Whether you’re local to Plymouth or planning a trip for a holiday, Plymouth really is one of my favourite places. You have the sea, beaches and Dartmoor nearby whilst having the luxury of being in a big city surrounded by all the amenities you could need. This is what makes it such a powerful and great city to live in!
Whilst there are plenty of fun things to do at a cost such as a trip to Mount Edgecumbe on the ferry, kayaking, axe throwing and mini golf. I could list them all day! There are plenty of things to do for FREE in Plymouth too. If you’re looking for day adventures, things to do with your children or planning a date, here are all the things to do in Plymouth for free.
The Cobbled Streets of The Barbican
The Barbican is an iconic place to visit in Plymouth. Stretching down from the Plymouth Hoe, you’ll find lots of quaint little shops, Jacka Bakery – the longest running Bakery in the UK, the baked goods are INSANE. But I recommend visiting early as they are always a sell out. But you don’t have to spend anything to enjoy the Barbican, there is plenty of beauty spots to sit at and there are a couple of key places to visit when you’re on the Barbican…
In the cobbled streets behind the main road of the Barbican, you’ll find this little oasis tucked away. It can easily be missed, but is definitely one to visit. This tranquil tourist spot is expertly manicured, featuring low box hedges, floral displays and fragrant herbs. There are benches in the gardens so you can stop, enjoy the scenery (and peace) for as long as you like.
There is also a great tea room next door that I would highly recommend for a cream tea.
Picturesque Views of The Hoe
Of course, it’s no trip to Plymouth without visiting the hoe and having some fish and chips, and maybe an ice cream too. Enjoy the beautiful coastline which is littered with great places to eat and drink (The Terrace and The Waterfront are my faves). There is also an outdoor lido which is amazing for a dip on a hot day. Head up to the lighthouse where you can climb to the top or soak in the views on the bank with a picnic.
The Mayflower Steps attract tourists from all over the world every year due to its famous history. The pligrims were believed to have set off from these steps when they left England aboard the Mayflower, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to settle in North America on 6 September 1620.
The actual steps the pilgrims left from no longer exist. A granite block bearing the ship’s name marks the approximate site, while a tablet commemorating the voyage was erected alongside in 1891. The Mayflower Steps can be found on the Barbican before the cattedown bridge.
Visit The Plymouth ‘Notting Hill’
Durnford Street, in my opinion is Plymouth’s answer to Notting Hill and it is beautiful! As you approach Royal William Yard you are greeted by a row of Georgian town houses, all painted in different appeasing pastel colours. It’s the perfect place to snap some shots for Instagram, enjoy the beauty of the houses and you can pop round the corner for a coffee and bagel in The Hutong afterwards! If you are looking for some great places to stop for a drink on your stay in Plymouth, check out my blog on 10 of the best independent coffee shops in Plymouth.
See below, it really could be Notting Hill – I just love it!
Follow The Sherlock Holmes Plaques
Talking of Durnford Street, kill two birds with one stone and also follow the Sherlock Holmes floor plaques. I don’t know how well known this is, but one of the houses on Durnford Street houses a plaque outside which was once the practice of literary great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, how cool is that?! He used the location and the surrounding area in his books over the following years.
The plaques in the pavement leading up Durnford Street to Devils Point all feature quotations from his book and are a fun, quirky touch to this street. The plaques start on the left hand side of the street starting from outside the barracks.
The Box Museum
Only opening in 2020, the box is a museum, art gallery and archive for the south west which is completely free to visit, and no need to book in advance. However, there are also paid for special exhibitions too if you want to enhance your visit, but these do need to be booked in advance.
Nine permanent galleries showcase the city’s incredible collections and include 14 monumental ships’ figureheads, thousands of natural history specimens, a full-size woolly mammoth replica, paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and ceramics, objects, film and photography, documents, maps and plans. It’s a great attraction to visit for all ages which I would highly recommend. There is a couple of food and drink places in the box so you can make a day of it too.
If you’re in the outskirts of the city, Saltram house is a real beauty spot which is in Plympton and situated along the Plym estuary. A national trust property, whilst you can pay for admission to the house, you can take a really lovely walk alongside the Plym estuary and around the grounds. This is a really popular place for dog walkers and cyclists.
One thing to note is that if you’re not a national trust card holder then you do need to pay for parking. However, if you don’t mind walking there are streets nearby that you can park at for free and then walk in.
Also owned by the National Trust, Wembury is a great beach to visit in all seasons. It has a great surf, dogs love it and there’s SO many rockpools that makes it great for exploration for little ones. If you’re feeling adventurous tou can also take a coastal walk from here to Bovisand or Newton Ferrers/Noss Mayo to the east. It’s a long way!
Burrator Reservoir is one of my favourite places for a brisk walk on the weekend. It is slightly on the outskirts of Plymouth, the gateway to Dartmoor but it is a must visit. It’s a great place for walking, running and cycling – the air feels so much fresher, it’s peaceful and just a great escape for a couple of hours.
The walk is approximately 3.5 miles, but you can go off the beaten track and explore Tors and other areas on Dartmoor. I would highly recommend visiting the Burrator Inn when you’re leaving which has recently been refurbished, perfect for a Sunday roast after a long walk.
Perfectly situated in the centre of the city, Central Park has so much to offer from great expanses of woodland, a park for children and even mini golf. You’ve also got the life centre in the grounds so you can pop in for a swim, rock climbing or a gym session too.
Parking is completely free here which makes it a popular place for dog walks and cyclists. You can easily walk through central park and into the city centre from there too. Alternatively, a park and ride bus goes into town so there is great transport links in the area if needed.
If you are planning a trip to Plymouth and looking for some more ideas on things to do then do take a look at Visit Plymouth. I’d love to hear if you have any other fun and free suggestions in Plymouth, do drop me a comment below or get in touch on social media.