A Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Devon
From Exmoor to Dartmoor, there are some top-notch places to visit in Devon
Sandy beaches? Check. Plenty of history, dating from medieval times? Check. Beautiful nature? Check. Devon really does have it all. If you’re spending some time in the West Country, we here at Plum Guide have used our expert travel knowledge to assemble this guide to the absolute best places to visit in Devon, so all you have to do is enjoy yourself.
It’s practically illegal to visit Devon and not go to Dartmoor. This famous national park is the least-inhabited space in southern England - and certainly one of the most beautiful, meaning it should top your list of places to visit in Devon. Stories and legends of ghosts, fairies and other supernatural beings abound, the most well-known of which is Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Unless you’ve got a strong constitution, we don’t recommend reading this scary tale right before you go to sleep, for fear of nightmares. The element that gives Dartmoor its impressive look is the granite which bursts through the summit of its tors. If you’re desperate to stay longer to make the most of the wilderness, our home Rose Cocoon is practically on the doorstep.
If you’ve always harboured a dream to be the captain of the ship, Plymouth is for you. The town has an exceptionally rich maritime history, with names including Sir Francis Drake and the Mayflower launching from its port. Now the town is an artistic haven, with its winding, cobblestoned streets home to many boutiques, artist’s studios and art galleries. The Barbican is the most historic area of the town - make sure to check out some of the old pubs here. If your partner doesn’t tease you too much, you could even wear a captain’s hat while you sip your pint.
One of the dreamiest place to visit in Devon, Torquay has miles and miles of beaches. Devon’s mild climate means that it’s less likely to rain here than the rest of England (although as we all know, that’s not much of a promise) so you’re likely to enjoy some sun with your sandcastles.
Torquay is home to no fewer than nine wonderful sandy beaches on its seafront, so grab your bucket and spade and those swimming trunks which have seen slightly better times, because a beach day or two is essential here. If you’re travelling with your family there are plenty of other attractions nearby to keep the little ones amused. Visit Kents Cavern, a prehistoric series of caves, the Living Coasts Zoo or the miniature village at Babbacombe.
Coming in at three miles long and just half a mile wide, Lundy is the largest island in the Bristol Channel. A small granite island, there’s nothing between Lundy and America. Unspoiled, green and very peaceful, there are excellent places to stay here, but most choose to simply pop over on a boat for a day trip. From diving to climbing, fishing to hiking, Lundy Island is the kind of idyll you dream about while toiling away at your boring desk job. Owned by the Landmark Trust, it’s been carefully and sympathetically maintained to a traditional standard. And even better - because of its location, it enjoys more sunshine and less rain than almost anywhere in the country.
Exmoor is the second of Devon’s two national parks, overlapping with the neighbouring country of Somerset. With more than 1,000 kilometres of moors, footpaths and bridleways, it’s an incredible space to explore, run free and try to ignore the fact that you’d probably have far fewer tension headaches if you lived here. The landscape here varies, with rivers, lush green valleys and even high summits, such as the 520 metre-high Dunkery Hill. The wool trade used to be prominent here, so there are lots of water mills and yarn markets leftover from the industry to see. If you have a horse-mad son or daughter (or used to be one yourself) you’ll fall in love with adorable Exmoor ponies which run free and wild.
If you want to be on Devon’s it-list (and we know you do) then Salcombe is the place to be. A gorgeous stone town, it sits within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Thanks to its hilly landscape and teetering houses there, it has a Mediterranean feel, with palm trees and pastel-coloured houses. With plenty of restaurants, bars and a summer-long calendar of fireworks, festivals and other events, it’s truly the happening spot, and one of the must-see places to visit in Devon.