From sandy beaches to rural moors, there are so many beautiful places to visit in Devon. Having been lucky enough to live here for the past four years, I have explored all of Devon’s nooks and crannies. So I know exactly where all the most gorgeous places are!
If you are unfamiliar with the area, Devon is a county in southwest England, best known for its stunning coastline. A popular tourist resort for many Brits who are opting for staycations over holidays abroad, Devon is well-loved by locals and travellers alike. So if you fancy seeing what all the fuss is about, here are 17 beautiful places to visit in Devon for a great day out (or even a longer holiday!).
1. The English Riviera
One of my favourite places to visit in Devon is the English Riviera so, of course, it is number one on this list! The English Riviera, comprised of the seasides towns of Torquay, Torbay, Paignton and Brixham, is the closest thing you’ll get to being abroad in England. Their busy harboursides, with palm trees dotted everywhere, are totally reminiscent of the Mediterranean. Make sure you chow down on some traditional fish and chips whilst you’re there!
Clovelly is a picture-postcard dream of a village. Located in North Devon, Clovelly is most famous for its steep pedestrianised and bloody beautiful cobbled main street! From boat trips along the coast to spectacular cliff-top views, there is plenty to see and do in Clovelly. But don’t take my word for it – it has even been dubbed “the prettiest village in Devon”. Be aware though that like Portmeirion, you actually need to pay a £7 fee to visit Clovelly.
Looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Look no further than Exmoor National Park! A beautiful landscape of moorland, woodland, coast and rivers, Exmoor is the perfect place to lose yourself in nature. Or to partake in loads of adventure activities. Whatever floats your boat. I recommend visiting Dunster Castle and the Valley of the Rocks, two must-see places to visit in Devon!
A market town perched at the head of the estuary of the River Dart in South Devon, Totnes is oh so cute! Home to lots of unique independent shops and locally produced food, you could easily spend a day exploring Totnes’ nooks and crannies. Avid historians will fall head over heels for Totnes Castle and Berry Pomeroy Castle. And a visit to the gorgeous Sharpham Vineyard will keep wine and cheese lovers entertained for hours!
Britain’s answer to Santorini, Salcombe is by far one of my favourite places to visit in Devon. This gorgeous town is located in the South Hams district of Devon within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). With a distinctly Mediterranean feel, palm trees litter the colourful, pastel streets of Salcombe. Wander down Salcombe’s narrow winding side streets and you will discover cafes and shops galore!
Visiting Appledore a day keeps the doctor away! Moving back up to North Devon, Appledore is a charming little fishing village known for its winding narrow streets and colourful houses. Nearby to Barnstaple, Bideford and Westward Ho!, Appledore is a great base for exploring more of North Devon’s coastline. Top tip: If you are a bibliophile, visit in September for Appledore Book Festival which features talks and activities with a range of international writers.
Exeter, the county town of Devon, has been my home for the past four years. I could not love this charming little city more if I tried. There is plenty to see in Exeter from the beautiful and historic quayside to Exeter Cathedral, pictured above. Exeter is also home to lots of shops to browse and an abundance of cute cafes and restaurants to satisfy your tastebuds.
Watermouth is a sheltered bay and hamlet on the North Devon coast, boasting lush greenery and views to die for. Top tip: the views are especially great from Watermouth Harbour and Widemouth Head! Fun for all the family, there is also Watermouth Castle, a beautiful Victorian castle which has since been turned into a small family theme park.
But by far my favourite part of Watermouth is Broadsands Beach. No, not the one in Paignton. The less famous – though arguably far more beautiful – one. Visit and see for yourself.
Croyde is one of North Devon’s tourist hotspots and it’s no surprise. I mean, look at it! A real breath of fresh air, Croyde is the perfect destination to get off the grid. Get ready to lounge on some superb sandy beaches and eye up some spectacular scenery.
However, don’t think it’s going to be all relaxation here. Croyde is also the surfing capital of North Devon so whether you are an expert or if you’ve never stepped foot on a surfboard before, it’s time to catch a wave.
10. Lundy Island
The largest island in the Bristol Channel, Lundy Island is definitely one of the most unique places to visit in Devon. With tremendous views of sea and mainland, the island is nothing short of breathtaking.
However, not only does Lundy boast amazing views but there is also so much to do here! From diving and climbing to walking and fishing, there’s no chance of getting bored on a day trip to Lundy. Plus, the island also has a milder climate of more sunshine and less rain. What’s not to love?!
Heading back down South, Dartmouth is a popular tourist destination situated on the banks of the picturesque River Dart. Whilst it is great for shopping, food and drink, Dartmouth is perhaps most famous for its a significant naval history. This means that there are plenty of historical sites to explore from Dartmouth Castle, a 14th-century fortress with gorgeous estuary views, to Bayard’s Cove Fort, a 16th-century artillery blockhouse.
A hugely popular seaside resort, Ilfracombe is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Devon. As part of the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), this area offers exactly what it says on the tin. Outstanding natural beauty! With so many things to see and do along the coast, I’d argue that Ilfracombe warrants more than just a day’s visit.
A port city not too far from Exeter, Plymouth is Devon’s only other city. Known for its maritime heritage, Plymouth Hoe and a historic Barbican district with narrow, cobbled streets, Plymouth makes for a great day trip in Devon. Offering everything from gardens and wildlife, to theatre, live music and art, there’s no chance of getting bored on a day trip to Plymouth.
Not only does this quintessential British seaside village have a fantastic name, but it’s also one of the most beautiful places to visit in Devon. If you cannot decide whether you are in the mood for the countryside or coast, Beer provides the best of both worlds.
The village is best known for its beautiful beach which is a natural suntrap, great for those sunny summer days. But for those days when the British weather can’t quite make up its mind, I’d recommend heading to Beer Quarry Caves instead.
15. Burgh Island
Another island and this one is just as, if not more, unique as the last! Burgh Island is a very small tidal island near the seaside village of Bigbury-on-Sea on the coast of South Devon. Whilst it may just look like a quiet little island, Burgh Island plays host to many weddings, parties and live music events! Most famous for its art deco hotel, voted the “most romantic hotel in Britain” in 2012, you’d be silly not to fall head over heels for Burgh Island.
Moving back up the North Devon coast, Woolacombe is a famous seaside resort and undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Devon. If you are after beautiful beaches and blue seas but cannot afford the price tag for an overseas escape, Woolacombe is a great middle ground. I mean, Woolacombe Beach was voted the best beach in the UK on Tripadvisor, after all.
Travel to Dartmoor and you will be rewarded with a magical, ancient landscape, filled with deep valleys, wide-open spaces and fast-flowing rivers. With amazing walking and cycle routes, climbing, horse riding and watersports, Dartmoor can keep you active if that’s your thing. But it is equally great for those who just fancy relaxing and immersing themselves in nature.
So have I persuaded you to embark on one of these day trips? There are just too many beautiful places to visit in Devon. I guess you’ll have to see its beauty for yourself!
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