Top Places to Visit in Devon | Must-See Destinations

Devon is a stunning county in Southwest England that offers a wide range of attractions and destinations for visitors to explore. From the wild beauty of Dartmoor to the charming coastal towns like Salcombe and Ilfracombe, there are plenty of must-see places in Devon. Whether you’re interested in exploring natural landscapes, historic sites, or picturesque coastal villages, Devon has something to offer for everyone.

Top Places to Visit in Devon

Discover hidden gems and things to do in Devon as you explore its diverse landscapes and immerse yourself in its rich history. Here are some of the best places to see in Devon:

1. Dartmoor National Park: A Wilderness of Natural Beauty

Dartmoor National Park is a vast wilderness area in Devon known for its stunning natural beauty. With its dramatic tors, heather-strewn moors, ancient woodlands, and deep gorges, Dartmoor offers a unique and unspoiled landscape to explore.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities in Dartmoor, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking is a fantastic way to experience the park’s diverse scenery, with numerous trails that lead through breathtaking landscapes. From the challenging hike up High Willhays, the highest point in Dartmoor, to leisurely strolls along the River Dart, there’s a walk suitable for every level of fitness.

For those who prefer two wheels, Dartmoor is also a paradise for cyclists. Whether you’re a mountain biker looking for an adrenaline rush on the rugged terrain or a leisure cyclist wanting to explore the park’s picturesque villages, there are plenty of routes to choose from.

Exploring Dartmoor’s Attractions

One of the highlights of Dartmoor is the charming village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Nestled in a valley, this picturesque village is known for its beautiful church, welcoming pubs, and quaint tea rooms. It’s worth taking a stroll through the village to soak up its peaceful atmosphere before enjoying a traditional cream tea.

Another must-visit site in Dartmoor is Grimspound, a Bronze Age settlement that provides a fascinating glimpse into the region’s ancient past. Explore the stone-walled houses and marvel at the magnificent views of the surrounding moorland.

No visit to Dartmoor would be complete without a visit to Haytor Rocks. These iconic granite tors offer panoramic views over the park and are a popular spot for rock climbing and bouldering. Enjoy a picnic while taking in the breathtaking scenery, or challenge yourself to climb to the top of the rocks for an even better view.

Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park is truly a wilderness of natural beauty, offering endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. Whether you’re seeking tranquility amidst breathtaking landscapes or looking to challenge yourself with outdoor activities, Dartmoor is a must-visit destination when exploring the attractions of Devon.

2. Plymouth: A Historic Maritime City

Plymouth is Devon’s largest city and boasts a rich maritime heritage. It was the starting point for famous voyages like the Mayflower Pilgrims and Captain James Cook’s explorations. The city has undergone a transformation in recent years, with trendy waterfront developments and exciting new arts quarters. Don’t miss the historic Barbican area, the Plymouth Hoe with its iconic Smeaton’s Tower, and the beautiful Royal William Yard. Plymouth is a vibrant city with a mix of history, culture, and stunning coastal views.


Exploring Plymouth’s Historic Barbican Area

The historic Barbican area is Plymouth’s oldest and most vibrant quarter. Here, you can wander down narrow cobbled streets lined with picturesque 16th-century buildings, boutique shops, and art galleries. Explore the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrims are believed to have departed for the New World, or visit the National Marine Aquarium, Britain’s largest aquarium. Be sure to sample some freshly caught seafood at one of the charming waterfront restaurants.

Discover the Iconic Smeaton’s Tower

On the Plymouth Hoe, you’ll find Smeaton’s Tower, an iconic red and white lighthouse that once stood on the Eddystone Reef off the coast of Plymouth. Climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city and coastline. Learn about the fascinating history of lighthouse engineering and the challenges faced by the lighthouse keepers. It’s a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts and those seeking breathtaking views.

Experience the Beauty of Royal William Yard

Royal William Yard is a stunning waterfront development nestled in a historic former naval victualling yard. This Grade I listed site is home to a variety of restaurants, cafes, art galleries, and boutiques, all set against a backdrop of beautiful Georgian architecture. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, admire the yachts in the marina, or simply relax and enjoy the stunning views of the water. Royal William Yard is a vibrant hub of food, culture, and leisure.

A Thriving Cultural Scene

Plymouth is not only rich in history and natural beauty but also boasts a thriving cultural scene. The city is home to the Theatre Royal, one of the UK’s best regional theaters, showcasing an array of performances from West End hits to cutting-edge plays. Visit the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery to explore a diverse collection of art and historical artifacts. The city also hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, including the Plymouth Pirate Weekend and the Illuminate light festival.

Top Attractions in Plymouth

Attraction Description
Historic Barbican The oldest quarter of Plymouth, with cobbled streets, boutique shops, and waterfront restaurants.
Smeaton’s Tower An iconic lighthouse offering panoramic views of the city and coastline.
Royal William Yard A waterfront development with a mix of restaurants, cafes, art galleries, and boutiques.
Theatre Royal A regional theater hosting a variety of performances, from West End hits to cutting-edge plays.
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery A diverse collection of art and historical artifacts.

Whether you’re interested in delving into Plymouth’s maritime history, exploring its vibrant cultural scene, or simply enjoying the stunning coastal views, a visit to this historic city is a must when exploring the attractions of Devon.

3. Torquay: The Jewel of the English Riviera

Torquay is a stunning coastal resort town located in Devon, forming one of the three towns that make up the renowned English Riviera, alongside Paignton and Brixham. Known for its beautiful beaches and nostalgic seaside vibes, Torquay is the perfect destination for a classic English seaside holiday.

When visiting Torquay, you’ll be greeted by grand Victorian villas, meticulously maintained parks, and a lively waterfront buzzing with activity. The town’s picturesque palm-lined promenade invites you to take leisurely strolls while enjoying the refreshing sea breeze.

One of the highlights of Torquay is its magnificent beaches. The soft golden sands stretch for miles, offering the perfect spot to relax, soak up the sun, and build sandcastles with the family. Whether you prefer the tranquillity of Meadfoot Beach or the buzzing atmosphere of Torre Abbey Sands, there’s a beach for everyone in Torquay.

Exploring Torquay Attractions

While in Torquay, make sure to explore the fascinating attractions that the town has to offer. The Living Coasts marine zoo is a must-visit, where you can discover a variety of marine life and even get up close to adorable penguins.

If you’re interested in delving into prehistoric history, a visit to Kents Cavern prehistoric caves is a must. Here, you can explore the labyrinth of caves and learn about the ancient human history that dates back thousands of years.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, Torquay offers thrilling water sports activities. From kayaking and paddleboarding to jet skiing and sailing, there’s no shortage of exciting water-based activities to try.

Indulge in Torquay’s Charm

As you wander through Torquay, you’ll be enchanted by the town’s charming atmosphere. The Victorian architecture adds a touch of elegance, while the independent shops, cafes, and restaurants provide plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining.

As the day turns into evening, Torquay comes alive with a vibrant nightlife. From cosy pubs to trendy bars and live music venues, there’s always something happening in the town. Be sure to sample the region’s famous seafood and indulge in a delicious meal overlooking the sea.

Torquay truly is the jewel of the English Riviera, with its captivating beauty, nostalgic charm, and wealth of attractions. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday, an adventure-packed getaway, or a leisurely exploration of the town’s attractions, Torquay has it all.

Experience the magic of Torquay and create unforgettable memories in this picturesque coastal town.

4. Salcombe: A Sailing Mecca

Salcombe is a picturesque town located at the mouth of Kingsbridge Estuary in South Devon. This sailing mecca is known for its sheltered moorings, white sandy beaches, and upmarket atmosphere. Visitors can explore the town’s charming streets lined with boutique shops, dine at incredible seafood restaurants like the Crab Shed, and enjoy scenic cliff walks. Salcombe is also a great base for exploring the idyllic beaches around East Portlemouth, accessible by ferry. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the luxury and natural beauty of Salcombe.


Exploring Salcombe

One of the highlights of visiting Salcombe is exploring the town’s charming streets. Wander through the narrow alleys that lead to the waterfront, passing by independent boutiques, art galleries, and local cafes. Take a leisurely stroll along Cliff Road for panoramic views of the estuary and the stunning coastline. The town is also famous for its delicious seafood, with many restaurants offering fresh catches of the day.

  • Enjoy a meal at the Crab Shed, known for its mouthwatering seafood dishes.
  • Visit the Salcombe Distilling Co. to taste their award-winning gin.
  • Take a boat trip to explore the beautiful beaches of East Portlemouth.
  • Go crabbing with the kids on Salcombe’s beaches.

Salcombe is a paradise for sailing enthusiasts. The calm and protected waters of the estuary provide the perfect conditions for sailing and yachting. Whether you’re an experienced sailor or a beginner looking for lessons, Salcombe offers a range of options to suit all levels. Hire a boat and explore the estuary at your own pace, or join a guided sailing trip to learn about the local marine life and history.

Scenic Cliff Walks

For those who love nature and breathtaking views, Salcombe offers a variety of scenic cliff walks. The South West Coast Path runs along the coast, offering incredible vistas of the rugged cliffs, golden beaches, and sparkling turquoise waters. One popular route is the Salcombe to Bolt Head circular walk, which takes you through lush green fields and offers panoramic views of the estuary and the English Channel.

During the walk, keep an eye out for wildlife such as seals, dolphins, and a variety of birds. The coastal scenery is truly mesmerizing, with its dramatic cliffs and hidden coves. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning landscapes along the way.

5. Exeter: A Riverside City with Rich History

Exeter, the capital of Devon, is a city that seamlessly combines history, culture, and natural beauty. This riverside gem has a captivating past that can be traced back to Roman times, as evident from the remarkable Roman city walls and the magnificent Exeter Cathedral.

Visitors to Exeter can immerse themselves in the city’s rich heritage by exploring attractions such as the Exeter Quay, a charming area where historical buildings have been transformed into independent shops, cafes, and restaurants. Take a leisurely stroll along the idyllic River Exe, experiencing the tranquility of the water and the picturesque views it offers.

Exeter is not just a city steeped in history; it also serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding countryside and nearby attractions. One such prominent destination is the renowned Dartmoor National Park, where visitors can experience the untamed beauty of the moors and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and nature walks.

The Exeter Experience

When visiting Exeter, be sure to soak up the delightful atmosphere of the city center, with its vibrant high street filled with a mix of national retailers and charming local boutiques. Discover hidden gems tucked away in the city’s historic lanes and squares, where you can indulge in a spot of shopping or sample delicious cuisine at the numerous cafes and restaurants.

For those intrigued by history, a visit to Exeter Cathedral is a must. This stunning medieval structure, with its intricate architecture and fascinating history, is a sight to behold. Explore its grand interior, including the longest unbroken Gothic vaulting in the world, and admire the exquisite stained glass windows.

Exeter also hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year, including music festivals, art exhibitions, and theater performances. Check the local events calendar to see what’s happening during your visit and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant arts scene.

No visit to Exeter is complete without experiencing the beauty of the city’s surroundings. From the tranquil River Exe to the rolling hills of Dartmoor, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to explore and enjoy.

Here’s a brief overview of Exeter’s key highlights:

Attraction Description
Exeter Cathedral A magnificent medieval cathedral with stunning architecture and historical significance.
Exeter Quay A charming area along the River Exe, lined with independent shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Dartmoor National Park A vast wilderness area known for its rugged moors, ancient woodlands, and outdoor activities.

Whether you’re captivated by history, inspired by culture, or seeking outdoor adventures, Exeter offers a delightful blend of experiences. Discover the wonders of this riverside city and its surrounding natural beauty on your next trip to Devon.


6. East Devon: A Haven of Coastal Beauty

East Devon is a picturesque region that boasts some of the most stunning coastal destinations in Devon. From the rugged cliffs to the sandy beaches and hidden coves, this area is a haven for nature lovers and those looking for a peaceful coastal escape.

Exploring Lundy Island

One of the highlights of East Devon is Lundy Island, a unique and wild nature reserve located off the North Devon coast. Lundy Island offers breathtaking views of the surrounding sea and provides an opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife, including seals and seabirds.

Discovering Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is a charming coastal town that showcases the beauty of the Devon coast. With its picturesque harbor, vibrant art scene, and stunning coastline, Ilfracombe is a must-visit destination in Devon. Explore the town’s quaint streets lined with boutique shops, dine at fantastic seafood restaurants, and soak in the natural beauty of the surrounding coastline.

Attractions in East Devon

In addition to Lundy Island and Ilfracombe, East Devon offers a wealth of other attractions to explore. Take a stroll along the stunning beaches, hike along the cliff paths, or discover hidden coves along the coast. With its unspoiled natural landscapes and peaceful atmosphere, there is no shortage of things to do in East Devon.

Attraction Description
Lundy Island A wild nature reserve known for stunning views and wildlife sightings.
Ilfracombe A charming coastal town with a picturesque harbor and vibrant art scene.
Beaches Beautiful sandy beaches to relax and enjoy the coastal scenery.
Cliff Paths Scenic walking trails along the cliffs, offering breathtaking views.
Hidden Coves Discover secluded coves tucked away along the coastline.

Whether you’re seeking tranquility in nature or exploring charming coastal towns, East Devon has a lot to offer. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Lundy Island and experience the natural beauty of this coastal haven. And make sure to spend some time exploring the picturesque town of Ilfracombe with its vibrant art scene and beautiful harbor.


Devon is a diverse and beautiful county in Southwest England that offers an abundance of must-visit places. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, historic sites, or simply a relaxing beach getaway, Devon has it all. From the stunning wilderness of Dartmoor National Park to the charming coastal towns and villages, there is something to captivate every visitor.

With its diverse range of attractions and hidden gems, Devon is a destination that caters to every traveler’s interests. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to discover the best places to visit in Devon and indulge in the natural wonders, historic landmarks, and breathtaking coastal scenery this county has to offer.

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