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Free Things to do in Plymouth

Monday 17 July 2023

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Plymouth is a vibrant Devonshire city that attracts holidaymakers from across the UK, as well as locals on daytrips. Enjoyed particularly for its stunning waterfronts and historic gardens, Plymouth is home to an abundance of attractions – many of them free to explore. Whether you’re a local looking for new places to visit or travelling for a Plymouth staycation, here are our favourite free things to do in Plymouth.

How to get to Plymouth by train:

Situated between Penzance and Exeter, you can get to Plymouth station directly on a wide range of CrossCountry services from across the UK. Whether you’re travelling from local stations like Newton Abbot or Liskeard, or from further afield like Bristol Temple Meads or Leeds, you can get to Plymouth easily with CrossCountry.

Explore the Barbican Port

Sitting happily on the South coast of the UK, one of Plymouth’s most delightful locations is the Barbican historic port. However long you’re in town, the Barbican should be your first port of call (pun intended). The city’s famous port has been shaped by its long history of war and trade. Nowadays, it is a great place to wander along cobbled streets to discover independent shops, cafes, and restaurants – with architecture left relatively untouched. This historic area also has museums and galleries to learn about Plymouth through time.

Walk along Plymouth Hoe

With a name coming from the old English word for ‘high ground’ Plymouth Hoe is a scenic cliffside walk from which you can enjoy the most stunning views of the sea and the city. The lighthouse stands tall over one of the world’s greatest natural harbours, once used by the legendary Sir Francis Drake. On the hoe you can find a sensory garden, memorials, and a long promenade to stroll along and enjoy the scenery. If you fancy a dip in the sea, a pebble beach is only a short walk away!

View of Plymouth Hoe at dusk, with a cloudless sky overlooking the lighthouse and harbour below.

Discover culture at The Box

Museum, art gallery, and historic archive all in one place, the Box is the best place in Plymouth to get your free dose of culture. The site was previously home to the Plymouth Museum & Art Gallery, but the people of Plymouth were treated to a multi-million-pound renovation in 2020, resulting in the modern hub of galleries, exhibition spaces, and more inside. If you’re looking for free days out in Plymouth, you can be entertained for hours at the Box – with exhibitions perfect for adults and children alike.

Go back in time at Mount Edgcumbe House & Country Park

Spanning nearly nine-hundred acres across southeast Cornwall is Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park, one of the most historic free days out near Plymouth. Located across the estuary from Plymouth, the house was commissioned by King Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, and the gardens have been continually expanded ever since. Though you have to pay to enter the house, you can explore the gardens and park for free all-year-round. There are five stunning walks taking you to different areas of the grounds, so there is more than enough to explore over a day – and plenty of great picnic spots!

Mount Edgcumbe house viewed from the front, with a grand pathway lined with grass leading the way to enter the grand home.

Stroll around Saltram House

If you’re staying in Plymouth for a few days and want to really dive into the history, then why not visit one of our favourite National Trust properties, Saltram House? The house itself is stunning, and with the beautiful Devonshire countryside surrounding it, you’ll find yourself transported back in time. Inside the house, you’ll find treasures showcasing Saltram’s Georgian history. Out of doors, you can explore the five-hundred acres of National Trust grounds, with beaches, meadows, saltmarshes, and an estuary – all free of charge!

Paddling at Wembury Beach

There’s absolutely no point in visiting Plymouth if you don’t dip your toes in the sea! Wembury is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is home to a quaint beach – perfect for a family day out. The sand is fine, and the water has won an award from the Marine Conservation Society for its outstanding cleanliness. Plus, there are plenty of rockpools for keeping curious little minds busy! The cliff paths surrounding it leads you up and down the coast if you’re in the mood to explore.

View of Wembury Beach from the rocky shore, with waves crashing on the rocks and sand. A church sits on the cliff in the background.

Visit St. Andrew’s Church

No citybreak is complete without a visit to a local church, and Plymouth is home to one of the UK’s most impressive churches. Built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the site on which St. Andrew’s Church stands has, in fact, been used for religious purposes for over a thousand years. It is an historic landmark and absolutely must feature in your Plymouth itinerary.

If you’re planning a trip to Plymouth, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Julia

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