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Seaside towns and country villages: a few of our favourites in Devon

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

5 min read

Devon is a delight: two national parks and a rugged beach-fringed landscape, miles of spectacular scenery and a ribbon of coastal path, and dotted throughout, a clutch of seaside towns and country villages. The county is best explored on two feet or two wheels or, even better, by boat. Watery delights abound, from paddle boarding to kayaking on sea and river, while foodies are expertly catered for. Indulge in cream teas (jam goes on top, in case you were wondering!), fresh fish, bustling markets, golden beaches and superb walks.

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Salcombe

Idyllic Salcombe’s steep, pastel-hued terraces tumble towards the mouth of the glittering Kingsbridge Estuary where boats bob and seabirds swoop. Further along the shoreline, deep wooded valleys hug the rugged cliffs of the National Trust’s Bolt Head, sandy little beaches wait to be explored and kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing and swimming are all on the cards. Up river, discover down-to-earth Kingsbridge, a charming market town with a waterfront of its own, informal meals at The Henley Hotel and fine dining at Twenty Seven, featured in the Michelin Guide. Boutique shops, independent cafes and sublime coastline walks tempt crowds in high summer, but off-season visits are quieter and utterly charming. 

Stay at No.2 Buckley Cottage, a charming hillside abode in a peaceful Devon hamlet, with three bedrooms, an idyllic sun terrace, and Salcombe an easy walk away.

Featured places to stay in Salcombe

No.2 Buckley Cottage

Lower Batson, Devon

  • From £175 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 3 rooms for 6

The Recording Studios

Salcombe, Devon

  • From £155 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 4 rooms for 12

Dorset House Salcombe

Salcombe, Devon

  • From £278 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 4 rooms for 8

Totnes

Vibrant Totnes is home to a thriving market hosted every Friday and Saturday 9am-4pm. It’s been part of the town’s history for hundreds of years and today it’s a colourful sight selling everything from locally-buzzed honey to delicious cakes; clothes, plants, antiques and a plethora of other treasures. There’s more too: a Norman castle, independent cafes and emporiums, and a super, mostly plant-based pub, The Bull Inn, serving interesting and delicious food all sourced as locally-as-can-be. Stroll along the river, paddleboard and kayak, cycle the Dart Valley Trail. 

Stay at 7 The Grove, a sunny B&B in the heart of Totnes with bright bedrooms and a sitting room, plus an enchanting garden with ponds and wildflower beds.

Featured places to stay in Totnes

7 The Grove

Totnes, Devon

  • From £90 p/n
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • 2 rooms for 2

Willows Rest

Totnes, Devon

  • From £500 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 6 rooms for 12

Dartington Hall

Totnes, Devon

  • From £76 p/n
  • Hotel
  • 36 rooms for 1 - 2

Appledore

With water glittering, glimmering and shimmering on three sides, you’ll easily slide into a feeling of calm in this ancient fishing village with a proud maritime history. Narrow lanes lead to the mouth of the estuary, the bustling quay, arguably the best ice cream in Devon, proper fish and chips, crabbing, boat trips and independent shops. This is the real English seaside. Potter around art galleries, dine in restaurants and pubs, join the coast path and visit Westward Ho!

Stay at Cornwallis, an 18th-century fisherman’s cottage with a garden at the end of a cobbled row, for happy seaside holidays with superb beaches nearby.

Featured places to stay in Appledore

Cornwallis

Appledore, Devon

  • From £112 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 3 rooms for 6

The Royal George

Appledore, Devon

  • From £90 p/n
  • Inn
  • 5 rooms for 2 - 4

Beer

Beer is small, neat and pretty, and it’s certainly worth straying away from Lyme Regis to discover the other end of the bay. Away from the crowds, you can tell local life thrives here year-round. With delightful sea views from every angle and, for its size, a surprising number of pubs, bars and restaurants, Beer is small yet mighty. Coast and country walks are endless, one of the best is the winding coastal path to Branscombe. It takes about an hour to stroll along the cliff path with valley views of the Jurassic Coast before descending 83 steep steps down to Branscombe Mouth. 

Stay at Acorn Cottage, a sweet, peaceful cottage with a suntrap courtyard garden enveloped in rolling hills just a short hop from the historic Jurassic Coast.

Featured places to stay near Beer

Acorn Cottage

Southleigh, Devon

  • From £196 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 1 room for 2

Glebe House

Colyton, Devon

  • From £129 p/n
  • Hotel
  • 7 rooms for 2

Underhill Barn

Southleigh, Devon

  • From £150 p/n
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • 2 rooms for 2

Brixham

Charming Brixham is one of the UKs busiest fishing ports with a long history of landing the freshest catches. If fish is your thing, this is your place! Head to the family-run Claws kiosk for half a dozen oysters, slurped in the sunshine, or sit in with a glass of something if the weather’s a bit iffy. Pastel-hued houses jostle round the steep-sided harbour, it’s lively with festivals (mostly fish and ocean themed) and a bracing dip in the iconic art deco Shoalstone Seawater Pool is one for hardy souls. 

Stay at Orchard House & Cider Barn, two riverside properties with incredible views, for walkers, sailors, dogs… and self-caterers who aim to be spoiled rotten.

Featured places to stay near Brixham

Orchard House & Cider Barn

Totnes, Devon

  • From £228 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 6 rooms for 6

North Barn, Whitestone Farm

Totnes, Devon

  • From £185 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 1 room for 2

Fingals Folly

Dartmouth, Devon

  • From £190 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 1 room for 2

Mortehoe

This pretty village perched on the wild north coast of Devon has a rich history of wrecking and smuggling. Take the coast path to Morte Point for breathtaking views of crashing waves and distinctive headland rock formations. Continue along to Bull Point and the lighthouse with a stop off at Rockham Bay. If the tide is out this sandy slice of beach beneath towering cliffs is a super rock pooling spot or you can check out the ever-popular Woolacombe beach. 

Stay at Old Post Cottage, a neat white cottage with thick walls and bags of comfort in Mortehoe. Walk the coastal path, surf the beaches, eat the catch of the day.

Featured places to stay near Mortehoe

Old Post Cottage

Mortehoe, Devon

  • From £90 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 2 rooms for 4

Pickwell Manor Apartments

Georgeham, Devon

  • From £154 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 11 rooms for 7 - 10

The Old Vicarage

Ilfracombe, Devon

  • From £275 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 8 rooms for 15

Lustleigh

Tucked in Dartmoor National Park, Lustleigh easily lives up to its moniker, ‘the prettiest village in Devon’. Expect attractive cob and thatched houses dotted along narrow lanes all circled by lush green woodland above the River Bovey. Follow the Wray Valley Trail route linking Bovey Tracey to Moretonhampstead, tracing the now disused Victorian railway line. It’s mostly traffic free and nature-filled – perfect for walkers of all abilities – with a pub and tea rooms to perk you up after your strolls. 

Stay at The Old Piggery, where lovely owners have created a quirky space on their farm; side by side alfresco baths make it romantic for two plus there’s a sofa bed for extra guests.

Featured places to stay near Lustleigh

The Old Piggery

Exeter, Devon

  • From £118 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 1 room for 2

Brook Farmhouse

Exeter, Devon

  • From £95 p/n
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • 1 room for 2

The Barn, Easdon Cottage

Manaton, Devon

  • From £54 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 1 room for 2

Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is a bit of a best-kept-secret. Everyone else seems to visit nearby Croyde, so you can have this attractive harbour village to yourself (almost). You get rugged cliffs, steep winding lanes, decent indie shops, a handful of places to eat and a cracking harbour straight out of an Insta post. It even has an independent cinema showing the latest releases. The coast path scenery is particularly stunning anytime of the year and Damien Hirst’s striking steel and bronze Verity statue stands proudly on Ilfracombe Pier, guarding the harbour entrance and looking out over the Bristol Channel.

Stay at The Old Vicarage, bring the whole crew for lots of space and much to do: it’s a short walk to Lee Bay, the coastal path and the village pub.

 

Browse all our places to stay in Devon >

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

Carmen is a freelance writer specialising in travel. She once lived in a bus in north Wales, skipped off to study in Barcelona, and now calls Bristol home. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found reading (a lot), lake swimming (a little), and pottering on the allotment with husband and two kiddos. She’s currently dreaming about cold cerveza and torta in Mexico.

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