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With golden sandy beaches, historic cities, and a huge slab of bucolic English countryside, Devon is readymade for a brilliant staycation.
Most are drawn to the county’s two wonderful, wandering coastlines, home to classic seaside towns, such as Bigbury-on-Sea and Sidmouth; award-winning beaches, like Woolacombe; and mile-after-mile of spectacular clifftop walking. The English Rivera, on the south coast, is a stunning stretch of coastline, packed with brilliant beaches and classic seaside towns. The windier, wilder north, meanwhile, is perfect for surfing and water sports.
Vast Dartmoor, a sprawling moorland of forest and valleys, offers endless opportunities for hiking, and charming time-capsule villages, such as Bovey Tracey and Tavistock. Alternatively, lively Exeter, famed for its mighty cathedral, and Plymouth, with its rich maritime heritage and cobbled old centre, are ideal for a weekend city break.
Devon’s allure lies in its variety. There’s history aplenty in Exeter, beaches fit for surfing, lounging or sandcastle building, and wild moorland great for walking. Whether you’re a family, a couple or a solo traveller, Devon’s got all the boxes ticked.
Best things to do on a weekend break
Whether you’re looking for a historic city break, or a few days by the beach, there’s plenty to do over a weekend in Devon. Exeter, with its enormous cathedral, pleasant quayside and lively student population, is a lovely spot to spend a few days, while port city Plymouth offers culture, nightlife and maritime history from a beautiful seaside location.
If you’re only interested in the beach, head to the English Riviera, a cluster of classic resort towns set along a dramatic stretch of south Devon coastline. Any of “Big Three” Torquay, Paignton, and Brixham are perfect for a weekend break in Devon.
Best things to do for families
Beyond the beach, there’s loads to keep the kids busy on a family holiday in Devon. Catch the ferry over to Lundy, a remote island nature reserve adrift in the Bristol Channel. Devon’s answer to the Galapagos, it’s perfect for wildlife loving families.
There are plenty of theme parks in Devon too, including The Milky Way Adventure Park at Bideford, Crealy Theme Park, and Diggerland in Cullompton. For a rainy day, head to the National Maritime Aquarium in Plymouth. The biggest aquarium in the UK, it’s home to over 5,000 weird and wonderful animals.
Best beaches in Devon
Devon has some of the best beaches in Britain. Along the north coast, enormous Woolacombe, windswept Saunton Sands, Putsborough Sands with its many rockpools, and the sand dunes of Braunton Burrows are great options for families.
Down on the south coast, you’ll find Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham Beach, both great for water sports, and Blue Flag Blackpool Sands, a stunning beach that wouldn’t look out of place on a Greek island.
Finally, east Devon has Branscombe, a cliff-backed pebble beach, Dawlish, a wide, sandy spot that stays quiet even during the summer, and Seaton, a mile-long shingle beach great for kids.
Best walks in Devon
From seaside jaunts to moorland rambles, Devon was made was a good wander. Both coasts are part of the epic South West Coast Path, giving you over 300km (205 miles) of wonderful coastal walking to get stuck into. If you don’t fancy the whole slog, there are loads of little chunks you can tackle, such as Salcombe to Hope Cove on the south coast, Seaton to Sidmouth on the east, and Ilfracombe to Woolacoombe on the north.
Inland, moody Dartmoor National Park and the adjoining Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have plenty of well signposted walking trails between them.
Best attractions in Devon
Part nature park, part adventure playground Wildwood Escot is a great attraction for families. Likewise, Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay is popular with kids of all ages.
For history and heritage, don’t miss Powderham Castle, a stately residence surrounded by a sweeping deer park, and the South Devon Railway, a vintage steam train that runs along the River Dart valley between Totnes and Buckfastleigh.
Fancy a day at the museum? The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter, The Mayflower Museum in Plymouth, and Dartmoor Prison Museum in Princetown are all well worth a visit.
Cornwall and Devon tend to steal the spotlight when it comes to beach breaks in the UK. Visit these excellent sandy stretches from Woolacombe to Porthcurno and it won’t be long until you discover why.Read moreabout 8 of the best beaches in Cornwall and Devon