Must-Visit Attractions in Devon

If youre yearning for magnificent views and bracing winds, head to the spectacular Jurassic Coast of Devon
If you're yearning for magnificent views and bracing winds, head to the spectacular Jurassic Coast of Devon | © ah_fotobox / Getty Images

Freelance Travel Journalist

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Want to make the most of your trip to Devon? Join Culture Trip on an action-packed, six-day tour of the region – led by a local insider with expert knowledge of the best places to visit and best things to do.

Lundy Island

Dubbed as the English answer to the Galapagos Islands, Lundy Island is a 3mi (5km) stretch of rock off the North Devon coast. Here, you can get close to puffins, seals and basking sharks, as well as a huge variety of seabirds. Get here by taking one of the boats that come from Ilfracombe or Bideford several times a week.

Lydford Gorge

Lydford – the deepest gorge in the southwest of England – is surrounded by thick woodland and is filled with waterfalls and tales of faeries. Stand under the Whitelady Waterfall and get close to the churning Devil’s Cauldron. Parts of the walk around here can be treacherous, so tread carefully.

Dartmoor

It really isn’t a trip to Devon without a windy stomp to a tor in Dartmoor – which is why this bucolic national park plays a central part in Culture Trip’s carefully curated six-day tour of Devon. Great for blowing away the cobwebs, this 365sqmi (945sqkm) wilderness throws up ancient woodland, open moorland, pretty villages and Stone Age ruins.

Greenway House

Even if you’re not an Agatha Christie fan, a visit to Greenway and her River Dart holiday home is worth the time. Christie stayed here to seek inspiration for her novels and to enjoy downtime in this spectacular part of Devon. First-edition novels line the shelves, as well as family photos. Be sure not to miss the gardens, particularly the peach house and the fernery.

River Dart

Whether you want to walk it, canoe it, sail it, kayak it, swim it, camp next to it or take the train over it, the River Dart is a fantastic adventure playground. There are, of course, pubs all along the water, as well as a vineyard and lots of lovely little towns and villages to amble through.

Salcombe

Salcombe is filled with pretty, pastel-coloured houses, sandy coves and yachtie types from up-country. It’s an upmarket town, but worth a visit even if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to Salcombe prices, as the atmosphere is always good and it feels as though the sun shines eternally.

Noss Mayo

With a boaty culture, quiet narrow lanes that climb up steep hills and wonderful waterside views, Noss Mayo is the more reserved little sister of Salcombe. Have a drink at the Ship Inn, or walk the coastal path around the headland for horizon views and trails through thick woodland.

Okehampton Castle

Built at the top of a hill, this motte and bailey castle is filled with ghostly goings on and is said to be home to some pretty gory crimes. The story goes that Lady Howard, who once lived here, killed all four of her husbands and then made a carriage from their bones.

Dartmoor Prison

As you can expect from a prison high in the foggy hills of Dartmoor, there’s a pretty morbid past at this Devonshire prison. Built to cope with the American prisoners of war in the early 1800s, the place was ridden with disease due to overcrowding. Mutinies, capital punishment and torture have all taken place here. The prison is still active, so can’t be visited (unless, of course, you’re visiting someone inside), but the adjacent museum is open to the public.

East Prawle

For hidden beaches down zigzagging pathways, views that go on for days and walks along a leafy coastal path, look no further than East Prawle. The Pigs Nose Inn is a great pub here, and there’s also a campsite where you can wake up with a view of the ocean.

Hartland Quay

After admiring the giant cliffs and majestic waterfalls, make your way to the lovely hotel at the ‘end of the world’, where you can drink a nice cuppa and enjoy views along the coast – Cornwall to the south and up to Woolacombe in the north.

Exmoor

This moorland, which comes to a dramatic end at the coast, is like Dartmoor but quieter and with a sea breeze. The former hunting land is now covered in purple heather fields, dramatic woodlands and craggy shores.

Arlington Court

Discover the red deer that roam the grounds, or learn about a colony of horseshoe bats living at the court. Join the gardener for a day to learn about growing your own food, or simply wander the grounds and take a step back in time. There are also more than 20mi (32km) of footpaths to explore, and even a wildlife hide for anyone who wants to take a break from the history lesson to spy on the local birdlife.

Dartmouth

Dartmouth is situated on the mouth of the River Dart and is one of the most delightful towns in South Devon. With historic streets, a picturesque river location and spectacular countryside surrounding the town, you’d find it difficult to find anywhere as lovely as this.

RHS Rosemoor

From magnificent gardens to woodland walks, RHS Rosemoor is not just for the gardening enthusiasts in the family. It is, of course, spectacular and full of inspiration for your garden at home, but there are also tonnes of activities for both kids and grown-ups – from story time to lessons in roses.

Tarka Trail

If you’re into cycling, you’ll love the Tarka Trail. This is the longest traffic-free cycle route in England and it follows a disused railway line from Braunton all the way to Meeth. You can complete the trail on hired bikes as part of Culture Trip’s six-day, action-packed tour of Devon. And if your legs give in, there’s always a bus to take you back to where you started.

Two Moors Way

This long-distance hiking trail, which links Dartmoor and Exmoor, isn’t for the unfit. The pathway takes in Devon’s most dramatic inland scenery and, like the Tarka Trail, follows an old and disused railway line.

The Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast isn’t usually associated with Devon, it’s more Dorset. Nonetheless, Devon is the beginning of this impressive coastline, with fossils being found daily, and it features gorgeous beaches and hills that roll effortlessly from their summit to the sea.

Clovelly

Lovely Clovelly, which tumbles chaotically down steep cobbled streets from the top of the cliffs to the harbour, is a must-see when visiting North Devon. See how residents use sledges to drag their shopping up and down the town and have a pint right at the bottom of the village looking into the harbour and up the cliff.

Dartmoor Otters

Of the many wildlife experiences Devon has to offer, Dartmoor Otters is the most unique. You can meet several different species of otter, learn about them during talks and watch the feeding sessions. There is also an insect house full of colourful butterflies that fly freely around you as you walk through.

Bicton Park Gardens

Sitting between Exeter and the Jurassic Coast, Bicton Park contains centuries of botanical history. The Victorian-era glasshouses are still intact, and the whole garden is well maintained and full of other activities to keep both kids and adults occupied.

Becky Falls

Becky Falls are arguably the most recognisable falls in the south of England, having been open to visitors since 1903. A lot of time and care has been put into looking after them since then, and now you can choose from a list of routes to reach the 66ft (20m) waterfalls, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling.

National Marine Aquarium

With six tanks of sealife on show, the National Marine Aquarium is the largest in the UK. This popular Plymouth attraction is home to countless rays, sharks and other fish, and the largest tank even features a sunken WWII aircraft.

Powderham Castle

The core of Powderham was built in the 14th century, growing from a fortified manor house to a full-blown castle in the 17th century, and providing a home to several powerful Devon families throughout the centuries. Remarkably well maintained, the castle is now open for guided tours, and the grounds can be fully explored, including a nature trail and an arts and crafts activity area.

Need somewhere to stay? Check out our guide to the best guesthouses in Devon, and book your stay on Culture Trip.

Additional reporting by Callum Davies

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