The Best Things To Do In Devon


Friday 24th November, 2023

The Best Things To Do In Devon

Devon is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK and it’s easy to see why. The landscape varies from rolling countryside to sandy beaches, as well as dramatic moors, pretty villages and lively towns and cities.

Here are just some of the highlights of a holiday in Devon. Which part of Devon will you make your holiday base?

With two long coasts, Devon is an excellent holiday destination if you enjoy a day at the beach. Pack your beach bag for Woolacombe or Blackpool Sands for a seaside trip with the kids, or try Budleigh Salterton for its splendid seaside cafes.

If you love surfing or would like to give it a try, head for Croyde Bay. Victorian resort Westward Ho! Is a good place to go for surf schools, as well as to enjoy a traditional family day at the seaside.

Are you in Devon with your dog? Saunton Sands is simply the best beach for a scamper. This dog-friendly beach stretches for three miles and welcomes pooches all year round (there are seasonal restrictions in a few areas, so please check first).

For a day at the beach with a difference, catch the ferry from Ifracombe (itself worth a visit) and spend the day on Lundy Island. There’s a sandy beach at low tide and it’s a great snorkelling spot. Look out for the local grey seals, who may decide to join you…

Ilfracombe is also home to Tunnels Beach, a series of beaches connected by short Victorian tunnels. There’s nowhere quite like it and it’s definitely worth the small fee to visit.

If you’re looking for a holiday cottage near the coast, could there be a better seaside property than Orchard House which has superb views over the Dart estuary?

Explore Dartmoor and Exmoor 

Devon has an incredibly rich and varied landscape and you’re just a short drive from the coast to the beautiful interior moorland.

Dartmoor National Park covers an area roughly the size of London. It’s famous for its free-roaming ponies as well as its excellent walking routes and stunning scenery. There’s more to Dartmoor than moorland: there are also ancient forests, pretty villages (many with very welcoming pubs) and the rivers Dart and Teigh both start here. There are three visitor centres on Dartmoor (at Pricetown, Haytor and Postbridge), which all make excellent starting points for a moorland walk.

Like Dartmoor, Exmoor National Park blends moorland, woodland and pretty river valleys, but also takes in some of Devon’s coastline. Look out for traces of the older Exmoor, with almost 400 burial chambers, later Roman forts and the remains of deserted medieval settlements. Today’s moor features plenty of attractive little villages, which make welcome pit stops along your walk.

Looking for a base for a walking holiday? Try The Cowshed, a luxurious barn conversion in Morehampstead on Dartmoor.

Historic cities and towns in Devon

If you fancy a day in a vibrant and lively city, head for Exeter. It’s packed with places to eat, drink and shop, as well as visitor attractions such as the medieval cathedral and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Enjoy a stroll along the River Exe or the Exeter Canal, or if you’re feeling bold, take a tour of underground Exeter through the medieval tunnels.

Plymouth is a bustling maritime city and naval base on the River Tamar, the stretch of water that separates Devon from Cornwall. The old Barbican district is a maze of cobbled streets and one of the best places to find good food and drink, or head for the Hoe, with its gorgeous views across Plymouth Sound. Visitor highlights include Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse, the Art Deco pool Tinside Lido and the National Marine Aquarium.

Devon has more than its fair share of pretty seaside and harbour towns. Try Salcombe and Appledore, or catch the steam train from Paignton to Dartmouth, switching to the passenger ferry for the last leg of the journey. Admire the replica of the Golden Hind in Brixham harbour, or wander among the thatched cottages of Cockington Forge.

Torquay, Branscombe, Exmouth, Clovelly, Dawlish, Barnstaple… There are simply so many lovely towns to explore in Devon, you’ll need at least a week…

Family days out in Devon

Devon is a great place for a holiday with your children. We’ve already mentioned the beaches, which are a key ingredient for a successful family holiday, as well as the fantastic walking for older kids.

There are zoos at Paignton, Exmoor and Dartmoor, as well as fun farms The Big Sheep and Pennywell Farm. If the kids loved the ponies on Dartmoor, visit the adorable Miniature Pony Centre near Morehampstead or the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth.

You can cycle through Haldon Forest Park, travel on the marvellous Seaton tramway or take a boat cruise from Exmouth. From Roman ruins to old-school seaside amusement arcades, there really is something for every family in Devon.

Holiday cottages in Devon

Here at Handpicked Cottages, we have luxurious holiday accommodation across Devon. Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat on the moors or a place to gather the clans for a seaside holiday, you’ll find your perfect Devon holiday cottage among our carefully chosen collection.

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