- Areas to visit
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Watching the pennies? Holidaying on a budget? Don’t worry – visit Devon and you’ll find an abundance of things to do…for free!
Yes, free. Devon has plenty to do and see that won’t cost you a penny, so if you’re trying to keep those holiday costs down but don’t want to skimp on the enjoyment, then Devon’s the right destination for you.
We have two glorious National Parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor. Both have their own unique characters – while Dartmoor is a wild, wide-open place filled with mystery, towering granite Tors and dramatic scenery, Exmoor (although it too has its open spaces), is filled with secret, hidden treasures such as Tarr Steps. And if you’re into star-gazing, Exmoor is now designated as a Dark Sky Reserve (one of only two in the world) so on a clear night you’re guaranteed to see the Milky Way in all its true splendour without any light pollution masking the view!
Over on Dartmoor you’ll be able to grab the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and stumble across Neolithic monuments, dramatic gorges and beautiful sights, such as the Dartmoor ponies. Both moors have their legends too – on Exmoor you can discover the world of Lorna Doone, while on Dartmoor be careful not to get caught in the ‘Grimpen Mire’ or chased by the dreaded Hound of the Baskervilles!
Ramble the length of Devon for free on the South West Coast Path, a fantastic route which will introduce you to some of the finest views and bring you all the way around to the Jurassic Coast, where you can hunt on the beach for fossils. Throughout Devon a network of paths and bridleways will take you off the beaten track and into the heart of the countryside – and there are plenty of local pubs on the way to grab some well-earned refreshments too. For a free walk in the city, try one of Exeter's Red Coat Guided Tours, a must on any visit to Exeter.
Try geocaching - otherwise known as a digital treasurehunt. Hunting for hidden 'caches' using a smart phone for navigation is becoming increasingly popular, and is a great way to get children out on a walk. It's also surprisingly easy to get started; read our guide to geocaching in Devon.
Surfers are spoilt for choice, with easier peaks on the south coast and at the sandy expanse of Woolacombe beach on the North Devon coast, while more capable board-jockeys can head to Croyde for some challenging waves. If you’re not a surfer, there are lots of rock pools to discover here too.
Back on the south coast you can grab a bucket and spade for a few pennies and go crabbing at Dittisham, and if the weather is at its best then you can head to any one of the numerous Blue Flag beaches around Devon for a splash in the waves. If you don’t fancy the idea of open-sea swimming then pack your costume and head to Shoalstone Open Air Pool.
If you like a bit of culture, there are plenty of freebies on offer too. Visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, voted 'Museum of the Year', for national and regional touring exhibitions, or wander around west Devon’s castles at Lydford, or visit the West Devon UNESCO World Heritage. You can visit the fascinating herb gardens at Buckfast Abbey (and pick up a bottle of their famous fortified wine while you’re there) or follow the Agatha Christie Literary Trail through Torquay and Torbay for a glimpse into the Queen of Crime’s life.
No matter what you want to do, there’s plenty of choice in Devon, and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny!