Whether you fancy a fun-packed family break or a back-to-nature adventure, holidays in England's Devon deliver it all. Travellers of all ages will find rewarding things to do — from finding fossils to roaming many of the beautiful national parks. England's glorious southwest has a lot to offer, and Devon is the perfect place for an unforgettable staycation. Here is our list of the best things to do in Devon.
Covering some 365 square miles of southcentral Devon, Dartmoor is one of Britain’s great wilderness areas - a haunting place of rugged grandeur, menacing moorland, and wooded valleys speckled with secluded villages. And with around 2000 Bronze Age sites dating back to 4000 BC, it’s as rewarding for history buffs as it is for ramblers.
The eastern gateway to the moor is Bovey Tracey, a small pleasant town with its main street running up the hillside. Another must-see sight is Hay Tor. Reached via a relatively short walk from Widecombe road, the climb to the summit is steep, but more than worth the effort for the panoramic views.
What do you think are the hidden gems of the United Kingdom? See what our readers voted the most underrated places in the UK.
For further geological wonders, you won’t want to miss Kent’s Cavern is a network of limestone caves created by underground rivers some two million years ago. The best of the 80,000 archaeological artefacts found here are now housed in Torquay Museum.
Ready to immerse yourself in the history of England? Our tailor-made trip service makes travelling easy by taking care of the planning and booking. Our England Historical Highlights trip takes you from Buckingham Palace to the mysterious Stonehenge. Our trips are crafted by local travel experts and are completely customisable.
Comprising over 500 acres of protected grassland, sand dunes and mudflats, Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is home to over 600 different species of plants and over 23,000 wildfowl and wading birds, for whom the warren is a migratory hotspot. With rarities recorded here including the Broad-billed Sandpiper and Stone Curlew, it’s little wonder the reserve is beloved by bird-watchers.
To experience the area in all its golden-sanded, red-cliffed glory, follow the South West Coast Path from Dawlish Warren to Dawlish. With a path that clings to the crimson cliffs as it follows the train line along the coast, taking this trail between the two towns is a truly top thing to do Devon.
England has a lot to offer for travellers. Read our list of the best things to do in England.
Other Totnes treats include the castle, Totnes Elizabethan House and Museum, and the Guildhall, where Oliver Cromwell sat in 1646 after taking the town for the Parliamentarians. With almost one thousand years of history to explore through fascinating exhibits, this handsome building (it's set behind a pillared portico) still houses monthly council meetings.
Ready to see the best parts of the United Kingdom? Don't miss our guide to the best road trips in the UK.
Located in the 1680-built Custom House, the Quayside’s visitor’s centre hosts arts and cultural events alongside an exhibition of Exeter’s 2000 years of history. It’s also home to an excellent indoor antiques market (a treasure trove of everything from art deco jewellery and Victorian parasols, to vintage postcards and mid-century glassware) and scenic waterside bars and restaurants. Perched in a 19th-century warehouse on the edge of the water, the appropriately named On the Waterfront is a great spot to sip cocktails and people-watch.
Dreaming of getting out of the city? Our tailor-made trip service allows you to go on the trip of your dreams without the planning or hassle. Our Refreshing English Countryside Break trip will take you through picturesque villages, patchwork hills, and winding country roads. Our trips are completely customisable and are crafted by local craft experts.
Designed by a student of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this Grade II listed site is the UK's only fully water powered railway. In fact, there are only three of its kind in the entire world, and this is the highest and the steepest of the lot. Hands down, taking a trip aboard the Lynmouth Cliff Railway is one of the best things to do in Devon if you’re travelling with children. What’s more, the Cliff Top Café is arguably the most scenic spot in Devon to enjoy a traditional cream tea.
Parents with kids in tow would do well to head to Ilfracombe’s Tunnels Beaches. After a short walk through the creepy caves, little ones will love splashing in the safe tidal pool and exploring the rock pools. More family-friendly fun can be had at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park. With full-size dinosaur models in the woods, a Dino Express train ride, plus plenty of wildlife - including sea lions, lions, penguins and meerkats - it’s a guaranteed winner.
For more ideas about what to see and do in Devon, take a look at our Rough Guide to Devon and Cornwall. If you travel further within England, you won't want to miss our Rough Guide to England. Read more about the best time to go, the best places to visit and best things to do in England.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to England without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
We may earn a commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.
Header image: Totnes panorama © Samot/Shutterstock