12 of the Greatest Locations to Go to in South Devon

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panorama of a wide river estuary filled with fishing boats and yachts with a town on the hill to the right hand side and a grassy hill to the left at sunset with a golden light. best places to visit in south devon england

From seaside hotspots and bougie harbour cities to historic cities and rolling rural landscapes, these are among the best locations to go to in South Devon…

Southwest England is well among the best, and hottest, vacation locations within the nation. And Devon has all of it! Seashores to go well with all doable tastes, an epic foodie scene, beautiful little villages, and one among England’s biggest wildernesses.

Neighbouring Cornwall is perhaps higher often known as a seashore vacation vacation spot, however personally, I believe I choose Devon. I reside simply next-door in Dorset, so I do know the entire southwest very properly. And after spending the final couple of months visting almost each nook of Devon whereas researching for a guidebook, I do know the county higher than ever!

So, I’ve popped collectively this information to essentially the most lovely cities, biggest seashores and greatest locations to go to in your journey to south Devon.

Prepare for seashore days, cliff walks, quaint harbours, river journeys, wonderful wildlife, and SO far more…

Map: Greatest Locations to Go to in South Devon

For tthis publish, I’m specializing in essentially the most southern part of the county relatively than the entire southern half of Devon. Exeter, Exmouth and past fall into ‘East Devon’ and gained’t be lined right here – however they’re properly price visiting too!

12 Greatest Locations to Go to in South Devon

1. Dartmouth

Unfold alongside the west financial institution of the broad Dart Estuary, Dartmouth has lengthy been a major port. There’s a prestigious naval faculty, a swanky yacht marina, and a historic harbour space to find.

blue river with a town full of white houses on the far bank beneath a blue sky. dartmouth in devon.

At this time, the city’s crooked streets and gorgeous outdated buildings home posh eating places, cosy bars, swish artwork galleries, and funky boutiques. Oh, and numerous nautical clothes outlets – there’s no escaping the maritime vibes right here!

Top-of-the-line issues about Dartmouth is exploring by river. Take the ferry downriver to go to Dartmouth Citadel, the oldest elements of which date from 1388. Subsequent, take a leisurely cruise upriver to identify the wildlife together with seals, kingfishers, wading birds and (generally) otters. Lastly, take the ferry to Greenway, Agatha Chistie’s former vacation residence, now a Nationwide Belief property.

blue river full of yachts with green hills in the background and a town on either side of the river. there are colourful houses at kingswear on the left while the town on the right is in shadow. best places to visit in south devon.
You’ll want to go to Kingswear on the alternative financial institution!

2. Plymouth

Devon’s largest metropolis, Plymouth has a wealthy maritime heritage, incomes it the nickname ‘Ocean Metropolis’. A few of historical past’s most well-known voyages set sail from the port right here: together with the Mayflower Pilgrims, Captain James Cook dinner and Francis Drake.

view from the grassy lawn at Plymouth Hoe looking towards a small area of the city above a grey sea wall with the sea to the left on a sunny day with blue sky.

Extra just lately, Plymouth has been present process a dramatic transformation. The town was closely bombed throughout WWII attributable to its position as a key naval port, and the hasty rebuilding left behind a metropolis centre that tended to favour performance over type.

However that’s all altering – thanks to modern new waterfront revelopments round Sutton Harbour and Royal William Yard, plus an thrilling new Arts Quarter. This final one is across the College space, with galleries, funky new structure, and the energetic Tavistock Place.

High issues to do in Plymouth

  • Go to The Field – a implausible new museum showcasing Plymouth’s maritime historical past.
  • Discover the historic harbourside Barbican space and go to the Mayflower Steps, the place the Pilgrims sailed from.
  • Tour Black Friar’s Distillery – the house of Plymouth Gin and England’s oldest working gin distillery.
  • Go to the Nationwide Marine Aquarium – the UK’s largest aquarium.

3. Burgh Island

white sandy beach with a blue tractor on it and a thin strip of sand leading to a small tidal island with a white building on it. burgh island is one of the best places to visit in south devon.

You possibly can’t skip Burgh Island if you go to south Devon – this iconic landmark is among the best locations for a mini journey! It’s a tidal island, related to the mainland by a strip of seashore that utterly dissappears at excessive tide.

At low tide, you may stroll to Burgh Island from Bigbury-on-Sea. Or, at excessive tide, there’s the Sea Tractor. This distinctive, bizarre-looking contraption is is operated by Burgh Island Resort; you’ll discover timetables posted on the seashore carpark in Bigbury-on-Sea and on the entrance to the island.

There are solely a handful of buildings on Burgh Island, and no roads to talk of. It is a place to get away from all of it: stroll the coast path, spot wildlife, and climb the hill for views of the coast. To eat, there’s the swanky artwork deco Burgh Island Resort or the 14th-century Pilchard Inn – one among England’s oldest taverns and apparently haunted by a smuggler’s ghost.

4. Salcombe

river full of boats and yachts at sunrise with golden light shining on a town on the right side bank on the river - salcombe devon

Simply alongside the coast from Dartmouth you’ll discover one other crusing mecca to discover. Siting on the mouth of the serene Kingsbridge Estuary, Salcombe is one among south Devon’s most upmarket locations.

This bougie little city – with its sheltered moorings, white sandy seashores, and fancy meals scene – attracts a little bit of a yachtie crowd. However there’s lots right here for everybody to take pleasure in.

Prepare for unbelievable seafood (don’t miss the Crab Shack), epic cliff walks, and lovely seashores. South Sands and North Sands are closest, or take the ferry to discover the idyllic seashores round East Portlemouth on the alternative financial institution. You can even take a ferry upriver to the historic market city of Kingsbridge.

5. Torquay & The English Riviera

Panorama over English Riviera and Torquay from a drone on a very sunny day with turquoise sea

The three cities clustered across the broad unfold of Tor Bay earned themselves the nickname of ‘The English Riviera’ across the time of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). With the French Riviera offlimits, rich Georgians turned to the calm, sheltered waters of Tor Bay as an alternative.

Torquay and Paignton are the 2 largest cities. Each have some pretty seashores and plenty of nostalgic seaside vibes. In the event you’re in search of the basic English seaside expertise, that is the place to return!

Torquay is a bit more upscale, with plenty of grand Victorian villas and parks. Paignton is a bit more ‘low cost and cheerful’ and feels a bit run down in spots. Nevertheless it has some pretty seashores (Goodrington and Broadsands particularly), plus a retro Victorian pier lined with funfair rides and arcades.

Greatest Issues to do within the English Riviera

  • Go Undergeround at Kents Cavern, a community of caves instantly beneath Torquay.
  • Take the steam prepare to Dartmouth.
  • Stroll the Agatha Christie Path – the world-famous crime fiction author was born in Torquay and plenty of places right here seem in her novels. Or take a guided tour (from £28pp) – click on right here for more information.
  • Hop aboard the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, a Twenties furnicular right down to the crimson sands of Oddicombe Seashore.

6. Brixham

looking across a very calm blue harbour with many fishing boats in it at a town on a hillside with many colourful buildings reflected in the still water. brixham in devon england

Brixham can be on the English Riviera, however has a really totally different vibe to Torquay and Paington. Vibrant fishermen’s cottages are clustered onto the hillside above Brixham’s busy working harbour. That is residence to one of many largest fishing fleets within the UK, so the seafood scene in Brixham is unbeatable!

You possibly can take fishing journeys and boat excursions from the harbour, or take a tour of the harbourside Fish Market with a fish breakfast on the glorious Rockfish restaurant. Don’t miss the lifesize duplicate of the Golden Hind, Fransic Drake’s ship!

7. Dartmoor Nationwide Park

sunset behind a pile of granite boulders on a grassy hill in Dartmoor - one of the best places to visit in south devon
King’s Tor is one among my favourites!

It’s not all in regards to the south coast in Devon – there are many wonderful locations to go to within the county’s beautiful rural inside, too. And one among my private favourites is Dartmoor Nationwide Park.

Truthfully, I might wax lyrical about this place – however I’ll attempt to comprise myself! It’s one among England’s final true wildernesses: an enormous space of heather-strewn moors, towering granite tors (hilltop boulders) and dense forests. And thriller! Legends, folklore and ghost tales abound on Dartmoor, and amidst these dramatic landscapes its straightforward to start out believing them.

Don’t miss the impossibly cute village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, the traditional Bronze Age settlement at Grimspound, or the long-lasting Haytor Rocks – an awesome spot for a stroll. I additionally love the stroll alongside the outdated Princetown Railway out to King’s Tor and the historic Foggintor Quarry.

8. Totnes

red brick church tower rising out of a small english town in totnes with yellow fields and green hedgerows in the background on a very sunny day in devon with blue sky overhead

Proper within the coronary heart of rural south Devon sits Totnes, the UK’s first Transition City and doubtless essentially the most moral city in England! It was one of many very first cities in The Transition Community, a worldwide motion via which communities purpose to sort out international crises at an area stage.

The result’s a inventive, community-minded city with one of the vital impartial excessive streets you’ll ever discover. The veggie/vegan meals scene is STRONG right here. Don’t miss Riverford Discipline Kitchen for a seasonal, farm-to-fork eating expertise.

There’s additionally numerous historical past to find – significantly the anceint Totnes Citadel – in addition to the serene, wildlife-rich River Dart. Totnes sits on the head of the Dart Estuary; you may take ferry rides and boat excursions to Dartmouth, or hop on a kayak/SUP to discover.

9. Begin Bay

looking down from a grassy hillside towards a large blue bay with a white sany beach and a small headland in the distance - start bay in devon
Slapton Sands and Slapton Ley

Simply west of Dartmouth, the broad sweep of Begin Bay is likely one of the most lovely spots alongside this stretch of coast.

Slapton Sands sits on the centre of the bay: a slim strip of shingle seashore between the ocean on one aspect and an enormous lake on the opposite. The lake, Slapton Ley, is surrounded by a wildlife-rich nature reserve and makes a great place for a stroll. You may get a implausible view of all of it from on excessive as you drive out of the village of Strete. Driving throughout the skinny strip of Slapton Sands is a enjoyable expertise, too.

On the southwestern finish of the bay, Begin Level is a good space for mountaineering and adventures. Hit the coast path to glimpse the stays of South Hallsands village, washed away by a horrible storm in 1917, and to go to Begin Level Lighthouse. Comply with the trail across the headland to succeed in the distant, crescent-shaped seashore at Mattiscombe Sands. Chances are high, you’ll have the place to your self!

10. Teignmouth

cream and turquoise rowing boat with many more wooden rowing boats behind it on redish shingle sand at teignmouth beach in south devon. the town of teignmouth is out of focus in the background with some white and yellow buildings just visible.

Simply northeast from Torquay sits one other historic seaside city: Teignmouth. There’s a grand Victorian pier, a fairly Georgian seafront, and a placing rust-coloured sandy seashore.

Past the nostalgic seashore vibes, Teignmouth additionally has a superb meals scene. It sits on the mouth of the River Teign (therefore the imaginative identify!), so is surrounded by glorious produce. There are mussel and oyster beds on the river, plenty of fertile farmland, and a implausible native fishing business.

11. Dawlish Warren

a gap between two sand dunes topped with long green beach grass with the blue sea visible through the gap on a sunny day with blue sky above at Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve in South Devon

Simply alongside the coast from Teignmouth, Dawlish Warren is residence to one of the vital lovely seashores in south Devon.

Dwalish Warren itself is a small village identified for its cheap-and-cheerful vacation parks and retro amusement park. However simply exterior of the city sits Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve – the proper place to get away from all of it.

The reserve is true on the mouth of the Exe Estuary, one of the vital necessary places for migrating birds identified for its wealthy and diverse wildlife thorughout the yr. And skirting this nature reserve is an idyllic – and sometimes virtually empty – white-sand seashore backed by grass-topped dunes.

12. Tamar Valley AONB

drone view of a large river with a stone viaduct across it in green countryside with many hills and lines of hedgerows

Final, however positively not least, on this checklist of the very best locations to go to in South Devon, we have now the Tamar Valley Space of Pure Magnificence. Simply north of Plymouth, this can be a wealthy rural panorama filled with rolling valleys and picturesque woodland.

Right here, historical past and nature collide. Although Cornwall is extra well-known for its mining heritage, West Devon had its share of mines – significantly across the Tamar Valley. Don’t miss the traditional stannary city of Tavistock, an attractive little place with an awesome impartial procuring scene, or Morewellham Quay, a dwelling museum the place you may take a trip on an underground mine prepare!

The Tamar Valley is additionally an awesome place for strolling and biking. Attempt Drake’s Path, a 21-mile biking and strolling route between Tavistock and Plymouth. You are able to do the entire thing, or only a part!

High Sights in South Devon – A Fast Checklist

black steam train engine going along a track beside a river with thick green woodland behind it
Dartmouth Steam Railway

Beneath, I’ve listed just a few of the highest points of interest dotted round South Devon. These aren’t fairly ‘locations to go to’ however they’re all nice additions to any vacation.

  • Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Firm – take a steam prepare from Paignton to Dartmouth, river cruise to Totnes, then a bus again to Paignton. You are able to do this ‘Spherical Robin’ journey in any order.
  • Greenway – a grand white nation manor as soon as owned by Agatha Christie.
  • Buckland Abbey – a manor home constructed from a 700-year-old Cistercian monastery, as soon as residence to Francis Drake.
  • Saltram Home – historic property close to Plymouth used as a filming location for Sense and Sensibility.
  • Overbeck’s Backyard – lovely clifftop gardens close to Salcombe.
  • The Miniature Pony Centre to satisfy Dartmoor’s most well-known residents!
  • Salcbome Gin Faculty – distill your personal bottle of gin!
  • The Outlets at Dartington – posh boutique outlets on the Dartington Property.
  • Sandridge Barton – a winery close to Dartmouth and the house of Sharpham Wine.

Greatest Seashores in South Devon

A fast spherical up of the very best seashores to go to if you hit the south Devon coast!

  • South Milton Sands
  • Hope Cove
  • Dawlish Warren
  • Bantham Seashore, close to Bigbury-on-Sea (one of many south coast’s greatest browsing seashores)
  • Blackpool Sands, close to Dartmouth
  • South Sands and North Sands , Salcombe
  • Anstey’s Cove, Torquay
  • Goodrington Seashore, Paignton
  • Broadsands Seashore, Paignton
  • Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay
  • Mattiscombe Sands, Begin Level (can solely be reached by strolling)
  • Ness Cove Seashore, Teignmouth
  • Wembury Seashore, close to Plymouth

Learn Extra

50 Distinctive Issues to do in Dorset

Greatest Locations to Go to on the South Coast of England

Greatest Locations to Vist in South England

Are there any extra nice locations to go to in South Devon that I’ve missed? Let me know within the feedback!


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