Must-Visit Attractions in Devon

If you're yearning for magnificent views and bracing winds, head for Devon's spectacular Jurassic Coast
If you're yearning for magnificent views and bracing winds, head for Devon's spectacular Jurassic Coast | © ah_fotobox / Getty Images
With rolling green countryside, sweet little fishing villages, two incredible coastlines and some of the finest food in England, Devon is an absolute must for anyone visiting England. There’s something here for every member of the family, whether you’re an adventure seeker or a cake eater. Here are 25 things not to be missed when visiting Devon.

Lundy Island

Natural Feature
Spring day on Lundy Island, Devon, England.
© Slawek Staszczuk / Alamy Stock Photo
Dubbed as the English answer to the Galapagos Islands, Lundy Island is a 5-km (3-mi) stretch of rock off the coast of North Devon. Here, you can get up close and personal with puffins, seals and basking sharks, as well as a huge variety of seabirds. Arrive by boat from Ilfracombe or Bideford several times a week.
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Lydford Gorge

Natural Feature
© Dorling Kindersley ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Lydford – the deepest gorge in the southwest of England – is surrounded by thick, lush 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.
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Dartmoor

Park
A hawthorn tree stands among the rocks in Dartmoor National Park
© David Gibbeson / Alamy Stock Photo
It really isn’t a trip to Devon without a windy stomp to a tor in Dartmoor. Great for blowing away the cobwebs, this 945-sqkm (365-sqmi) wilderness throws up ancient woodland, open moorland, pretty villages and Stone Age ruins.
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Greenway House

Building, Park

Even if you’re not an Agatha Christie fan, a visit to Greenway and her River Dart holiday home is definitely worth the time. Agatha stayed here to seek inspiration for her novels and to enjoy some downtime in this absolutely 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.

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River Dart

Natural Feature

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 for kids of all sizes and ages. 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.

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Salcombe

Architectural Landmark
Sunrise at Salcombe | © Bridget Baxter
© Bridget Baxter
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 .
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Noss Mayo

Architectural Landmark

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

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Dartmoor Prison

Memorial, Museum
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 there is an adjacent museum that is open to the public.
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East Prawle

Natural Feature

For hidden beaches down zigzagging pathways, views that go on for days and walks along a picturesque and 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.

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Arlington Court

Museum
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 32km (20mi) worth 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.
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Dartmouth

Historical Landmark

Dartmouth is situated on the mouth of the River Dart and is one of South Devon’s most delightful towns. 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.

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RHS Rosemoor

Botanical Garden
From magnificent gardens to woodland walks, an afternoon at 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 the kids and the grown-ups – from story time to lessons in roses.
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Tarka Trail

Hiking Trail

If you’re into cycling, you’ll be into the Tarka Trail. This is England’s longest traffic-free cycle route and it follows a disused railway line from Braunton all the way to Meeth. You can do as much or as little in a day as your legs can handle, and there is always a bus to take you back to where you started.

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Two Moors Way

Hiking Trail

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

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The Jurassic Coast

Natural Feature
The magificant Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is part of Dorset, UK.
© Tina Bao Ngoc Truong / Getty Images
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.
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Clovelly

Natural Feature

Lovely Clovelly, which tumbles chaotically down steep cobbled streets from the top of the cliffs to the harbour, is an absolute 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.

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Powderham Castle

Church, Park
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.
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Additional reporting by Callum Davies

These recommendations were updated on September 9, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.