Category: Things to dowhat's on

As it's English Tourism Week, which celebrates everything amazing there is for visitors to see, do and experience in England, we’re sharing the top ten reasons which make Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, an unmissable destination!


1. Incredible events

Attracting thousands of visitors every year, Plymouth plays host to some incredible events.

This year, get your Jolly Rogers at the ready for a swashbuckling weekend of family fun at Pirates Weekend Plymouth on 11 and 12 May, or show your support for the military at Armed Forces Day on 29 June where you can enjoy parades, displays and even the Red Arrows!

Don’t miss the South West’s largest free food & drink festival too. Taking place from 31 May to 2 June, Flavour Fest has hundreds of regional producers selling their wares, a Kid’s Kitchen, Cookery Theatre and an appearance from two famous faces from the Great British Bake Of…

You also need to experience the British Firework Championships. Six firework companies battle it out over two nights to prove who can put on the best display – so trust us when we say, you’re in for an awe-inspiring evening.

Whatever you’re into, our packed events calendar has something new for you to experience throughout 2019.


2. Ocean delights

Plymouth didn’t earn the title of Britain’s Ocean City without reason. The city’s waterfront is truly breath-taking and there’s loads of opportunities to get out on the water – or in it.

Take part in a course at the Mount Batten Centre, trying your hand at sailing, kayaking, canoeing and more. Learn to sail and powerboat with the Plymouth and Devon Schools Sailing Association. Head out on a relaxed paddle boarding session with South West SUP. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, learn to scuba dive with Aquanauts Dive Centre!  

This year, Plymouth once again hosts the final of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Yachts come from all over the world to compete in the race which starts on Saturday 3 August 2019 in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Head down from 6 to 8 August to visit the Plymouth race village at Mount Batten. You’ll find a whole host of family friendly activities to enjoy, plus live music and the chance to try on-water activities – as well as meet some of the competitors.


3. Shop ‘til you drop

Plymouth’s vast city centre is a wonderland for shoppers, with big brand names and quirky independents all on offer.

For big brand names head to Drake Circus or wander the high street. Head to the West End for more independent stores and to discover the incredible Plymouth Market. With its Grade II listed features, you’ll find stallholders selling everything from crafts to collectibles and fresh food to fashion – plus some of the city’s best eateries.


4. Mayflower 400

2020 marks a huge four-nation commemoration of four years since the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower ship, seeking religious freedom. They landed in America which marks an important part in the nation’s history – but the UK, Netherlands and Wampanoag (the native people of America).

Plymouth was the Pilgrims final departure point before they sailed across the Atlantic. We’re leading the UK commemorations, which officially start during Thanksgiving 2019 with spectacular light-based festival Illuminate. There will be a massive programme of events and cultural activity to enjoy throughout 2020, including the Mayflower Week and Mayflower Ocean Festival too.

Photo credit: One Plymouth 


5. Instagrammable views

We know there’s more to life than the ‘gram, but if it looks great on the grid then imagine drinking in that view in real life.

Plymouth Hoe has some of the best views in the world (in our opinion). Head there on a sunny day and drink in the breath-taking image of Plymouth Sound, with the ocean stretching out in front of you surrounded by countryside. It’s the perfect spot for a photo. You can even climb Smeaton’s Tower for an even better viewpoint, or head down to Tinside Lido for a seaside snap.

The Grade II listed Royal William Yard also makes an amazing backdrop for photos and is a regular haunt for bloggers, photographers and even fashion brands.


6. Delectable food & drink

Welcome to the original home of Plymouth Gin – and Black Friars Distillery which holds the crown of the oldest working distillery in England. Take a tour of the distillery and then relax with a cocktail in the Refectory Bar.

Not only do we have serious pedigree where booze is concerned, but the fresh produce on offer in the city is unbeatable. With one the largest fish markets in the country located at the heart of the waterfront, expect to find some of the freshest fish and seafood on offer in the city’s restaurants. Whether you fancy an award-winning fish and chips or traditional Japanese sushi, we’ve got the restaurant for you.

Photo credit: Matt Austin


7. Arts & culture

Culture vultures will find lots to enjoy this year. Take a trip to the Theatre Royal Plymouth and while you’re there, you won’t be able to miss Messenger. She’s an incredible new addition to the city and the UK’s largest cast bronze sculpture – whatever your opinion of her, she’s certainly making waves.

If art is your thing check out, there’s galleries showcasing ground-breaking work. Check out KARST, The Arts Institute or The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art.

Cinema fans will want to discover Plymouth Arts Cinema. Their programme features a range of the very best in world, art-house and independent cinema. They also run an open-air cinema programme during the summer, bringing blockbusters and classics to some of the city’s most beautiful waterfront settings.

Photo credit: Dom Moore


8. The UK’s largest public aquarium

We’re proud to be home to the National Marine Aquarium, the UK’s largest, where you can dive deep into an underwater world.

Meet more than 4,000 animals here, including sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, Neptune the octopus and Friday the green turtle. The aquarium also run regularly special events, ranging from boat trips and behind the scenes tours, to sleepovers under the shark tank!

Photo credit: Matt Austin


9. Swimming and sunbathing

On the edge of Plymouth Hoe, you can find one of Europe’s best outdoor pools. Tinside Lido is an outdoor, Art Deco swimming pool overlooking Plymouth Sound and it’s an amazing place to spend a summer’s day.

Visit when it’s open between May and September for a dip in the salt water pool or kick back and relax on the sunbathing terrace – it’s one of the best places to soak up the sun (don’t forget your sun cream!).


10. History and heritage

A city shaped by its past and steeped in history, there’s a lot to delve into in Plymouth and history buffs are in for a real treat.

You can walk in the footsteps of adventurers and explorers who strolled the streets of Plymouth in years gone by, including Sir Francis Drake, the Mayflower Pilgrims and Charles Darwin.

Soak up the post-war architecture of the city centre and explore a city rebuilt following the Blitz, or step further back in time wandering the cobbled streets of the Barbican and Sutton Harbour.

There’s lots of places to visit – we’d recommend heading to the Mayflower Museum, Devonport Guildhall and Royal Citadel, or visit during Plymouth History Festival in May for tours, talks and exhibitions.


If all this has left you feeling tempted to take a trip to Britain’s Ocean City, then we’ve got plenty of useful info. Discover more about the accommodation on offer, check out some of our suggested itineraries and pay us a visit!


In partnership with GWR, Destination Plymouth's lead travel partner. 



  1. Xxx
    Steak & Omelette!!!
    A Plymouth institution!!
    One of Plymouth’s oldest restaurants!!

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