Everything You Need To See & Do In Devon, England (UK)

April 27, 2019

For such a small country, England has an amazing diversity of scenery, history, culture—and thereby experiences for tourists.  And because it’s small, with proper planning you can really see a ton in a fairly short trip.  We spent eight days in the Devon region, based in one place and exploring all sorts of different places near and far.

The coast in this region is known as the “English Riviera” and quite a popular with Brits, but we didn’t see as many American tourists when we were there.  It’s a perfect area to get a taste of what England has to offer!

What to do in and around the Devon, England, area...south of England on the "English Riviera"

You might also enjoy seeing the rest of our UK adventures:

What to Do With a Day in Charming Bath, England

Exploring England’s Fascinating Jurassic Coast

Salisbury, Stonehenge, & Stourhead Gardens: A Day Trip

Abbeys, Castles, & Coast:  A Day Trip to South Wales

11 Tips for 24 Hours in London (and Afternoon Tea At The Langham)

Visiting St. Ives & St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall

Why a Visit to London’s Borough Market is a Must

(and more to come)

Within this post, I’ve focused on destinations that didn’t require a full day to see, so can be a half day or only a couple hours from Devon if you prefer.  I’ve also provided a few full-day (or slightly longer, if you prefer) trips you can do in this area and are totally worth your time.

A car is definitely needed for this type of trip.  While there are some buses and trains throughout England, you would be severely handicapped in trying to wind your way through smaller towns in this area without having a car of your own.

For renting a car, I always search in a few different places and compare both the prices and specific offerings/benefits.  My go-to’s are DiscoverCarsRentalCars.com, and AutoEurope as well.

One thing to consider, though, is whether you want to take a train from London to a larger town down south, then pick up your rental car there—many locals on the TripAdvisor forums advised that for us, and while we didn’t, I can see how it would be helpful.

Powderham Castle, in Devon - what to do in Devon, UK

What you’ll find in this post on Devon:

  • Base: Torquay
  • Babbacombe and the best Devonshire cream tea
  • Cockington Village
  • Wine and cheese tasting at Sharpham Estate
  • Berry Pomeroy Castle in Totnes
  • Exeter
  • Dartmouth
  • Powderham Castle

Full day trip ideas from Devon, England

We took a handful of full-day trips that are easy to do from the area as well, and recommend all of them.  All of them could be multi-day trips as well, to be able to see more (these are all long days, with the exception of Bath).

  • We spent a day driving up and down the Jurassic Coast, a gorgeous day of dramatic coastal views, castles, and more.
  • We did a very ambitious trip up to south Wales, which was a looooong day but we loved.
  • We visited parts of Cornwall, including St. Michael’s Mount, and though the weather wasn’t gorgeous had a ball.
  • A day in Bath was delightful, with the Roman Baths, totally awesome buildings, and ghost of Jane Austen everywhere.

Berry Pomeroy Castle in Totnes, England

You might also like:  The Best Korean Face Sunscreens & Moisturizers

Here’s a live Google Map of the places mentioned here.  The orange ones are the full-day trips, while the blue are in the immediate vicinity of where we stayed and can be seen very easily.

You can access the map itself to zoom in easily on the local ones only.  These are what I’ve focused on in the rest of this post.

Torquay:  a great base

We based ourselves in lovely little Torquay, a decent-sized town right on the Devon coast.  It’s big enough to have what you need (plenty of rentals, a couple supermarkets, etc.) and is really central in the area.

It helps that it’s right off a main highway, for easy access to other destinations.  We didn’t spend a ton of time exploring Torquay itself, but here’s a good list of things that you can do right there if you’re interested.



We got ourselves an amazing little Airbnb apartment with a great view of the water (you can get $40 off your first Airbnb with this link).  It was bright and modern, with an awesome patio.  Here’s a deeper post on our Torquay apartment and why we loved it so much!

A bright sunny day in Torquay, on England's south coast | Devon, UK

Also the most glorious sunsets…honestly, I couldn’t pick just one of these!

Sunset in Torquay, Devon, UK




You might also like:  10 Places I’m Dying to Visit in 2020

Babbacombe and Angel’s Tea Room

If you want to try the famous Devonshire cream tea—AND YOU DO—then a visit to Angel’s in adorable Babbacombe needs to be first on your list!  It’s about a 5-10 minute drive from Torquay, and you’ll have to shoehorn your car in along the street with everyone else.

Once you walk through the verdant arch, you’ll enter a tiny little magical place bursting full of scones, sandwiches, clotted cream, interesting jams, and fragrant tea.  It’s heaven.

What to do in Devon, UK - visit Angel's Tea Room

A Devonshire cream tea in Devon, England


You might also like:  11 Of My Best Travel Tips for ANY Trip

Man, we ate ourselves silly, BOTH times we visited.  We got the cream tea and sandwiches platter, and had a blast picking which types of scones we wanted to try.  I loved them all, but I think the Bakewell scone (the special that day) won me over with its almond and cherry duo.

And then that indulgent clotted cream piled on top, with that lovely tart jam slathered on.  SHEER HEAVEN.



When you roll yourself out the door of Angel’s, walk across the street to take in the gorgeous view of the coast.  There’s a little public park where people chill and let their dogs play, and a walking path to get a bit closer to the ocean.  It’s just peaceful and beautiful.

Charming Babbacombe in Devon, England | One Girl, Whole World

The coast in Babbacombe, Devon, England

You might also like:  How to Choose the Best Hotel or Rental Every Time

Cockington Village

This cute village is about a 10 minute drive or 45-60 minute walk from Torquay, super easy to get to.  It’s got a 16th-century manor house and expansive grounds, a Norman church, cottages with roofs thatched in the old time-y traditional way, and so much more.

We barely scratched the surface on our visit, but it also has all manner of arts and crafts (chocolatier, glassblowing, blacksmith, etc.), horse and carriage rides…well, you get the picture!




Isn’t this just the cutest?!

The adorable Cockington Village in Torquay, Devon, UK


You might also like:  A Travel Bucket List for Your 30s

Wine tasting at Sharpham Estate

Yeah, I know…wine tasting in England??  (Trust me, I made the same face.)  I won’t tell you it’s the best wine you’ve ever had, but it was a lovely (gloomy) afternoon regardless.  And it was a unique experience, since wine is not something you really think of England producing.

The weird route that Google Maps took us from Torquay was heavily these one-track lanes with high hedges on either side…meeting another car was always nerve-wracking!!




You might also like:  A Guide To Finding The Right Flight Every Single Time

Sharpham Estate is a beautiful vineyard and farm that makes wine, cheeses, and I believe even a great restaurant during the tourist season.  We did a fairly basic wine tasting with some cheeses as well, and wandered around the estate to enjoy the views.



Wine tasting at Sharpham Estate, in Devon, England

It’s too bad the day wasn’t prettier, but our big group had a fun and relaxing afternoon at Sharpham, and my roomie and I brought a couple bottles back with us (that were promptly consumed with company that night).

Wine tasting at Sharpham Estate in the Devon region, England



You might also like:  My Favorite Cross-Body Purse for Travel

Berry Pomeroy Castle, in Totnes

This was an impulse stop for us, something we happened upon on our drive from Cornwall to Torquay.  It’s only about 20 minutes from Torquay, so an easy thing to do with just a couple hours.

We didn’t go into the castle because we’d rolled up right before closing time (and were honestly tired and wanted to get to our Airbnb), but the pics I saw online were super cool!

The castle was built between the 1500s and 1700s and meant to be a showpiece in the region.  There’s a cafe too, so if you want to get a snack and grab seat on the grass to enjoy a beautiful day, who could blame you?



You might also like:  13 Cool Souvenir Ideas To Pick Up While Traveling


Exeter is definitely worth a stop on your Devon trip, even if it’s just for lunch or a fun evening.  It’s a vibrant university city full of bars, pubs, restaurants, and then sprinkled with some Roman ruins, pretty Georgian streets, and one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in England.

It makes a great half-day trip from Torquay, but we ended up catching it at the tail-end of our Jurassic Coast day instead.  The skies had opened and so it was gloomy and wet, so all we really did was take in the amazing cathedral and then go grab a drink in a local pub nearby.

A rainy day in Exeter, in Devon, England


Exeter Cathedral

You might also like:  20+ Tips To Survive And Thrive On a Long Flight

Exeter Cathedral is over 900 years old and a must-see in the Devon region.  The Gothic front has insane amounts of carved figures, then has two Norman towers and a host of other things to see.

Also this guy…very serious.




You might also like:  The 10 Best Books I Read in 2019


Set in a natural harbor on the River Dart, Dartmouth is another super cute option for a few hours of your time.  It’s a colorful medieval full of super narrow streets, adorable buildings, and some pretty great historic landmarks.

The harbor itself is gorgeous, but Dartmouth Castle is the big star here.  Originally a castle and then adapted into an artillery fort for defense in the 15th century, it’s got loads of history and some of the best views around.  A walk through the castle is definitely worth your time.

Dartmouth in Devon, England



You might also like:  9 Sunscreens I Swear By For Travel

Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle is a super easy visit if you’re in the Exeter area, or something to catch as you’re headed to Bath or London.  It’s a very well-preserved late medieval castle on absolutely gorgeous grounds.

We were on our way to get someone to a train in Bath so didn’t have time to truly explore the castle and grounds, but wandered around a bit and then ended up having a lovely lunch at the cafe as well.  Toasties, pasties, pastries, and more!


Powderham Castle is a great late medieval castle in Devon, UK...easy visit from Exeter


Even with all of that, I feel like we barely scratched the surface in the Devon region.  We didn’t have the time or inclination for Exmoor or Dartmoor (I was in a walking cast, so they didn’t sound as fun), and we didn’t have time to get to some of the little beaches.

I also would have loved to do some sailing, but we were there later in the year so it was a bit cool and a lot of the tourist things had shut down.

If you loved England, give Scotland a try:

Pin this for later!

Everything You Have to Do In & Around Devon, England | There's so much to do in Devon, UK--here are some of the best places to visit, easy half-day or shorter trips from Torquay, where to base yourself, and more! What to do in Torquay, UK. Visit Exeter, Powderham Castle, Dartmouth, have a Devonshire cream team, and more. #devon #uk #roadtrip #traveltips #england #torquay #castle

Comments (2)

  • Kim

    May 3, 2020 at 1:08 am

    Hey, I am a proud Devonian, I live in Torquay and I am so glad you love it. Reading your page made me realise how lucky I am to live here. I adore Angels tea room, and I am glad to see you had your cream tea the Devon way (cream first then jam, the cornish do it the other way) and my husband proposed on thay green whilst looking out over the view on a stormy night. If you ever some back get in touch. You must explore Greenway Estate between Torquay and Brixham, it was Agatha Christie’s holiday home. Also a boat and steam train ride! I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to Devon. Happy Travels!

    1. Jessica

      May 3, 2020 at 9:04 am

      Hi Kim! Awww what a sweet story, and thank you for dropping me a note! Hard to beat a proposal that can offer that view. And man, if I lived close to Angel’s I’d probably weigh a good 20 pounds more 🙂 I’d love to return at some point, we SO enjoyed our time in the area!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Prev Post


Chicago Guide: Where To Eat & Drink

April 16, 2019

Next Post


Sunrise At Bryce Canyon National Park

May 4, 2019