If you’re wild at heart then your next holiday needs to be in Devon. Forget distant destinations, forgotten jungles or remote islands—some of the world’s most breath-taking landscapes have been on your doorstep all along!
From seaside villages to mystical forests and enchanting moorland—Devon is a one-of-a-kind destination perfect for travellers looking to explore some of southern England’s most historic haunts.
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Such a special weekend celebrating @smallhands84 and Howard’s wedding. So happy I now have another wonderful sister! And also that I got to take home some wedding cake… 🍰 Missing Tom is even harder at special times like these but it warmed my heart to see Ts around the venue so he could be part of the day. ❤️ Swipe to see one of my favourite moments from the day. ➡️💃🕺 You can read about what I got up to in Devon with my @marcopologuides on the blog. 🗺🌿
My childhood holidays were often spent enjoying the rugged moors with my brothers and sister and the place’s folklore, fairy-tale and eccentric traditions still fill me with a childlike fascination. Revisiting with my trusty Marco Polo Guide, I discovered so many new things to do. Here are my must-see activities and adventures for your trip!
Taste the freshest seafood.
There’s nothing more romantic than a sunset beach barbeque. After the drive from London, stretch your legs and take a walk from Salcombe to North Sands (Around twenty-minutes) where you’ll find the Winking Prawn Café. Serving the freshest seafood alfresco—order the lobster and you won’t be disappointed—with a view of the beach, it’s the perfect way to start your trip.
If you’d prefer to eat your oysters on the water rather than next to it, dine at River Exe Café. This fabulous floating restaurant is in the middle of the Exe Estuary so it’s only reachable by water taxi—or paddleboard if you’re feeling sporty. I wouldn’t have found this seaside hidden gem without my Marco Polo Guide and am delighted I did!
Explore stunning moorland.
Once you’ve visited the seaside delights of Salcombe or Torquay or Croyde (the ideal spot for surfing) and left with your stick of rock, it’s time to explore the moors. This 365 square-mile wilderness is pure natural beauty. Here, you can walk the ancient moorland, climb on stone-age ruins, camp under the stars, spot wild ponies and even hail down an ice-cream van. This is where the map in your Marco Polo Guide will come in handy!
After a day of exploring, stop at the Warren House Inn, the highest pub in Southern England and rest your weary feet in front of the old log fire that’s been burning since 1845.
Discover hidden letterboxes.
What—I hear you ask—is letterboxing? Well, it’s basically grown-up treasure-trailing on the moors. Small pots and boxes hiding visitors’ books are scattered all over Dartmoor. It’s a joyous feeling when you stumble across one and they each contain a clue to lead you to the position of the next one. Let the hunt begin!
Stay in luxury.
A trip to Devon wouldn’t be the same without your own base in a classic countryside cottage. I was visiting for my brother’s wedding at Kingston Estate but extended the trip for a few extra days to make the most of beautiful Devon. Two Bridges Hotel was a lovely riverside spot for a night but if you’re searching for somewhere with a spa Boringdon Hall comes highly recommended by Marco Polo Guides. Devon is also home to some of the UK’s cosiest bed and breakfasts. My favourites are Sea Breezes in Plymouth or Tarka Bed and Breakfast in Fremington. This will be your home-away-from-home to take off your muddy boots, light a fire and relax in after a day of exploration.
Enjoy a Devon Cream Tea.
You will—without a doubt—need to pack a raincoat for your trip to Devon as nothing will stop walkers enjoying the fresh air. But sometimes it’s nice to find some respite in a cosy café and escape the rain for a few hours. My Marco Polo Guide gave a great insider tip of the afternoon tea at The Imperial Hotel in Torquay which went down a treat.
Don’t forget there’s a difference between a Cornish and Devon cream tea, it’s a subtle one. Hint: it’s all down to the cream. In Devon it’s cream on the scone then jam; in Cornwall, it’s jam followed by the cream.
Bring fairytale magic to life.
Visiting Devon as a child I was fascinated by the fairytales and folklore. Bring the magic to life by walking the places behind the stories. Legend says that the rocks of Hound Tor used to be hunting dogs, a myth that inspired Sherlock Holmes’ iconic novel, while Hollowcombe Bottom is the site of a mysterious pony massacre and Bowerman’s Nose is a rock formation rumoured to once be a hunter who was turned to stone by witches!
My favourite is the tangled Wistman’s Wood which looks like it was taken right out of a fairytale. When rays of light hit the moss-covered boulders, you’ll get a supernatural shiver down your spine from the sheer beauty of it.
Take your camera to an Instagram-worthy street.
Now it’s very important that you have digital detox on your staycation. But… we know you still need a little something for the gram! Take a stroll along the good-enough-to-eat pastel houses of Irsha Street in Appledore before following the winding narrow streets to the shoreline of this historic fishing village.
Bookworms, be sure to schedule your trip for September to enjoy the Appledore Book Festival. Devon is a joy for literary lovers as you can discover the places between the pages of books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Beatrix Potter, Agatha Christie and Michael Morpurgo.
Bee a Beekeeper.
One thing you’ll notice shopping—and dining—in Devon, is that it’s all about local produce. From ice-cream to cider via seafood—they love homegrown. Why not take that one step further and be a beekeeper for a day.
At Quince Honey Farm you can try beekeeping and discover how honey is made. How sweet!
Where have you explored on a staycation? Comment below to let me know! Make sure next time you’re off on an adventure you don’t travel without Marco Polo Guides.