Devon is one of the UK’s most popular holiday locations, and for a very good reason too. It’s a beautiful English county known for its picturesque towns, charming villages, atmospheric harbours, and those gorgeous beaches.
While Devon’s coastlines (uniquely the county has two) serve as one of the main attractions for visitors, there are also cities to discover, remote wilderness to traverse, heritage landmarks to explore and delicious regional food to feast on. While most people think of Devon as being a summer holiday destination, it’s actually a great place to visit all year round thanks to the variety of things to do. Your morning walk along the beach may be a little brisker in the winter but it’s definitely going to blow away the cobwebs as you work up an appetite for another wonderful pub lunch. Devon is the perfect location for a weekend away so we’ve put together a weekend guide to Devon to make sure you have the best weekend break possible…
How to get to Devon
The best way to get to Devon and to get around is in your own car. If you don’t have a car then I’d recommend hiring one for your weekender as it will make your trip so much easier.
Where to stay in Devon
I’d recommend hiring a cute little cottage for your weekender in Devon for a perfect escape. Take a look at Marsdens Devon Cottages for loads of lovely options. They have everything from cute and cosy cottages to the large and luxurious if you’re travelling with a big group. I’ve got my eye on this incredible one – talk about a swimming pool with a view!
What to do in Devon
Hit the beaches
When the sun is shining, there aren’t many places you’d rather be in the UK than the beautiful beaches of Devon. Whether it is surfing at Croyde or sunning yourself at Woolacombe, you’ll have countless stretches of coastline to choose from.
Walk the South West Coast Path
Britain’s longest footpath follows both the north and south coasts of Devon, enjoying stunning views and providing access to many alluring sandy coves and bays. Whether you’re based in the north or south during your Devon weekend away, it is well worth taking to this trail one sunny morning.
A vibrant and exciting city, Exeter is popular with students meaning it’s a lively and fun place. There are loads of great pubs, bars and eateries so it’s a good option for a night out. On top of this, you’ll find gorgeous Georgian streets, a smattering of Roman ruins and a splendid Norman cathedral.
Explore Dartmoor and Exmoor
Dartmoor is a stunning 365 square-mile landscape filled with wildlife, country pubs and stone-age ruins. Exmoor is famous for its ponies and really beautiful so remember to pack your hiking boots and your camera!
Try a traditional Devonshire cream tea
The perfect afternoon treat after a day strolling the moorland of Dartmoor or catching the waves at Croyde, a Devonshire cream tea (cream on first remember!) is one of the true delights of a break in Devon. You can get yourself one all over the county, but enjoying one among the enchanting streets and prettily-painted houses of Appledore will up the charm factor.
Visit Powderham Castle
Boasting a 600-year history, a striking and somewhat imposing façade, as well as its very own deer park, Powderham Castle is one of Devon’s oldest family seats and most impressive heritage landmarks. Take a tour of the complex’s medieval core and Victorian kitchen for a look behind the scenes.
Travel across the water to Lundy Island
This Marine Conservation Zone is often referred to as Britain’s very own Galapagos, famous for its wild inhabitants which include puffins, seals and sharks. The island is three miles long and can be reached from Bideford and Ilfracombe. You could spend the day snorkelling, diving and even rock climbing.
Meet the animals at Paignton Zoo
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has as many as 2,000 animals on show across its grounds and welcomes over half a million visitors ever year. It is one of the best attractions in Devon for families with young children, guaranteed to keep everybody entertained during a day off from the beach.
Hit the Tarka Trail
Another activity popular with holidaying families, this disused railway line, which is the longest traffic-free cycle route in the UK, is synonymous with Henry Williamson’s novel, Tarka the Otter. Track down the many locations which feature in the novel as you cycle or stroll some or all of the 26 miles between Meeth and Barnstaple.
Find adventure on the River Dart
Devon’s River Dart is a playground of outdoor adventure and is the place to go for a good hike. But if you fancy something even more adventurous then take to the water. Flowing through Dartmoor National Park to the coast at Dartmouth, you can enjoy canoeing and kayaking on the river’s scenic waters.
I’d recommend checking out Visit Devon to find the latest information about events. There’s loads going on from music and dance performances to carnivals, festivals, gigs, exhibitions and sporting events. Olly Murs is performing at Powderham Castle this summer so I’d get that on my wishlist if I were going.
Where to eat & drink in Devon
From fine dining and hearty pub meals to local ales and lounge bar drinking, there are plenty of options across the villages, towns and cities of Devon, spanning each and every budget.
When it comes to food, you can’t escape the inevitable temptation of a big plate of fish and chips, especially around the coast. Just inland from Woolacombe and Croyde sits Squires, serving up the best, no frills fish and chips in the county – the perfect accompaniment to watching the sunset from the beach.
If you’re after something traditional then head to The New Inn, just outside of Barnstaple, for a restaurant regularly referred to as one of Devon’s best. Generous portions and a well-stocked and constantly changing menu board are accompanied by a friendly atmosphere and some delicious local ales to deliver an authentic and memorable Devonshire dining experience.
When it comes to drinks, there are countless places to choose from, but you’ll find the best variety around the streets of Exeter. If it is beer you’re into, nowhere comes better than The Beer Cellar, the city’s first specialist craft beer bar which serves up the best of British, American, European and world beers on draught and in bottles.
Get off the beaten track in Devon
Agatha Christie Festival
Have you ever taken part in a Cluedo championship!? This and more can be experienced at the Agatha Christie Festival held in Torquay, the writer’s birthplace, every September. Other events include murder mystery games, tea dances, treasures hunts and readings.
For something else even more unusual, head to Buckfast Abbey, something of a pilgrimage site for boozy Scots! Located in Buckfastleigh on the outskirts of Dartmoor National Park, this Benedictine monastery is famous for brewing a toxic and somewhat unpleasant tonic wine, Buckfast (also affectionately referred to as ‘Commotion Lotion’ north of the border). Pay a visit to this attractive complex, for a little, yet strong, flavour of Buckfastleigh.
Do you have any more suggestions for a weekend in Devon?
If you’d like more weekend break inspiration, check out our 52 weekend away ideas.