To the Southeast of Exeter, you'll find Sidmouth, a lovely little gem of a town that we feel not enough people know about. Beautiful gardens, regency history, and lovely beaches can all be found here, as well as fine hotels and a great mix of independent shops. We felt that this seaside town nestled beneath the glorious Sid Valley deserved a guide on our website, so that's exactly what this is - we're going to outline the best things to see and do during your time in Sidmouth, as well as a few things to be aware of before visiting. Let's get into it:
Where is Sidmouth?
What is there to do in Sidmouth?
Despite being a small town with a population of under 20000, there is plenty to do at Sidmouth. Here are some of our favourites:
Explore The Jurassic Coast
Sidmouth sits on The Jurassic Coast and is an ideal starting point for exploring this stunning World Heritage Site area. The entire coast is 95 miles long so although you might not be exploring the entire stretch in one sitting, the area at Sidmouth is easily one of the best parts of the coast. The landscape is varied and beautiful, and we think it's one of the most stunning parts of the entire UK.
Triassic red cliffs
In terms of a specific part of the Jurassic Coast that we think you should visit during your time in Sidmouth, we think the Triassic red cliffs are our number 1 pick. These sandstone cliffs are picturesque and were formed during the Triassic Period (230 million years ago). A must see!
Away from the seaside, the Sid Valley is a great rural area to explore. The East Devon Way runs for 40 miles between Exmouth and Lyme Regis, alongside the South West Coast Path, and the valley crosses both of these walsk. The valley runs alongside the River Sid, which despite being a short river is a nice area to visit. If you're feeling adventurous then you can walk the 10 miles to Sidbury, which is connected to Sidmouth via footpaths.
The Donkey Sanctuary
If you're looking for an outdoors activity which doesn't involve beaches or walking, then The Donkey Sanctuary is a great option. It's totally free and no pre-booking is required - you can just turn up and enjoy the company of the beautiful donkeys. The sanctuary is located along the South West Coast Path between Sidmouth and Branscombe, so is easy enough to get to. Despite being a free attraction, the sanctuary is excellent and a really great place to visit (plus donations are welcome). Learn more here - thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
Peak Hill Llamas
If donkeys aren't your thing (let's face it, how couldn't they be your thing) then the Peak Hill Llamas are a great alternative, albeit not free and booking is required. You'll get the chance to walk with the llamas up Peak Hill, but it's much more of a slow ramble than a trek so don't be worried about getting too flustered. Learn more here - walkingwithllamas.co.uk
The Byes Riverside Park
It's a slightly steep climb up to The Byes Riverside Park, but once you're up there you'll no doubt feel it was well worth the effort. With amazing views of the Esplanade and Jacobs Ladder below, we think this is one of the best places to visit during your time in Sidmouth. You might want to skip this visit if the weather isn't great because there is no shelter, but you can't beat it on a sunny day. You can start at the mouth of the River Sid and walk right down to the seafront. Wonderful!
These gardens have been open since the 1930s and are wonderful to visit for a peaceful stroll. They're partly sheltered so are even quite good to visit when the weather isn't great, however, when the weather is nice there are various openings and outer promenade walks which allow for pretty amazing coastal views. Expect to find some rare plants and feel a sense of peace after your visit!
Jacob's Ladder Beach
Once you've visited Connaught Gardens, the obvious next place to visit is Jacob's Ladder Beach. You'll find a series of wooden steps that lead down to the beach from Connaught Gardens, hence the name. This is a great place to take kids as the large cliffs provide shelter from any winds and during the low tides, you'll find lots of rock pools to explore.
Sidmouth Golf Club
With panoramic views of the Devon and Dorset coastline and beyond, this J H Taylor designed course is a must-visit for any golf enthusiasts visiting Sidmouth. The course itself is excellent and very well maintained, but it's the stunning sea views that will keep taking your breath away. If your idea of a great trip involves a round of golf, look no further than Sidmouth Golf Club.
Things to be aware of before visiting Sidmouth
If you plan to undertake any of the walks along the Sid Valley or on the beach, then definitely make sure you've brought suitable clothing and footwear. Like most areas of the UK, the weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, so it's always best to be prepared.
Other than that, we'd say the best thing to be is prepared to stay a bit longer than you expected! You might be surprised at how much you enjoy your time in this town, plus you've got plenty of surrounding towns which are well worth a visit including Otterton, Branscombe, and Beer.
Also, if you're visiting during the summer then you may be there during the Folk Festival which runs from the last week of July into early August. This festival has been running every year since 1955 and is a great experience, although if you're looking for a quieter time during your stay in Sidmouth then you might want to avoid visiting during this period.