Devon holidays

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Experience Devon

Best Places to Visit

Unspoilt coastlines and undulating countryside, Devon boasts a scene unlike anywhere else in the country. From the busy seaside fare of Torquay harbour to the tranquil marshlands of Exmoor National Park, Devon is a magnet for those looking to get away from the stresses of everyday life.

For some of the best sight-seeing spots on your Devon holiday, head to Plymouth. Situated just below the Tamar Valley, this lively port city is home to a host of family-friendly entertainment, such as museums, aquariums and seafront theatres.

If your family are keen animal-lovers, you’ll want to make the most of Dartmoor Zoological Park. Less than 20-minutes from Plymouth town centre, this pocket of the southwest not only boasts 30 acres of parkland, but also houses 70 different species of animals: from black jaguars to fluffy wallabies and bearded dragons.

Over on the other side of the moorlands you’ll find Exeter, a historic city teeming with some of the best family-friendly activities in the South West. Climbing centres and underground tunnels, such as those along Romangate Passage, are bound to keep the little ones entertained.

However, if you really want to have the whole family grinning from ear to ear on your family holiday to Devon, you should visit the largest theme park in the county, Crealy Adventure Park. With more than 60 rides to choose from (mini rollercoasters and wet-and-wild log flumes are some of the favourites) and more than 200 animals in Crealy’s zoo, you’ll struggle to tear the little ones away when home time comes around.

Carry on your journey south towards the coast and you’ll come across Torquay, a premium seaside town lauded for it faultless surfing conditions. When you’re not making the most of the amazing surf, we recommend one of Torquay’s best-loved coastal attractions, Living Coasts. This all-weather zoo and aquarium is home to macaroni penguins, puffins, bizarre four-eyed fish, and more.

Around two hours away from Torquay’s seafront is Ilfracombe, a picturesque seaside town which boasts a treasure trove of blissful beach-side activities. Here families can take to the water on a Sea Safari or kayak along Combe Martin Beach. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to keep your feet on firm ground, there are the Tunnels Beaches to enjoy. This secluded network of caves is a must-see, if not for the incredible underground sights, but for the pin-drop peaceful beach which rests in its own horseshoe-shaped cove.

If you’d feel more comfortable in hiking boots than a swimsuit, you will find plenty of fantastic walking trails to discover on a package holiday to Devon. For some of the most breath-taking sights in the county, head eastwards to Exmoor National Park. Here you will find the world’s steepest water-powered railway, a pretty butterfly trail, and Dunster Castle, a fortress fit for a fairy-tale.

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Top Landmarks

Package holidays to Devon have no end of stunning scenery; there are several areas of outstanding natural beauty, along with 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 on Devon holidays. 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. Comedy clubs are popular during holidays to Devon, 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.

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

From traditional family-owned fare to large-scale eateries, Devon is awash with family-friendly restaurants.

For some of the best family fare on your Devon holiday, head to South Molton where traditional country cafés sit alongside British gastropubs, such as The Grove Inn. With plenty of rustic meals served up in child-sized portions, you certainly won’t struggle to find great food in this little town.

Plus, when it’s time to get some fresh air after lunch, there is plenty to explore. One of the most popular attractions is the Quince Honey Farm. This un-bee-lievable exhibition gives visitors an intimate look at bee colonies in their hives (don’t worry, you won’t get stung)! There’s even a chance to buy some yummy pots of freshly-made honey to take home as souvenirs.

If you’re looking to grab a quick bite on your holiday in Devon, just use your nose: the doughy aroma from local bakeries is rarely far away. Freshly baked treats, such as puffed-up pies and flaky pastries, are common across the region, but it’s the traditional Devonshire scones that visitors really go gaga for. Served up with local clotted cream and a side of strawberry jam, Devonshire scones satisfy even the fussiest of diners.

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 Warren 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

Bigbury-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.

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Need to know

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

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

Flight Options

A couple of airlines operate most of the regional flights to Exeter International. For international flights, travellers will find a choice of providers from mainland Europe and, in the summer months, there's a significant increase in both regional and international flights. Planes fly from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle to Exeter International.

Travel Advice

A range of flight deals can be found for holidays to Devon. 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, a high-speed train service is available 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

A number of operators run 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 have depots at the main airports and towns. Most travel agents can also assist visitors.

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.

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FACTS

  1. Exmouth in East Devon marks the beginning of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning more than 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 more than 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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