The modern City of Plymouth is undergoing mammoth renewal efforts almost as extensive as its post-war reconstruction. Hoping to stimulate a “rebirth” of tourism, the Port of Plymouth is committed to offering visitors a wide range of leisure and cultural opportunities. The Port of Plymouth rests in an area of breathtaking natural beauty and a rich maritime heritage that combines modern city life with the benefits of a wonderful natural coastline and countryside. The city’s website contains comprehensive information on the many sights, accommodations, and opportunities available to visitors. However, there are some outstanding things in the Port of Plymouth that visitors will not want to miss.
The 17th Century Royal Citadel was built by Charles II to protect Plymouth Sound and the harbor after the English Civil War. For more than 100 years, it was England’s most important defensive position. While it is still in use by the military, it is also a popular tourist attraction where visitors can take guided tours on Tuesdays.
The Barbican is the oldest neighborhood in Plymouth and the site of many art galleries, shops, restaurants, and historic homes. Within this charming area is the Plymouth Gin Distillery, which is believed to be the last place the Pilgrims stayed before leaving for the New World. The Distillery has many interesting displays, making it a favorite spot for visiting families, as well as samples of the famous smooth gin made here. The Barbican is also the location of the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrims departed, the National Marine Aquarium, and the base for boat trips around the Plymouth Sound.
The National Marine Aquarium is the deepest in Europe. It’s located near the fish market, the old Barbican area, and the Mayflower Steps where the Pilgrims sailed to the New World in 1621. It was the UK’s first aquarium established solely for education, research, and conservation. It includes 50 live exhibits and more than 400 species of animals in realistic habitats from shorelines to coral reefs.
Smeaton’s Tower is located on the Port of Plymouth’s Hoe. Famous as the first wave-washed lighthouse built of interlocking stonework, it was moved in 1882 to the Hoe and made available to the public. Fully restored and standing 72 feet tall, the Tower bestows breathtaking views of Plymouth Sound and the city.
About 25 kilometers northeast of the Port of Plymouth, Dartmoor National Park covers almost a thousand square kilometers of the wildest area of open country in southwestern England. All of Dartmoor is privately owned, but it has 47 thousand hectares of open country open to the public and 730 kilometers of public rights of way giving access to beautiful reservoirs, tumbling rivers, and deep wooded gorges. Almost half of the park is open moorland, and over 10% is forest and woodland. The National Park Authority works to protect the natural beauty, cultural heritage , and social well-being of the people living there.
The area’s coastline is over a thousand miles long, and Plymouth’s waterfront is part of the South West Coast Path linking the counties’ beaches. Visitors will find small coves, beautiful cliffs, estuaries, fishing villages, and coastal towns along the Coast Path in addition to the 25 blue flag beaches.
Water and water-related activities are a big part of life in the Port of Plymouth, and visitors will find many opportunities to sail, canoe, windsurf, and scuba dive. The Mount Batten Centre is a great place to learn about the many waterside opportunities available, including courses, and to put on or attend events, conferences, and private functions. The city holds three marinas.
The Port of Plymouth also offers a variety of international cuisine at its many hotels, restaurants, and bistros. Many of these specialize in fresh seafood, but the area has many high-end establishments where you can enjoy locally-produced foods and drink.
Travelers who want to see the Port of Plymouth by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.