Plymouth City Guide

By Rachel Anderson


Known as Britain's Ocean City, Plymouth is the largest city in the South West. From a stunning seafront location to a bustling city centre and a great quality of life, Plymouth has a lot to offer. With an employment rate of 74.6% – above the national average, Plymouth is one of the largest cities on the south coast and the 15th largest city in England with a population of approximately 263,000, an economic output of £5.63 billion, providing 111,500 jobs. For decades, Plymouth was dismissed, but the ongoing waterfront regeneration begs a rethink. 

The city overlooks the English Channel and is flanked by the river Plym to the east and the river Tamar to the west. It is broken up into three main sections: the Barbican with its narrow streets and Tudor and Victorian buildings, the Hoe, with its famous promenade overlooking the Plymouth Sound, and the modern central section, flattened during the war and then rebuilt. With an amazing quality of life, stunning waterfront location, vibrant city centre and fascinating maritime history, there is quite simply nowhere better to live, work and play than Britain’s Ocean City.


Plymouth has been named by the UK government as the lead city for Mayflower 400, and the other UK Mayflower 400 destinations have signed a ‘Modern Day Compact’ recognising Plymouth as the national lead for this significant project. The Box (previously known as the Plymouth History Centre) is a major scheme in the heart of Plymouth, a symbol for Plymouth’s current regeneration and a museum for the future. Plymouth’s great history has national significance well beyond the city’s boundary. The Box is expected to open as the flagship building for the Mayflower 400 commemorations in spring 2020. Plymouth is also host to the nationally significant Theatre Royal, alongside the Plymouth free school of Creative Arts and Plymouth College of Art and Design. In a few short years, Plymouth has grown its cultural offer significantly and now supports creative education and employment. As a port city, Plymouth has a long history of interaction with other cultures, concepts and ideas. By bringing these traditions into the 21st century and supporting its growth, Plymouth is positioning itself to be a cultural powerhouse.

Cost of living

Plymouth has been named as one of the most affordable cities in Britain, with rents amounting to just over a quarter of take-home income and house prices below the national average. Safety Plymouth is the safest large city in south west England, thanks to a strong feeling of personal safety and a strong community. The city sits well within the top 10 cities in the UK for safety and is also rated the 9th happiest city in the UK!

Plymouth is easily accessible via main transport networks, including road, rail and sea.


Plymouth has a central train station situated just a short walk from the city centre. There are 24 daily services running daily each way between Plymouth and London during the working week, three of which are high-speed services offering journey times of just over three hours.

Flights: An extensive choice of international flights is available from nearby Exeter, Bristol and Newquay airports.
Bristol Airport (2 hours drive) offers connecting flights to over 110 destinations via Dublin, Brussels, Germany and Amsterdam 
Exeter Airport (1-hour drive) offers international flights and direct flights to London City Airport 
Newquay Airport (1-hour drive) offers direct domestic and indirect international flights, including a direct flight to London Gatwick.


Plymouth’s Ocean City location also offers links to France and Spain via Brittany Ferries services from Plymouth to Roscoff and Santander

Plymouth is packed with lifestyle possibilities: swim in an art deco lido, tour a gin distillery, learn to SUP, kayak and sail, visit the aquarium or take a boat trip across the bay. As well as the history-rich Barbican district with the oldest buildings in the city. There, you can explore shops, galleries, bars, cafes and restaurants along the water. Plymouth Hoe is well known for its breathtaking views across Plymouth Sound, one of the most perfect natural harbours in the world.


If you’re a British national, you’ll have an automatic right to work within the UK. Of course, since January 2021 EU nationals can still work in the UK but you will need to obtain a visa. Typically, once you’ve secured a job, your employer can apply for a work visa on your behalf. You can read more about the UK work visa application process post-brexit in our article ‘ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UK IMMIGRATION VISA CHANGES 

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