Devon has an abundance of pretty villages, many of which still retain their otherworldly charm and hark back to a time long forgotten. If you fancy stepping into the past or just want to experience a Devon that isn’t seen by those who stick to the more popular tourist areas, here are some of the must visit villages to find in Devon. Some you might have heard of, others will be completely new to you but all of them should be on your itinerary.
Dittisham, South Devon
Located near Dartmouth, Dittisham is one of the most attractive villages on the south coast. Sitting on the banks of the River Dart, it is so small it is often overlooked, but is well worth a visit, full of charming thatched cottages and plentiful greenery, this is one of those places that screams Devon, even if it is mostly forgotten. For those of you who want to explore the wider area, jump on a ferry, there are passenger voyages on to Dartmouth from Dittisham.
This village on the northern edge of Dartmoor isn’t too far from Exeter but seems like a million miles away. The village sits on the top of the Teign Valley and has some lovely views across the river and wooded hills that surround it, it is well known in the region for its pretty cottages and the nearby Dunsford Nature Reserve. This is a great place to visit if you want to embrace the remoteness of the countryside while still being close to civilisation.
Braunton, North Devon
As the biggest village in England, Braunton might be a surprise inclusion on this list but with its abundance of walking trails, including the Tarka Trail which runs through the centre, and Braunton Burrows Nature Reserve, it is a must visit location.
Shaldon, South Devon
Image: Alex Graeme
An unspoilt village opposite the town of Teignmouth, this is a location that is loved by visitors. The beach is peaceful and quiet and you can catch England’s oldest passenger ferry across to Teignmouth where you can explore the wider area, or enjoy the attractions in the village, including a small zoo, a botanical garden, a golf course with views across the sea and access to the South West Coast Path.
Widecombe in the Moor, Dartmoor
With less than 200 homes to be found here, this is one of the smaller villages on the list. As it is on the Dartmoor National Park the scenery, as you would expect, is stunning and the whole place gives off the perfect Devonshire countryside vibe. There is an annual fair where you can experience West Country traditions as well as wild ponies and sheep grazing on the village green.
Lee, North Devon
Tucked out of sight on the coast, you might be surprised to learn that the hustle and bustle of Ilfracombe is just 2 miles away. The village is surrounded by rolling countryside and then gives way into the ocean. Lee Bay is pretty much untouched and is dog friendly, making it a lovely place to go for a walk.
Cockington, South Devon
Located close to Torquay, this is a quintessentially English village full of narrow lanes, a water mill and a forge, plus lots of thatched houses. There are even still horse drawn carriages to be spotted! The village is thought to be one of the oldest in the region and dates back to the Iron Age. One particularly lovely spot is at the country park, especially in the summer.
Appledore, North Devon
The village of Appledore sits opposite another pretty village, Instow, but Appledore is bigger and has some regular events like the Appledore Book Festival. The two villages have a regatta every year and are great places for crabbing and grabbing a boat trip across the water.
Hartland, North Devon
Hartland is the most north-westerly point in North Devon that features civilisation and is the general name given to the headland right on the border with Cornwall. Hartland Point, the jagged bit of coastline, is part of the heritage coast, while the village is as charming as it is remote. The classic cottages and historic church building give you the impression that you’ve stepped back in time, and Hartland Quay and Hartland Abbey are both fascinating places to visit to find out more about the region.
Beer, East Devon
We’ve saved a more popular one for last – but it is by no means least. Beer is close to the towns of Seaton and Sidmouth and was once a haven for smugglers. It is a picturesque fishing port with a shingle beach and limestone cliffs and easy access to the Jurassic Coast and South West Coast Path.
Getting our list of must visit villages down to ten was certainly no easy feat, so if you want to add a few more to your itinerary and spend more time exploring Devon, you can find some more suggestions here.