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The prettiest villages in Devon holiday cottages

The prettiest villages in Devon

Ed Roberts 21 April 2022

Wonderful Devon has always drawn in visitors looking for a tranquil holiday, and much of its allure is due to the vast number of pretty villages tucked away in the green countryside and at its lush coast. Devon’s towns and villages always offer an unforgettable rural treat away from the hurly burly of daily life and we thoroughly recommend a holiday to the county as the perfect escape.

We have compiled a short guide to the prettiest villages in Devon for you to read. Find out about why these Devon villages are just so pretty and uncover some of the visitor attractions and natural beauty spots that you can enjoy day trips during your stay. For further inspiration, read these great guides about things to do in Devon and all you need to know about Devon, too.  

Stay at a self-catering cottage in a pretty village in Devon. Click the button below to browse our collection of holiday homes in pretty Devon villages.


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Pretty villages in North Devon

Clovelly

Clovelly

Clovelly is the jewel of the North Devon coast. To describe it as a pretty Devon village almost does the place a disservice – it’s beyond pretty. Clovelly is an exemplar of its kind defined lightly by its many narrow lanes lined with whitewashed stone cottages cascading down to a picturesque harbour.  

Thousands upon thousands of day trippers come to Clovelly to experience a traditional Devonian seaside village without traffic. You can ride a donkey up and down the hill, or simply stroll at leisure among the homes, the hidden churches and chapels, gift shops, and places to eat. Treat yourself to a hearty lunch at the iconic Red Lion at the foot of the bay before taking a boat trip around Bideford Bay. Everybody that visits Clovelly agrees that it is one of the best fishing villages of its kind in the world.

Our top pick: Coincide your holiday in North Devon with Clovelly’s most famous event, the Clovelly Herring Festival. It’s a unique gathering where you can celebrate the ‘coming of the silver darlings’ and buy and taste herrings in all their glory.

Nearest wilderness attraction: At the top of the main street in Clovelly, you will find The Hobby Drive, a Victorian-era carriage drive that follows the course of the South West Coast Path. The sea views across the bay are fantastic, as are the woods and your chances of spotting wildlife.

Where to stay


Appledore

Appledore

Holiday at the exceedingly pretty North Devon village of Appledore. With its long history as a ship-building port, Appledore’s ties to the sea are everywhere you look. Sat a quarter of a mile inland from the Taw-Torridge Estuary, this large village is home to some excellent pubs and restaurants and offers beautiful coastal views. 

Appledore has spectacular sunset views across to Northam Burrows Country Park, and Crow Point, and also views of Instow from its long promenade. Book a table at The Royal George for dinner or enjoy a down-to-earth pizza or burger at the Flame Factory. There’s also not one but two lovely chippies in the heart of the village. Appledore is home to one of the UK’s biggest literary festivals every September, so book ahead to avoid missing out.

Our top pick: If you love cooking, head to the Appledore Fish Dock to buy something to grill or fry straight off the boat. There’s nothing like freshly landed seafood to liven up your holiday diet.

Nearest wilderness attraction: Northam Burrows Country Park is a very beautiful coastal area with miles of unspoilt sandy beach and wide views across Bideford Bay to Lundy. It is home to diverse wildlife, birdlife and very rare plants. The visitor centre has a great café and is packed with information about the park’s history and conservation projects.

Where to stay


Lynton and Lynmouth

Lynton and Lynmouth

The twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are also known as Little Switzerland and its easy to see where the nickname has come from. These pretty North Devon villages inspire thoughts of distant alpine places because of their cascading waterfalls, vertiginous views, houses and streets that seem to deft gravity, steep gorges and deep woodlands.

Lynton and Lynmouth are perched at the very edge of the Exmoor National Park with its vast wilderness where you can spot deer and stag, and truly lose yourself in nature. The villages are linked by a funicular railway if you don’t fancy the climb up myriad lengthy staircases, and it’s a popular visitor attraction in itself. Climb on the giant rocks at the beach or visit Glen Lyn Gorge to the see the geyser jet and then enjoy fish and chips at the seafront chippy or enjoy a pint of Devon ale at The Rising Sun – there’s a flurry of activities and places to see in this tiny place.

Our top pick: Follow the River Exe inland up the gorge to National Trust’s Watersmeet. You pass through high woodland passes and winding riverside pathways that will bewitch you. Look out for canoeists on the rocky rapids as you enjoy this wooded byway.

Nearest wilderness attraction: Exmoor National Park is one of two giant wildernesses in Devon alongside Dartmoor. Just beyond Lynton and Lynmouth’s borders, you will find yourself high up on the Exmoor plateau. Head to Simonsbath where you will find a rich choice of walking trails to wander. Exmoor is a nature lover’s treasure trove.

Where to stay


Pretty villages in South Devon

Dittisham

Dittisham

Seek out your perfect place to stay in the pretty South Devon village of Dittisham, situated in the South Devon AONB that includes Dartmouth, the River Dart and the wider South Hams district. Tucked away on a river inlet, Dittisham is a true hideaway in the sense that it’s certainly lesser known, but no less pretty than the county’s most eye-catching and lovely places to visit or stay.

The villages is characterised by its pastel-coloured cottages and the brightly hued small boats out in the estuary. Take an evening walk before dinner onto the pontoon that stretches out into the river; it’s a great place to go crabbing with your kids. It’s also fun to hire a canoe or a kayak to explore downstream or take a ferry to Dartmouth.

Our top pick: The National Trust’s Greenway Estate is a well-worth a visit if you enjoy beautiful stately homes with interesting history. Learn about the estate’s previous owners and visitors such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Agatha Christie.

Nearest wilderness attraction: Estuaries and castles – Climb aboard a ferry from Dartmouth to Kingswear and embark on a remarkable wander along the South Hams coast that takes in views of Kingswear Castle, Brownstone Battery, Dartmouth Castle and the fabled Dragon’s Tail. This is a great way to see some of South Devon’s prettiest villages.

Where to stay


Bigbury-on-Sea

Bigbury-on-Sea

Bigbury-on-Sea is an absolute smasher of a holiday destination with a winner of a beach and distinctive views that you’ll never forget. The beach centres around Burgh Island which can be reached across the sand or by a sea tractor. The village itself is a picture-perfect South Devon village with quaint cottages and friendly pubs like The Pilchard Inn

Bigbury-on-Sea is tiny, and you could walk around the entire village in a few minutes, so we’d recommend this pretty South Devon village for those that cannot resist a day out at the beach. Even at high tide, there is a big beach to unwind and enjoy.

Our top pick: At low tide, take a wander over to Burgh Island for a stroll. There is a large hotel on the island and earthworks of old buildings. The sea views are phenomenal and there are easy trails to discover over there too. Keep an eye on the tide (and the timetable for the sea tractor).

Nearest wilderness attraction: Take the South West Coast Path from beautiful Bantham Beach to South Milton Sands for an absolutely outstanding wander to see some of South Devon’s most beautiful seascapes.

Where to stay


Salcombe

One of South Devon’s most beautiful jewels, the pretty village of Salcombe is one of the best places for a coastal holiday in the South West with your loved ones. Situated in the South Hams district, it’s popular for those that love sailing, and you can watch or get involved in Salcombe’s harbour. The village is home to some fabulous restaurants and pubs, and you will really feel a world away from your day-to-day life in this gorgeous holiday escape.

Our top pick: Combine a holiday cottage stay in Salcombe with the Salcombe Sailing Regatta. Each August, you can see boats of all sizes including the locally made yawls. The village really comes into its own during this event.

Nearest wilderness attraction: The Kingbridge Estuary is well worth exploring via a hired canoe or kayak or, if you don’t fancy doing any of the hard work, take a trip aboard The Rivermaid for a day out to take in local landmarks such as Saltstone Island.

Where to stay


Plan your visit to Devon

We hope you feel inspired to visit the pretty villages of Devon on your future staycations in the South West. Whether you are looking to enjoy a holiday at the coast with your partner or have an active beach holiday with the kids, we have a great choice of holiday properties in and around each of the locations featured in the guide (and throughout the county). Dogs are welcome at many of our properties, so be sure to bring your four-legged amigos along to join in on the fun and relaxation. 

Click on the button below to browse our collection of Devon holiday cottages for more inspiration.

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.

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