Fishing vessels and terraces of Pubs and restaurants, Barbican, Old harbour, Plymouth, Devon - stock photo

Franz-Marc Frei/Getty


Top choice in Plymouth

For a glimpse of ancient Plymouth, head down to this historic harbour area, where part-cobbled streets are lined with Tudor and Jacobean buildings, and old dockside warehouses have been turned into bars, restaurants and art galleries. It's also famous as the point from which the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World in 1620: the Mayflower Steps mark the approximate spot.

The original passenger list for the Mayflower can be seen on the side of Island House nearby. The steps also commemorate Captain James Cook's 1768 voyage of discovery and the first emigrant ships to depart for Australia and New Zealand.

These days the Barbican is one of the city's liveliest areas – not to mention one of its prettiest. Drink it all in, me hearties.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Plymouth attractions

1. Mayflower Museum

0.01 MILES

A child-friendly jaunt through the story behind the sailing to America of the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower in 1620. It makes good use of cartoons,…

2. Mayflower Steps

0.03 MILES

The Mayflower Steps mark the approximate final UK departure point of the Pilgrim Fathers – the band of settlers who founded New England's first permanent…

3. Island House

0.04 MILES

On the side of this old harbourside house, look out for a plaque bearing the names of the Pilgrims who set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 for what became…

4. Plymouth Fish Market

0.13 MILES

Around 60,000 tonnes of fish pass through this market, making it the second biggest by volume in England after London's Billingsgate. It's an amazing…

5. National Marine Aquarium

0.14 MILES

The UK's biggest – and perhaps best – aquarium is lodged beside the Barbican harbour. There's a huge amount to see, but the highlight is the impressive…

6. Elizabethan Mural

0.18 MILES

Now severely faded, the vast painting covering an entire side of a three-storey house was created by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941–2002; www.robertlenkiewicz…

7. Citadel

0.19 MILES

A huge, largely 17th-century fortress that occupies an imposing position on Plymouth Hoe. It's home to a regiment of Commando Gunners. You can only visit…

8. Plymouth Gin Distillery

0.19 MILES

This heavily beamed distillery has been concocting gin since 1793, making it the oldest working producer of the spirit in England. Four to six tours per…