Things to see & do in Devon
Scone on vacation, back soon: the great thing about Devon’s overabundance of cream teas is that the countryside offers no end of ways to earn one.
Almost the southwest tip of England but not quite, and one of England’s largest counties, Devon is a glorious mix of peaceful countryside, sandy Blue Flag beaches and wild stretches of moorland across two national parks. For lovers of the outdoors it is little short of paradise, and this is naturally where most of our Devon vacations train their focus, ushering you away from towns and cities and into the countryside where you’ll have the most satisfying experience. Devon is where Agatha Christie was born and raised, and where she routinely spent her summers – look out the window in the mornings and it will be no mystery why she was happier here than anywhere else.
Devon’s pastoral landscapes are heaven-sent for happy wanderings. It doesn’t matter if you’re hiking over the barren wilds of Exmoor and Dartmoor, hopping between coves and beaches on the Jurassic Coast, or cycling off-road trails out in the countryside – you’re never far from a welcoming pub or café, surrounded by some of England’s most bucolic natural scenery. Whether you’re traveling with the kids, the dog, or just the one toothbrush, Devon is the clots in the cream.
Our England Vacations
Our top activities in Devon
The South West Coast Path is among the best-loved long-distance trails in the country, over 1,000km in total that encompasses Devon’s north and south coasts, with shorter trails branching off that lead you to lengthy ribbons of sand, smugglers’ bays, woodlands and cliffs where seabirds nest. Other popular options include the Two Moors Way that links Exmoor and Dartmoor, and takes you through unspoilt rural terrain, or the Dartmoor Way. This latter features prehistoric stone circles and medieval architecture along its route, as well as Norman castles and abandoned quarries. Walking vacations in Devon can vary from easy to quite challenging, but are usually tailor made so that the operator can adjust the route according to your abilities.
CyclingDevon appeals to cyclists just as much as it does to walkers, with one of the most popular routes being the famous Tarka Trail, which is a part of the much longer Coast to Coast route, and spans Devon in a figure-of-eight shape for around 300km. The route is well-marked, and off-road for lengthy sections, including one that follows a stretch of disused railway. You’ll ride through woodland valleys and moors, along riverbanks and past plenty of coastal views, with frequent pubs along the way.
If you need a little extra oomph in the saddle, then you can also find electric bike vacations in Devon. The best way to picture this kind of cycling is like that gentle hand in the small of your back when you were first learning to ride a bike – making any hills you encounter far more manageable. Route notes, maps and full support are provided, and these are center-based trips so you only need a daypack.
Between April and September, explore the headlands, beaches, estuaries and sea caves of south Devon on a sea kayaking vacation. You don’t need any experience, as all the equipment and instruction is provided, but if you’re not a novice then this is the perfect place to hone your abilities. You’ll be based at a charming farmhouse in a cider-producing valley, close to the coast and the River Dart.
“One of the best long weekends I have had in years. Great sea kayaking with friendly and very useful instruction (if wanted), amazing scenery and coastline, very new and appropriate equipment (kayaks and accessories), good food, lovely accommodation and charming and interesting host – would thoroughly recommend a weekend… Very easy access from London and elsewhere in the train.” – Andy Miller, on a Devon sea kayaking vacation in England
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Best time to visit Devon
There’s nothing to say you can’t visit Devon in the winter – a pint by a roaring fire on a blustery day will be sure to warm the cockles. But we think April to September, perhaps giving the busy touristy months of July and August a miss, is the best time for vacations in Devon. In May or September it’s much quieter on the coast, but if you’re tied to school vacations and still want to get away from it all, then make for more rural areas, between the moors and further from the beach.
Where to stay in Devon
Skip the cities; you’ll have a much better time out in the countryside. We recommend a rural eco lodge where the quiet is almost deafening, the Milky Way looks full-fat and you’ll get some of the best sleeps of your life. Alternatively, you might stay at an eco lodge in west Devon, right on the famous Tarka Trail, where the Aga-grilled breakfasts will set you up each day for cycling, fishing, walking and day trips to Exeter or the Eden Project over the border in Cornwall.
More about England
Check out our temperature & rainfall chart and find out the best time to visit England. All four seasons have something special to offer.
As with all good England travel guides ours has an excellent map & highlights section to enable you to make the most of your time.
While London may be the country’s most popular visitor destination, we encourage you to head further afield, to explore England’s coast, peaks, lakes and idyllic rural landscapes.
Discover England by rail. The train network connects the country’s greatest cities and countryside.
Our England travel advice features specialist vacation companies and a selection of previous travelers, sharing their knowledge.
Where you travel, and how you get there can be big factors in how responsible your vacation in England is.