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 Journalist2 September 2021

With rolling countryside, little fishing villages, two incredible coastlines and some of the finest food in the UK, Devon is a 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 the best things to do in Devon.

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

Natural Feature
Map View
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 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

Natural Feature
Map View
© Dorling Kindersley ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
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

Park
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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 – 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

Building, Park
Map View

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

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. 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

Memorial
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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 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 the adjacent museum is open to the public.

Arlington Court

Museum
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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 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.

Tarka Trail

Hiking Trail
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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.

Dartmoor Otters

Zoo
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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 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 66ft (20m) 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 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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