Devon is seen as one of the most stereotypically English parts of the U.K. This is undoubtedly in no small part thanks to Agatha Christie, whose novels instilled the imagery of rolling green hills and thatched cottages on cobbled stone lanes into the minds of people around the globe. Take away the murders, and her stories could be classified as non-fiction.
The county hosts two national parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a coast dubbed the English Riviera. The multitude of things to do in Devon and the places to visit in the county are no secret to locals, who have been flocking to its North and South coasts for years. Yet with so much choice, it can be difficult to decide on where to spend a day out in the Devon. With the insight of top English travel bloggers and Devon locals, we’ve gathered a list of places you simply cannot miss during your Devon escape.
Visit Torbay: The English Riviera
How to get there: Torbay is made up of three towns, Torquay, Brixham and Paignton, all of which can be reached by train and bus.
With its 22 miles of beautiful coastline, there are no prizes for guessing why Torbay is often referred to as The English Riviera. The three towns of Torbay all have their own unique charm, with plenty of restaurants, sights and activities to do in each.
Torquay was, of course, the birthplace of world-famous murder mystery writer Agatha Christie and as you’d expect, visitors can visit many places inspirational to her along the ‘Agatha Christie Mile’. Meanwhile, you’ll find few places better to dip your toes than on any of Paignton’s coveted Blue Flag accredited beaches, while Brixham’s legacy includes a history of fishing, pirates and smuggling, with Pirate Days at the Old Fish Market throughout the spring and summer.
Explore the beauty of Dartmoor National Park
How to get there: The closest train stations to Dartmoor National Park are Exeter, Plymouth, Ivybridge, Newton Abbot and Totnes.
Sitting in 954 km² of forest, green hills, wetland, rivers, medieval rock formations, trails through the valleys and so much more, visitors to Devon’s famous national park could easily spend days there without getting bored.
While hiking and even wild swimming sit atop many agendas, there’s much more to Dartmoor than that. Visitors can take a break from sporty activities and immerse themselves into England’s Middle Age history, learning about Medieval times from the 5th Century with the remains of the Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village. Meanwhile, Clio from http://www.diaryofadevonmum.co.uk has another top tip for visitors to the park.
“Walk along the wooded bank of the River Teign at Steps Bridge in Dartmoor National Park. It’s beautiful all year round but you’re in for an extra treat in spring when you’ll see wild daffodils in March, or bluebells in May.”
Iconic Beauty in Teignmouth
How to get there: Teignmouth can be reached by train and bus from all over Devon.
Teignmouth’s beaches are iconic, with unmissable red sand cliffs running along the coastline of the town. It’s long been an ideal seaside getaway resort town, and the crescent of Georgian houses, promenade and lovely beach make it easy to see why.
The red sand cliffs are truly stunning and can quite feasibly be doubled up with a day on the beach, where visitors can partake in some traditional South Devon crabbing. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix of water sports, with local companies offering everything from kayak rentals to sailing lessons and jet ski hire. After spending the day on the water (or searching for crabs!), visitors can round off the day by sampling some delicious sustainably-sourced local seafood.
How to get there: Totnes is half an hour by train from Exeter and Plymouth, and can be reached by train and bus from all over the county.
Devon is covered in small villages and towns which offer the perfect escape from bustling cities of Plymouth and Exeter. Our pick is Totnes, a lovely market town full of great English heritage, a Norman castle and – as Sam from http://www.overthedune.com describes – something of a hip movement.
“One of many quaint towns on the south coast, Totnes, is caught in a quirky bohemian twilight. Crystal workshops, organic cafes and gong showers are part and parcel for the hippy capital of the south. Head to the Green Cafe opposite the town square for one of the best fry-ups going. For drinks, wander down to The Waterside Bistro, nestled against the River Dart. Locals and tourists mix together to make a vibrant, bubbling atmosphere.”
Explore North Devon
How to get there: The transport in the north of Devon is a little less extensive than in the south, but the main transport hub of Barnstaple is accessible by train and bus and acts as the perfect base for exploring North Devon.
Just wandering around Barnstaple and its many independent shops, cafes and restaurants is a great way to get acquainted with North Devon. Visitors in October will have the chance to sample all the best foods, drinks and more from the North Devon Food Festival, which takes place in the town’s historic Pannier Market.
Those seeking countryside should consider a side trip to Okehampton, which is the perfect gateway to the famous Dartmoor National Park and offers everything from wine tastings to cycling trails. Those on a romantic getaway will love the beautiful winding cobbled streets of Clovelly, with stunning coastal views and lovely local foods to ensure a memorable time for couples young and old.
Go Longboard Surfing
How to get there: The popular North Devon surf beaches in Croyde and Saunton can be reached by taking a train to Barnstaple and taking a bus onwards from there.
If you are going to Devon for a real adventure then be sure to try your hand at surfing! Devon has some of the best waves in the U.K., with surf pro Taz Knight even naming Devon as his favourite place to surf in the country. Not only can you find awesome waves here, but you can also chow down on a hearty shepherd’s pie, as Sam explains…
“Halfway up the point between Croyde and Woolacombe is Baggy’s Surf Lodge and Cafe. Mike has nailed location, surf hire and guest facilities – it’s all properly geared up for the surfer. If you find yourself in the area, drop by for some food. Mike and his guys make a killer shepherd’s pie!” – Sam, http://www.overthedune.com
Tackle the Jurassic Cliffs
How to get there: Take the train to Exeter and catch the Jurassic Coaster bus from there.
Last but certainly not least, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Cliffs. Running along the south coast of Devon, these imposing cliffs really do have to be seen to be believed. Here’s Ali from http://www.muminanutshell.com with a top tip:
“No trip is complete without a walk along the stunning Jurassic cliffs between Beer and Branscombe. You can park your car on the cliff top car park in Beer, follow the coast path into Branscombe beach, stop off for a bite to eat at the beach from cafe then head back again to catch the view from a whole new angle.”
Be sure to round off the day in Exmouth, and take the Puffin Water Taxi to the floating River Exe Cafe for a dining experience with a view. The local mussels come highly recommended!
Visit the Oldest Sweet Shop in Devon