Sharing its borders with Somerset, Cornwall and Dorset, Devon offers an equally beautiful but potentially less busy holiday spot than some of its neighbours.

A largely rural county, it’s filled to the brim with beautiful coastline, countryside, and an abundance of luxury seaside cottages to boot.

So what can you do when you get there? Here are our picks for the top 10 things to do in Devon.

For more ideas, have a look at our Devon Guide.

1. Devonshire cream tea

Is it really a trip to the South West if you don’t try the scones? If you venture out for tea and a sweet treat, you are sure to become embroiled in the well-known local rivalry between Cornish and Devonshire cream teas.

When in Devon, do as the locals do. This means slathering the crumbly base with clotted cream before spreading the jam. We recommend the Badger’s Holt tearooms for their traditional offering. Here the scones arrive warm, freshly-baked, wedged and as big as cakes, with vegan and gluten-free versions available.

Cream Tea with scones and a cup of tea
Devils Cauldron

2. White Lady Waterfall at Lydford Gorge

It’s tempting to think of Devon as a land of green fields and sandy beaches. However, the county has a varied landscape, which makes it a great choice for hikers.

The Lydford Gorge River trail, belonging to the National Trust, is a brilliant pick if you want to walk through dense, verdant, wildlife-laden woodland. Likened to an English rainforest, the star attractions of the steep gorge are the River Lyd and the tumbling White Lady Waterfall. The latter could make you feel like you’re almost anywhere in the world.

3. A day out in Princetown

When visiting Devon’s best sights, you’ll almost certainly end up on Dartmoor at some point. Perhaps it’s for a stroll around the moody landscape or to see the National Park’s famous wild ponies.

Up in the high moorland, you’ll also find Princetown, where you can embark on a Sherlock Holmes-inspired trek. Take the Hound of the Baskervilles walk and stop by the old Duchy Hotel, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stayed and began writing the spooky story.

Dartmoor Ponies
Stone bridge over the river in Dartmeet

4. Watch where rivers meet

One of the most popular things to do in Devon is visit Dartmeet – a scenic spot where the East and West Dart rivers meet. Nestled in yet another lush, green valley, it’s truly gorgeous and a quintessential Devonshire destination.

As well as more great walking routes, it’s an ideal place for a holiday photo. On good weather and low river level days, you can venture out onto the ‘stepping stones’ and pose before carefully crossing over.

Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for dragonflies, butterflies, kingfishers and otters, too.

5. Plymouth’s seafront and Smeaton’s Tower

Plymouth, know as ‘Britain’s Ocean City’ has a lot more to offer for a day out than it gets credit for. As well as being surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches, there’s the Plymouth Hoe. This promenade offers seaside within the city itself, as well as a lido, which overlooks Drake’s Island and is available to tour.

The seafront aside, there is a lovely cobbled area full of independent cafes and restaurants, as well as harbour-side pubs and theatres. The is also the option to take a Plymouth Gin Distillery tour and pose in front of the red and white Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse memorial.

Smeaton´s Tower
Exeter Cathedral

6. Exeter Cathedral and Canal

Another great Devonian city is Exeter, an ancient outpost dating back to the Roman era. Now a bustling university city surrounded by ancient walls, it also boasts a Norman castle and the grand Exeter Cathedral.

There is plenty of opportunity for culture vultures to inspect history, art and museums in Exeter. Make sure you take the chance to pack up a picnic, rent a boat and go rowing down the canal as well.

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7. Devon’s best beaches

There are many brilliant beaches to choose from in Devon, so try to find an unspoilt, quiet spot. There is no need to squeeze into the same sandy spaces as everyone else while staying here.

Some of our favourites are Bigbury Beach, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is home to golden sands and popular with families, the famous Saunton Sands, and Bantham Beach for great surfing. Just remember to pack your bucket and spade.

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Beer Beach
Saltram House and gardens

8. Stop by Saltram ‘house’

It wouldn’t be a top 10 list if it didn’t include a National Trust estate to visit. Saltram is the pick of the bunch in our opinion: a gorgeous white Georgian mansion set back in lovely green space.

This mansion offers a great day out for everyone, with a secret garden, a park, orange groves, cycling trails and lots of dog walks, as well as the indoor art and antique collections. It’s also close enough to make a day of it at other beauty spots such as Wembury cliffs and Plymbridge Woods.

9. Babbacombe Model Village

For something a little bit quirky, head to Babbacome for the miniature village and railway. Be a giant for a day as you explore the tiny world and its landscape, set across four acres of gardens.

As well as model scenes, the devil is in the detail with cars and people included too. If you get tired, head to the cafe for snacks and refreshments before returning after dark for the evening illuminations, which will bathe the little world in colourful lights.

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Model Railway Station And Train
Buckfast Abbey

10. Buckfast Abbey

Buckfast Abbey is located in a picturesque valley at the edge of Dartmoor National Park. This historic abbey is still a place of worship today, and home to a community of Roman Catholic monks.

The original abbey was founded in the 11th century by the Viking King Cnut. Today the abbey offers visitors access to its beautiful building and gardens. You can also enjoy lunch in the restaurant or buy a souvenir or two in the shop.

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