The best underrated things to do in Devon – our top 10 choices (For 2023)


Devon is a special place - the open space, national parks and beaches make it one of the best places in the UK for outdoor enthusiasts to visit. There is a myriad of things to do and see here that it is often hard to know where to start. We wanted to outline our best things to do in Devon, some of which might surprise you. Let's get into the guide:


Travel along the Exe Estuary Trail
Head to Bantham Beach
Visit Saunton and check out the Beach
Take a trip to Croyde Beach and look out for surfers
Head to Seaton and see the wetlands
Visit Totnes Castle and enjoy the views Explore The Jurassic Coast at Sidmouth
See the donkeys and llamas at Sidmouth Things to be aware of before visiting Devon

Travel along the Exe Estuary Trail

The Exe Estuary Trail is best explored on bike, but you can also walk along this route. It's a 26km long trail which takes you through some of the best parts of Devon and which is a great way to explore the area. Typically you start the route in Dawlish and head to Lympstone, but there is no real "right" way to do the trail Highlights along the route include Dawlish (a proper seaside town), Powderham Castle in Exeter (you'll need to head off the route to see this properly but we think it is well worth it, and the RSPB Bowling Green Marsh in Topsham (a must for avid birdwatchers).

Head to Bantham Beach

Bantham Beach is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Devon and probably the UK - whether your idea of the perfect beach involves relaxing strolls across the sand or catching waves on a surfboard, Bantham Beach has something for everyone. You can enjoy lots of walks to and from Bantham Beach via the South West Coast Path, the most popular of which probably being the walk from Bantham to Thurlestone which is about 3 miles long and takes you past some lovely scenery.

Bantham Beach

Enjoy the food along Queen Street in Exeter

Exeter is packed with excellent restaurants, but there is a concentrated area of amazing places to eat along Queen Street in the city. During the warmer months, tables and chairs from the cafés and restaurants along the street spill out onto the street, making you feel like you're in a European capital city like Milan. Among the great places to eat along Queen Street you'll find Pho, Underground, Taco Cartel, and The Terrace. Queen Street is a great place to sit, eat, and watch the world go by.


Visit Saunton and check out the Beach

Saunton Sands on the North Devon coast is another beach which is often described as one of the best in the UK. It has a long, straight layout which makes it ideal for long walks and also a popular spot with surfers. The beach is also backed by Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is the largest sand dune system in England and is home to a variety of wildlife and plants. Unlike many of the beaches in Devon, dogs are also permitted here all year round making it a great area for dog walking.


Visit Gandy Street

Heading all the way to Exeter just to visit a street might sound like too much effort, but there is something special about Gandy Street. The street is lined with a variety of charming independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it a great place to explore and discover something new. It's also said that this street inspired JK Rowling’s idea for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series, so you'll often find Potter fans taking photos here. It's very photogenic as you can see, and many of the buildings along the street date back to the 17th-19th centuries. Moko is a cool gift shop along here, and Seasalt is good for clothes. Definitely give this street a look!


Head to Seaton and see the wetlands

Visiting wetlands might not sound like a must-do thing during your time in Devon, but trust us when we say that Seaton Wetlands are a bit special, particularly for those who enjoy rare and beautiful wildlife. Based around the River Axe, the wetlands are a mix of marshland and reedbeds, and it's this unique environment which attracts so mich rare birdlife. There are 5 bird hides you can use to view the birds, plus you might even spot an otter. We definitely recommend a trip to Seaton Wetlands during your time in Devon. Learn more here -

Seaton Wetlands

Visit Totnes Castle and enjoy the views

In South Devon, you'll find Totnes Castle, a 'Norman motte and bailey castle' dating back to the 14th century. It's considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of this type of castle in England and is a must-visit for any real castle nerds. Sat atop a large hill, a trip to the castle is also rewarded with views across the historical town of Totnes (which dates back to 907 AD) and across the River Dart. Learn more about the castle here -


Explore The Jurassic Coast and the red cliffs at Sidmouth

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site which runs from Exmouth (East Devon) all the way to Dorset, more than 90 miles away. The entire coast is excellent to explore, but the section at Sidmouth is particularly stunning. The town actually sits beneath the amazing Triassic red cliffs, which date back more than 250 million years and provide a stunning backdrop. The beaches are an excellent place to go fossil hunting and some amazing discoveries have been made here, including very rare remains of Middle Triassic fish, amphibians and reptiles. Learn more about this area here -


See the donkeys and the llamas at Sidmouth

We had to include Sidmouth twice in this list because it is such a hidden gem - once you've explored the amazing cliffs, be sure to make some time for the donkeys and the llamas (particularly if you have kids). The Donkey Sanctuary is amazing because it manages to be free but also manages to be really fun and a really quality experience. Seeing the llamas will require you to do a bit of walking as they're located on Peak Hill and the idea is that you go for a walk with them. The llamas are lovely and the views from Peak Hill are amazing. Learn more about the donkeys here and the llamas here.


Visit the Ruby Country (and walk the Ruby Trail)

The Ruby Country is the name given to the area of rural land in the northwest of Devon which includes the market towns of Holsworthy and Hatherleigh. The area is considered to be a bit of a hidden gem, and is called the Ruby Country because of the distinctive Ruby Red North Devon Cattle found in the area (although some will argue it is because of the reddish soil in the area).

There is plenty to do in the Ruby Country - we've already mentioned the market towns of Holsworthy and Hatherleigh where you can visit excellent museums and explore the stunning countryside. But you can also explore villages such as Bratton Clovelly (which is perched right on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park) and Newlam, both of which are excellent for walking and a little more chilled out than the towns in the area.

Talking of walks, the Ruby Trail around Hatherleigh (pictured) is an excellent route to walk if you're looking to take in some of the prettiest parts of the Ruby Country. Starting and ending in Hatherleigh, this circular walk is only 4 miles long so shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, plus it is signposted by distinctive red signs which will show you where to go. Give it a shot!

FireShot Capture 1718 - Ruby - Devon's Hidden Gem - Explore Devon -

Drive The Atlantic Highway

Driving along the A39 might not sound like a 'must do' thing during your time in Devon, but this stretch of road is one of the most beautiful and dramatic in the entire country. Taking you almost 80 miles between Barnstaple and Fraddon on the edge of Newquay, this drive takes in a lot more than Devon but because it starts in Devon we think it's worthy of a place in our list. What we love about the drive is the varied scenery - on one side you've got rolling hills for miles, and on the other, you've got incredible coastline. The Devon section of the drive only goes as far as Bude (where a stop at Bude Castle is a must), but if you're keen to drive all the way we'd definitely recommend it.

FireShot Capture 1716 - Barnstaple to Fraddon, Saint Columb TR9 6LP - Google Maps -

Things to be aware of before visiting Devon

Devon is a large area (one of the largest counties in the UK) and actually has 2 national parks - Exmoor and Dartmoor, the latter of which is the largest open space in Southern England. So there is plenty to do and explore if you have the time and the appetite for adventure. Train connections are pretty good between the locations we've listed above, but you're always best having a car.

If you enjoyed this guide, be sure to check out our other guide about the best places to stay in Cornwall.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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