Where to Stay in Devon: A Quick Guide to the Best Towns
Not sure which part to visit? Allow us to recommend where to stay in Devon
One of the largest counties in England, home to sandy beaches and bustling fishing villages, Devon is a haven for holidaymakers. Flanked by Cornwall to the west and Dorset to the east, Devon is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Think smugglers coves, quaint harbours and green countryside all rolled into one; that’s Devon in a nutshell. A visit to Torquay, Brixham and Paignton (aka the English Riviera) is a must, as is a hike along the South West Coast Path. Finding the best area to stay in Devon can be a challenge, not least because there are so many fantastic towns and villages to choose from. But, as home and travel experts, that’s where we come in. Here at Plum Guide, we’ve done the hard work (you're welcome) and have put together this handy guide of where to stay in Devon.
1. North Devon District
Covering 850 square miles of beautiful scenery and diverse landscapes, North Devon is the perfect place to base yourself for your South West holiday. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, North Devon’s coastline stretches for 171 square kilometres. Made up of towns and villages including Barnstaple, Croyde and Hartland, there are bars, restaurants, shops and cafes in each of these bustling tourist spots. Travelling with kids? Ilfracombe and Woolacombe are popular with families. Travelling as a couple? We recommend escaping the crowds and heading to picturesque Bideford instead.
2. East Devon District
Another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, East Devon’s landscapes are surrounded by rocky cliffs, rolling hills and long sandy beaches. Dawlish, famed for its steep red cliffs, is a small but lively resort within easy reach of both Torquay and Exeter. The medieval market towns of Axminster and Honiton are worth a visit too. Topping plenty of where to stay in Devon lists is ancient Exeter. At the heart of the city you’ll find
drunk university students the 900-year-old Exeter Cathedral, a fine example of Gothic architecture. Our top tip? Take a roof and tower tour for spectacular panoramic views over the city.
3. Mid Devon District
Situated between Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, Mid Devon makes a brilliant base for your visit to the West Country. The Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are a haven for hikers. Crediton is a pretty village, with a spectacular church and bustling farmers market. Our favourite part of Mid Devon? We pick Tiverton, the district’s largest town. Boasting a 12th-century castle, two historic churches and the peaceful Grand Western Canal, Tiverton offers the perfect rural retreat.
4. Torridge District
The Torridge District is a more peaceful area of Devon. Set in rural countryside on the river Torridge, the market towns of Holsworthy and Great Torrington are worth a visit. The charming Clovelly, however, is in a league of its own. On a steep hillside, Clovelly’s cobbled high street winds its way through 16th-century cottages until it reaches its picturesque fishing harbour. No traffic is allowed to pass through the high street, so it’s free from noisy cars and is arguably one of the best areas to stay in Devon, albeit one of the most touristy. As Clovelly is privately owned, there is a charge for visiting, but it includes parking, entrance to the museums and a visit to Clovelly Court Gardens.
Still not sure where to stay in Devon? Let us recommend Plymouth, a vibrant water-front city with rich maritime heritage. We love the Barbican district, with its cobbled quayside and narrow streets. Fancy a tipple? Sample some delicious gin, the best known export of this port city, at the Plymouth Gin Distillery. Sutton Harbour is also a must-see, home to the National Marine Aquarium and the well known markets of Plymouth Fisheries. No visit to Britain’s Ocean City would be complete without boarding a vessel, so head over to the Mayflower Steps for a boat trip around the Sound. If you’re feeling brave, take a dip in the water at Tinside Lido, Plymouth’s restored Art Deco swimming pool, or climb the famous Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse. Explore our range of luxury flats near Plymouth.
6. South Hams District
Looking for scenic landscapes, beautiful beaches and one of the UK’s best coastlines? The South Hams region is calling. History fans can enjoy two fantastic castles: the 14th-century Totnes Castle, one of the best preserved Norman castles in England, and Dartmouth Castle, an artillery fort dating back to the late 1300s. The excellent Blackpool Sands beach is a short drive from Dartmouth, as is Woodlands Theme Park, one of Devon’s best family attractions. Close to the Kingsbridge Estuary, the lively resort of Salcombe boasts award-winning restaurants and is great for families. For somewhere more romantic, head down to Hope Cove, a tiny fishing village with two sandy beaches.
Also known as the English Riviera, Torbay is made up of three coastal resorts: Torquay, Brixham and Paignton as well as the small village of Babbacombe. Covering 22 miles of stunning coastline, with long stretches of sandy beaches, calm blue waters and palm trees lining the streets, Torbay feels distinctly Mediterranean. Our highlights include Paignton’s award-winning zoo, Brixham’s colourful harbour and Torquay’s glitzy marina. With a fantastic selection of gastro-pubs and restaurants across the resorts, Torbay is also known as The Seafood Coast, offering plenty of places for alfresco dining during the summer. Our favourite place in the South West, Torbay is certainly one of the best areas to stay in Devon.
Stretching from the west side of Exeter, to Dartmoor in the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Teignbridge comprises several towns and villages including Dawlish, Newton Abbot and Teignmouth. One of South Devon’s liveliest family seaside resorts, Dawlish Warren is home to a 500 acre nature reserve, vast sand dunes and a long sandy beach. A historic market town, Newton Abbot is close to Dartmoor National Park. Teignbridge is best known for its beautiful section of railway between Exeter and Newton Abbot. Running along the Exe estuary to the seafront at Teignmouth, this train ride offers a wonderfully scenic day trip.