Must-Visit Attractions in Devon

If you're 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
Photo of Lauren Williams
Freelance Travel Journalist9 September 2020

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
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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.

Lydford Gorge

Natural Feature
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© 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.

Greenway House

Building, Park
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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.

River Dart

Natural Feature
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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.

Okehampton Castle

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Okehampton castle ruins, Devon, UK
© Charles Stirling / Alamy Stock Photo
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 the Lady Howard, who once lived here, killed all four of her husbands and then made a carriage from their bones.

Dartmoor Prison

Memorial, Museum
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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.

Arlington Court

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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.

RHS Rosemoor

Botanical Garden
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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.

Dartmoor Otters

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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 on-site full of colourful butterflies that fly freely around you as you walk through.

Becky Falls

Natural Feature
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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 20-metre (66-ft) waterfalls, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling.

Powderham Castle

Church, Park
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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.

Additional reporting by Callum Davies

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

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