The Mayflower Steps at The Barbican in Plymouth south Devon England UK February 2017

Peter Titmuss/Shutterstock

Mayflower Steps


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 colony at Plymouth (Massachusetts) in 1620. Having left Southampton and been forced into Dartmouth because of an unseaworthy ship, they finally left Plymouth (England) on board the Mayflower. The rest, in this case the founding of America, is history.

The steps themselves are small and, although they look old, they aren't the original ones (you have to expect a bit of a rebuild over the last 400 years). The surrounding plaques help you navigate Plymouth's past: they mark the departure of the first emigrant ships to New Zealand, Captain Cook's voyages of discovery, the arrival of the first ever transatlantic flight in 1916 and, five decades later, the first solo circumnavigation of the globe by boat.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Plymouth attractions

1. Barbican

0.03 MILES

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…

2. Mayflower Museum

0.03 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,…

3. Island House

0.07 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

0.12 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

0.12 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. Citadel


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…

7. Elizabethan Mural

0.21 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…

8. Plymouth Gin Distillery

0.22 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…