Places to go and sights to see in and around Plymouth

Written by: UPSU

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Plymouth is the UK’s Ocean City and the student community love what it has to offer all year round! From stunning sea views to historic streets, top restaurants to amazing architecture: Plymouth is an amazing place to be. Here are just a few of the different places in Plymouth that are easy to access, and we think every student should visit whilst living here.


Plymouth Hoe 

Our world-famous Plymouth Hoe offers stunning scenic views and is a very popular place to go for a walk, picnic, and to catch up with friends while taking in the breath-taking sea views. The Hoe is home to Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse, a landmark in Plymouth which was rebuilt from its original base 14 miles out to sea. 

The Hoe is accessible via wide tarmac paths and is open 24/7 and free to access. There are plenty of park benches and open green space to sit down. You will also find statues and war memorials, a sensory garden, and public toilets. You can also find cafes and often ice cream vans around the Hoe and just below on the coastal pathway. 

The Hoe acts as a venue for fantastic events across the year, including free music festivals, firework displays, and fairs. This is always a lively location that our student community love, especially when the sun is shining! Make sure you check it out and perhaps pack a picnic!

Fact: The word "Hoe" is derived from old English meaning high ground


    Photo: Smeaton's Tower lighthouse on Plymouth Hoe


The Barbican and Sutton Harbour

Plymouth is a city shaped by its historic past, and nowhere is more so than the historic Barbican and Sutton Harbour with the oldest buildings and the greatest number of historical tales and fortunes of sea, trade, and war. 

The Barbican is a beautiful old port with cobbled streets, narrow lanes, and hundreds of listed buildings from Jacobean and Tudor times. You can take a walk through the ancient quays, taking the same steps as many merchants, mariners and privateers would have taken over the centuries and see the very place where Sir Francis Drake sailed and where the Pilgrim Fathers departed to settle the New World (the Mayflower Steps).

Aside from its rich and fascinating history, the Barbican offers a wide range of shops, galleries, pubs, and cafes, as well as a mix of Italian, Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Himalayan, Mexican and British restaurants to discover.

Whether you want to immerse yourself in Plymouth’s history or just want to find some great food with picturesque views: we are sure you will love the Barbican. 


     Photo: The Barbican, Plymouth.


Royal William Yard

Royal William Yard combines Plymouth’s historic naval past with one of the best places to eat, drink, shop and relax in the heart of the South West. It offers breath-taking sights, surrounded by sea and views over Plymouth Sound and across to Cornwall. 

Royal William Yard is a very popular destination for both tourists and locals, with top restaurants and bars, its own marina, water sports, and a calendar of events throughout the year, including live music and fairs. 

From its renowned history and maritime setting, along with its modern architecture and artistic community, we are sure you will love this award-winning waterside destination!


     Photo: drinks at Royal William Yard 


Devil’s Point Park

Devil’s Point, also known as Western Kings or Firestone Bay, forms part of the South West Coast Path and is a great location to enjoy some fresh air and take in the spectacular views from the southern tip of the Stonehouse peninsula across to Mount Edgecumbe in Cornwall and across to Plymouth Sound to Drake’s Island

The location is rich in naval history, as well as geological and ecological interest with so much wildlife and nature to see. It is a popular location for fishing and scuba-diving due to the biodiversity of the European Marine Site. 

You can also find an outdoor saltwater swimming pool and a pebble beach which is popular with paddle boarders and sea swimmers to access the water.  


    Photo: views at Devil's Point Park and beach


Tinside Lido

Built in the 1930s, Tinside Lido is an outdoor saltwater swimming pool which overlooks Plymouth’s spectacular seafront and has been voted time and time again in the top 10 of Europe’s outdoor pools! 

It is fully accessible to people of all needs and has both a shallow end and a deep end, and water features to enjoy. After a swim, you can enjoy the sun deck: one of the most beautiful spots to catch some rays in Plymouth!

Tinside Lido is only open during the summer months. A timetable of opening and closing times and a full list of prices can be found on the Plymouth Active website here. 


     Photo: Tinside Lido 


Mount Batten 

Mount Batten is an outcrop of rock which occupies an area in the North East of Plymouth, named after Sir William Batten

You can get to Mount Batten on foot, by car or by ferry from the Barbican. Here you will find waterfront hotels and pubs serving drinks and traditional food with stunning views towards Plymouth’s historic Barbican, the Hoe and across to Mount Edgecumbe.

You will also find one of Plymouth’s landmarks: the Mount Batten Artillery Tower. This three-storey circular structure and coastal defence tower is set at the top of a cliff, built in the 1660s largely from Plymouth limestone rubble and designed to accommodate ten guns on its roof. The ancient monument was still in use during the Second World War and is now open to the general public at certain times throughout the year to visit. 

Many students visit Mount Batten for its fantastic Watersports and Activities Centre: one of the foremost outdoor education centres in the South West offering multi-activity courses from a small, highly experienced team. Whether you fancy kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, are experienced or new to water sports, the Watersports and Activities Centre has something for everyone to enjoy. 


The Box 

The Box is a popular museum, gallery, and archive in Plymouth, which houses a collection of around two million items. Here you can browse fine and decorative arts, a large natural history collection, including a historic library and an achieve of documents, photography, film, and other archival collections.

The building was created in the early 1900s, with the core of the building previously Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery which closed in 2016 and collections transferred to The Box which opened in 2020.

The museum holds prehistoric artefacts from Dartmoor, Mount Batten, and post-medieval finds from Plymouth, alongside artifacts from ancient Egypt and other ancient cultures of Europe. You can also find a full-size replica of a woolly mammoth!

The Box also has a gift shop and a restaurant inside the museum where you can have a bite to eat or a drink from the bar. 

If you are interested in learning more about the city you live and study in, we recommend visiting The Box, located opposite the University of Plymouth campus. It is open six days a week (closed on Mondays) and has free entry all year round. Find out more here.


The National Marine Aquarium

The National Marine Aquarium located in Plymouth is the UK’s largest aquarium! It opened to the public in 1998 and is now home to over 4,000 animals.

The National Marine Aquarium acts as a tourist attraction and educational institution to teach visitors about our marine environments and is part of the Ocean Conservation Trust: a charity dedicated to connecting people with the ocean, with all proceeds going to this charity.

At the aquarium you will find a variety of different animals, including lots of sharks, stingrays, exotic fish, octopuses, jellyfish, and turtles! The exhibits include the UK’s deepest and largest tank, the UK’s largest native exhibit, and the UK’s largest single viewing panel and so much more! There are many interactive displays to help you explore our ocean and understand how you can conserve it. 

Find out more here.


     Photo: The National Marine Aquarium (Plymouth)


Theatre Royal Plymouth

Theatre Royal Plymouth is the largest and best-attended regional producing theatre in the UK, located on Royal Parade just a 10-minute walk from the University of Plymouth campus.

The theatre consists of a 1300-seat main auditorium, and various other rooms which regularly host large-scale musicals, opera, and ballet. 

There is always a packed schedule of entertainment and events, including music, comedy, pantomime, dance, tours, and workshops. Browse all upcoming shows on the Theatre Royal Plymouth website and book your tickets to one of the country’s finest regional theatres. 

Find out more here.


If you are looking for free things to do in Plymouth, check out the Gov webpage for a list of all the activities, events and things to do so you can have fun and make memories with your university friends without worrying about your budget: find out more here.