Plymouth (England)

Plymouth Hoe from Staddon Heights, showing water of Plymouth Sound.
Smeatons tower - Plymouth Hoe

Plymouth is a city in Devon, and currently the largest city on England's south coast, with a population of about 250,000. It is located approximately 190 miles (310 km) south-west of London, where the River Plym and the River Tamar (pronounced "TAY-mar") flow into the large bay of Plymouth Sound, creating a perfect natural harbour. The sea has been at the heart of Plymouth since it was founded in the middle-ages as a trading post and the source of its prosperity. Indeed, Plymouth was the point from which the Pilgrim Fathers left England in 1620 for Massachusetts - commemorated today in the Mayflower Steps (see below).

Plymouth is one of England's classic ocean cities, and for centuries has been a centre for shipping; first for trade and commercial shipping, and today as a base for the Royal Navy. Indeed, the city's Devonport Dockyard is the most extensive naval base in western Europe. The water, with its leisure activities, brings many tourists to Plymouth, as well as its various museums and other tourist attractions. In addition its location close to Dartmoor and other sights of south Devon to the east and Cornwall to the west make it an excellent base for a trip to the south-west of England.

The city was heavily bombed in World War II and much of the city-centre was destroyed. After the war, a comprehensive reconstruction plan at first produced the carefully-planned urban spaces and elegant buildings of the shopping streets in the city centre, constructed in the 1950s. However, due to budget restrictions many of the buildings erected in the 1960s and 70s were of poor architectural quality, and these are now being torn down and replaced across the city by modern ones (with exceptions of some quality, such as the listed tower of the Civic Centre on the Royal Parade). As a result, there are many modern buildings with others under construction.

Plymouth is a friendly city with an egalitarian feel and a sense of openness among its people, and there is less evidence of a sharp divide between rich and poor that is found in much of the southern half of England. Wonderful Devon and Cornwall scenery surrounds the city and famous city locations, such as the Hoe, the Barbican, and Plymouth Sound draw thousands every year yet Plymouth doesn't have the "tourist trap" feel that hangs over many other English cities. For those who love the sea, or the coast, or the brooding landscapes of Dartmoor, or just want a break in a welcoming and interesting city, Plymouth is an enticing and friendly destination.

Understand

Fishing boats on the Barbican in Plymouth

A resident of Plymouth is called a Plymothian. You may also hear the more derogatory term "Janner" being used - but don't call anyone this if you are a visitor!! There is a large military presence in the city, with the Royal Navy's main base at Devonport, a commando regiment of the British Army at the Royal Citadel, and a Royal Marines base at Stonehouse. In addition, you'll likely find a lot of tourists (especially in the summer), students (the University of Plymouth has 30,000) and locals working in all sorts of occupations, in sectors from the NHS to retail.

Famous Plymothians (native or adopted) include Elizabethan explorer and adventurer Sir Francis Drake, diver and Olympic medal-winner Tom Daley, artist Beryl Cook (whose paintings often depicted life in Plymouth), and musician Seth Lakeman (some of whose songs reference past events or places in the city).

Orientation

Location of Plymouth, shown within Devon and UK

The city is located at the south-west corner of Devon, with Cornwall beginning immediately to the west of the city. It lies between two river mouths - the estuary of the River Tamar ("TAY-mar") to the west (the estuary is called the Hamoaze) and the estuary of the River Plym to the east (called the Cattewater). To the south is Plymouth Sound (everyone just calls it "the Sound"), a large bay bounded to the west by the Rame Peninsula which is now part of Cornwall, and to the east by the Mount Batten Peninsula. This produces one of the world's most impressive natural harbours, in which you'll see innumerable yachts, sailing ships, kayaks, other pleasure craft, and even small fishing vessels (of which there are a reasonable number in Plymouth). The Sound is protected from the sea by a huge breakwater at its southern end, easily seen from the shore. You'll often see naval vessels around it.

Immediately above the water is a grassy area called Plymouth Hoe (always just called "the Hoe"), whose names comes from a Saxon word for "grassy slope". You can spot the Hoe easily because of the lighthouse (Smeaton's Tower) that sits on it, and its wide grassy area. From here, planned as part of the grand reconstruction of the 1950s, runs north the "spine" of the city - from Smeaton's Tower on the Hoe, to the railway station north of the city-centre (which you can identify from its 1970s tower, InterCity House). This "spine" is Armada Way, a wide street, mostly pedestrianised, with council offices at its southern end, and shops and banks and cafés as you head north. Running east-west across Armada Way are other important city-centre streets with their elegant yet now-faded buildings; Royal Parade, New George Street, Cornwall Street, and Mayflower Street. These city-centre streets are bounded by busy main roads. To the east of the Hoe is the Barbican area (with its historic streets and large harbour/marina), and the University of Plymouth's large and impressive campus is just across the main road at the north-east of the city-centre. Other major streets can be found off these.

The Tourist Information Centre is in the Barbican area, at the quayside just opposite the Mayflower Steps, at 3-5 The Barbican (that's the street address). It is open 9-5 on weekdays and 10-4 on Saturdays, all year.

Background

The Royal Navy's base in Plymouth, HMNB Devonport, on the waters of the Hamoaze (i.e. estuary of the River Tamar)
Buildings at St Andrew's Cross, Plymouth, constructed as part of the 1950s reconstruction. Building on left contains the main Post Office.
View over Plymouth Sound, showing Tinside Lido

Plymouth City Council is a unitary authority responsible for its own decision-making within the historic county of Devon. The area was first recorded in the Domesday book as "Sudtone" (1086; later Sutton), which was located where the Barbican area of the city is today. Around this time also existed the trading port of Plymstock, further up the river (it still exists today as a suburb). However, the River Plym at Plymstock silted up in the 11th century and the area gradually came to be known as "Plymouth". The sea has always been at the heart of Plymouth's story and it has a long and historic seafaring tradition. Its growth from a small fishing village and then trading port has been based on its position on one of the world's largest natural harbours and the enterprise of its seafarers - fishermen, merchants, privateers and later the Royal Navy.

Plymouth was the home of Elizabethan privateer and hero/villain Sir Francis Drake (though he was born at Tavistock a few miles north), and from here he planned his raids and other maritime adventures. In 1588, the English Navy, which was led in part by Drake, set sail from Plymouth to defeat the Spanish Armada. It is said that Drake refused to leave port until he had finished his game of bowls on the Hoe. While this is probably more legend than history, there is still a bowls club on the Hoe today. In 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers sailed to the New World after setting into Plymouth for repairs, escaping from religious persecution to eventually set up Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. Plymouth was a stronghold of Parliamentarian forces in the English Civil War, written across its history in areas such as Freedom Fields park. After the restoration, the new King, Charles II, ordered the construction of a massive fort (the Royal Citadel) to protect the town from invaders - such was its strategic importance. But the fort's guns also faced inland, it is said as a signal to the people of the city about where their loyalties should lie! The Royal Citadel is still home to a unit of the Army today. The Royal Dockyard was built in the area, on the banks of the River Tamar, in 1690. Together with the towns of Devonport and Stonehouse, Plymouth was amalgamated in 1914 to form the modern city which was granted city status in 1928. It also includes the historic areas of Plymstock and Plympton.

The city was seriously damaged by bombing during the Second World War (1939–45) and the city-centre was extensively redeveloped afterwards. At Charles Cross, the ruined Charles Church was left as a memorial to the many dead. Behind it, the Drake Circus shopping centre was constructed to frame it in dramatic fashion, as an impressive entrance to the city from the south-east. The shopping streets of the city-centre were first to be reconstructed, according to the grand plan of Sir Patrick Abercrombie. This resulted in the elegant large buildings from the 1950s that can be seen on streets such as Armada Way, New George Street, and Cornwall Street. However, these are now in need of restoration. Much of the rest of the reconstruction involved cheap buildings in the Brutalist style fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s, most of which had no architectural merit. However, exceptions included the Civic Centre which is Grade II listed (the City Council moved out in 2010 to save money). Many of the worst of these buildings have been demolished and replaced with much better, modern buildings of generally good quality. However, many historic buildings remain, particularly in the Barbican area, isolated city-centre examples such as the City Museum, and also outside the city-centre which escaped the worst of the bombing (e.g. the Royal William Yard).

With its dramatic coastal setting, the surrounding landscape is quite striking. Plymouth is by turns rugged and hilly, or green and rolling. Famous Dartmoor was designated a National Park in 1951. Popular sites include Smeaton's Tower (a lighthouse rebuilt on the Hoe from its original location at Eddystone Rock when it was replaced with a new one), the Mount Batten Peninsula, the National Marine Aquarium, and Buckland Abbey, which was Drake's former home. Tourism is an important aspect of Plymouth's economy. Nearly 12 million people visit Plymouth every year. As well as all the attractions of a modern city, Plymouth is a popular launch pad to other notable areas including the beaches and footpaths of the Devon and Cornwall coastline and the brooding landscape of nearby Dartmoor.

Geology

The city of Plymouth covers multiple rock types, the Hoe, in the south of the city is composed of Devonian Limestone, which was also used for building a fairly high proportion of the city (most of the older houses and buildings are at least fronted with the stone). the area around the Station is formed of mudstone, which too is Devonian. The outer areas of the city are increasingly higher grades of metamorphosed mudstone, with the occasional pillow lava on hills. Dartmoor is a massive batholith (big lump) of granite, while Cawsand and Kingsand (reachable by ferry from the Barbican) contain various igneous structures.

Regeneration

Plymouth is currently undergoing significant regeneration, which has been described as on a par with the post war reconstruction. As a result, many of the 'eyesores' which littered Plymouth have been or will be demolished in the near future and, if experience is anything to go by, replaced by works of architectural interest, for example the Drake Circus Mall with its distinctive 'wings', and the Roland Levinsky building at the University of Plymouth, with its copper clad walls. The city is looking to undergo a 'rebirth' in which tourism will be a core aspect. There may be traffic problems or construction works during your visit.

Get in

By air

Royal William Yard

Plymouth no longer has its own airport as it closed in 2011. However, you can use others in the region and make a connection by bus, train, or car - visit www.nationalrail.co.uk to plan journeys from these cities or Gatwick airport's own station to Plymouth.

By car

Plymouth's principal access route from the East and the West is the A38 dual carriageway which runs through the city (The Devon Expressway). It connects to the M5 at Exeter for onward journeys, and into the heart of Cornwall to the west. The A386 connects Plymouth to Tavistock, Okehampton, the A30, and North Devon.

By rail

Plymouth railway station. Behind is InterCity House - use this landmark to help you find the station.

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

Plymouth's railway station is just to the north of the city-centre, a few minute's walk away. If you are coming to or from the East, you will probably travel on the stretch of line between Newton Abbot and Exeter. This is one of the most scenic in the UK, as the train travels along the sea wall between Teignmouth (pronounced "Tin-muth"), Dawlish, and Starcross, and incredible sea cliffs and rolling hills line the entire route. Keep your eyes glued to that window!

To get from Plymouth Station into the city centre; from the main concourse, turn right as you head out the door. At the main road, turn left and walk down it (that's Saltash Road - you'll see cars speeding for the city centre). When you get to the interchange/roundabout, take the pedestrian subway to cross the roads and head into the city down the central avenue (that's Armada Way). You'll see city-centre buildings ahead of you. Armada Way leads directly through the retail area, and up to the landmark naval war memorial on the Hoe. There are also loads of taxis at the station, or you can get a bus from stops on Saltash Road (though it really isn't far).

By bus

Bretonside Bus Station, with Drake Circus behind

The main Bretonside Bus Station is on (or rather, under!) Exeter Street in the City Centre. National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) operates services around the UK which arrive and depart from here. In addition, local and regional services also arrive here from towns in the region. If you are coming in by car but don't want to face the parking problems of the city-centre, there are also three main Park and Ride sites serving the city .

By sea

Brittany Ferries operate services to Plymouth from Santander (22 hours) and Roscoff (6 hours during the day, 8 hours during the night). Other Routes are present within the UK. The Ferry Terminal is to the west of the City Centre at the Millbay Docks, about 1/2 a mile walk from the Hoe and Central shopping precinct. The cheap out of season 'booze cruises' are very popular and convenient.

Get around

Most of the places where hotels are located and tourists visit are located in the city-centre and it's easy to walk between them. In fact, walking is a great way to see the city and get a feeling for the Plymothian way of life. However, in winter or when going further (e.g. visiting historic Devonport), or when you just don't want to or cannot walk, there are other options.


On foot

Many bus routes call at Royal Parade in the city centre.

A map is helpful; you can buy one online from sites such as amazon.co.uk, or you can get a map from the Tourist Information Centre at the Barbican. Alternatively, you can print one from an online mapping service such as Google Maps or use a smartphone's maps app, as the city will be covered in detail.

By bus

Bus is the main form of public transportation in Plymouth, with services running all over the city. Two private companies operate all buses on a profit-making basis: Plymouth CityBus (owned by the GoAhead Group) and First Devon and Cornwall (part of the giant Aberdeen-based transport company FirstGroup). Many of these services call at Royal Parade in the city centre. Fares for both depend on how far you're travelling. For a short journey (e.g. railway station to Royal Parade), a single adult fare might be £1.00 or £1.10; it will increase for longer distances and could be up to £2.50 if going a long way. You can pick up bus maps from the Tourist Information Office at the Barbican, or visit the bus companies' websites at www.plymouthbus.co.uk/ and www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/devon_cornwall/.

By taxi

To order a taxi, a useful number is Taxifirst on +44 1752 222222.

By boat

One of the most 'local' ways to get around is by water taxi or boat. The majority of these services leave from the Barbican Landing Stage (by the Mayflower Steps) and are operated by private companies. Although this has not always been the case, the majority of lines do now operate in the winter. It is nevertheless advisable to check timetables as some services may be reduced, typically in the evening.

Depending on the length of the journey and the operating company, prices can range from £1.50 to £4.00. Generally speaking, you do not pay when you get on. Once the boat has set off, or just before setting off, a member of crew will come around to take payments.

The two most popular services amongst locals are probably the Barbican-Mountbatten line and the Cremyll Ferry from Admiral's Hard to Mount Edgecumbe. These can be relatively busy during the evenings and at rush hour; the Cremyll Ferry in particular can be quite full of school children at around 4pm during term time. That said, they do knock a significant amount of time off your journey.

Other routes useful to tourists include the Barbican-Royal William Yard line, Barbican-Mount Edgecumbe and Barbican-Cawsand/Kingsand.

See

Plymouth Hoe
Shorefront at Plymouth, Hoe Road.
The Mayflower Steps, seen from the water
Royal Citadel, Plymouth

Museums

City Museum and Art Gallery

Do

Southside Street in the Barbican area - showing Plymouth Gin distillery
Waterfront of marina at the Barbican, Plymouth
Freedom Fields park, with view toward Plymouth Sound, as in Seth Lakeman's 2006 album Freedom Fields.

Learn

University of Plymouth, Roland Levinsky building

Plymouth has two universities. The main university, and the one most visitors notice, is the immense University of Plymouth, with around 30,000 students. It is based on a large campus at the north-east corner of the city-centre, and puts on regular events for citizens and visitors. Even if you don't realize it, you are surrounded by its many students, particularly if you are in the city-centre, and in summer they open the halls of residence to visitors, providing good, affordable self-catering accommodation. You can walk around the impressive campus, and the Roland Levinskiy building is open to visitors to see its exhibitions, for events, and to visit the café. It stands out because of its scale, a tower of unusual shape in brown metal and glass. It became a university in 1992 having been a polytechnic for many years, but is one of the best-regarded of the former polytechnics which became universities that year. Plymouth's second university is University of St Mark & St John, usually abbreviated to "Marjon", with about 5,000 students. It is located in a northern suburb of the city, close to Dartmoor. It attained full university status in 2012 after being a university college for many years and offers an increasing number of degree programmes.

Plymouth is also home to nearly a third of all state schools in Devon, some of which are counted among the best in the country. Plymouth still has three selective grammar schools and a small independent school.

There is also a large amount of private language schools, in particular in the city centre and around the railway station. The summer sees a swell in numbers as foreign school groups descend upon Plymouth to improve their English.

Buy

Cornwall Street, Plymouth

In Plymouth, you can buy virtually anything you might want or need. Remember this is a city from where great voyages have begun for centuries - and as no voyage can depart without supplies, there has always been a need to stock everything imaginable! Today you'll find not only fashion and clothing but local food and many other items.

City-Centre Shopping

Plymouth's city-centre shopping area is the largest and most comprehensive in the West of England outside of Bristol. Most stores as open 9-5 Monday to Saturday, until 8pm on Thursday as late-night-shopping night, and 11-5 on Sundays. The main shopping areas are the streets of Armada Way and those running off it - the Royal Parade, New George Street, Cornwall Street, and Mayflower Street. These are housed in elegant 1950s buildings erected as part of the post-war reconstruction of the city, and mostly pedestrianised. Armada Way in particular is a broad avenue with trees, water features, and other interesting features running down the centre of the street. At the intersection of Armada Way and New George Street is the Armada Dial, a giant and striking sculpture of a sundial. However, these streets have been hit in the past few years by the closure of various major stores, including Woolworth's and the Derry's department store. It would be fair to say that these streets currently require some regeneration. But they are still busy during the day and especially on Saturdays, and you can find most chain stores here, as well as all the banks and some building societies that operate in England. There are two key department stores here, House of Fraser and Debenham's, with entrances on Royal Parade.

Drake Circus shopping centre

However, many of the more upmarket stores have now moved to Drake Circus, an impressive shopping mall which opened in October 2006. There are entrances on New George Street, Cornwall Street, and Exeter Street. This is very much a 21st-century shopping facility equal to those of any other prosperous British city. Here are located many key stores such as Marks and Spencer, a large branch of the chemist/drugstore Boots, a Waterstone’s bookstore (with an interesting local interest section with books about Plymouth and Devon!), fashion chains Zara, Bank, Topshop/Topman, Next and River Island and numerous others, shoe shop Sole Trader, the Apple Store, among many others. There is a vast Primark and the West Country’s largest branch of Spud U Like, in addition to the Juice Moose. Drake Circus courted controversy on its opening, with some comparing it to malls designed in the 1980s (perhaps because car parking is on the roof), but in truth it is clean, welcoming, attractive and has a high standard of fit and finish which is comparable or better than most others in the UK.

There is no branch of John Lewis Waitrose or Ikea in the city (you have to go to Bristol for that). However, there is a Waitrose just over the Tamar Bridge, in Cornwall. There is another, older mall in the city, the Armada Centre which is on the corner of Armada Way and Mayflower Street. However, it is in decline and only features discount stores and pound-shops, though you might want to make a trip there for the big Sainsbury's supermarket.

Independent Shops and Markets

Plymouth City Markets, on Cornwall Street
Independent shops in the Barbican area, Southside Street

A visit to the independent shops in the Barbican area are a must - particularly on New Street and Southside Street. Here you'll find art and prints, antiques and collectables, and all sorts of other interesting shops - see what you can find! There are also all sorts of items on the Pannier Market which is held most days around Southside Street (this is not the same as the covered Pannier Market in the city-centre on Cornwall Street, which is usually known as the City Market). The Barbican area is also a good place for souvenirs of the city, which are also stocked at the Tourist Information Centre and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, both near the Mayflower Steps.

Many tourists like to buy sea-themed souvenirs from their trip to Plymouth. There is a good selection at the Edinburgh Woollen Mill which is in a glass-faced shop in the Barbican, near the Mayflower Steps. Plymouth is the home of Plymouth Gin, and if you like English gin you may want to pick some up from the city it was distilled in even though the business is now owned by Pernod Ricard.

The 'Independent Quarter', to the West of the city-centre, contains smaller shops including a French-family owned bakery, a specialist pipe and tobacco shop, and many charity shops where second-hand goods donated by the public are sold to raise money for good causes.

Finally, you should pay a visit to the City Markets (previously known as the Pannier Market - but this is also the name of another at the Barbican which was confusing). The City Market is a covered indoor market of permanent stallholders similar to the St. Nicholas Markets in Bristol or the Grainger Market in Newcastle - but in an elegant modernist building constructed in the 1950s. The impressive scalloped roof fills the market with natural light. Here you'll find all manner of items for sale, including food (including produce fresh from farms in the region and freshly-caught local fish), clothing, collectables, decorative items, items for the household of all kinds, and many other things - and of generally high quality. There is no hawking or "hard sell" atmosphere as is found at some other places, nor the (albeit exciting) craziness and threat of the Camden Markets in London. Instead, there is a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, as a microcosm of that in the city as a whole. Some of the shops round the outside and on the mezzanine are somewhat retro. There are also some old-style British cafés on a mezzanine floor, of the sort which have mostly disappeared from British high streets to be replaced by coffee shops. The atmosphere in the market captures the classless and community-spirited air of life in the city. The market has entrances on Cornwall Street and New George Street (at the western end of these streets) and is open 9-5 most days.

Supermarkets

If you are staying in self-catering accommodation, or just need to buy food other essential items, try the following:

Outside of the city centre, there is another larger Sainsbury's at Marsh Mills, an Asda in Estover (open 24 hours except Sunday) and two large branches of Tesco (one in Crownhill and one in Woolwell, the latter of which is an Extra and open 24 hours except Sunday).

Eat

For a city of its size, Plymouth does not have many fine restaurants, though it is home to the Tanners Restaurant run by brothers James and Chris Tanner. James is a well-known chef on British television. There are many good restaurants in the wider area. Among them: The Horn of Plenty at Gulworthy (20 miles), near Tavistock; the New Carved Angel at Dartmouth (35 miles) which was recently voted the top restaurant in Britain; and the Gidleigh Park Hotel at Chagford.

Cornish pasty, whole. Could be any filling. Makes a satisfying lunch.
Cornish pasty, cut open (though usually eaten with fingers, by holding the thick crust). Traditional filling shown.

The Barbican has a number of restaurants and bars lined up along the quayside - notably few serve fresh locally caught fish ; a local peculiarity for a fishing city - North Sea cod is generally only served battered and fried, with chips. As with any major city, there are plenty of takeaway and fast food retailers within easy distance of most parts of Plymouth. Buying a takeaway in Plymouth can prove a cost effective alternative to a restaurant, with as many different food choices. Naturally, any visitor to the West Country should try a traditional pasty (if in Plymouth, asking for a 'Cornish' pasty may attract some derision - just say "pasty"; they will understand!!) a meat and potato mix wrapped in pastry. Try Ivor Dewdney's pasties to eat like the locals have done for over seventy years, or try the wonderfully entitled Oggy Oggy Pasty Company which has many branches, or the excellent Barbican Pasty Company on Southside Street in the Barbican area. The traditional filling is a mixture of shredded beef, swede, onion and potato, but various different flavours are available now - vegetarian fillings are often available. Traditionally, you eat by holding the thick pastry crust and eating from the soft pastry side - that kept your dirty fingers off the main part of the food if you were a miner (metal mining was big business in Devon and Cornwall in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially for tin, lead and copper) or fisherman. The thick crust meant that if you would be eating your lunch with poisonous tin or lead on your hands, you wouldn't be poisoned! Of course nowadays you can eat the whole thing, crust included!

Plymouth City Council has some information on food establishments here

Drink

Armada Way - billboard shows part of a well-known painting by artist Beryl Cook, who adopted Plymouth as her home. Poster shows part of a work entitled Clubbing in the Rain, painted in her distinctive style.

If you're looking for a place to go out for a drink, there are two main places: the West End (especially Union Street and around Derry's Cross), and the Barbican. Of these, the Barbican has a somewhat nicer atmosphere, particularly on summer evenings when many people are drinking outside. However you can also find good pubs and bars in other parts of the city - including in the Mutley area, which attracts many students.

Sleep

There are many hotels, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and other places to stay in Plymouth. If you find yourself in the city and needing a place to stay, try walking around to the west of the Hoe, around Citadel Road East/West and Leighton Street. You can also visit the Tourist Information Centre at the Barbican, which has a more comprehensive list of places to stay.

Cope

The main Post Office is located at the corner of Exeter Street and Old Town Street at St. Andrew's Cross (i.e. roundabout), in the colonnaded corner building. You'll find all the major English banks and building societies on the shopping streets in the city centre, nearly all of which have ATMs.

Stay safe

It is unlikely you'll experience any problems in Plymouth as long as you use common sense. Although certainly not the most dangerous of British cities, Plymouth has several areas which are best avoided at night, especially if you are alone. These include the area around Union Street late at night, where drinkers can get rowdy and the atmosphere can be unpleasant. It is not unusual to see drunken brawls in the Union Street area after dark. For this reason there is generally a police presence there at night. It is probably best to avoid walking around alone in main drinking areas late at night.

Sadly, the homogeneous population of the city have attracted upon themselves something of a reputation for intolerance of difference in racial and sexual orientation in comparison with other UK cities, however many positive initiatives such as the first Plymouth Pride (August 2014) are gradually helping to alter perceptions.

Away from tourist areas much of the city is safe and Plymouth enjoys one of the lower crime rates nationally, though due care should be exercised in unfamiliar areas and at night. The city has always struggled with a degree of social deprivation, with salaries still well below the national average and surrounding 'destination' towns and resorts in Devon & Cornwall themselves often patronised by incomers from wealthier regions. Beggars sometimes hang around the city centre - if asked, do not give them any money as this exacerbates the problem and your money is likely to be spent on alcohol or drugs. Avoid making eye contact with them, and if you are asked to "spare a little change please", just keep walking by while you offer a firm but polite "not today" or "no, sorry". The main Police station is at Charles Cross.

Go next

On Dartmoor
The Royal Albert Bridge, by Isembard Kingdom Brunel, takes the railway from Plymouth across the River Tamar into Cornwall.
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