Heading to Devon this summer and wondering how you’re going to narrow down a list of hundreds of incredible things to do in the county for your stay? After plenty of research, collating of local knowledge and personally trying out pretty much all activities mentioned, we’ve compiled the ultimate Devon bucket list.
Whether you’re visiting for a long weekend or several weeks, these are the must-dos while you’re here. To help you out, we’ve even split the best activities into North Devon, Mid & East Devon and South Devon, so pick the list that best fits with where you’re staying and see how many you can tick off for yourself!
North Devon bucket list
1. Cycle a stretch of the Tarka Trail
Bring your own or hire a bike and it’s one of the best ways to see the sights. The Tarka Trail stretches 32 miles in total between Braunton and Meeth, so you can pick a stretch near where you’re staying and get on your bike!
2. Stand with goats on the edge of Valley of the Rocks
You’ll feel like you’re in a film when standing on the dramatic rocks, amongst the goats and gazing out over the panoramic views of sparkling sea. This is a fantastic photo op, and the surrounding walks are beautiful too.
3. Climb England’s highest sea cliff near Combe Martin
Don’t worry, Hangman Cliffs are not as dark as the name suggests. Standing at 318m high and claiming the title of the highest point on the South West Coast Path, the views over the village and sea offer a breathtaking sight.
4. Eat freshly made Sri Lankan curry on Barricane Beach
Barricane Beach curry is a local secret; hidden away in a little cove, the food cabin is lifted in on a crane each spring to serve up fresh lunches by day and delicious Sri Lankan curry by night. Bring a blanket and a bottle and you’ve got a perfect spot to watch the sunset.
5. Visit Marisco, the oldest nightclub in the country
If you’re in search of a bit of a party, Marisco disco in Woolacombe is the place to be. Flip flops and shorts are the typical dress code, as most nights out here start off on the beach before heading inland after dark to dance until dawn.
6. Ride the highest water-powered cliff railway in Lynton and Lynmouth
For the more laid-back days, the cliff railway in Lynton and Lynmouth is a lovely relaxing experience, plus, you can reward all your efforts with a tasty ice cream once you reach the top!
7. Send a postcard from the world’s oldest private postal service on Lundy Island
Lundy Island is a must-visit if you’re in North Devon, head over on the MS Oldenburg from either Bideford or Ilfracombe and explore the 5km length of island bliss. Be sure to send a postcard from the oldest private postal service while you’re there
8. Paddleboard at Combe Martin to find ‘Little Thailand’
North Devon has a number of wonderful paddleboarding spots, and plenty of places offering lessons for beginners. Combe Martin is one of the best spots to launch, where you can paddle to Little Thailand (aka Broadsands Beach), climb the island lookout and see if you can spot Dave the Dolphin. It’s also a perfect little swimming spot.
9. Devour fish and chips on Westward Ho!’s pebble ridge
There are PLENTY of places to get a decent fish and chips in North Devon, but Westward Ho!’s pebble ridge is one of the best places to do so. Grab a takeaway from Atlantic Bay and find your spot on the pebbles.
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South Devon bucket list
10. Go crabbing in Brixham
Crabbing is a summertime favourite amongst locals and visitors alike in Brixham, and it’s really simple so all the family can get involved. All you need is a crab line, bucket and a bit of food as bait and see how many you can catch. Just remember to put them back at the end of the day as they’re not edible.
11. Time travel 400 million years at Kents Cavern in Torquay
This Site of Special Scientific is a fascinating underground adventure where ancient humans, Neanderthals and Ice Age animals once walked. Take a tour for yourself and learn about what life was once like.
12. Take the Seaton Tramway for a ride along the river
This narrow-gauge electric tramway runs 3 miles from Seaton’s coastal bliss to Colyton’s ancient town, otherwise known as ‘Devon’s most rebellious town’. Soak in the sights or take your very own ‘drive a tram’ lesson!
13. Explore the coast on a sea safari
Spend an hour or two on a sea safari and you’ll see plenty of local wildlife, including dolphins, porpoise, seals and marine birds whilst an experienced skipper will be able to tell you all about the local history and wildlife facts.
14. Take to the skies on a hot air balloon ride
One of the most unique ways to see the sights is from the sky; a hot air balloon experience is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. See the granite slopes of Dartmoor, the ancient woodlands, magical stone circles, grand castles and beautiful beaches from above this summer.
15. Tour a local gin distillery with taste testing session
Calling all gin fans! Did you know you can have a go at making your own unique gin by going to The Gin School at Salcombe Distillery? You’ll get to learn all about the art of distilling, make your own and even personalise your bottle: the best holiday memento!
16. Go on an alpaca trekking adventure
Alpaca and llama trekking is a pretty incredible experience. They’ll carry your lunch across the moors of a local picnic and sweet treats of scones on a calming, relaxing walk through the stunning scenery.
17. See the messenger sculpture in Plymouth, largest bronze sculpture in the country
Standing at 7m tall and 9m wide, this stunning bronze sculpture is the work of Cornish-born Joseph Hillier and depicts a female actor getting herself ready to run on stage and has been installed in preparation for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing to the New World in 2020.
18. Brave a wild swimming experience
From whimsical woodland areas to stunning coastal waters, wild swimming is a fantastic free activity. The perfect way to cool down after a long walk and a great way to clear your mind, South Devon is home to an array of wild swimming hot spots.
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Mid & East Devon bucket list
19. Wonder though Wistman’s Woods on Dartmoor
Wistman’s Wood is a quarter of a mile walk through the most stunning area, with gnarly tangled branches creeping out of the moss-covered rocky paths; it’s a magical setting riddled with myths and fairy tales.
20. Search for ponies on Dartmoor
See if you can spot one of around 1,500 ponies on the moors – we’d recommend booking a free walk where you can visit a local herd at Bellever Forest. Look around and you’ll also see other nods to the history of Dartmoor including Bronze Age hut circles and other beautiful ancient monuments.
21. Enjoy a fresh crab sandwich in Beer
Ducky’s Beach Café is the place to be for a delicious fresh crab sandwich where the best of the best can be found in Beer, plus the lovely beachside location makes it a perfect spot to refuel.
22. Discover the history of Exeter in the Underground Passages and at the Cathedral
Dating back to the 14th century, Exeter’s medieval passages offer a glimpse into the past. Having been purpose built to bring clean drinking water into the city, these paths have since fallen into disrepair and are the only tunnel system of its kind in the UK.
23. Walk down Gandy Street in Exeter, the inspiration behind Diagon Alley
Rumour has it that the majestic charm of Gandy Street was the inspiration behind a key location in the Harry Potter stories, Diagon Alley. The colourful, curious lane featuring a mismatch of olde-worlde buildings and intriguing exteriors can certainly be seen reflected in Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Eeylops Owl Emporium and Flourish and Blotts bookshop.
24. Go fossil hunting at Hooken Cliffs, near Beer
Known as the ‘best location to fossil hunt in Devon’, finding something special hidden in the rocks here are as good as a sure thing. The bottom of the cliffs and foreshore are the best spaces to find them, and you could find echinoids, ammonites, fish and brachiopods all around this spot!
25. Head to the theme park Diggerland and ride a digger or tractor
Hop on a tractor, digger or dumper and tour the land at this family-friendly attraction with more than 20 different rides, including digger hook-a-duck. It’s ‘buckets’ of fun, plus and you can even book yourself a Formula JCB Racing experience day!
26. Take one of the many Geocaching treasure hunt trails
There are hundreds of Geocaching trails across the globe, and Mid Devon is no exception. This mobile app will navigate you through hidden paths to find cache treasure on the trails; why not challenge yourself to see how many you can find in 24 hours?
27. Tackle The Bear Trail assault course
This family-friendly assault course is a fantastic day out but be prepared to get muddy! With 28 obstacles in total, including Bear Mountain and the Swamp Rope, all ages are sure to have fun in the mud here.
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Anywhere in Devon bucket list
28. Enjoy Michelin star cuisine at one of five fine dining spots
If you’re a foodie then visiting one of these Michelin star eateries in Devon is a must! There are also a large number of Michelin-recommended restaurants that we’d advocate, including NC @ EX34 in Woolacombe, where locally foraged produce is paired with a seat at the chef's table for an incredible experience.
29. Test out your surfing skills on one of Devon’s fine beaches
What would a trip to Devon be if you didn’t try a spot of surfing? North and South Devon have plenty of surf spots where you can learn to ride the waves or show off your pro skills on some of the more challenging stretches of sea. Or, test out one of Devon's other wonderful water sport activities!
30. Taste test one of the many delicious ice creams in Devon
To fuel your holiday adventures, you’ll need to test out a range of ice creams. We’d recommend at least one per day. There are ice cream shops and vans ALL over Devon, so we’ve compiled a few of our favourites across the county to help you find the crème de la crème in our ‘best ice cream in Devon’ guide.
Now that you’ve got all the inspiration you need for your summer of adventures, it’s time to book your holiday cottage in Devon from our collection of dog-friendly, family friendly and luxury properties…