17 great ideas to help you book a Devon staycation
- Credit: Archant
The best places to visit and fab things to see and do in the county
There’s two of everything for visitors to Devon - two coastlines, two National Parks, two cities...and 2,001 spaces and places for you to make it the perfect spot for your next staycation odyssey.
From beaches to barges, moorland to model villages, history to holiday parks, islands to ice creams, Devon is a county which truly offers something for everyone.
In fact, for those in the know, the county is actually eight ‘counties’ in one. The differing cities of Exeter and Plymouth vie with Torbay, North Devon, West Devon, Mid Devon, East Devon and the South Hams for visitors’ attention. The truth is they all offer an amazing experience for the holidaymaker, whether on a short break or spending a week or fortnight there.
Torbay has built its reputation on visits by holidaymakers and it’s not hard to see why with its delightful seaside towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, which also doubles up as a working fishing port. Bustling and busy, there are plenty of shopping, dining out and entertainment options, as well as the popular beaches.
Talking of beaches, the golden sands of North Devon are a magnet for visitors who want to relax away from it all or take to the sea for water sports. Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton Sands are a mecca for those who love unspoilt beaches which, even at the height of the season, never get too busy. While in North Devon, take in Exmoor too...one of two National Parks in the county, its moorland landscape is breathtaking all year round.
READ MORE: 30 great days out in Exeter
The other National Park in the county is Dartmoor, a rugged and ever-changing moor. They say you can experience four seasons in one day on Dartmoor so pack the right clothes when you set off to explore some of its 160 granite tors! The moor nestles mostly in West Devon, a beautiful part of the county which doesn’t always feature on the tourist guides but is well worth a stopover.
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Similar to its westerly ‘cousin’, Mid Devon is agricultural and rural, but offers some delightful towns and villages to explore, as well as a proliferation of the unique Devon ‘high hedges’ on its highways and byways.
East Devon’s charming coastal towns of Sidmouth, Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton offer Regency charm and a growing reputation as ‘up and coming’ destinations for visitors to the county.
The South Hams is there already, being a wonderfully attractive destination for the visitor seduced by its mix of distinctive coastal communities such as Dartmouth, Noss Mayo and Slapton, together with the creative culture in places like Totnes and Dartington. No visit to this area is complete without a trip to iconic Burgh Island – walk the sandy causeway when the tide is low or, for even more fun, take the sea tractor when the water is in!
The city of Exeter offers a busy mix of shopping, quayside dining and top flight sport in the shape of the successful Exeter Chiefs rugby side, while the Ocean City of Plymouth does exactly what it says on the tin – matters maritime are pre-eminent in this lively place.
Truly something for everyone in delightful Devon then...and your only issue when you arrive will be how soon you can plan your next visit!
WHERE TO EAT
There is no finer dining in Devon than at Gidleigh, where executive chef Chris Eden ‘crossed the border’ from Cornwall in 2019, bringing his Michelin-starred menus to this elegant manor house set in the heart of the Dartmoor National Park. Relax in proper luxury and enjoy the fine food and stellar service.
Visit here to book a stay at Gidleigh
The Swan at Bampton
This fabulous pub is the kind of place where the friendly welcoming team will be just as happy to serve you cheesy chips and a pint at the bar or an amazing three-course meal at one of their cosy, fireside dining tables. Winner of multiple national and regional pub of the year awards, The Swan is a delightful dining out experience – and with rooms above the bar you can stay awhile if you choose to as well.
Visit here to book a meal at The Swan
WHERE TO VISIT
The fact you have to pay to enter this charming North Devon coastal village might initially put you off visiting. Don’t let it. Clovelly was recently voted the UK’s most Instagrammable location and it’s easy to see why. Its charming, steep cobbled streets lead down to a stunning harbour with amazing views across Bideford Bay to the North Devon coastline opposite.
Find out more here about visiting Clovelly
Exeter Cathedral, with its origins in the 12th Century, boasts the longest continuous stone vaulted ceiling in the world, a truly awe-inspiring sight. Further west, linger at The Mayflower Steps on Plymouth’s Barbican and wonder at the fact this is where the Pilgrim Fathers first set sail to settle in America in 1620.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotels, holiday parks, campsites, B&Bs and self-catering cottages...Devon offers something for every kind of holidaymaker. Use the handy Visit Devon accommodation search tool here to find the perfect place for your visit.
WHERE TO SHOP
Drake Circus in Plymouth is a modern, welcoming shopping centre, featuring all the big name stores, while Gandy Street in Exeter has a fabulous reputation for its range of independents. For bargains, visit the Affinity Outlet just outside Bideford.
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