The Barbican is a great place to spend time if you want to head back in time. Wander the cobbled streets to be transported back to Sir Francis Drake’s victory over the Spanish Armada, the departure of the famous Mayflower, or the send-off for explorers Scott of the Antarctic, Captain James Cook and Charles Darwin. All these historical, much-celebrated events took place right here.
On a sunny day students can head up to the majestic expanse of Plymouth Hoe, taking in breathtaking views and busy blue water of Plymouth Sound. The Hoe hosts a number of major events each year including the MTV Crashes music festival and the British Firework Championships. Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse stands proudly on Plymouth Hoe and is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, you can even go up it. On a clear day the view from the Hoe is a breathtaking and memorable one.
The laidback vibe of the city juxtaposes beautifully with rich cultural experiences. If you enjoy theatre, you’ll love Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre and the Theatre Royal which the largest regional producing theatre in the UK, attracting some of the top touring shows in the country. The city is also home to the largest music and entertainment venue in the South West: Plymouth Pavilions. This imposing building hosts performances from top national and international musicians, plus comedy and dance performers. Art fans and history buffs will enjoy exploring the museums and galleries, discovering more about Plymouth’s history, as well as the work of local talent and internationally acclaimed artists. Plymouth is the cultural capital of Devon and Cornwall and hosts the annual British Firework Championships which guarantees an explosive night out.
Prysm nightclub at the Barbican Leisure Park is a popular choice among students, whereas a slightly more mature crowd would choose Annabel’s Cabaret and Disco on the Barbican for their night out. PopWorld on Union Street offers revolving dancefloors and classic dancefloor-filling tunes, while the bars along the Barbican often pump out loud music and make room for revellers as the night marches on.
The Hub is off-the-beaten path but is one of the most well-known music venues for those intimate gigs with local and emerging bands. For more well-known names head to Plymouth Pavilions for comedy and music.
International dining in Plymouth is on the rise, with intriguing new hotspots cropping up on a regular basis. Of course, you might want to check out some local cuisine, too. If you’re after good old fish and chips, the Barbican is the place to be. Southside Street’s Harbourside Fish & Chips and Rockfish in Sutton Harbour are both award-winners with options to dine in or take away where you'll be served up local seafood with a smile.
For relaxed, canteen-style Asian cuisine, head to the Pannier Market. Upstairs, @Kitchen serves deliciously fresh Vietnamese food, while downstairs, A Taste of Thailand will throw together a delightful plate of noodles or Thai green curry for you in mere minutes. And for great dim sum? Head straight for Hakka on the Barbican, where the Noodle Lounge is also popular for authentic Cantonese food.
For tapas, the Chancel on St Andrew Street is hard to beat, while the far end of the main shopping district offers three great Greek choices: Zeus, The Leandra and the Grecian Taverna. For delicious French dishes, Chloe’s Restaurant is a local favourite, as well as Bistrot Pierre at the Royal William Yard.
After dark, Plymouth comes alive! The Barbican is arguably the hottest spot to be, though many people head down to Union Street for a more raucous night out. Depending on your mood, choose from:
If you like the idea of a good old-fashioned pub and some seriously good ale, Plymouth has plenty of hidden gems to discover. The Bread and Roses on Ebrington Street always has a superb selection of ales on offer, and the vibe is seriously laid back. The Barbican is rich in traditional drinkeries.
For something a little more chic, it’s got to be the Refectory at the Plymouth Gin Distillery. Access is sometimes restricted to members at the weekend, but cards can be picked up during the week if you pop in during the day. Other popular bars in Plymouth include the fabulous Vignoble at the Royal William Yard (for delicious pay-as-you-go wine on tap), the Treasury, and Bar Rakuda for a touch of al fresco live music. If you fancy something a little more raucous, Union Street is home to a host of chain bars which are always packed out at the weekends.
Plymouth is surrounded by marvellous beaches. A day trip to Bovisand, Mothecombe or Wembury beaches promises magnificent views and choice sunbathing spots. Travel a little further to local surf hotspots at Bantham and Bigbury On Sea. Or visit Saltram House, tucked under the caring wing of the National Trust, this grand building and and gardens offer plenty to discover.
Also on the doorstep is Dartmoor National Park, a landscape of stunning views, awe inspiring granite tors, deep wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers, and rugged, wide open spaces. Dartmoor has a very gentle side too, with ample safe, quiet areas where you can picnic and easy to follow trails for walking and cycling. Here we are very lucky to have an amazing blend of city, coast and countryside.
Here in Britain's Ocean City water taxis depart from the Barbican at all times of the day, taking visitors over to Mount Batten, around to the Royal William Yard and even all the way to the beautiful fishing villages of Kingsand and Cawsand with their beautiful scenery, secluded beaches and fascinating smuggling history. Another regular boat service runs from Stonehouse over to the Rame Peninsula, where you can explore the stunning Mount Edgecumbe with its grand house and sweeping gardens.
Britain’s Ocean City, with its fantastic waterfront location has no shortage of things to do if you’re a water sports enthusiast including sailing, diving, wakeboarding and kayaking. Wembury beach is just 20 mins away and across Devon and Cornwall you’ll find beautiful beaches for moonlit campfires, surfing weekends and picnics at secluded coves.
Links to Plymouth are many and varied, so we’ll run you through how to find us, whichever direction you’re coming from.