Devon holidays

Experience Devon

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

Plymouth is a lively city that is steeped in history and with plenty of culture on offer. There are popular theatres, art galleries and a plethora of live music venues. It's a great place for family trips too, as there is plenty to do with the kids including visiting museums which cover the city's naval history, and gin distillery tours for mum and dad.

Exeter is another great city with its own fair share of history. Parts of the city date back to the Roman period, but the city is far from old fashioned. There's a high street with brand name shops, but also smaller, cobbled streets that house independent stores and boutiques. It's close to both the seaside and countryside, so it's a good base for those wanting to explore the area without leaving the luxuries of a city behind.

One of the big tourist draws is Torquay, the gateway to the famous English Riviera. This area has a huge range of activities to enjoy, with summer festivals and plenty of sporting events, too. There are some amazing restaurants here, with fresh seafood a staple of most menus.

South Devon offers the best coastline and countryside, and there's the option to work up an appetite with the water sports on offer. Equally, if water sports aren’t to your taste, you may find yourself taking a gentle stroll the scenic surroundings. The landscape is made up of rolling hills and the wildness of Dartmoor National Park. This beautiful backdrop has long offered inspiration to artists and musicians, so it has become a hub for the creative community of Devon.

North Devon is a great place to visit just to witness the stunning stately homes and their breath-taking grounds. Some of the best surfing areas are located here and the dramatic beauty of Exmoor National Park means it is a great place for both mountain biking and hiking.

The UNESCO-stamped English Riviera Global Geopark is a fantastic place for visitors to try some unusual activities, such as canoeing the coves. It's also possible to catch your dinner from the sea and then cook it under supervision from the sous chef at the local Elephant Restaurant. For those not wanting to go to all this effort, many places provide great food, with no fishing required.

Top Landmarks

Devon has no end of stunning scenery; there are several areas of outstanding natural beauty, along with three UNESCO sites and two national parks.

One of the most popular national parks is Dartmoor. The character of the park inspired Conan Doyle's famous Hound of the Baskervilles, and with 368 miles to explore, it's a great place to get completely lost. Here, there's also the Dartmoor Prison Museum, which is a chilling but interesting place to visit to find out more about this particular strand of the local history. There are also plenty of small inns across the moors to rest up and recuperate in.

Exmoor National Park is another great place for hiking. It's also the place to find some truly stunning beaches. Even when the sun isn't shining, the beaches are worth a visit for their rugged, wild exterior.

There are over 70 museums in Devon and all offer a different experience. Dartmoor Prison Museum, mentioned above, is a prison-turned-museum which houses an impressive collection of artefacts. These provide an amazing insight into what prison life was like and outline the history of the prison - from a prisoner of war camp right through to its status as a museum in the present day.

There are plenty of historical sites to see, and many are well preserved. Berry Pomeroy Castle in Totnes, built in the late 15th century, has been well restored and still holds much of its historic charm.

Entertainment

Plymouth has a lot to offer in the way of nightlife. The Cooperage is known for its live music while clubs such as Dance Academy and Candystore offer wall-to-wall dance music throughout the week. Comedy clubs are also popular, not only in Plymouth but across the county, and it's worth popping into one to hear a few jokes and enjoy a few pints – just stay away from the front of the stage to avoid being picked on!

The local pubs in many villages have their own charm for those wanting a few quiet drinks. Many pubs along the coast and in the national parks are traditional, with live music and a great selection of cider on tap.

For live music, there are venues across the county. Mojo in Torquay is a café-cum-bar with a lovely terrace that overlooks the bay. The music genre is different each night of the week, ranging from indie to Latino and mainstream pop at the weekend.

Cavern Club in Exeter is a long-standing club that is the best place to see big name DJs along with artists who are new to the scene. Mamma Stones, also in Exeter, is a great mix of acoustic, pop folk and open mic nights. Mamma Stones daughter, singer Joss Stone, also makes an appearance from time to time.

The Princess Theatre in Torquay showcases some fantastic West End theatre along with comedy nights and local shows. There's also the Little Theatre in Torquay. Housed in an old church, it features concerts and musicals throughout the year.

Dining Out

Devon is famous for its cream tea. This involves scones, clotted cream and jam, and is thought to originate from Tavistock some 1,000 years ago. There's a lot of debate about the right order for the clotted cream and jam, as in Devon the jam goes on the top of the cream whereas in neighbouring Cornwall, it's served the other way around. Either way, it's completely delicious and best served with a pot of tea. Pastries and pies are also popular in Devon. The pasty can be found across the county and is a stuffed pastry in a semicircle shape. Often filled with beef, turnips, potato and onion, and then baked, the pasty is claimed as originating in both Devon and Cornwall, and this traditional West Country snack is a must-try.

Devon boasts two coastlines, so it's not surprising that the fresh seafood is in high-demand. The South Devon crab is often regarded as the best crab in the world. It is sustainably sourced locally and can be found across the county in many cafés and restaurants.

Devon is also known as a place to sample cider, with the traditional cider here known as the infamous ‘scrumpy’. Bright orange in colour, it's made using Devon apples that are too bruised to eat; however, they make the best cider.

Beach

There are many beaches across Devon to choose from. Bantham Beach is a long sandy stretch with shallow waters which are ideal for kids to swim in. There's also a range of water sports available here. Dawlish Warden is often voted in the top 10 beaches in the UK and is a great spot for families as there are a lot of local events and festivals on throughout the summer months. It's also a great place for wildlife enthusiasts.

Romance

Both of the national parks of Exmoor and Dartmoor have small inns and cottages where couples can stay. With the wild moors stretching out for miles and the breathtaking coastlines, it's easy to see how these inns can be the perfect spot for a romantic break. Renting a cottage in one of the national parks means plenty of seclusion, and is a great way to feel like you are the only people around.

Family

Bigby on Sea is a great family beach with calm water and many rock pools. Access is easy and there are a lot of restaurants and local amenities close by. There's also the chance to take a sea tractor across to Burgh Island. The sea tractor is a one-of-a-kind transport that chugs along the beach and then happily bobs across the water. This is nice calm area which has plenty to keep kids entertained.

Adventure

Hiking and rock climbing are popular in Devon, along with surfing along the stunning coastlines. It's also a great idea to go canoeing on the River Dart. There are a number of companies that can provide all the equipment required to ride on the river. A hot air balloon ride across the county is a stunning, slightly calmer way to see the scenery.

Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

The southwestern English county of Devon has English as its official language. Celtic was once spoken in Devon, alongside Cornwall and Breton. However, residents today speak fluent English, although there is a clear Devon accent - and this will make some visitors think of farmers while others might associate it more with the Hollywood interpretation of pirates.

Currency

The official currency is the pound sterling, made up of 100 pennies. As with the rest of the country, this is the only currency accepted in Devon. Other currencies can be changed at banks and post offices, and both offer similar rates. ATMs can be found throughout Devon, in all of the main towns and even in rural areas. Credit cards are accepted in large shops and restaurants, but some small seaside businesses do not have card facilities, so it's best to carry cash and cards to cover all eventualities.

Visas

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals can visit the UK without a visa for a stay of unlimited duration. Citizens of many other countries, including the US, can visit visa-free for a stay of up to six months while others require a visa. International visitors will also need a valid passport for the duration of their trip.

Climate

The weather across England tends to be mild in the summer and cold in winter. However, Devon sees a lot more sunshine than the rest of the country. In the summer, July and August, temperatures can hit the 19°C mark. In the winter, between December and January, they can drop to 2°C but snow is rare this far south. England is known for its wet weather and rain is common regardless of the season - but it is well prepared too, and local businesses will not be surprised if you duck into their doorway out of a downpour. Try to make it to the nearest public house if it looks like rain, as you can be assured of a warm welcome from the landlord or landlady.

Main Airports

There are two main airports in the county. Exeter International Airport is the largest airport in Devon, with Plymouth City Airport the second largest. Exeter International has daily charter flights from many UK airports, including Leeds-Bradford, Glasgow and Newcastle. There are also regular services during the summer from Germany, France and Spain.

Flight Options

Flybe and EasyJet operate most of the regional flights to Exeter International. For international flights, Air France is one of the main providers from mainland Europe and in the summer months, there's a significant increase in both regional and international flights. Flybe offers flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Exeter International, and EasyJet flies from Newcastle.

Travel Advice

Flybe is the main airline serving Devon but good deals with other airlines can be found. Prices can get expensive in the summer season, along with hotel rates, and can get booked up fast. Visiting outside of the school holidays can save you money flight-wise, and June and September are still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors but without the rise in prices or crowds.

Other Transport Options

Although there are no flights from London, First Great Western offers a high-speed train service to St David's Station in Exeter from London Paddington Station. There are many services each day and the journey takes around 2 hours, 30 minutes. Buying a train ticket in advance can save an enormous amount of money, with tickets sometimes being one-third of the price with advance reservations.

Getting Around

The county of Devon is easy to get around. The roads are in good condition and span from the big cities right to the small coastal villages. Buses and trains run daily, with the latter a great way of seeing the scenery.

Bus

First Group and Stagecoach operate the main bus services in Devon. They offer services across the county and even to the smallest of villages. Service is cheap and comfortable.

Car

Car rentals are reasonably priced and easy to arrange. Those wishing to hire a vehicle will need to be 21 years old or over and will need to show a valid driving licence. Firms such as Avis, Hertz and Europcar have depots at the main airports and towns. Most travel agents can also assist visitors. Ecocars hires eco-friendly vehicles at Totnes train station.

Train

Taking the train is a great way to see the stunning scenery across the county. The railway links many of the small villages and towns, and parts run along the coast, making for beautiful journeys. Tarka Line and Tamar Valley Line are local lines, with Exeter's two stations (St Davids and Central) the termination or starting point for most trips.

DEVON`S WEATHER TODAY

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MAP

FACTS

  1. Exmouth in East Devon marks the beginning of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning nearly 100 miles of coastline known for the discovery of dinosaur fossils.
  2. The first complete example of an Ichthyosaur was found on the coast here, by Mary Anning.
  3. The Jurassic Coast also has the highest point on Britain's south coast, the 191m Golden Cap between Bridport and Charmouth, named for the golden greensand rock visible at the very top of the bluff.

FACTS

  1. Exmouth in East Devon marks the beginning of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning nearly 100 miles of coastline known for the discovery of dinosaur fossils.
  2. The first complete example of an Ichthyosaur was found on the coast here, by Mary Anning.
  3. The Jurassic Coast also has the highest point on Britain's south coast, the 191m Golden Cap between Bridport and Charmouth, named for the golden greensand rock visible at the very top of the bluff.

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