house a vibrant mix of bars, shops, gymnasium, cinema and marina, making it one of Plymouth’s coolest, waterfront, destinations.
To end the day, experience the best fish and chips at Royal William Yard’s independent seafood restaurant and bar, the Hook and Line. Serving fresh fish and shellfish, again caught by their own local fishing boats, this trendy, dog friendly restaurant has a quirky, rustic interior and in homage to Plymouth’s naval roots is home to Plymouth’s first speciality Rum Bar.
Stay the night at Bistrot Rooms or take Plymouth Boat Trips’ ferry connection from Royal William Yard Marina back to the Barbican.
If you opted to stay in Royal William Yard, take a morning stroll around Firestone Bay, where you can dip your toes in the surrounding waters, a popular spot for paddlers and sea swimmers alike. South West SUP also provide stand up paddle board lessons for beginners through to more experienced boarders – for one of the most serene ways to enjoy the local waters.
If you’re hungry after all that activity, be sure to head to The Hutong, for one of their famous bagels before taking the connecting ferry from Royal William Yard Marina back around to The Barbican.
National Marine Aquarium
The National Marine Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the UK and is the perfect place for little nippers to spend an afternoon. With over five thousand ocean creatures and incredible exhibits, its packed full of fun, with plenty to explore and learn about. The NMA is always a popular spot so it’s advisable to book your tickets before you go.
The cobbled streets of Plymouth’s Barbican are a great place to while away an hour or so, perusing the variety of independent craft, art and antique shops, traditional pubs and eateries.
To complete your weekend of seafood delights, The Catch, situated on Southside Street is not to be missed. Named the best seafood establishment in Plymouth and Devon and with its own fishmongers, displaying the catch of the day, it doesn’t get fresher. Head chef and manager of The Catch is Rick Stein trained, Lee Holland, and he’s created a menu that doesn’t disappoint.
Plymouth really is a city full of hidden gems, with so much to see and explore. One weekend and you’ll be hooked!