beautiful Cornwall, Devon is a totally stunning area to visit. Honestly, there’s a heap of the best places in Devon that you can’t miss on a trip to this part of England, especially on its coastline and within its national parks.
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From the stunning North Devon coastline, stopping in places like Ilfracombe and hunting for dinosaur fossils on the Jurassic Coast, it’s a region that’s too diverse and beautiful to miss.
Take a look, below, at the best places in Devon to visit. Have an amazing time!
Being the largest city in Devon, Exeter has thousands of years of history and even dates back to Roman times.
1.) Dartmoor National Park
Situated right on the coast of North Devon, Ilfracombe is a historic fishing town that’s totally lovely to anchor yourself for a few days away.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast is not only one of the best places in Devon to visit, it’s one of the most magnificent coastlines in all of England.
Their pod was so amazing, we didn’t want to leave.
Way back, the prison was initially constructed to hold American prisoners of war. Over time, the prison became riddled with all sorts of problems, from; overcrowding, disease, mutinies to executions!
Perched on the mouth of the West Lyn River, Lynton and Lynmouth are two towns that are separated by the steep hill that goes right through them.
Well, that and Kingswear that’s opposite.
2.) Jurassic Coast
Named the Jurassic Coast due to its 185 million years of history (or so), the sedimentary layers of rock have been revealed by sea erosion ever since.
One of England’s national parks, Dartmoor is totally beautiful to visit (as you’d expect from a national park), right?
If you want to make a day of it, head out on an Exmoor Safari. This is what we did and ended up spotting some of the local deer, horses and birds of prey within the park.
You see, not only is there a heap of epic things to do in Ilfracombe but there’s also loads of stuff to do in the wider region around the town itself.
Accessible by boat from Devon, Lundy Island has a huge variety of animal life including the gorgeous puffins that frequent the shores. It’s totally beautiful and well worth a visit if you love your wildlife. Read more: Best things to do in Ilfracombe
Once here, be sure to explore the iconic Exeter Cathederal, head inside the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and tour the Underground Passages that date back over 500 years!
No trip to Devon is complete without some time in the countryside!
Lundy Island, the biggest island in the English Channel, is one of the best places in Devon to go for an adventure!
After spending some time within the town, drive towards the coast to spot Dartmouth Castle. Dating back over 500-years, this castle is totally unique and so picturesque to see.
This has led to it being one of the best places to search for fossils and with every new bit of tidal erosion, new fossils are released. We spent a few hours on the beach looking for them… we ended up finding five of them!
Now, the island has had a long and turbulent history, hosting a number of different conflicts and invasions. Though there’s no need to worry about that anymore – nowadays, it’s totally serene and the only disturbance you’ll come across if from the wildlife.
Just shy of Plymouth, and right on the border of Devon, The Treby Arms is a great little foodie spot to visit on a road trip around Devon.
It’s such a great place.
Read more: Our time staying at Loveland Farm
Anyway, legends aside, once you arrive be sure to trek up to Dartmoor’s tors, the highest points in Southern England. There’s so many dotted all across the park and typically on top of higher points (the highest being High Willhays Tor). Most of these have stood since the Bronze Age and it’s perfect for a ramble.
5.) Hartland Peninsula
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Serving up a yummy mix of traditional pub grub and more eclectic creations, The Treby Arms is the perfect dinner spot to grab a bite. Their homemade pies and are everything!
Tucked on the estuary, Salcombe is the kind of place you visit for chilled out strolls, pottering around the little boutiques and grabbing long lunches with a tipple. It’s all so dreamy, especially in summer.
Finally, don’t forget to stop off at Corfe Castle, a settlement and town that’s been inhabited for around 8,000 years!
Halfway down the coast between Plymouth and Torquay, Salcombe is a beautiful little town that’s totally idyllic for a few days away.
6.) Lynton and Lynmouth
We totally loved staying around the Hartland Peninsula as it was completely chilled and complete countryside. We decided to stay a few nights at Loveland Farm who pride themselves on sustainability.
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Read more: Our time exploring Lynton and Lynmouth
With a white sandy coastline, Woolacombe is the kind of place you come for the day and just chill. Just be sure to take a picnic with you (otherwise, you might end up heading back to Ilfracombe for lunch).
7.) Woolacombe Beach
Just west of Torquay, Paignton is a great little place to visit if you want a seaside holiday in Devon. With Paignton Beach and Broadsands Beach nearby, the area’s a perfect spot to catch some waves!
8.) Exmoor National Park
Well, the other thing that makes Dartmoor so special is how little people live here. It’s the least densely populated and largest open space in all of southern England. This all means it’s one of the best places in Devon to visit if you want to explore the great outdoors and get away from it all.
Also, don’t forget to take a little trip to Berry Pomeroy Castle that’s just outside Paignton, too – the Elizabethan House is amazing to see and date back centuries.
Over the years, there’s been a heap of local folklore that has been passed down over centuries, too. With stories of headless horsemen, Devonshire fairies and otherworldly beasts, it’s a region that’s steeped in legend! In fact, Dartmoor is what inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s third Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hounds of the Baskervilles.
Oh, and don’t forget to head over to the Valley of Rocks that’s around 25-minutes east of Ilfracombe. Here, you’ll get to follow the South-West Coast Path and spot the wild goats and prehistoric geologic that makes this such a unique part of Devon.
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8.) Lundy Island
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Read more: Our safari in Exmoor National Park
Not only that, it’s one of the best places in Devon to visit for a city break, with a heap of things to see and do for a short weekend stop.
One of the best beaches in England, Woolacombe is a favourite destination among locals and visitors, too. Perfect for families, surfers and anyone in between, Woolacombe Beach is a not-so-hidden gem that’s well worth exploring.
The unique little town of Totnes is a great little spot to visit, especially if you’re based around Dartmouth or Paignton.
Nowadays, curious visitors can pop into the Dartmoor Prison Museum to explore!
Here, you’ll get explore the organic and fair-trade market that pops up twice a week and visit the locally-owned restaurants, pubs and shops on Totnes’ high street.
One of Devon’s two national parks, Exmoor is situated in North Devon and is a treat to explore.
Afterwards, head across to explore Durdle Door and see the massive sea stacks of Old Harry Rocks. Both totally stunning and gorgeous to visit.
Afterwards, take a trip to Greenway House, the holiday home of Dame Agatha Christie! Greenway House is a must seen for fans of her books, especially as you can find first editions of her works inside.
Both are gorgeous little places where you can whisk away a few hours of exploring.
Dartmoor Prison, located on the desolate plains of Dartmoor, operated during the 1800s and is the site of many gruesome deaths. Although pretty macabre, it’s well worth a visit if you’re interested in the history of the region (and its prisoners).
Finally, just in case you haven’t seen enough of Dartmoor, pop across to Lustleigh and visit the tiniest little hamlet that filled with thatched cottages. Plus, you can easily partner this with a visit to Becky Falls that are around 70ft high.
Also, don’t forget to check out Speke’s Mill, a whopping 50+ metre high waterfall that’s right by the South-West Coast Path.
We’ve visited Devon quite a few times over the years and always loved it!
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With its bustling harbour and quaint colourful riverfront houses, Dartmouth has an undeniable character that’s totally gorgeous for a day trip.
After arriving, be sure to head to the harbour area and check out Verity, the colossal art installation that was imagined by Damien Hirst.
Now, you can walk up the steep hills but there’s a much more fun way to get to the top. Head on the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway that goes regularly and well worth the small fee to ride it.
So, to help you get the most out of your time when visiting Devon, I wanted to share some absolute gems that we love. Perched all across Devon, these spots are perfect waypoints and pit stops that I hope you’ll love as much as me.
14.) Dartmoor Prison Museum
Make sure to grab a local treat from Salcombe Dairy – they make all their ice cream in-house and the flavours are totally delicious.
From here, you can then pop into the Chapel of St Nicholas and stroll the cliffs around Tunnels Beach for a gorgeous stroll.
This charming historic town, aptly named based on its position on the mouth of the River Dart, is one of the prettiest coastal towns in England.
15.) The Treby Arms
Afterwards, head over to the western fringes of Dartmoor and explore visit St Michael’s Church in Brentor. It dates all the way back to the 12th century and stands proudly overlooking the park.
Read more: How to find fossils on the Jurassic Coast
Stroll on through the town’s cobbled streets and alleyways that appear almost unchanged from how they would have centuries ago.
Once here, make sure to spend some time exploring the moors and walk through the ancient forests that make this spot so special. Plus, you’ll get to see the Tarr Steps, a clapper bridge that’s been around since Medieval times.
Afterwards, take a stroll through and soak up the history at Totnes Castle, Dartington Hall, and grab a bite at the Waterside Bistro. Their lamb tagines are so fragrant and flavourful!