Countless holidaymakers visit this South West gem every year for the huge range of events and attractions, places to eat, things to see and, of course, the beautiful glistening beaches.
Devon has something to cater for everyone: discover award-winning beaches, family attractions and top-class eateries to name but three.
So, what is Devon?
Where to start? Devon combines crashing waves with tranquil sandy beaches, high rugged moorland and quaint characterful villages, family-friendly resorts and romantic couples’ escapes…
From big houses for large groups to dog-friendly, two-person getaways, Devon offers up an unforgettable mix of things to do, places to eat and attractions to visit during a holiday.
Long walks wind up at cosy country pubs, the beautiful coastline offers up quiet places to soak up the sun or go rock pooling, and breathtaking scenery ensures any visitors are sure to get that holiday feeling as soon as they arrive in this unique county.
If you’re all about the surf and soft sandy beaches:
Top 3 places to stay:
Award-winning Woolacombe regularly tops best-beaches lists for surfing, water quality and family days by the sea, so is our favourite when it comes to beach holidays in Devon – in fact, North Devon is the place to go if you want excellent surfing.
Near Woolacombe, both Croyde and Westward Ho! are beaches popular among surfers and bodyboarders with lots of surf schools offering tuition; you could spend every day of your holiday visiting a different section of sand. There are lots of other water sports, from paddleboarding to jet skiing that can be enjoyed along this coastline too, and sandy shores provide plenty of spaces to spread out a beach towel and read a book on hot sunny days.
If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, you may prefer the palm-tree laden south coast of Devon where turquoise waters break on soft sand and waterfront cafes welcome weary beach-goers to refuel.
Down on this scenic southern coast, Seaton is a picturesque fishing village where you can enjoy a quiet seaside getaway in relative peace, while Kingsbridge is right by Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham where there’s fantastic family fun to enjoy.
Five top beachy things to do in Devon in 2020:
- Grab a bodyboard or get your surfing gear and hit the waves at the ever-popular wide, sandy beach of Woolacombe.
- Venture along the footpath from Brixham beach up to Berry Head Nature Reserve where rocky cliffs, craggy caves and limestone grassland hide a wide range of wildlife.
- Meet the friendly horses and sheep who can often be found grazing the coastal grassland behind the dunes at Northam Burrows Country Park.
- Take a dip in the water on one of Devon’s best secret swimming beaches - sheltered Broad Sands found along the exquisite Exmoor coastline.
- Hop aboard the Gastrobus for burgers and pizza by the beach at either Bantham or Thurlestone.
Explore Devon beaches
If you’re all about the adventurous walking and never-ending views:
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The South West Coast Path, which wraps itself around this corner of the UK from Somerset to Dorset, offers some spectacular walking routes and it would be wrong not to include a few of these top coastal walks when discovering this beautiful county.
Near Combe Martin, Heddon Valley is an incredible place with steep slopes and high cliffs; you can walk down to the water’s edge or venture up to look out across those far-reaching coastal views. The Valley of Rocks is just along the coast and is another top place to go walking in North Devon, with Combe Martin being a terrific place to stay that’s close to both Heddon and the Valley of Rocks, plus a few other beautiful Exmoor footpaths.
Down by Sidmouth, ancient heritage coastline abounds as it is set on the renowned Jurassic Coast; Mutter's Moor is a particularly beautiful walking route that takes in wonderful views that include the sea stacks.
If you’re heading to South Devon for a stay in Dartmouth, the route from Dartmouth to Greenway and Dittisham offers up a more tranquil journey as it passes through an estate that Agatha Christie once called, “the loveliest place in the world."
Five top walking things to do in Devon in 2020:
- Strike out on a walk across Dartmoor National Park to meet the friendly ponies and take in a wild landscape.
- Follow the South West Coast Path on a serene coastal walk from the sands of Salcombe to peaceful Hope Cove.
- Enjoy a warming meal or pint at The Royal Oak after a walk by the River Barle visiting the unique Tarr Steps.
- Take in Croyde, Woolacombe and Mortehoe in one fell swoop with a stroll along Devon’s dramatic north coast.
- Pack a picnic and venture down to pretty Watermouth Bay near Ilfracombe, set on the Exmoor coast.
Discover secret walks
If you’re all about the food and drink in Devon:
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A hidden gem in the North Devon foodie scene is Number Eight, a stylish restaurant found in one of Bideford’s backstreets that serve delicious and beautiful award-winning food – it’s just the place to spend an evening out during your holiday.
Along the high street itself are a few great cafes and restaurants for you to stop by including The Chocolate Teapot, while the central location means you can venture out from Bideford to John’s of Instow or The Royal George in Appledore.
Over in Honiton, a few of the top eateries to visit include The Accidental Vegan, The Holt and The Otter Inn. As an added bonus, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Kitchen & Deli in Axminster is just 12 miles away.
Down on the southern coast, Teignmouth is the perfect seaside retreat for anyone who loves good food and ocean views. Head to The Crab Shack on the Beach for fresh seafood, drop by Ye Olde Jolly Sailor for tasty pub grub in a cosy setting or walk along the coastal path to Finn McCools for classic fish and chips.
For something a little more highbrow, impress your friends with an evening at Rodean Restaurant in nearby Kenton or venture into the cathedral city of Exeter which is just 15 miles away and offers endless excellent foodie options.
Five top foodie things to do in Devon in 2020:
- Any vegan and veggie-lovers out there should take a trip to Totnes for the wide range of cafes, bars and restaurants catering to meat-free foodies.
- Walk the coast path or spend the day down on the beach before dining on delicious fish and chips anywhere along Devon’s beautiful coastline – there are so many chippies to choose from!
- During the summer, the most unexpected Devon thing you can do is enjoy a Sri Lankan curry down on Barricane Beach while the sun sets.
- Explore Exeter before stopping to taste ‘some of the best cake in town’ at The Exploding Bakery.
- Visit a tearoom for a true Devon cream tea – a few top choices for this include the pretty Docton Mill Gardens in Hartland, wonderful Darts Farm in Topsham or exquisite Saunton Sands in (you guessed it) Saunton.
If you’re all about the heritage and ancient sites to uncover in Devon:
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If you are looking for history, you have got to stay in Barnstaple, a place that is believed to be the oldest borough in England and boasts plenty of heritage for you to seek out.
Arlington Court is an old family estate now managed by the National Trust with a museum and gardens to explore, investigate Guildhall or the Barnstaple Museum, or you can even take a tour of ancient Barnstaple.
Over in East Devon, the historic market town of Cullompton is a great base from which to explore the ancient places hidden throughout the countryside. Killerton House, Coldharbour Mill Working Wool Museum, Markers Cottage and Knightshayes are within 10 miles of Cullompton.
Exeter itself is just 17 miles from Cullompton but is also worth a stay if you love old architecture and historical city walks. The Underground Passages is a mysterious place to visit on your travels while the fantastic cathedral found in the heart of Exeter is the perfect place to breathe in that tranquillity after you’ve explored the shops and tearooms of the city centre.
Five top heritage sites to visit in Devon in 2020:
- The dramatic Castle Drogo is said to have been the last castle to be built in England and you can explore woodland, gardens and the chapel.
- Follow The East Devon Way and you will pass by Bronze Age round-barrow cemeteries and the Woodbury Castle hillfort.
- Stop by the quirky 18th-century roundhouse, A La Ronde, built for two spinster cousins to house their collections of objects from their travels across Europe.
- Magnificent Saltram House down by Plymouth is a great day out for all the family with a garden trail, adventure playground and stick to build dens in the woodland.
- Travel millions of years back in time with a walk along the ancient Jurassic Coast which stretches from Exmouth in Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset.
If you’re all about the kids and having lots of fun:
Top 3 places to stay:
If you and the kids love a true bucket ‘n’ spade holiday, Westward Ho! is the perfect place for you to escape to with a wide sandy beach, go-karts and penny arcades to entertain the whole family. Down the coast, you’ll find the beautiful Braunton Burrows where friendly ponies can often be found grazing and Westward Ho! beach has great surf schools where you and the children can learn a new skill.
Over in Exmouth, World of Country Life, Exmouth Mystery Treasure Trail and Sam’s Funhouse are all great ways to entertain youngsters. As it’s right on the coast, Sandy Bay is the perfect beach for sunny summer days, and Crealy Theme Park is just 10 miles away and great for older ones to enjoy an exciting day out.
The city of Plymouth is full of places to go and things to do with the kids, whether you walk along the seafront while devour icing an ice-cream or visit The National Marine Aquarium to see creatures from the deep.
Dartmoor Zoo is always an exciting place for kids to explore and it’s just 10 miles out of Plymouth - take them to see the magnificent animals they have from around the world including lions, zebras and wolves.
Five top fun family-friendly things to do in Devon in 2020:
- River Dart Country Park is great fun with activities including adventure playgrounds, high ropes and a boating lake – perfect for energetic kids!
- Pack a picnic and enjoy a cycle ride along the Tarka Trail; the riverside stretch from Instow to Fremington is a particularly pretty section of the route.
- Investigate the wild places of Lydford Gorge, the deepest gorge in the South West, where you can see White Lady Waterfall and the Devil’s Cauldron.
- The Donkey Sanctuary is a delightful day out where children can meet the donkeys living here before racing through the maze or enjoying the small outdoor play area.
- Watermouth Castle is a great fun place for kids to enjoy a day out with wonderful rides and attractions, and events taking place throughout the summer.
With so much to do throughout this extraordinary county, where will you begin? We have holiday cottages in Devon ideal for big groups with special celebrations, family getaways or couples on a romantic break.
Start browsing our collection of holiday cottages in Devon and find yourself the perfect getaway:
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.