Hoe happiness high above Plymouth in just under 25 minutes on the 25

Mediterranean marina to maritime magic 

When the sun is out it’s like the French Riviera – countless chic restaurants serving haute cuisine, boutique designer shops, upmarket bars and luxury boats packed up in the marina. This could be the Mediterranean, but it’s not – instead it’s pulsating Plymouth, this fine City with a proud history and tapestry of culture, nightlife, sporting prowess and the most picturesque of scenery – Devon at its very best!

Nestled deep oh so deep in historic maritime Plymouth is the delightful Barbican and the 25 Plymouth City Bus which is a blissful sojourn briskly hot-footing it round the bay, high up on the Hoe, looking out onto the atmospheric sea in one direction and a heritage packed, eclectic City in the other, crammed with great architecture and brilliant places to visit. In the height of the summer, open top buses run on this service, literally blowing the cobwebs away as the bus makes its steady climb up the Hoe, high up with the waves whipping up a refreshing breeze from the coast.

The Barbican is one of the few parts of Plymouth to survive the heavy bombing during World War II, making it a cherished symbol of resilience and continuity. It is believed to be the place from which the Pilgrim Fathers set sail aboard the Mayflower in 1620, bound for the New World and establishing the first permanent English settlement in America.

Customers can admire the well-preserved Tudor and Jacobean buildings lining the cobbled streets, offering a glimpse into Plymouth’s past as a bustling port town. Indeed, the Barbican has the largest concentration of cobbled streets in England! The bus can be boarded in the heart of the Barbican, outside the Navy Inn, which serves great food and has some nice tables outside, where folk can sup a pint, whilst waiting for the bus.

Round the corner, past the trendy and modern looking Armado Lounge, with Out Out Ibiza nightclub (that Med theme again 🙂 ) and The Three Crowns visible, just the other side of the quay, the bus makes its way up the Mayflower Steps, which mark the spot where the Pilgrim Fathers are thought to have departed. It’s now a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the enduring connection between Plymouth and the United States. The view from the window is tremendous with the Mayflower Museum on the right and views over into the marina on the left and the fort which protects the harbour. The Mayflower Museum is a captivating journey through time with four floors and four centuries to explore. John Howland fell overboard during the Mayflower voyage during a storm and was almost lost at seat, but managed to grab a rope and be saved by the crew. His descendants include Franklin D Roosevelt, George HQ Bush, Ralph Waldo and Humphrey Bogart!

Today, the Barbican is not only a historic site but also a vibrant cultural hub, bustling with art galleries, independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, attracting tourists and locals alike. Its fish market is famous for its fresh seafood, offering visitors a taste of authentic maritime cuisine. Throughout the year, the Barbican hosts various events and festivals, celebrating its heritage and cultural diversity, adding to its charm and appeal.

The bus makes its way high up Lambhay Hill, with a delightful church on the right past the naval barracks wrapped around by its protective wall. The Royal Citadel comes into view – an impressive 17th century fortress and home to the troops of 29 Commando Royal Artillery.

The views over the city of a mish mash of different architecture are fantastic before the breath taking panorama of Plymouth Hoe emerges and in the middle of the luscious green-lawned expanse is Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse. It’s here that Sir Francis Drake is immortalised with a statue, situated just a few metres from the green where he finished his game of bowls before heading out to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Plymouth Hoe hosts many amazing annual events, including the famous Plymouth Armed Forces Day and the British Fireworks Championships. Once at West Hoe, customers can stretch their legs with a leisurely stroll along the seafront promenade or explore notable landmarks such as the Tinside Lido, a picturesque outdoor swimming pool nestled against the backdrop of the sea. It’s well worth popping into Ocean View at the Dome, which is an Art Deco-inspired opulent venue serving fab food and sensational cocktails all with a romantic, atmospheric panoramic view over the barnstorming bay.

The bus winds its way in and out of narrow streets, all the way back down into the City Centre with great links for the many shops and the vibrant University, before finding its way, full circle back in the Barbican, which contains 100 listed buildings – many of which are passed by the bus on this incredible journey.

Just before arriving back at The Navy Inn, the bus passes Plymouth Gin and its tall chimney. There’s three great tours here – the classic Plymouth Gin Distillery Tour, an enhanced Gin Connoisseur’s Tour and a Master Distillers Tour, where guests get the opportunity to select their very own botanicals and distil a bottle to take away with them.

This has been a fantastic, barnstorming trip and in just under 25 minutes, the 25 bus has bottled the essence of this incredible City and given an unforgettable taste that makes this a really unique and memorable bus journey, like no other!

To find out more and plan your journey, check out

Plymouth City Centre to Plymouth Hoe