Areas to Visit in Devon
Explore something new with every visit in Devon. With long beaches of golden sands, rugged moors, bustling cities, rolling hills, pretty villages and pastel-coloured seaside towns, a Dark Skies Reserve, a Surf Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and more, there is always something new to uncover.
A tale of two cities...
Devon features two major cities, both known for their culture, vibrancy and incredible history. Exeter is known as the county's capital, while Plymouth is Britain's Ocean City, full of incredible maritime history, culture, entertainment and more.
Whichever you visit, you're guaranteed endless fun and adventure.
Parts of Exeter city centre date back to Roman times, with most of the original Roman wall still remaining. However, it also boasts a superb high street, cobbled side streets and squares housing high street and independent shops and boutiques, as well as that famous cathedral. If you’re looking for a relaxing cultural getaway with plenty of opportunity for retail therapy, then Exeter’s the place for you.
Plymouth might be located in Devon, in a fabulous waterside setting, but it has its own distinctive character. Steeped in history, and the scene of Sir Francis Drake’s legendary game of bowls, this university city also contributes much to Devon’s cultural scene. With great theatre, live music and art galleries, it’s full of excitement and entertainment for the whole family and a great place to experience Devon nightlife.
As well as the two cities, both of which give you easy access to the water and the countryside, there are several other distinct areas of Devon, each with their own charm.
World Heritage Jurassic Coast and East Devon
Don’t miss an opportunity to visit the Jurassic Coast and the surrounding beautiful Devon countryside to the east of Exeter. This stretch of stunning UNESCO World Heritage Coastline charts 185 million years of the Earth's history, and its rocks, fossils, landslides, cliffs and beaches uncover stories from Earth’s ancient past. But it’s not all lessons and learning – this area has some lovely seaside towns that make great family holiday destinations, such as Exmouth and Sidmouth. Inland, much of the area is designated as Natural Landscape, formerlly known as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – East Devon Natural Landscape (AONB) and the Blackdown Hills Natural Landscape (AONB). Both are rural paradises, rich in history with stunning countryside, landscapes and farmland.
The English Riviera: Torquay, Paignton and Brixham
Host to a fabulous array of things to do and places to stay, Torquay, Paignton and Brixham form the Torbay, which is known as the English Riviera, thanks to its palm trees, beaches, mild climate and family holiday atmosphere. The whole Torbay area steeped in maritime history and plays host to a number of sporting events and festivals, including the Riviera’s own regatta, and has some fantastic places to eat. It also has its own UNESCO-stamped Geopark, where visitors can explore a unique ecosystem and take part in a variety of unusual activities.
Beautiful South Devon
South Devon offers fantastic countryside and coastline and a wonderfully picturesque array of villages and towns. The whole area is packed with water sports and gentle walks and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy. South Devon is a landscape of gently rolling hills backdropped by the drama and wildness of Dartmoor, making it a region of contrasts. Its unique character has encouraged artists and musicians to make South Devon their home, and you’ll find plenty of galleries, music festivals and alternative lifestyle centres in this part of Devon.
West Devon and South Hams.
Home to both a Natural Landscape (AONB) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, West Devon covers parts of Dartmoor and bustling market towns, giving you plenty of museums and artisan shops to browse or adventures to experience on the moors. Bordering the region is South Hams, a place where you can find beautiful coastlines and a host of watersports.
Rural retreats: Mid Devon
If you're the kind of person who wants the best of both worlds, is into exploring or wants to compromise on your holiday destination, Mid Devon is the perfect location. Located in the heart of the county, situated at equi-distance between both the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks and the dramatic North and picturesque South coastlines, it’s a perfect place to stay and explore Devon. Mid Devon is known for its rolling hills, hidden woodlands, rivers and verdant valleys, teeming with wildlife, making it an ideal area for walking holidays and wildlife spotting.
Surfer's Paradise: North Devon
As the UK's first ever surf reserve, North Devon is famous for being the surfing haven of the South West. It is home to a number of stunning stately homes set in glorious grounds, and adrenaline junkies love its excellent beaches and opportunities for outdoor adventure. It too has its own distinct character: long sandy beaches contrast with dramatically rugged cliffs, and rolling farmland edges into purple moorland. Its largest town of Barnstaple offers nights out and shopping whilst Croyde and Woolacombe (often voted one of the best beaches in the UK) have a surfy, laid-back vibe.
Rugged moorland: Exmoor
The dramatic beauty of Exmoor is stunning, and provides the perfect location to go hiking, riding, climbing or cycling – whilst the rugged coastline has given birth to the relatively new adventure sport of coasteering. Wildlife enthusiasts are drawn to the opportunities to spot wild deer and seals, and stargazers are able to pursue their hobby thanks to the dark, unpolluted Exmoor night skies. Exmoor is home to the UK's first Dark Skies Reserve and every year, there is a festival to celebrate the beauty of the night skies. And when it comes to a little hospitality – there are some fantastic traditional Devon inns in which to rest up and eat excellent local produce.
Wilderness on Dartmoor
Dartmoor’s rugged beauty, and that of the Greater Dartmoor area around it, inspired Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, and has been used as the backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters. With 368 square miles to explore, you can walk for miles without seeing another soul or visit some of the Devon attractions to be found on the moors. Feeling energetic? Then take a stroll and encounter the herds of pure-breed Dartmoor ponies that wander the wilds. And when you need a little sustenance, be sure to check out the hospitality of the moorland pubs and restaurants.
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Located in the North of Devon, the Exmoor National Park is one of Britain's real hidden treasures, full of incredible vistas and a herd of wild mountain goats, it is the place to go for romantic adventures.
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