Glorious Devon, with its rolling landscape dotted with sheep, unspoilt coastline, sandy beaches, rugged moorland, and quaint picture-postcard villages, is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing break soaking up the stunning scenery.
Glorious Devon, with its rolling green landscape dotted with sheep, long stretches of unspoilt coastline, golden sandy beaches, rugged moorland, and quaint picture-postcard villages, is one of the most popular holiday cottage destinations in the UK, whatever the season.
However, there's more to Devon than stunning scenery. Over the years, the county has attracted an exceptional selection of locally grown food and drink producers, ranging from the old Devon favourites you'd expect (pasties, scones, fudge, and of course cider!) to some slightly more unexpected delights, including vineyards and even chilli farms, which thrive in the mild South West climate.
In addition to the culinary treats, a holiday in Devon is a great opportunity to get active outside to make the most of the beautiful scenery. With hundreds of miles of magnificent South West Coast Path fringing the county, an invigorating coastal walk is one of the easiest and quickest ways to reconnect with the outdoors (and it’s free!). Yet there are so many things to see and do in Devon that you'll find it hard to squeeze it everything into one holiday! From surfing to horse-riding, and stately homes to theme parks, you'll find something for the whole family, whatever their ages and preferences.
Whether you’re planning a family holiday, a romantic getaway, or a break with your dog, we're sure to have a holiday cottage that's just right for you. From large holiday homes (with or without a pool) perfectly suited for group holidays, to quirky, romantic seaside cottages-for-two, if you’re looking to escape the stresses of everyday life and enjoy a truly tranquil break, a holiday cottage in Devon offers the perfect base to make the most of your time away with loved ones, and will have you coming back year after year!
Few areas of the UK, or even Europe, have a lure greater than beautiful South Devon. Dramatic Dartmoor gives way to rolling hills, wooded valleys and stunning coastline that never fails to leave visitors wishing they could stay just that little bit longer. While away days in market towns and villages that have retained their tradition whilst now offering great dining and excellent shopping, or leave the townships behind and head to any one of the outstanding sandy beaches that dot the South Devon coast.
A holiday in North Devon offers the best of both worlds: fantastic access to the stunning Atlantic coastline and also the chance to explore the wild beauty of the moors. Sandwiched between Exmoor and Dartmoor, each with its own distinctive picturesque landscape, they offer the perfect escape for nature lovers, walkers, riders, families and dog owners looking to relax and unwind far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Picturesque East Devon is perfectly positioned on the world famous Jurassic Coast, offering stunning coastal walks and fossil hunting opportunities, an abundance of pretty towns and villages along the East Devon and neighbouring Dorset coastline, easy access to the vibrant Cathedral City of Exeter, and great positioning for reaching Dartmoor or the South Devon coast on a day trip.
Dartmoor is a hub for all kinds of outdoor pursuits from walking and cycling to horse riding and climbing to make the most of the stunning wild and bleak scenery. If you're planning to head off the beaten track it’s always advisable to have a map, compass and sensible clothing as the weather can change rapidly. If the fog descends, you will soon understand why this place inspired the spine-tingling tales of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles! And if you’re not feeling quite so energetic, it's also a fantastic place to simply get some fresh air, and dip your toes in a stream, or sit back and enjoy a Devon cream tea.
Dartmoor Zoological Park is a 30-acre zoological garden located near the village of Sparkwell, on the south-west edge of Dartmoor. It was the subject of the book and hollywood film We Bought a Zoo, which has gained the Zoo world wide fame. However the personal charm and up-close feel to the whole park has not disappeared.
On an industrial estate close to Plymouth, Plymouth Karting is the ultimate playground for grown ups and nearly grown ups complete with indoor and outdoor karting, combat gaming and laser tag. This is your chance to get involved with the latest in motor-sports with features including challenging circuits, separate adult and children or family sessions, a coffee lounge and spectator area, LCD screening to detail scoring, washroom facilities and free parking, and exclusive booking for birthdays and special events available. You can just turn up but it’s advisable to phone ahead to check availability, particularly in larger groups. All equipment, clothing and safety information is provided but do wear trainers rather than flip-flops or sandals, and remember that children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
An award winning family attraction in Exeter, Crealy Great Adventure Park is set in 100 acres of Devon countryside and offers something for kids of all ages. Easy to get to off the M5, the park is home to more than 100 animals, 30 outdoor attractions and other activities including rides, soft play, animal petting and seasonal events and shows. There’s a dog kennel that guests can use for the family pet for a £20 key deposit, but do bring your own bowls, blankets and toys and remember to book in advance. There are lockers available for personal items, wheelchairs for hire, and you can validate your ticket to give you a free six-day return ticket for the week following your initial visit.
An award-winning, family owned attraction run by a team of volunteers, who aim to preserve endangered species of farm animals and the diversity of British wildlife, Totnes Rare Breeds Farm offers a personal service just outside Totnes. Surrounded by characteristically beautiful Devon countryside you can feed red squirrels, touch a hedgehog and watch the cheeky chipmunks before nipping to the Garden Café for coffees, teas, cakes or a light lunch – it’s a little slice of magic in South Devon. You can combine your ticket to also include the South Devon Steam Railway, as well as the Buckfast Butterfly and Otter Farm for added value, and they are open throughout the summer from 10am until 5pm (last entry at 4.30pm) but are closed for the winter from the end of October.
An exhibition of scaled down and full sized dinosaur models set in realistic scenes, Torquay's Dinosaur World is an opportunity for families to learn about these incredible creatures and what he world was like when they roamed the earth (we can just imagine them scaling the South Devon cliffs). An interactive experience where you can tough the displays and even sit on some of them, there is a Dinosaur Trail to walk, fossilized skulls to discover, and history to get your teeth into. Entry is just £6.95 per person although children under the age of two go for free and entry includes a Paleo Pass which allows named holders unlimited free re-entry for three months from your initial visit.
A light and bright café in a beautiful location overlooking the estuary. While the kids go crabbing you can sit and enjoy the views with lunch or a snack, accompanied perhaps by a locally brewed beer or Stoke Gabriel village Yarde cider.
Relax in the friendly atmosphere of this pub by the cosy log fire in the winter or outside overlooking the river in the warmer months. Enjoy Devon’s finest produce accompanied by good beer and wine. Children will enjoy paddling in the river as well as the play area. Dogs welcome.
Set in a beautiful location alongside Bow Creek and with a predominantly fish menu, this is a great place to enjoy some delicious food or a cold beer in the sunshine. Watch boats mooring, kayaks launching and children crabbing during the summer, or enjoy the cosy atmosphere and open fires in colder months.
Roughly one kilometre (20 minutes depending on your pace) from the National Trust car park at Ringmore, and with a selection of footpaths to get to it, Ayrmer Cove is a quiet secluded beach on the South West Coast Path.
For anyone on holiday in South Devon it’s a peaceful place to sit and contemplate the natural scenery amongst the shingle, pebbles and rock pools, admiring the cliffs. It makes for a beautiful destination to walk to from Ringmore itself, which is a small village (population 230) with views towards the cove itself as well as Bigbury Bay – it makes for a wonderful holiday cottage destination in South Devon as well as a place to visit as part of your day.
Walking to the beach allows you to discover the surrounding woodland, wildlife and history of the area – taking in old smugglers’ routes and hedgerows that have been in situ since the 1800s.
It is a little tricky to get to so it’s not ideal for wheelchairs, and there aren’t any toilets or facilities at the beach itself so if you want to stay for a little while don’t forget to take snacks or a picnic if the weather is right. This is all about enjoying the environment that’s such a proud part of the National Trust – it’s everything a holiday in Devon is about, and yes, dogs are permitted all year round and will very much enjoy the walk!
At the mouth of the Avon River, Bantham beach is easy to reach from Salcombe, Kingsbridge and our other favourite holiday home locations, as well as being a beautiful area to stay in its own right.
The beach looks out over Bigbury Bay and offers a wonderful view of Burgh Island, which is famous for its art deco hotel of the same name that has hosted Agatha Christie and Noel Coward amongst its illustrious guests an can reach by sea tractor.
Bantham beach has a popular reputation amongst both novice and advanced surfers, and as such there are lessons available from the Bantham Surfing Academy, which operates from the beach. They also offer other water sports including paddle boarding, and a day pottering up the Avon River on one of those when the tide is right, is a day well spent.
When the tide is out at Bantham the sandy beach reveals rock pools and great swathes of space so you can happily set up a picnic and stay there for the whole day. If the mood strikes, why not walk along the coast path towards Thurlestone around the corner, and South Milton Sands beyond that, particularly as it’s also a popular beach for dog owners? Just keep in mind that from 1st May until 30th September restrictions apply, so look out for signposts with more information.
If you’re spending the whole day on the beach it’s worth popping to the Gastrobus which is open seasonally in the car park, offering everything from freshly made baps to coffees, teas and cakes, or for a larger meal head the short walking distance to The Sloop Inn gastropub.
There is plenty of parking available by Bantham, with charges from £3.50 per day, so make sure you have change on you as it’s a bit tricky to find parking otherwise. There are toilets in the car park, and from May to October from 10am until 6pm there is also lifeguard cover on the beach. All in, Bantham has something to offer everyone throughout the year and is one of many beautiful locations to spend time while you’re in South Devon.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has visited that Bigbury on Sea is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Perfect for sand castles and rock pooling as well as tucking into lengthy summer picnics, it is an unusual beach to visit because the tide comes in from both sides. As a result, it is an endless source of fascination for children, not least for its sea tractor which provides transport from one end of the beach to the other in order to reach Burgh Island.
Burgh Island is connected to mainland England by the beach alone, it’s home to the famous art deco Burgh Island Hotel which has hosted Agatha Christie and Noel Coward since its incarnation in 1929, and has even made an appearance in the TV adaptation of Christie’s Poirot.
On a practical note there is on-site parking available close to the beach with daily charges from £3.50. Toilets and shower facilities with disabled access are also nearby, and lifeguards are present from May to September. The Venus café offers teas, coffees and other refreshments including the ice creams that are of such fundamental importance for a day at the beach. Meanwhile, dog lovers will be pleased to know that four legged friends are welcome at Bigbury on Sea, but restrictions apply from 1st May until 30th September.
Ultimately, Bigbury on Sea is a supremely beautiful location and fun family day out with abundant wildlife to enjoy and coastal footpaths to explore as well, making it a wonderful destination to visit on holiday in Devon, no matter what time of the year it is.
Between Dartmouth and Slapton, Blackpool Sands is a beautiful shingle bay on the South West Coast Path, surrounded by evergreens and pine trees. It really is a treasure of a beach to visit while you’re in the area. Award-winning, the privately owned, blue flag beach boasts a sense of being in the Mediterranean on a good day in the summer, although a good jumper never goes amiss in this part of the world! You will no doubt not be surprised to hear that it is in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, however it also boasts ample facilities and things to do. There are showers, toilets and disabled facilities, as well as paddle board, kayak and wetsuit hire available for those wishing to earn their visit to The Venus Beach Café, where light bites and refreshments are served. The Venus Shop also sells all the bits and pieces you might want for fun and games on the beach if you have forgotten them or are in need of extra buckets and spades. The water at Blackpool Sands is known for being clean and clear and tested by the Environment Agency, and lifeguards are on hand in the summer (July to September) so there’s every reason to pop in for a dip. However, dogs are not allowed on the beach in the high season (12th March to 30th October) so keep the walking for the cooler months. There is parking available at the beach with seasonal charges, and you can find out more information on those from the Blackpool Sands information line on 01803 771800. This beach is easy to get to and quite literally fun and games for the whole family, as well as a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year to take in the view!
Close to Kingsbridge, Challaborough Bay is a sandy beach in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that’s perfect for enjoying all the seaside activities nature can afford.
At low tide the beach is ideal for visiting families to build sandcastles and explore the rock pools, while the swells and shore breaks also attract surfers and bodyboarders. There are some beautiful walks along the coast path that surrounds it, heading towards Bigbury on Sea in particular.
Making it an ideal spot to spend the day, the beach has toilets, a café and a beach shop close by, although access is via steps and small paths so accessibility isn’t wheelchair friendly. There is a car park but it’s rather small, so it’s good to know that a 15-minute walk to Bigbury will see ample parking available – seasonal charges apply so remember to bring cash with you.
While four legged friends are welcome in the winter, they are not allowed on the beach between May and September, so do plan their walks with that in mind. It’s a lovely spot along the coast path to bring them to, you can even beach hop from one to the next!