If you’re planning a trip to Devon, find a place to stay that’s central to the county. From there you will have a full choice of places to visit, North and South. If you want to visit one part of Devon there are plenty of places where you can stay and absorb some Devon-life at a local level.
There are lots of places to stay in Devon
There’s no shortage of places where you can stay in Devon. You are actually spoilt for choice. Here’s a selection of 15 places where you may like to visit or stay in Devon.
Ilfracombe has been a popular holiday destination for people who want to stay in Devon since the Victorian age. There are beaches which can be accessed through tunnels that have been carved through the coastal rock.
There is a tidal pool which ensures that there’s somewhere to go for a swim when the tide is out. Ilfracombe can boast an aquarium, you’ll find it near the harbour. When you want to venture inland, for a change, you can find Watermouth Castle, described by some as being an eccentric attraction.
In and around Ilfracombe, you’ll find plenty of places to grab something to eat. But don’t eat too much, or anything at all, if you’re planning to take the boat trip that occasionally goes from Ilfracombe to Lundy Island unless you are certain that the sea conditions are calm.
If you stay in Ilfracombe and you’re tempted to take the boat trip to Lundy Island, pick a day when the sea is calm and the weather forecast is set fair. The current boat that takes passengers to Lundy is a river boat and isn’t suitable for going to sea in rough conditions.
The journey takes about two hours to get to Lundy and it’s only 20 miles. If the sea is rough, the 20 mile journey can feel like two hours in a washing machine. This isn’t to put you off making the journey, if the conditions are right, Lundy Island is well worth a visit.
2.Lynton and Lynmouth
The two villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are often referred to as “little Switzerland” as a result of the poet Robert Southey comparing it to a Swiss Village. This all started in 1799 and, during the following Napoleonic wars, visitors, who would normally take a tour of Europe, found a likeness to the Alps, Lynton and Lynmouth, when they came to stay in Devon.
The two villages are connected by a funicular cliff-railway which is one of the steepest in the world and adds an Alpine feeling to the area. Lynton is the village on the top of the hill looking some 500 feet down on to Lynmouth. Both of these are well stocked with resources where you can find fish and chip shops and restaurants.
You can pick up with the Southwest coastal path that leads to the Valley of rocks. The scenery here is quite spectacular and rather secluded. You will most likely see wild goats nibbling at the undergrowth.
If steam trains are your thing, there is a narrow-gauge railway that will take you from Lynton to Barnstaple, going west on the North Devon coastline. This is a very old railway which was first opened in the late 1800s but was shut down in 1935. In 1979 an association was set up to restore part of the railway line that travels approximately 19 miles from Lynton to Barnstaple.
Most people who come to stay in Devon, tend to gravitate to the coast but shouldn’t miss out on the chance to visit the moorland that we have. In the North Devon region there is Exmoor, which rolls over the border into Somerset. But don’t let that stop you from exploring some of the most spectacular views that you can see from the walking-routes across the moor.
Some of the most spectacular walking-routes can be found along the North Devon coast when you pick up the South West Coast Path.
Exmoor is made up of 267 square miles. Most of it is in Somerset but just over a quarter of it is in Devon. If you venture far into Exmoor you will find Dunkery Beacon, the summit of which stands at over 1700 above sea level.
If you’re looking for a typical fishing village in Devon, come to Appledore. This is where the rivers Torridge and Taw join together before going out to sea. Known for its dazzling coloured cottages and lots of little shops and cafes, Appledore is a little bit more than that.
There is a substantial Shipbuilding Enterprise which was established in 1855. The history of the shipyard at Appledore has been almost as turbulent as the waves of the local seas. But despite all of that, it has survived to continue building ships to this day.
Described as one of the most enchanting destinations to the point of being a paradise in Devon, is the coastal village of Clovelly. The village is a snapshot of ancient times and is seen as a place of such note that you actually have to pay to go into the village.
Many who have visited Clovelly have said that the entry fee is worth it. They get to experience the old world, steep cobbled streets that go down to the harbour and get a real feel of what times were like in the 16th Century when the village became a fishing port.
There are a couple of museums at Clovelly. There is an audio visual history guide and there is Clovelly Court which is open to the public.
When you’ve been to Exmoor and got a taste of the beauty of moorland landscape, you will be ready to go out on Dartmoor. The entire 360 square miles of Dartmoor are to be found in Devon. Dartmoor provides a much more open expanse of Moorland which some may describe as barren but can always be described as enchanting.
Dartmoor can boast neolithic remains together with the stone circles of the Bronze Age together with indications of activities around medieval times. When driving along the roads through Dartmoor, everyone is requested to look out for the livestock that roam freely on the moor. This includes the traditional Dartmoor ponies, a variety of cattle and not forgetting the sheep.
On and around Dartmoor you can find typical historical towns that are unique in Devon. These include Bovey Tracey, Tavistock and Lydford.
If you dare to take a walk across Dartmoor there are plenty of things to look out for. There is always the challenge of climbing the granite topped hills known as tors. But there are hazards to look out for on the lower parts of the moor which can often involve very wet boggy areas. These are best avoided by finding a route around them rather than trying to walk through it.
Where should I stay in Devon?
7.The English Riviera
Here we have Devon’s answer to the Mediterranean. The English Riviera refers to a length of coastline, on the south coast of Devon, that includes Torquay, Brixham and Paignton. Being on the south coast of Devon this part of the coastline is favoured with shelter from the elements provided by Torbay which is facing South.
It’s long been a destination for the great and the good. You will see luxury yachts, Blue Flag beaches and Michelin-starred places to eat. The English Riviera of Torquay has a deep Victorian heritage. You will hear mention of Agatha Christie. Make time to visit the model village at Babbacombe. When you stay in Devon you will experience a selection of foods and culture. This will be further extended with a Mediterranean feel when you visit Torbay.
A couple of miles from Dartmouth you will find a small and peaceful village called Dittisham. Without doubt this is one of the most beautiful villages in Devon. This is probably because not many people know about it and therefore it is relatively unspoiled.
Positioned on the bank of the River Dart, there is a ferry that will take you across the river to a place called Greenway which was the holiday home of the author Agatha Christie. A visit to this part of Devon will give you the feeling that you found somewhere where time has stood still.
Some people will tell you that Croyde Bay is the best beach for surfing on the North Devon coast. But if it doesn’t do it for you, there is the vast expanse of beaches on each side of Croyde in the form of Woolacombe and Saunton. These three beaches are described by some as a ‘surfing mecca’.
The beach at Croyde is rather compact compared to Woolacombe and Saunton but Croyde beach is favoured by many for its golden sand dunes which tend to be more sheltered than it’s vast neighbouring beaches.
In recent years Croyde has been a destination for an annual music festival known as the Gold Coast Oceanfest. Together with an annual surfing festival, this happens on the weekend that’s nearest to the summer solstice.
A port city, Plymouth is one of the most visited cities in Devon due to its maritime heritage and many attractions both old and new. Plymouth is placed at the mouth of the River Plym and River Tamar, all of which is on the boundary with Cornwall.
Part of its early history involved Roman occupation when Plymouth operated as a trading post. Today’s attractions in Plymouth are the traditional Barbican area that displays cobbled streets. Then there is the national marine aquarium which houses a display of sharks and rays.
The harbour at Plymouth supports a number of marinas plus a fish market. The pilgrim fathers set sail from Plymouth. When you visit the harbour you’ll be able to see the Mayflower steps from where the Pilgrims set off for the ‘new world’.
Another destination in Devon, that’s been popular since the Victorian age, is Sidmouth, on the south coast of Devon. Queen Victoria used to take a holiday at Sidmouth, with her family, as a child. The seafront promenade definitely has a Victorian feel about it. Then there are the spectacular red cliffs that stretch out along the coast.
Sidmouth has a range of typically charming Devon gardens that are open to visitors. If you pick the right time to visit Devon, you may be able to join in with the famous folk festival that takes place or perhaps the Sidmouth Regatta.
Salcombe isn’t actually on the sea. You’ll find it on the south coast of Devon, nestling, slightly inland on the West bank of the Kingsbridge estuary. Drawn to the attention by many as a ‘South Devon area of outstanding natural beauty’, when you stay in this part of Devon you will have a chance to explore some of the South Devon countryside and take part in sailing boat activities in the safety of the estuary.
Salcombe has some formidable beaches but if you’re looking for more you can take a trip across the estuary to East Portlemouth where you can find your way to more beaches at Bigbury.
On the North coast of Devon, we have Westward Ho, near Bideford. Westward Ho got its name from a famous book by Charles Kingsley, who wrote the novel “Westward Ho”, which was written in 1855.
The beach at Westward Ho is interesting. It’s a long Beach with pebbles at the high tide point but there is plenty of sand when the tide goes out. At the southern end of the beach there is a rocky area with an inset, man-made tidal pool.
Westward Ho is an interesting place to stay in Devon. There are many different attractions that are local. You may want to venture inland for a couple of miles into Devon to find the ‘Big Sheep’ visitors Farm. About 10 miles from Westward Ho you can find the Milky Way Adventure Park. If you stick to the North Devon Coast and find Combe Martin, there is the wildlife and dinosaur park which is about 23 miles from Westward Ho.