It’s Easter time, the kids are off school and you need a way to entertain them but don’t want to spend a fortune. Well, Plymouth Live has got you covered as we count down the top 10 best free things to do in Plymouth, according to Trip Advisor.
The list below covers everything from museums, to parks, to areas of exquisite beauty. Whether the weather is glorious or back to typical British gloom there is something for everyone.
So, get a notepad ready and we’ll help you plan your budget Easter holidays’ activities. And of course, if we have forgotten or missed any of your favourites, then let us know in the comments.
Read more: Plymouth’s best beer gardens and outdoor terraces to soak up the sun this Easter
10. Devonport Naval Heritage Centre
The Devonport Naval Heritage Site and Visitor Centre records the development of The Dockyard and Plymouth’s pivotal role in supporting the Royal Navy through major conflicts since 1300, including two World Wars.
Through its collections, interactive experiences and pictorial interpretation the drama of the close relationship of Devonport, the Royal Navy, The Dockyard and the people of Plymouth can be explored.
“Great visit, something for everyone, the submarine tour is one to remember.
Some of the exhibits are very interesting.”
“A fascinating museum with a great variety of exhibition items, models, etc. The staff were friendly and helpful. The trip included a tour of HMS Courageous, a nuclear submarine, which was well worth it!”
“One word – WOW!”
9. Devonport Park
Also known as the ‘People’s Park‘, this Grade II historic park sits between the communities of Devonport, Stoke, Morice Town and Keyham. The recreational space was built 150 years ago, making it the oldest formal public park in Plymouth.
Visitors can see spectacular views of the River Tamar and it’s a great place to be active, learn about history, or just watch the world go by.
“This has to be one of best places to visit with the grandchildren, its free, good play areas, café for hot Chocolate and within walking distance.”
“Well worth a visit for its beautiful gardens and imaginative play areas. The cafes not bad too.”
“We often visit this lovely well kept and maintained park. The grounds are beautiful with lots to see and plenty of wildlife, an ideal place to take the children as it has a great play area with a good reasonably priced café.”
8. Plym Valley Cycle Trail
Of course, this activity is only free if you happen to have a bike. But those of you with bicycles will be able to have fun as you ride down Plym Valley Cycle Trail which follows the Great Western Railway track and then plunges straight into a glorious oak woodland before emerging out into open countryside.
Some of the trails leads you past dramatic industrial remains, including towering quarry faces, and across breathtaking viaducts. You’ll get the chance for close-up views of nesting wild peregrines (in season) and a taste of invigorating moorland fresh air all year round.
If you’re a sporty family, what’s not to like?
“Very nice trail, well groomed mostly, a little mud but it was only February. We got our bikes at the Plymouth Bike Hire. It’s fairly level but generally going uphill away from the city and downhill coming back. There’s one section of a pretty long tunnel and at one point a train went by (not in the tunnel, though). There are some deer and other smaller animals about and horses.”
“A steady climb at railway gradient. Some parts demand care in giving way to walkers, dogs and toddlers on new bikes. Speed can be excessive down hill, and dangerous. Largely tarmacked path surface but mud guards are needed in the winter months. Sunny spring days are magnificent when foliage is fresh. A most satisfying ride.”
“As part of our cycle tour from Barnstable to Plymouth we used the Plym Valley Cycle trail. Some wonderful scenery, a great trail, safe and traffic free, we would recommend it to anyone wanting to get some exercise and enjoyment of the outdoors.”
7. Naval Memorial
The Plymouth Naval Memorial commemorates 7,251 sailors of the First World War and 15,933 of the Second World War. The Memorial is situated centrally on The Hoe which looks directly towards Plymouth Sound.
Copies of the Memorial Register are kept at the Tourist Information Office at Island House, 9 The Barbican, Plymouth, PL1 2LS, and also in the Naval Historical Section at Plymouth Library.
“Sensational memorial, standing proud opposite Plymouths lighthouse. For those into history- this is fantastic.”
“A beautiful memorial, very well done and set in a beautiful garden. This is well worth a visit to remember those who lost their lives at sea. A must see if you are in Plymouth.”
“Huge impressive memorial which stands in honour of the brave men who lost their lives at sea, many many names.”
6. Royal William Yard
A part of Plymouth I personally absolutely adore. Royal William Yard is one of the best places to work, rest and play in the South West. The award winning Grade I listed ex-Naval victualling yard in Plymouth is home to a stunning range of leading restaurants, bars, galleries, shops and an eclectic range of high quality, local and national unique events. After you’ve finished with the cocktails it might not be a ‘free activity’ anymore.
“We didn’t know about this new development, we just happened to book a meal at Prezzo. its very impressive with lots of lovely bars and restaurants to try.”
“An amazing place to visit and stay in ! So clean, steeped in history and just outstanding! A huge thank you to John the estate manager who gave us a sense of this 18 acres site built in the 1820’s! A must see on your way to this corner of the world!”
“Love the many places to eat and drink in this area also good just to walk around. Very pretty.”
5. Plymouth Synagogue
Plymouth Synagogue is the oldest Ashkenazi Synagogue still in regular use in the English-speaking world. Visitors are encouraged to book ahead of their visit. Visitors should pre-book their visit with Custodian Jerry Sibley on 07753 267616 or by email on [email protected]
The tours usually take place Sunday to Thursday according to Jerry’s availability.
“Brilliant experience. I got in touch with Jerry to learn a bit more about my heritage and also about the history of the town I live in. Jerry is very friendly and incredibly enthusiastic and provided a very educational insight into the history surrounding Plymouth Synagogue.”
“Jerry has such enthusiasm and knowledge and really enjoyed sharing it with us. He also got my two daughters involved as well. I would recommend a visit without hesitation.”
“You will absolutely love it! Jerry created a wonderful story connecting all the history dots between Plymouth and synagogue. You do not need to be a Jew to enjoy the tour – Jerry explains the interconnection between religions, the traditions and their meanings.”
4. Burgh Island
Burgh Island is an iconic South Devon landmark, located directly opposite Bigbury on Sea beach. The island is accessible at low tide by a strip of sand which at high tide is completely covered, leaving a ride on the unique sea tractor as the only means of access.
As well as the sea tractor the island is famed for its links to Agatha Christie, the art-deco inspired hotel and as well as a one time haunt for pirates and smugglers.
The tidal passageway that separates the mainland from Burgh Island is a beautiful sandy beach which is ideal for lazy beach days and sand castle building whilst you admire views of the island.
“Burgh island was such a unique place. It would become an island from afternoon until the next day. The view from top of the hill was breathtaking. The sea was so blue.”
“We walked across the causeway when the tide was going out. The water was knee deep for the most part and slightly deeper as we approached Burgh Island. Wear appropriate clothing/shoes if the tide is in and you choose to walk it. A lovely family walk to the top, with some beautiful photos looking across to Challaborough.”
“Amazing to sit at the pub on Burgh Island and watch the tide come in. Walked up to the top of the island and views of Devon are incredible.”
3. Plymouth Sound
This magnificent coastal section runs along the eastern side of Plymouth Sound from Andurn Point northwards to Mount Batten Point. As you travel along this route you can experience a varied and impressive geology. The rocks become younger as you head north but all were laid down during the Devonian Period, named after this county.
There are plenty of coffee shops and some brilliant picture opportunities as Smeaton’s Tower overlooks the entire area.
“You cannot beat the Plymouth Sound. If you are travelling to the southwest then this is a must see. Park up and have a walk along the seafront, this place is steeped in history.”
“Cannot beat getting a coffee and sitting looking over the Sound here. Definitely one of my favourite places to just sit.”
“The view from Plymouth Hoe is always spectacular, it is pleasant to sit there day or evening and watch the world.”
2. Plymbridge Woods
The Plym Valley consists of varied habitats from riverside meadows, ancient woodland and the wilderness of Dartmoor. Car parks at Plymbridge, Cadover Bridge and Shaugh Prior provide good starting points to explore the area on foot or bike. The area is a National Trust location with free parking is available at Plymbridge car park.
“It’s out on the edge of the city and you have to walk down a well-hidden lane to find them but the woods are beautiful to walk through. Follow the river path for some nice waterfalls and quiet spots. Or walk along the old railway, now a cycleway, for some great aerial views.”
“Dog Walker or not , you’ll find a beautiful walk next to the river with plenty of tree shade on a hot day. There’s a viaduct and a small waterfall there as well as ducks and other wildlife.”
“Lovely walk. Lots of different walks you can go on of different lengths and it wasn’t that busy which was good. good for dog walking. Lovely place to take kids as well.”
1. The Barbican
Plymouth is a city shaped by the fortunes of sea, trade and war, nowhere more so than in the historic Barbican. Plymouth’s delightful old port, full of narrow cobbled streets, Elizabethan warehouses, specialist shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants .The perfect place to find an original souvenir of Plymouth.
The area is rich with bars, restaurants and shops. There really is everything to be found here and you could easily spend the day, or even weekend losing yourself in everything the Barbican has to offer.
“One of the few remaining original parts of the city centre, there are lots of lovely old buildings, now interesting shops and restaurants. all next to the waterfront handy for boat trips or just looing at the moored up yachts.”
“Really lovely old part of the city that wasn’t raised during the war. It it’s such a nice area and lots of places to eat and drink and the front and aquarium just round the corner. Ideal evening area to just relax.”
“We were there on a sunny day in June before all the crowds return, so it was especially nice. Everyone we met there was friendly and helpful and glad to be open again. I had been especially looking for books, The Book Cupboard was terrific.”
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