5 Unmissable Places to Visit in South Devon

Devon is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, with rolling hills, miles of sandy beaches and tiny country lanes. I’ve been fortunate to spend some time there visiting family and wanted to share my tips with you for 5 unmissable places to visit in South Devon.

South Devon has many hidden coves and beaches – one of the most attractive is Ansteys Cove near Torquay. You approach the shingle beach via a steep, winding pathway and it’s definitely worth the effort. The limestone rocks make a stunning contrast against the pristine water, and it’s a natural suntrap.

Ansteys Cove Torquay
There’s a cafe where you can take in the views, or you can rent a deckchair. It’s also a popular spot for coasteering and kayaking if you are feeling energetic. Agatha Christie once had a picnic at Ansteys Cove with a gentleman named Amyas Boston, and she later used the name Amyas in her novel Five Little Pigs.

Ansteys Cove
There are lots of fun things to do in Babbacombe – one of my favourites is the Model Village. It’s one of the oldest and largest model villages in the country and a great place to visit whether you’re young or young at heart.

Babbacombe Model Village Devon
There are lots of quirky touches like this burning house complete with firemen and some worried onlookers.

Babbacombe Model Village
The stone circle of Stonehenge looks pretty authentic – in the background you can see the Cherhill White Horse.

Babbacombe Stonehenge
The nudist beach is a humorous scene.

Babbacombe nudist beach
Once you’ve torn yourself away from the model village, take time to admire the clifftop views over the bay. You can take the vintage cliff railway down to Babbacombe beach.

Babbacombe Cliff Railway
The Cary Arms is a great place to stay or to dine, it has a large terrace with sweeping sea views, and there’s even a Captain’s Table and a round dining pod that you can reserve.

If you’re looking for picturesque old cottages, craft studios and countryside walks, then you’ve come to the right place. Cockington is an award winning country park, with a Grade II listed manor house, tea rooms and an art gallery.

Cockington Court
You’ll come across quite a few thatched cottages like this one – Cockington is one of the most densely thatched villages in England. As well as Cockington Court, there’s a waterwheel, a medieval church, a working forge and water meadows with a path leading to the sea.

We couldn’t resist taking home a paperweight from OurGlass, where you can buy direct from the manufacturers. They also do glass blowing demonstrations and can personalise their work for special occasions.

Cockington glass blowing
Rose Cottage is a tearoom with beautiful manicured gardens where you can while away a leisurely afternoon enjoying cream tea in the garden.

Rose Cottage Cockington
Set on the Western bank of the river Dart, this is a quaint little town with Elizabethan streets and a crenellated castle.

Dartmouth Castle
This is the earliest surviving English coastal fortress specifically built to carry guns, and was built between 1481 and 1495.

Dartmouth Castle Devon
The views over the estuary are magnificent, and it’s a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The former railway station was never served by trains, just the Dartmouth Passenger Ferry and today it’s a restaurant.

Station Restaurant Dartmouth
Considered to be the heart of the English Riviera, Torquay is a lively seaside town with a number of interesting attractions like the Big Wheel.

Torquay Big Wheel
Placed in the top 10 for TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards for the second year running, it has a picturesque harbour and streets lined with palm trees.

Torquay English Riviera
We really enjoyed our visit to Kents Cavern, one of Europe’s most notable prehistoric caves.

It’s easy to walk around as there are concrete paths, and there’s plenty of space inside the series of caves. The guided tour was very entertaining, they even switched the lights off at one point so you could imagine the caves as they would have been experienced by their prehistoric inhabitants.

If you have time, Torre Abbey is also worth a visit. It’s an art gallery and historic house that was a working monastery and then the home of the influential Cary family. It’s the largest surviving medieval monastery in Devon and Cornwall and has been recently restored to its former glory.

Torre Abbey
We were in for a surprise in the dining room, the plates were talking! No I haven’t been hallucinating, this animation is set at a dinner party with Lord Nelson.

Torre Abbey
The grounds are equally impressive, with a heated glasshouse and a display of Agatha Christies’ “potent plants”, which all appeared in her novels. The trio of Norman arches also caught my eye.

Torre AbbeyAll in all, there are so many unique attractions that you won’t want to leave! There’s a new South Devon Link Road under construction, which will make it even quicker to get here. Exeter is also well worth a visit and Amberstone Manor is a great base for exploring the whole region. Have you been to Devon? What is your favourite place there? 

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  • Makes me want to jump on a train straight to Devon! Gorgeous!!
    Rosie xx

    • You should, Rosie! It’s so relaxing travelling by train too

  • It never ceases to amaze me how green and lush everything in the UK is! I would love to try that cliff railway–and the glass shop is gorgeous, too!

    • That’s because of all the rain – just joking! We didnt’ get to go on the cliff railway as we walked up but it looked like a lot of fun

  • Such a gorgeous corner of the world!

    Le Stylo Rouge

    • It is really quaint, and I should have mentioned that Devon cream tea is not to be missed!

  • Wow the view is spectacular


  • Marinella Rauso

    all of these photos are incredible. I’ll read this post again if I have the possibility to visit.

    • Thanks for stopping by Mari and I hope that you get the chance to visit one day

  • Fabulous post – I have always been a Cornish girl, so I drive straight through Devon! Next time I will see about having a little stop off in one of these amazing places!

    • It’s on your way to Cornwall so you definitely should! I love Cornwall as well, especially the Lost Gardens of Heligan

  • Think I have been to most of these places spent a lot of summer holidays there as a child and still love it now. The Torbay area is my favourite and I love Dawlish. xxx

    • I’ve never been to Dawlish, thanks for the tip and for stopping by!

      • No problems. If you ever go there Gays Creamery do gorgeous cakes, cream teas and ice cream with clotted cream on top! x

  • Paola Lauretano

    Wow…. incredible attractions, great pics!!!!
    I would like to visit them all!!!
    Kisses, Paola.


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    • They’re all worth a visit in their different way, highly recommended!

  • Rafaela

    oh another amazing place!! you are so lucky!! love the photos!!


    • Thanks Rafaela, glad you like the photos – it’s a very photogenic area!

  • Angie SilverSpoon

    It’s such an idyllic place. The model village is so cute! There was one local to where I lived growing up which I always loved.
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

    • It might have been done by the same guy, he created two of them – there were so many humorous touches like the nudist beach that I loved

  • This was like taking a trip back to my childhood I love Devon and have so many wonderful memories. My parents used to take us to the model village, Dartmouth has a wonderful train that runs along the coast to the zoo and they have the best beaches. Glad you had a wonderful time Lucy x

    • It feels like being a kid again in the model village, I loved it! Would like to visit in Summer and walk along the beaches

  • ♫ Alison M ♪

    I have never been to Devon, its a bit of a long trek for me. It is somewhere I would love to visit and you have shown some lovely places

    • Thanks Alison, that would be quite a trek for you. Do you have any favourite beaches nearer home?

  • Don’t you feel like you’re stepping inside a dream? These are simply stunning, so surreal kind of places. Amazing!

    • You’re right, the model village did have a dream like feel and the cottages in Cockington look like they came from a movie set!

  • Looks amazing! I need to visit!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

  • I love Devon, Dartmouth is my favourite! 🙂

    • Wish I’d have had longer in Dartmouth, would love to go back in the Summer

  • Corinne C

    I love Devon! I really love a place called Welcombe. It’s where we used to go all the time as a kid and the beach is stunning!

    Corinne x

    • That’s a great tip Corinne as I hadn’t heard of Welcombe but I do like the beach at Woolacombe which is also amazing

  • I actually know so little about England that I feel ashamed. The only place I visited is London. Devon looks really beautiful. I especially liked the model village with its nudist beach. What do children think about that?

    • It must be tricky explaining it to children! There are some other fun touches like a dog stealing sausages from the back of a butcher’s van – I took so many photos that it was hard to decide which to include

  • Jamie RS

    Amazing photos! The place looks like a paradise 🙂


    • Devon is lovely, definitely worth a visit if you’ve not been

  • Such beautiful photos Suze! The nudist beach is so funny and I love the Rose Cottage, looks like the perfect place for a spot of tea 🙂

    Ash | Liakada Travel

    • Rose Cottage almost looks like it could be in the model village doesn’t it, so picture perfect!

  • I have never been to Devon but I wish I had! What gorgeous places to discover!


    • Definitely recommend it for when you’re next visiting the UK – and do let me know when you’re next in London!

  • What is not to like? Thatch, Agatha Christie, the English Riviera, quirky names like Cockington and Babbacombe stood out as great fun! Nice to have these recommendations to add for a future visit. 🙂

    • Thanks Betsy, and the cream teas are not to be missed – Devon’s famous scones!

  • Beauty Follower

    Wonderful places and cottages… especially the pink one!


    • Rose Cottage is gorgeous, isn’t it! Would have loved to have time to have tea in the garden there

  • Sophie

    I love Devon – I always used to visit as a child and it reminds me of so many happy memories 🙂 xxx Sophie

    • Glad to have brought back some happy memories, thanks for stopping by

  • Emily Ray

    Y’know, after all these years I don’t believe I’ve *ever* been to Devon! But Babbacombe looks right up my street, absolutely beautiful <3

    • You’d love it Emily, so picturesque and my only regret is that I didn’t get time to eat a cream tea!

  • Those thatched roof cottages in Cockington look quite charming! And the caves must be interesting to wander through 🙂

    • The caves were good fun, those and the model village brought out my inner child!

  • I never heard before about South Devon anything. Such an interesting post, i wish i visit it some day!
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful place!

    • Thanks Cvetina, it does deserve to be better known as it’s so picturesque

  • Still giggling at the miniature nudists! Heheheh. Also, I can’t here the word “Torquay” without thinking “Fawlty Towers” keeping an eye out for Basil in your pics!

    • There’s actually a real hotel that Fawlty Towers was based on in Torquay. Great to have met you at the picnic

  • Meryl

    Without a shadow of a doubt you should list The Endsleigh Hotel – it’s bloody beautiful: http://www.thenextactivity.com/2014/03/a-devonshire-cream-tea-endsleigh-hotel.html

    As a Devonshire girl, I have some authority on the matter, and a list as long as my arm beyond this.



    • Thanks for the tip, always good to know where to go for cream tea!

  • This post was a great read and just added Devon into my travel wish list. I love the variety of attractions that’s great for everybody. I love those thatched cottages but the Model Village has to be my favorite. Beautiful photos!

    • You could spend hours in the model village, the guy who created it certainly had a sense of humour as there are all sorts of funny scenes

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  • Very beautiful, I can’t help but fall in love with Devon’s pretty cottages. Bavvacombe looks like a lovely place with a light hearted touch. Wonderful.

    • Babbacombe is a beautiful place indeed, and the cottages are so picturesque

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  • charming! Especially the cottages!

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