One of the most popular universities in the South West and ranked among the top 2% in the world, Plymouth University attracts over 25,000 students from the UK and beyond each year.
From seafront dining to historical monuments and quirky attractions, Plymouth is the perfect destination to turn a quick visit to the city into a weekend break. Destination Plymouth, the city’s official tourist board, is highlighting the top eight things to do in this vibrant oceanfront city for parents, relatives and friends visiting university students.
1. Swap student beer for a taste of Plymouth gin
Located in the Barbican, Plymouth’s Blackfriars Gin Distillery is the oldest gin distillery in England, dating back to 1793 and a great location to treat students to a premium tipple! The distillery offers a Master Distiller’s tour, their most comprehensive, which lasts around two to two and half hours and allows visitors to discover the secrets of gin distilling by creating and distilling a personalised gin recipe. Everyone is given a 200 ml bottle of their own handmade gin to take away as a unique memento of their visit.
2. Treat the student in your life to an indulgent chocolate afternoon tea at Chocaccino
Run by a chocoholic mother-daughter team who trained at the Callebaut Chocolate Academy, Chocaccino is a world away from the own-brand chocolate fixes that most students depend on! Located in Plymouth’s old town, the Barbican, the chocolate shop is well known for its luxury chocolate afternoon tea. As well as the usual savoury sandwiches and classic cakes, this chocolatey afternoon tea comes with a choice of delicious hot chocolate or chocolate flavoured tea and Chocaccino’s famous chocolate chip scones and homemade mango marshmallow, all for £14.95 per person.
3. Ditch the ‘pound a pint night’ for 1920s-inspired bar Tigermilk at the Duke for a cocktail
Tigermilk at the Duke is the ideal place for students to bring their parents or friends when they’re looking to get away from student bars and show them the best of Plymouth. A speakeasy bar hidden underground and located underneath the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Tigermilk at the Duke is an independent drinking den in Plymouth specialising in fine spirits and fantastic entertainment. Without a doubt Plymouth’s most quirky bar, there’s just a small plaque outside it to let people know where it’s located and a buzzer entry system to enter. The Duke of Cornwall was Plymouth’s first ever luxury hotel and celebrated its 150th birthday in 2013.
4. Chill out on one of Devon’s stunning beaches
Wembury Beach is the ideal place to relax and unwind after watching a loved one graduate or flee the nest for their new student digs.
A short 20 minute drive from Plymouth city centre, Wembury Beach is a popular sandy beach, known for its rock pooling, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and owned by the National Trust. Wembury has its own Marine Conservation Centre as well as guided rock pool walks on the beach and beautiful cliff walks to Bovisand in the west and Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo to the east. The beach is also a popular spot for water sports, in particular surfing and kayaking, as well as swimming, diving, sailing and fishing.
5. Kayaking on the River Dart
Those keen to combine their visit to Plymouth with a water sport adventure need look no further than the River Dart whose valley and surrounding area is some of the most beautiful in England. The river weaves its way through Dartmoor National Park and, as such, is extremely popular with kayakers who are offered spectacular views of the moorland. Kayaking is one of the most popular activities to do on the river and is the perfect way for visitors to discover the breath taking countryside outside of the city while also having fun with family or friends. The more adventurous types can try out white-water canoeing, the River Dart is one of the most famous places in England to do it with the Dart Loop being particularly well-known for this type of activity. There are canoe and kayak hire shops dotted all around the river.
6. Combine history and new-age technology with a Segway tour around the former home of the Earl of Edgecumbe
Located on a peninsula with over 10 miles of breath taking coastline, Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is set in 865 acres of land and is one of the most astonishing public spaces in the UK. The former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe, the historic house was first built in the 1500s and was restored after World War Two, today it boasts Grade I listed Cornish gardens and is one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations. Adventure Segway offers Segway tours around the park taking visitors through stunning parkland, woodlands and listed monuments with incredible views across Plymouth Sound. Access to the park is a one hour ferry to and from Cremyll Quay in nearby Cornwall. Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is open to the public daily free of charge. Mount Edgcumbe House is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.
7. Watch a comedy show at Plymouth Pavilions
Plymouth Pavilions is the South West's largest purpose-built exhibition and entertainment attraction which has hosted an outstanding array of diverse performances, from the comedic hilarity of Billy Connolly to the compelling Philharmonia Orchestra. On Saturday 24th September, comedian Josh Widdicombe, known for his Channel 4 show The Last Leg as well as appearances on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News for You and ITV's The Jonathan Ross Show, will be entertaining audiences with a live comedy night from 8pm. www.plymouthpavilions.com
8. Hit the water with a Cook-Your-Catch Fish ‘N’ Trips excursion
Based in the fisherman's arches besides the Mayflower Steps, The Boathouse Café is just a stone's throw from Plymouth's historic Barbican. The café’s Fish ‘N’ Trips offer a fun way to learn more about the local marine environment while out onto the water. After three hours fishing, sea dogs will return to shore where students, family and friends can kick back with a glass of wine or beer. Behind the scenes, the Boathouse Cafe staff will be busy filleting and cooking the catch straight off the boat, it doesn’t come fresher than that!