10 Best Weekend Breaks from Plymouth
Top 10 weekend getaways from Plymouth
So you’re based in Plymouth and want to get away for a weekend?
Whether you’re a born and raised Janner or have arrived more recently, it’s a fabulous city. Packed with history, this was once one of the world’s most famous naval hubs – Francs Drake defeated the Spanish Armada after sailing from Plymouth in 1588, the Pilgrim Fathers launched their New World adventure from here a few decades later and in the 20th Century, Devonport dockyard was a vital base during WWII.
The city’s waterfront regeneration is supported by cool cafes and swanky restaurants, water sports like kayaking and sailing are widely available and Plymouth Hoe and the Barbican areas are a sumptuous green space where you can grab an artisan coffee and enjoy beautiful views across the bay.
All in all, Portsmouth is a rewarding place to live. But if you’re ready for a change of scenery, our top 10 weekend getaways are well worth checking out.
Top tips on prepping for your weekend break
We’ll get cracking with your weekend breaks from Plymouth in a jiffy. But before hitting your ignition, let’s get you prepped properly.
First off, plan the perfect route on your SaNav and get everything keyed in beforehand – no one wants stuck in traffic when they’re off on their hols!
But stash some snacks and water in your vehicle anyway (you never know when you’ll get peckish), make sure you’ve got sufficient petrol and that your tyre pressure and treads are correct. And if you’ve got kids on tow, save yourself a headache by making sure that their tablets and other electronic gadgets are fully charged for the duration.
Without further ado, let’s set off on your Plymouth weekend breaks!
Around one hour from Plymouth via A38 and A390, Fowey is a cracking Cornish hotspot that’s ideal for a weekend break. It’s a convenient base for exploring the world-famous Eden Project, but the town itself has lots of attractions including St Catherine’s Castle, the lush Hidden Valley Gardens and the historic St Fimbarrus Church. Beer lovers will appreciate a trip to the family-run St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre and if you stay at Fowey Hall Hotel, you can pack your kids off to their in-house creche and spoil yourself with a spa treatment and swim. Bliss.
2. Mount Edgcumbe
Fancy an idyllic break less than an hour from Plymouth? Head along the A374 and B3247 to Mount Edgcumbe and you’re in for a real treat. This historic house and country park by the sea is characterised by striking formal gardens, magical woodland, charming chapels and secluded coves. There are several excellent accommodation options, including Cremyll Lodge, Captain Blake’s Retreat and Tamar and Lynher Shepherds Huts. For bucolic scenery and a laid-back way of life, a Mount Edgcumbe weekend is where it’s at.
One hour from Plymouth via the Devon Expy/A38, Dartmouth has a vibe all of its own. With museums, art galleries and historic sites aplenty, there are more than enough attractions to keep you busy for a weekend and Dartmoor National Park and South Devon AONB are a stone’s throw away. You can play Gulliver at Babbacombe Model Village, enjoy a spot of sea kayaking or take a Britannia Royal Naval College tour. History buffs should also check out the Tudor Bayards Cove Fort – completed in 1536, it once housed huge guns that defended this famous harbour town from invaders.
Always fancied riding the waves? Newquay is around one hour and 15 minutes from Portsmouth via the A38 and it’s a renowned surfing capital. Stay here for a windswept weekend and you can learn to hang 10 at the Quiksilver Surf School, find Nemo (and his pals) at the Blue Reef Aquarium and splash around with the family at Oasis Fun Pools. Back on dry land, the Lane Theatre hosts performances ranging from comedy to musical tribute acts and there’s a 4 screen digital cinema for catching the latest releases. Popular places to stay in Newquay include The Esplanade Hotel, Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa and Lewinnick Lodge.
One hour northeast of Plymouth via the Devon Expy/A38, Exeter is excellent when you want a weekend city break. A terrific choice for a family trip, eclectic attractions include the Miniature Pony Centre, St Nicholas Priory and the amazing Underground Passages – a dark, dramatic labyrinth built to bring clean drinking water into the city in the medieval era. You can also try your luck at Exeter Racecourse, cycle along the Exe Estuary Trail and hire a classic Morgan car from Berrybrook Motors. Highly-rated Exeter accommodation options include Townhouse Exeter, Holiday Inn Express Exeter and Hotel du Vin.
How does a mystical Wiltshire weekend sound? The medieval city of Salisbury is two hours and 30 minutes away via the trusty Devon Expy/A38 and A303 and it’s a cracking place to spend a weekend. With its eye-popping gothic cathedral and amazingly well preserved Magna Carta, it’s a haven for history buffs, but the Stonehenge World Heritage Site 8 miles north of the city centre is the main draw. Comfy accommodation options include The Stones Hotel, Merchant’s House Hotel and the Legacy Rose & Crown – an atmospheric 13th century coaching house.
Does a relaxing weekend in an elegant Roman town tickle your fancy? Bath is 2 hours 30 minutes away via the A38/M5 and it’s a superb choice for a revitalising break. A visit to the Roman Baths is a must – immersive CGI technology brings this unique historical attraction to life and you can still enjoy the same therapeutic spring water as the Romans by taking a dip at Thermae Bath Spa. Full of beans? Climb the 212 steps up Bath Abbey’s Tower for panoramic views and then tackle to Bath Skyline Walk, which leads you through verdant valleys and dense woodlands to see the city from different (and delightful) angles.
At over 4 hours from Plymouth via the A303, Brighton is a considerable drive, but it’s worth it for a long weekend in this legendary leisure location. Brilliant beaches apart, Brighton boasts some of Britain’s best coffee shops and best live music venues (Green Door Store and The Hope and Ruin to name just two). The Grade-II listed Brighton Palace Pier has been entertaining the masses since 1899 and you can pick up one of a kind gifts at Snoopers Paradise (a huge flea market at Kensington Gardens). Popular places to stay in this classic seaside resort include The Grand Brighton, Jurys Inn, Hotel Pelirocco and Mercure Brighton Seafront Hotel.
Ready for a wonderful Welsh weekend? Capital Cardiff is just two hours and 30 minutes away via the M5 and it’s a top spot for a memorable weekend away. If you’re a rugby fan, visiting the 74,000 seat Principality Stadium (or ideally, catching a match there) is a must, while the Senedd (Welsh parliament) is a striking symbol to modern democracy. 11th century Cardiff Castle is also a fascinating place to visit, while the National Museum is packed with masterpieces. You can also visit Butetown – also known as Tiger Bay, this proud multicultural community gifted music legend Shirley Bassey to the world. There are lots of lush accommodation options in Cardiff, including the Hilton (close to the Castle), Voco St David’s at the waterfront and Ibis in the city centre.
3 hours and 20 minutes from Plymouth via the M5, Birmingham is always a brilliant place to visit. Recently reintroduced to the world via the Commonwealth Games, the home town of the legendary Ozzy Osbourne has much to recommend it, including Moseley Bog, which inspired Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, the bustling Brindley Place and Canal Quarter, and the trendy pubs, restaurants and boutiques of the Jewellery Quarter. There’s also lively football courtesy of Aston Villa and Birmingham City, while cuisine fans will be glad to know there are more Michelin-starred eateries here than anywhere else outwith London – treat yourself to posh nosh at the likes of Opheem, Carter’s and Purnell’s. Popular hotels in Brum include The Cube Wharfside, The Edgbaston Hotel and The Grand Hotel. For a weekend where you experience a blend of cultures from all around the world, Birmingham fits the bill.