There’s so much to see on a Devon road trip, it’s actually really difficult to nail it down to just 10 stops, but that’s exactly what I’ve just done. Let me show you how…
If you’re planning a Devon road trip, let me help you with where to stop and what to do. I’m just home from a week’s road trip round Devon. I started in Exmoor National Park, worked my way from the north coast down, into Cornwall for another week, and back up the coast of South Devon. I also spent many of my childhood summers in Devon, and so know the county well.
Here are my top spots in Devon, and where I’d recommend you visit on your road trip to Devon to make it the best possible.
Road trip round Devon: the route
Check out this Google Map for your Devon road trip to help you plan the route.
1. Explore Exmoor National Park (Lynmouth)
Exmoor National Park is beautiful, and totally underrated as far as National Parks in England go. There are some beautiful Devon villages to see in Exmoor National Park – including one of my favourites, Lynmouth.
As soon as I made it down the (incredibly steep) road in Lynmouth I was genuinely amazed at how pretty it was. I parked up outside the fudge shop and went for a wander. I ended up picking up a dressed crab from the chip shop there, with a bap and a Peroni, and sitting outside to admire the view and enjoy the taste of Devon.
Nearby Lynton is also worth a visit, and you can take the cliff side railway up to avoid driving those crazy gradient roads.
If you have longer to spend in Exmoor National Park, then the Valley of Rocks is well worth a visit, as well as the Tarr Steps and the Quantock Hills too.
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2. Visit the quaint town of Ilfracombe
Ilfracombe is one of the most popular spots in Devon for Brits on holiday. The beach is amazing, but the hidden lanes and passageways really give the town character too. This is how the smugglers got around in days gone by anyway!
As well as stunning beaches and the quaint town, there are also plenty of shops and cafes here, and you can’t leave without going to see Damien Hirst’s ‘Verity’. See what you think of this ‘work of art’…
Ilfracombe is also where you get the boat out to Lundy Island for a day trip. This small island off the Devonshire coast is home to seals and puffins and a whole island of great walking trails. I spent the day there, and managed to walk halfway up the island, across, and down the other side.
You can’t drive here – given the ten miles of water – but it still makes for a nice stop on your Devon road trip.
By saying ‘Ilfracombe’ I also mean Combe Martin and Woolacombe, which are beautiful spots, very close by.
3. Go surfing in Croyde
I love Croyde. Such a chilled out place where surfing takes centre stage of the super impressive beach.
One of my favourite moments of my Devon road trip was actually walking out to Baggy Point on the sunny day I was there. Honestly, the views were amazing over Bloodhills Cliff.
Another high point of my Croyde stop on my road trip to Devon was Blue Groove Restaurant. After getting a chill from walking and then sitting down, it was a joy to be inside and that chorizo stew was just incredible.
4. Wander round Clovelly
Clovelly is one of the Instagram hotspots in Devon – those Insta lovers just revel in the pretty doorways, ornate shops and cute houses.
Just wandering around Clovelly is one of the best free things to do in Devon. Stick to the centre and every view is just so pretty. Clovelly is an ancient village which charges to visit, but every penny goes back into restoration and making sure this Devon road trip stop stays as beautiful as it is.
I’d recommend timing your trip to Clovelly with lunch so you can pick up a bite to eat at the bottom on the beach by the harbour, but still have the energy to climb back up again.
On your way to Clovelly, pop into Westward Ho! Famous for being the only English place name with an exclamation mark in it. And also famous in my eyes for being an absolute stunner of a beach.
Oh and, if you need, here’s a great list of the best things to take on a road trip.
5. Explore the city of Plymouth
For one of the most popular days out in South Devon, spend the day in Plymouth – one of Devon’s only two cities. You could wander round Hoe Park, visit the Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, go to the impressive National Marine Aquarium and visit Mount Edgcumbe House & Country Park too.
You definitely need to climb up Smeaton’s Tower though, up the stairs and ladders. The views across the coast are well worth the effort.
6. Venture out to Burgh Island
Bantham Beach at Bigbury-on-Sea is a stunner – a long sandy beach with shallow water, perfect for a family with young children. Great for water sports enthusiasts, it’s also a popular spot for surfers. From here you can look out to the exclusive Bigbury Beach on Burgh Island, and its stunning hotel.
Or, you could cough up the cash and go and visit. Burgh Island is one of the most interesting islands in Devon. This tidal island is most commonly linked with Agatha Christie, and her best-selling novel ‘And Then There Were None’.
The island is only about 250m from the mainland and the most important feature is Burgh Island Hotel – a stunning art deco hotel serving afternoon teas and light lunches to non-residents.
The Pilchard Inn is a cheaper option on the island, and there are some great walking trails too. Make sure to walk back to the mainland in time or you’ll have to call in the (awesome) sea tractor to bring you back over the water.
Explore Hope Cove while you’re here too, it’s a beauty with its sandy coves and thatched roofs.
7. Relax on the beach at Salcombe
Salcombe is one of the prettiest towns in Devon and well worth a stop on your Devon road trip. Visit Salcombe for the day and you’ll enjoy one of the best beaches in Devon.
You can also go to the Salcombe Bay Gin Distillery, go to Pennywell Farm, and have a go at paddleboarding too. If you want to get out on the water without doing the powering of the boat, then South Sands Ferry gives you the chance to look back on Salcombe from the sea. It’ll take you over to Whitestrand where you’ll find some great shops and cafés to spend your pennies at.
On a personal note, this was the day I found out I was pregnant!
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8. Get outside at River Dart Country Park / Dartmoor
The almighty River Dart Country Park to give it its full name. THIS is where VickyFlipFlopTravels and my love of travel truly began. Over five years of setting up our tent here, in Dartmoor, and loving it as a child.
River Dart Country Park is on the edge of Dartmoor – one of the the UK’s awesome National Parks.
Dartmoor Prison Museum makes for a great stop here, especially if you’re interested in what life’s like in one of the UK’s most notorious jails. Dartmoor is also one of the few spots where it’s actually legal to wild camp in England.
Check out the coastal town of Dartmouth while you’re here too.
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9. Explore Brixham
Home to the Golden Hind Museum Ship, Brixham is one of the best places to visit in Devon on a road trip. The full sized replica of one of the most iconic ships from the age of exploration, owned by Sir Francis Drake, makes a true statement on Brixham Harbour.
Once you’ve done that, there’s plenty more things to do in Brixham, including Brixham Heritage Museum, the shops and restaurants and the nearby Berry Head National Nature Reserve too. Shoalstone Outdoor Pool is a lovely way to start the day!
10. Check out the city of Exeter
There are lots of great things to do in Exeter, from The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery to the underground smuggler passages and pretty Exeter Quay too. Exeter Cathedral is a gorgeous landmark, and I definitely recommend you visit Powderham Castle too.
Of course there are all the shops, restaurants and cafes of a typical English city too – make a special effort to visit the Exploding Bakery, Hubbox and The Fat Pig.
Exeter makes for the perfect end to a Devon road trip, and you can easily travel on from here to the rest of the country. As you leave Exeter, make sure to pop into The Pig at Coombe on the way back.
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Tips for your Devon road trip
– There are some very steep roads in Devon, so make sure you’re good on your hill starts before you start your Devon road trip.
– The roads in Devon can also be very thin so make sure your spacial awareness is good too, so be extra cautious if you’re in a rental vehicle, or in a campervan.
– Have some change for parking because not all meters take card or have an app.
– Be extra aware of potholes, especially in the rain as they can hide even deeper potholes.
And that’s it for your Devon road trip tips for now. Let me know how you get on!
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