Never been to Devon before? Well, there are many reasons to visit this lovely county. The picturesque view, the allure of its two beautiful coastlines, National parks and five acclaimed Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Who wouldn’t want to be in Devon?
History and Heritage
First of all, let’s dive into a little history, shall we? Devon is a county bordered by two water bodies; the English Channel in the south and the Bristol Channel in the North. It is bounded by Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. Its county town is the city of Exeter.
It gets its name from the early Britons who settled in the Southwestern peninsula of Britain at the time of the Roman conquest. They were called Dumnonii, believed to mean “dwellers of the deep valley”. In proto Celtic, “dubnos” means ‘deep’ and the Cornish word, Dewnens translates to “deep valley”.
Full of historic sights, Devon is home to Castle Drogo, the youngest castle in England. You will find it filled with interesting architecture and surrounded by stunning walks. Other historical houses and buildings to explore include the Powderham Castle, Buckfast Abbey and Exeter Cathedral.
There is also an abundance of historic tors and landmarks strewn all around Dartmoor and Exmoor, including attractions like Plymouth’s Smeaton’s Tower and South Devon railway in Buckfastleigh. Or do you love walking trails? Devon doesn’t disappoint. From the Exeter Woollen Trail at the city centre, to The Tarka Trail in Bideford. You’ll be spoiled for choice at what to see and do.
Please read on to dive into the details of this amazing county.
Explore Devon: Places to Visit
Are you a big fan of golden beaches, rocky moors, lively cities, pretty villages and serene seaside towns? Devon checks all that and more.
As mentioned, some parts of Devon, Exeter in particular, go back as far as the times of the Romans. In fact, most of the Roman walls remain till this day. But it also prides itself in the fabulous high street scene, side streets paved with cobbled stones, independent shops and boutiques. If you want a quiet getaway with a cultural flair and lots of options for fashion therapy, Exeter is your choice location.
The English Riviera: Torquay, Paignton and Brixham
The trio of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, also known as, the English Riviera, present an interesting range of options for places to relax and things to do. Thanks to its breezy palm trees, beaches and air of family vacation.
The Riviera is rich in maritime history and hosts a number of festivals and sporting events, as well as its own regatta. There are restaurants where you can tuck yourself with delicious delights, and a UNESCO-approved Geopark where visitors can enjoy seeing a unique ecosystem. Exeter promises a variety of unusual activities for tourists to get involved in.
Other places worth checking out include South Devon, Plymouth, North Devon, Exmoor and Dartmoor. Each place with its own promise of a beautiful experience.
Devon offers tourists a lot of picturesque scenery and culture-rich attractions guaranteed to lure you back again and again.
You don’t get to have two coastlines without stealing away some seaside beauty. Devon beaches are scenic, full of character and abundant. The beaches have also won awards for being extremely child-friendly. With its long stretches of sand, clean waters, rock pools, Devon’s beaches are perfect for a family vacation.
- Arts & Crafts
The people of Devon are mighty artsy. Drawing inspiration from the beautiful surroundings, many of us like to build stuff, paint, sculpt and sew…and of course display the art for all to see. Are you down on a creative block? Devon might just be the place to get back your mojo. There are also kiddies’ attractions such as art galleries and workshops where they can watch professionals do their thing.
- Theme parks
Theme parks are never a dull moment, and Devon knows how to make them. With the number of theme parks varying in size, from big to small, quirky and wild, you’ll find something for you. It doesn’t matter what you call them, fun parks, adventure land and the activity parks, they all have something in common. Fun. Look up the different theme parks available and add some to your itinerary.
- Zoos and Aquarium
People with a rich love for aquatic flora/fauna are in for a treat because Devon is literally dotted with zoos and aquariums. Wildlife enthusiasts can’t help but spend time at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, or the smaller Paighton Zoo. They make for edutaining experiences especially with children around. If you want to interact with local and exotic animals, come over to Devon, you won’t be disappointed.
- Castles and Forts
Devon’s rich cultural heritage and stories of wealthy landowners and lords, attracts people with an interest for medieval-era landmarks. These not-so-honest lords built castles and forts to protect their hard-earned (or ill-gotten) gains. While some date back centuries, other are relatively young in existence. And there are castles and forts in fabulous shape, as well as those in interesting ruins. Are you a castle chaser? Check out Totnes castle or Okehampton castle.
- Vineyard and breweries
Devon is widely renowned for its award-winning drinks, including cider, beer and wine. Devon’s favourite brew is cider, there’s no secret about it. Famous for its brewing prowess, Devon’s excellence in cider production has earned it a darling reputation among enthusiasts worldwide. There’s something for every kind of drinker, from flat to strong scrumpy and a light brew with a little fizz.
There are great beers brewed in specialised breweries, and served in Devon’s popular restaurants and pubs. And they never disappoint at the annual beer and cider festivals. While you are there, check out the vineyards. You’ll taste some of the best reds and roses there are.
- Parks and gardens
Almost all Devonians have green fingers. With the stunning gardens available, it is easy to develop a gardening streak yourself. Great green parks mean child-friendly environment. You may choose to relax on the park bench with a good book or have a picnic with the children. From big to small, you’ll find your preferred garden park.
Food and drinks
Foodies will have a field’s day here. With an abundance of prime food ingredients, you can understand why there are hordes of quality and award-winning restaurants in Devon. The county has also seen a high influx of top-chefs who are beginning to set up shop. Their inspiration, no doubt, is the quality of farm-fresh produce they can work with. Visitors are guaranteed an unforgettable range of mouth-watering meals.
One of UK’s well-respected chefs, Michael Caines owns Michael Caines at The Coach House, a dreamy restaurant on North Devon. Devon also has a number of Michelin-rated restaurants, as well as, trendy celebrity chef restaurants near South Devon and Plymouth.
However, Devon isn’t only a hub of fancy restaurants and diners (even though they shine at those). In the county villages, towns and city centres there are laid-back restaurants, celebration restaurants, beachside restaurants, pub restaurants and much more.
- Seafood restaurant
As a coastline county, Devon’s has a rich seafood culture. With delicious fresh fish and shellfish, you’ll surely find some of the UK’s favourite seafood restaurants here. Think sweet, tenderised freshly-cooked scallops or a chunky sized mackerel.
- Specialty restaurants
Devon may have many traditional restaurants and pubs, but it also has a number of specialty restaurants. It large fields and excellent green leafy vegetables are signs that it is a great location for vegan, vegetarians or anyone just looking to eat healthy. For example, Riverford Field Kitchen by Totnes, offers lean and green meals for the healthy feeder.
And there are the exotic options for people looking to treat themselves to dishes across the globe from Chinese, to Nepalese, Moroccan, Spanish fusion and much more.
Festivals and events
Like any other city in the UK, Devon is not without its big events. The county may be known for its serene, tranquil nature but when it comes to events, they know how to organise a world-class kind.
Every year, Devon has a slew of events set up to engage its residents and tourists.
Big fireworks: Every August, Plymouth waterfront is the venue of the stupefying British Fireworks Championships. This two-day event welcomes visitors and tourists from all walks or life.
Big music: Music bring hearts together. Many music lovers flock to Devon every year, for its culturally rich music events. The ones with the largest crowds are Goldcost Oceanfest in June, Croyde’s tree-day waterfront music and beach sports events, organises by MTV (July/August).
Big flaming tar barrels: “Remember, remember the 5th of November,” is the chant of Guy Fawkes fans who reprise his attempt at blowing up the parliament by lighting up some flame barrels of their own. It is usual a raving event…literally.
Other events include the food festivals which are guaranteed to bring out the sweet-tooth in you, and the Big sports events where everybody puts on their jockstraps and get competitive.
By now you probably can’t wait to visit Devon? By all means do, you won’t regret it.