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A Day Out in Plymouth

Things to do in Plymouth

Fancy a day out in Plymouth? For around £15 return, you can catch the train from the end of our road to Plymouth which takes around an hour.


Plymouth is the largest centre for shopping in the South West, outside of Bristol, and features many independent retailers as well as national brands and high street names in its varied shopping areas. Plymouth City Centre is a modern, pedestrianised area where visitors are encouraged to spend their time shopping without the need for transport. Offering shoppers a little bit of everything, Plymouth’s extensive range of shopping districts and markets is well laid out for easy access, not only for shopping, but also for making the most of the great range of restaurants, cafes and Plymouth’s entertainment venues and attractions. Take your time wandering around the extensive range of independent and specialist retailers in the Independent Quarter, pick up unique pieces of art from the Barbican’s Historic Quarter or enjoy shopping in Plymouth’s landmark shopping centre, Drake Circus.


Plymouth is rich in History and its origins can be traced back to Saxon times, more than a thousand years ago, and its history very much reflects its maritime location. Plymouth established its reputation both as a centre for voyage and discovery, and for its military importance. In 1572 Sir Francis Drake became the first Englishman to sail into the Pacific, and in 1577 he embarked on the first ever circumnavigation of the globe.

Back in Plymouth, Drake masterminded the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. According to popular legend, he played bowls on Plymouth Hoe as the Armada sailed up the Channel. Drake was responsible also for the establishment of England's first colony, at Roanoke in Virginia, an act that may be regarded as the origins of the British Empire.

Perhaps the most celebrated expedition to leave Plymouth was that of the Pilgrims. Persecuted for their puritan beliefs in eastern England, they set sail for the New World on board the Mayflower in 1620 landing after a few weeks in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod.

Further explorations that left from Plymouth included three voyages to the southern ocean and the Pacific made by James Cook, the first in 1768. He was the first explorer to set foot on what are now the Hawaiian Islands, where he died in 1779.

In 1831 Charles Darwin left Plymouth for the Galapagos Islands, where he formulated his revolutionary theories of natural selection and the Origins of Species.

Plymouth's military expansion began in earnest in 1670 when a citadel was built on the highest point above the town, the Hoe, meaning high ground.

The Navy's role during war against Napoleon's France was pivotal, and in 1812 a mile-long breakwater was laid to protect the fleet.

Plymouth was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Plymouth's centre was destroyed. Re-built in the 1950s, Plymouth's commercial heart was the first in England to incorporate pedestrian-only shopping avenues.


The National Marine Aquarium was built on reclaimed land in Sutton Harbour, next to the Barbican and fishmarket. It was opened in May 1998, with charitable aims of research, education and conservation. It is the largest aquarium in the United Kingdom so it’s well worth a visit.

You’ll start your visit with the largest native exhibition in the UK – exploring fish you’ve heard of and the many more mysterious animals that live on our doorstep. As you dive deeper into the Aquarium, their Eddystone Reef tank will blow your mind with the UK’s largest single-tank viewing panel (it’s like a fishy cinema screen).

If British beauties aren’t enough, their Atlantic Ocean tank – home to large nurse sharks, sand tiger sharks and new lemon sharks – is the deepest in the UK, with 2.5 million litres of water.

The Atlantic Ocean tank is home to three species of ray. They’ve also got fantastic smaller displays, from lionfish to clownfish and some very smiley pufferfish.

To finish your marine adventure off, the Great Barrier Reef tank is home to two Zebra sharks that have a really interesting story as they have no father! As well as favourites Cooper the Humphead Wrasse and Samson the Giant Grouper!


Take a tour round Plymouth Gin Distillery which involves a fascinating overview of the history which is the oldest working distillery in England. It has been making Plymouth Gin according to the original recipe since 1793.

As well as an introduction to the Plymouth Gin distillation process and the botanicals which are used, visitors also participate in a short tutored tasting of Plymouth Gin Original and Plymouth Sloe Gin. At the end of the tour guests can choose between a complimentary miniature of Plymouth Gin to take home or enjoy a Plymouth Gin and Tonic at the Refectory Bar so it’s a good job you’ll be on the train!

There’s lots more to do in Plymouth and I’ve barely scratched the surface here. In summary, it’s well worth a trip over whilst you’re down here in the South West for a day out. Don’t forget there’s loads to do in Torquay and the immediate area too so you’ll need at least three to four days to even begin to cross some of the things off your list. Take a look at some of my other blogs for more ideas for days out and things to visit.


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