Discover some of the best things to do in Devon, from wild moors and elegant gardens to the longest marked footpath in England!
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The beautiful English county of Devon is the perfect destination for a UK holiday, whether you are visiting for a weekend or a longer stay.
You’ll find coastal towns like Dartmouth and Torquay, along with beautiful golden beaches like Salcombe (pictured above). And there’s plenty of sights further inland as well, with beautiful countryside and quaint villages to explore.
You can tuck into some of the fantastic local seafood, and you’ll definitely want to treat yourself to a Devonshire cream tea of scones with jam and plenty of clotted cream. Don’t forget that the cream goes first in Devon!
Whether you choose to stay in a self-catering cottage or one of the many fabulous hotels in Devon, it’s the perfect place for a UK getaway. And you could always extend your holiday by spending a few days at a hotel in Cornwall as well!
So here are some of the best things to do in Devon, from wild outdoor spaces to beautiful gardens, and from elegant houses to historic castles.
Before you travel…
Some of the places to visit listed below may have limited opening hours or require you to book ahead due to Covid-19 restrictions. You may also be required to wear a mask inside venues.
Please check ahead before visiting, and click here to see the current UK government advice regarding Covid-19
Dartmoor National Park
Beautiful Dartmoor National Park is a vast expanse of moorland in South Devon covering around 370 square miles. Its stunning scenery is full of forests, rivers and rock formations called tors, such as Haytor (pictured above). And the native Dartmoor ponies roam across the craggy landscape of the moor.
If you love walking or cycling, you’ll find that Dartmoor is perfect for active holidays, but there are plenty of other things to do as well. You can explore castle ruins and little villages, discover local myths and legends or travel back in time with Neolithic tombs and Bronze Age stone circles.
Exmoor National Park
But Dartmoor isn’t the only National Park in Devon. The county is also home to Exmoor National Park, which covers part of North Devon and over the border into Somerset. It’s known for its unspoilt coastline and is also a great location for stargazing.
You could also try kayaking along the Exmoor coast or visit the pretty coastal towns of Lynton and Lynmouth, which are linked by the Cliff Railway. This grade II-listed funicular railway is the world’s highest and steepest water-powered railway!
Dartmouth Castle dates back to the late 1300s and was built to defend the busy port of Dartmouth. From the castle’s position overlooking the entrance to the Dart Estuary, you can enjoy the stunning view out to sea.
There is plenty to explore within the castle, together with walks along the coast and through the surrounding woodlands. You can tuck into a delicious light lunch or cream tea in the riverside tea room, and if the weather is good, combine your visit with a river boat trip between the castle and the town quay.
Dartmouth Castle is an English Heritage property and visits currently need to be pre-booked.
And high above the Teign Gorge, you’ll find a much more modern castle!
Castle Drogo was designed and built in the 20th century by the famous architect and garden designer Sir Edwin Lutyens. He drew inspiration from the Dartmoor tors that surround the castle.
It was originally a family home but is now open to the public. You can view the castle’s art collection, wander around the gardens or follow the pathway down into the Gorge below. And of course, you can indulge in cold drinks, light lunches and snacks in the castle’s cafe.
Castle Drogo is a National Trust property and tickets currently need to be booked in advance of your visit.
If wandering around a beautiful garden is your idea of bliss, then you should definitely plan a visit to RHS Rosemoor during your holiday in Devon!
The garden lies in North Devon’s Torridge Valley and the 65 acre site features both formal and informal planting. There’s something to see throughout the year, from cherry tree blossom in spring, through summer blooms and autumn leaves, to the sparkling Winter Garden.
Enjoy one of the events at RHS Rosemoor, shop at the garden centre or refresh yourself at the three restaurants. There’s so much to see that you may need to plan a return visit!
Travel back in time to the 1950s in Greenway House, where Agatha Christie used to spend her holidays. This is a must-visit for Agatha Christie fans or anyone who is interested in this period of history.
The house is filled with Agatha Christie’s family’s collections of ceramics, silver and Tunbridge ware woodwork. You can also see first editions of many of Agatha’s own novels.
The garden is where Agatha would spend time relaxing by the river and playing croquet with her family and friends. There’s also large woodland, a walled garden and an allotment.
Greenway House is a National Trust property and advance booking is essential.
South West Coastal Path
The South West Coastal Path is the longest waymarked footpath in England, covering 630 miles of coastline in Dorset, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. The pathway is a National Trail and is often mentioned as one of the world’s best walks.
It would take up to 8 weeks to walk the entire length of the South West Coastal Path. That might be too ambitious for most holidays but you could pick a stretch that passes near your Devon hotel. It’s a wonderful way to explore the beautiful countryside and picturesque towns and villages of Devon.