Surrounding Sutton Harbour and the Barbican is much to see and enjoy in Britain’s Ocean City, and Plymouth is perfectly placed between Cornwall and Devon as a vantage point to discover the wider South West. Taking the nautical theme, here is a Compass Rose of ideas.
Drive (or cycle if you’re feeling fit) onto Dartmoor National Park, an outstanding expanse of 954 sq km of unspoilt moorland in south Devon.
Pause as you climb and look back down over Plymouth; it’s a great view and shows how sheltered the Sound and city are.
At Princetown you’ll see the famous Dartmoor Prison, originally built for French and American prisoners of war in 1810. Enjoy a pint at the Plume of Feathers, and beside the pub is the point where the original horse-drawn railway to Sutton Harbour terminated.
Plymouth has a vibrant city centre packed with great shops, and an indoor mall at Drake’s Circus Shopping Centre as well as a new leisure complex planned for Bretonside next door.
Just above Drake’s Circus, and less than a ten minute walk from Sutton Harbour, is the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery which free to enter and houses a wealth of material relating to the area, along with a superb gallery.
Take a boat trip along the River Tamar and view Europe’s largest naval dockyard, or head further afield towards Calstock for some fantastic scenery.
A short walk over the lock bridge at Sutton Harbour and past the National Marine Aquarium is the Barbican Leisure Park , a major leisure complex with a 15-screen Vue Cinema, bowling alley, fitness club and restaurants.
For a longer walk or a cycle ride, head out along the trackways past the aquarium and follow the waterside to Laira Bridge, crossing into the National Trust’s Saltram Estate for some Georgian rural splendour.
Take a bus or car into the stunning South Devon countryside towards Kingsbridge and explore the Blyton-esque beaches of the South Hams; Agatha Christie fans will enjoy traveling to Burgh Island at Bigbury where the writer penned some of her best-loved novels, or visit her summer house above the river at Dartmouth.
The South West Coast Path crosses the piers at Sutton Harbour; follow it along the clifftops past the Victorian Fort at Bovisand and the quiet beaches out to Wembury; you can catch a bus there and walk back, or vice versa.
Take a water taxi from the Barbican Landing Stage to cross to Mountbatten, where the RAF kept a large seaplane base for most of the 20th century.
Go fishing; there are many day boats to hire for some rod and line action in Plymouth Sound.
Head even further south by catching a service from Brittany Ferries leaving nearby Millbay to France for an overnighter in Brittany.
Take a boat trip across Plymouth Sound to Cawsand and Kingsand; once part of Devon, Cawsand was a smuggling capital of the South West. This picturesque Cornish village has a ovely small beach, and there are walks out to Penlee Point.
Cross the River Tamar by the Cremyll Ferry to Mount Edgcumbe; view the house and grounds, enjoy lunch at The Orangery or enjoy a picnic by Barn Pool.
Walk or cycle around the waterfront to the Royal William Yard; explore the galleries and cafes, climb the Stairway to Devon and admire the amazing views around Devil’s Point.
Closer to hand, walk up onto Plymouth Hoe and climb Smeaton’s Tower. The lighthouse once stood eight miles out to sea on a dangerous reef and was moved back to the Hoe when it was replaced. The Hoe has great views, lots of interesting memorials, and superb cafes and ice creams.