If you’re looking for the best towns to stay in Devon, you’ve come to the right place. Devon is one of the nation’s go-to destinations for sun, sea and sand. The county’s beautiful countryside is sandwiched between a vast array of sunny beaches on its north and south coasts which make it the ideal choice for your cottage getaway.
With ample opportunities for walking, climbing, golf, horse riding and even more adventurous pursuits such as rock climbing and kayaking, Devon is an excellent region in which to get outdoors. And for the less sporty among you? There’s enough city-life and coffee culture to keep everyone happy.
With so much on offer, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you decide the best place to stay to ensure you have a trip to remember. If you see anywhere you like, why not make a trip of it, with one of the best holiday cottages in Devon.
Best for: Seaside and nature
The popular resort town of Torquay has everything you need for a perfect seaside holiday. The nearby beaches are some of the most impressive in South Devon and have led to the region being nicknamed the ‘English Riviera’. Once you’ve relaxed on the beach, there are also plenty of attractions to enjoy.
Berry Pomeroy Castle and Compton Castle are both nearby and are fantastic days out for all the family. The ever-popular Babbacombe Model Village is also just a few miles away and its miniature versions of famous British landmarks have to be seen! In the town centre, there are also a wide array of cafes and restaurants to enjoy after a busy day of sightseeing.
Torquay is also in a perfect location for nature lovers. Nearby Living Coasts is a coastal zoo and aquarium which offers discounts for families and large groups and the Berry Head Nature Reserve offers some wilder natural wonders to enjoy.
The best place to drink: The Prestige Cocktail Club is a stylish and grown-up bar that offers a great selection of wine and inventive takes on classic cocktails. Large groups are encouraged to phone ahead to see if there is an area available to book but the bar is spacious enough to also be a perfect spot for a romantic drink for two.
The best place to eat: Bistrot Pierre is housed in a bright and modern space overlooking the bay. The menu offers classic French dishes and fresh takes on local favourites. Service is superb and staff are sure to ensure you get the best available table to enjoy the sea views.
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Best for: Activities and relaxation
Ashburton is the largest town within the Dartmoor National Park but can still guarantee relaxation and calm. There are some fantastic adventure activities and walks to enjoy from this convenient location and the town is also known for its great selection of antique shops.
If looking to get out on to the Moors, you can enjoy a guided tour on foot or by electric bike with Rides This Way. The excellent guides will be more than happy to suggest the best route for your interests and ability and the electric bikes make light work of Dartmoor’s hills!
Once you’ve spent some time adventuring amongst the Dartmoor Ponies on the Moors, why not take things a little slower with a trip out on the river with Winding River Canoe tours. They company offer a wide range of different trips and the friendly and welcoming guides are on hand to help you paddle away from the stresses of everyday life.
The best place to drink: Based on the famous 1902 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel, the Hound of the Baskervilles is a themed bar and cafe that is sure to delight fans of Sherlock Holmes. Housed in a beautiful stone cottage, the bar offers a great selection of drinks and is dog-friendly so you can bring your own hound to enjoy the weird and wonderful decor!
The best place to eat: The local chefs at the Old Library are passionate about supporting Devon’s farmers and tradesmen and prioritise serving locally sourced food. The modern European meu is smart but unpretentious and for the quality of cooking involved, fantastic value for money.
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Best for: Alternative living and shopping
Totnes is the South West’s hippie paradise. Known for its alternative vibe, Totnes leads by example, with a fantastic concentration of independent shops and cafes focusing on organic, fairtrade and ethical produce.
The weekly market in Civil Hall Square is a must visit for food lovers. Time your visit with the third Sunday of the month and you’ll find the square transformed into Devon’s largest Good Food Market!
The town also boasts its very own castle and backs onto the River Dart, so expect a range of riverside leisure activities laid out at your feet.
Best place to drink: The Dartmouth Inn is a great spot to unwind after a busy day shopping. Conveniently located in the centre of town, the pub offers a great selection of beers, wines and spirits and prides itself on its wide selection of speciality gins.
Best place to eat: The award-winning Riverford Field Kitchen is a farm restaurant that specialises in celebrating organic ingredients grown in the surrounding field and gardens. Unsurprisingly, fresh vegetables take centre stage here so the menu is fantastic for vegetarians and vegans.
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Best for: Coastal scenery
On the North Devon Coast, Ilfracombe is nestled in the corner of Exmoor National Park and the North Devon Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty. The South West Coast Path is the perfect way to enjoy the spectacular surrounding scenery and there is plenty on offer in the town itself to keep the whole family busy.
Backed by the rugged cliffs of the Atlantic coast, there is also a lot of beauty to be found in town, with its charming natural harbour and elegant Victorian architecture.
For the foodies out there, check out Fore Street and around the harbour for high quality restaurants celebrating local produce. If you’re looking for a slice of culture, pop by the Landmark Theatre overlooking the seafront.
Best place to drink: Nestled on the quayside, Open Up Wine Bar has fantastic views out to sea and is a wonderful place to relax with a cold drink. In addition to the impressive selection of wines and lager, the bar also offers lovely spritzers to enjoy as you watch the world go by.
Best place to eat: Giovanni & Luca’s is an authentic Italian restaurant offering superb pizzas, pastas and risottos. The Italian staff are known for their friendly and welcoming service and are always on hand to talk you through the fantastic daily specials on offer.
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Best for: Watersports
With its back to the scenic River Dart and the English Channel further beyond, Dartmouth is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Devon. You can explore winding Elizabethan streets and the vast amount of shopping opportunity at your feet before jumping down to the water for boat trips and fishing.
The River is a real haven for watersports and you can try your hand at kayaking or paddle boarding. Dartmouth is also the perfect base for the South West Coast Path, meaning a good old fashioned hike has never been easier or more accessible.
Best place to drink: The George and the Dragon has recently undergone a fantastic renovation and now boasts the only beer garden in town. The drinks menu here offers all of your favourites and the friendly and relaxed atmosphere is the perfect spot to unwind after a busy day out on the water.
Best place to eat: The spectacular seafood at Bushell’s Riverside is the not to be missed. This family run restaurant has deep ties with the local fishing community and the simple and elegant cooking focuses on celebrating the finest produce from the surrounding waters.
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Best for: Sailing
Based in the South Hams district of Devon, Salcombe is as near to a tropical English seaside as you’re going to get. If you want your waters deep turquoise and sands golden – this is the place for you! Salcombe is Devon’s sailing capital and is perfect for those of you looking for likeminded yachties.
In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the town has superb local food with a number of beach-view restaurants. You can take a walk along the South West Coast Path but don’t feel bad if you don’t end up getting your hike-on, Salcombe is the perfect resting stop to sit down and enjoy the sunshine. We recommend a visit down to Hope Cove Beach – great for exploring rock pools and having a pleasant dog-walk on the sands.
Best place to drink: Nestled away from the bustling high street, the Fortescue Inn has a great selection of beers, wines and spirits to enjoy. You can hear the lapping water down by the estauray when sat in the beer garden and the staff at this characterful pub always offer a warm welcome.
Best place to eat: Housed in a 1920s beach hut, the Winking Prawn is close enough to the North Sands that you can wander up in your swimsuit. This family friendly spot is always buzzing and offers old favourites like a bucket of prawns and fish and chips as well as a fantastic kids menu.
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