When it comes to Plymouth’s “best bits” here are some of our personal favourites.
This has got to be one of the most stunning Lidos in Europe. A swim here on a hot summer’s day is sheer bliss – though not for warm water and wet suit devotees.
Built in 1935, the Art Deco pool extends in a semi circle from the Hoe foreshore into Plymouth Sound. The views are breathtaking and there’s something quite surreal about swimming within a few hundred metres of a passing nuclear submarine or one of the giant Brittany ferries en route to Spain.
A couple of minutes walk along the seafront from the Lido, you’ll find the utterly delightful open air Terrace Café. It’s down a steep flight of steps, tucked against the rockface, so it’s easy to miss it from the road and pavement above.
The views are to die for, there’s some good food to be had… and it’s licensed! On special occasions, such as the national fireworks championships, they throw a party with live music. If the weather plays ball it makes for a magical evening.
When West End impresario Cameron Mackintosh staged Mary Poppins in Plymouth, he described our truly wonderful Theatre Royal as “practically perfect in every way”.
And he was so right. Plymouth is incredibly lucky to have one of the biggest and most popular regional theatres in the UK. The theatre produces its own dramas and musicals, many of which have gone on to international acclaim in the West End and on Broadway. The theatre hosts mega performances by the nation’s leading opera and dance companies…and the best Christmas panto you could wish for!
What an extraordinary place this is – the old victualling yard which supplied the Royal Navy fleet with food and other essential supplies for 150 years. Until it was taken over by private developers, it was strictly out of bounds to the public who could only catch tantalising glimpses of its inner workings as they passed by in a boat.
The impressive array of Grade 1 listed buildings – fascinating while slightly forbidding – have now been transformed into upmarket apartments and commercial premises. A great place for a sun downer and some tasty tapas in the bustling Seco Lounge on the waterfront, overlooking the Cornish countryside.
A firm favourite with seafood junkies, Platters on the Barbican quayside has been relying on the daily catch from nearby Plymouth fish market for more than 30 years. It’s very small and informal and the bench style seating is so close together that you invariably end up chatting with your fellow foodies at the neighbouring table. You almost feel like you’re eating in a backwater Greek taverna!
One of the last great wildernesses in Great Britain, this awe inspiring expanse of majestic moorland, granite tors, woods and rivers is just 20 minutes drive from Plymouth city centre. It’s magical, it’s mystical…and we could wax lyrical about it for hours!
Without doubt Plymouth’s greatest asset is its location – sandwiched between one of the country’s most beautiful national parks and what is arguably the most spectacular natural harbours in Europe. Is there another city in the world which can boast such breathtaking natural boundaries? If you can think of one, then please let us know!
Now this one certainly wouldn’t rank among many people’s Top 10. But we love it because it’s like stepping back into another place and time. It echoes an era when life was slower and simpler; when shopkeepers took the time to chat to you and buttons, braids and beads were sold in a higgledy-piggledy muddle of a store no bigger than an average cupboard.
The fresh fruit and veg are better than anything you’ll get in the local supermarkets, the fishmongers are fabulous (and true experts at what they do) and there’s even a certain charm about all the naff clothes stalls.
Ah, what fun nights we’ve had at Annabel’s Cabaret and Discotheque on the Barbican! Hard to describe it in a couple of sentences because it offers everything from swing and soul nights, to rock and roll, reggae and raunchy comedy. One of the best ever Elvis impersonators makes a regular appearance and you even get Burlesque and belly dancing thrown in for good measure.
Probably best summed up by its dress code: jeans and long shorts allowed (as long as your bottom is in them) and flip flops acceptable (as long as you have nice feet – no hairy toes!).
This is a glorious (and cheap!) day out for all the family. Hop on the Cremyll Ferry at Admiral’s Hard in Stonehouse and a very enjoyable 10-minute trip across the River Tamar takes you to the gorgeous Mount Edgcumbe country estate.
The 865-acre estate is open to the public all year round and there’s no charge. There are masses of perfect picnic spots, ponds where the kids will love feeding the ducks, a deer park, wonderful woods awash with flowers in springtime and a small pebble beach if you fancy a swim. Lording it over the estate is the impressive Tudor house which was the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe. It’s open to the public in the summer months (with an entrance fee).
Tucked away up a narrow Barbican back street, you’ll uncover one of Plymouth’s greatest hidden gems. The B-Bar attracts the Bohemian, the barmy and some of the best alternative artistic talents to be found anywhere.
The Barbican Theatre, in the same building, offers cutting edge performances and provides a platform for new talent. A perfect evening in the B-Bar includes a Thai noodle box…totally authentic and totally delicious!