It’s no secret that North Devon is a popular UK destination for summer getaways and seaside staycations in the UK.
So if you’re planning a trip to North Devon, use this guide to plan things to do in North Devon and the best places to visit in North Devon to suit you and your trip.
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When to visit North Devon
North Devon is a beautiful part of the UK at any time of year, but it’s definitely most popular in the summer months when you’re most likely to be able to enjoy the beaches, water sport activities and coastal walks.
Going in the shoulder seasons, in April/May or September/October will be less busy but still with a good chance of better weather and you’ll find a bigger range of accommodation availability.
The winter months will be cheaper and quieter but the weather is far less predictable so if you’re keen to enjoy the outdoors while you’re in North Devon, then you’re better off visiting in the warmer months – unless you don’t mind a bit of rain!
Places to visit in North Devon
Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway
The Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Funicular railway is the steepest and highest completely water-powered railway in the world.
Enjoy the beautiful Victoria carriages and the grade II listed cafe to take in the views at the top of the railway.
The cliff railway is also a great option if you’re looking for cheap North Devon activities, tickets are just £3 for adults and £2 for children, so it’s a fun and affordable activity for the whole family.
The railway is open 10 am-5 pm all year round and you can just turn up and book at the foot of the cliff.
Glen Lyn Gorge Lynmouth
Another one of North Devon attractions to visit in Lynmouth.
The picturesque Glen Lyn Gorge was once a hazard to the village with the East Lyn River’s tendency to flood and cause flooding disasters.
Now the Gorge provides green energy in the form of hydropower to the village and the neighbouring holiday cottages are run completely off renewable energy.
You’ll spot where the gorge is thanks to the huge fountain of water spraying into the air above the village and you’ll be visiting the UK’s first tidal current turbine.
Take a walk along the river and through the wooded ravine to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature as well as learn about the area’s role in generating renewable energy.
Adults – £6
Children – £3
Valley of Rocks
The Valley of Rocks is a stunning dry valley running along the North Devon coast, just a mile from Lynton.
The area is a must-visit for nature lovers, walkers and outdoor enthusiasts with incredible rock formations and beautiful walks in the area and along the coast here thanks to the coast path.
If you’re feeling adventurous, climb up the rocky mounts for incredible views of the coast, valley and turquoise blue waters of the sea.
The area is also known for its feral goats – so look out for them scrambling up the sides of the valley!
Visiting is free, just pay at the pay & display in the lower car park. Toilet facilities and picnic facilities are available.
One for National Trust members and enthusiasts!
Slightly east of Lynton and Lynmouth, you’ll find National Trust Watersmeet, a lovely park and wildlife area covering 2000 acres which is perfect for a leisurely afternoon walk.
Look out for waterfalls, a river gorge and a lovely cafe to enjoy a cup of tea on your walk.
This is a beautiful place to enjoy a peaceful stroll, just check the website before visiting as the area is liable to flooding and some paths or areas may be closed.
There is a pay & display car park or there’s free parking available at Barna Barrow, Combe Park and Brendon.
Once voted the happiest view in Britain, it’s easy to see why people compare Broadsands beach and coastal area to the beaches and views in Thailand!
Broadsands Beach is located in a secluded cove which is accessed by 200 steep steps from the coastal path – so it isn’t for the faint hearted!
The sandy beach and calm waters are perfect for enjoying some of the best family days out North Devon has to offer.
There is no designated parking for the beach, there is on-road parking on Barton Hill and Old Coast Road, where the coast path access can be found at the bottom. However the road gets extremely busy in the peak months and on warm days, so make sure to arrive early!
If 200 steps down doesn’t sound like fun, walk a little further past the beach access and you’ll reach a gate on the right, follow this path towards the sea and you’ll come to a viewpoint with a bench on your right where you can enjoy the famous ‘happiest view’ of Broadsands Beach.
Day trip to Lundy Island off the Devon coast
Lundy Island is known for its turbulent history and despite being just 3 miles long and 0.5 miles wide, the island in the Bristol Channel is one of the most popular things to do in North Devon and also a popular North Devon day trip or even overnight destination that can be reached by boat from Devon’s coast.
Between March and October, MS Oldenburg sails to Lundy from either Bideford or Ilfracombe depending on the tides. The trip takes approximately 2 hours and gives visitors the perfect opportunity to spend a day on this unique island.
Return day tickets cost:
Adult – £44
Child – £22.50
Concessions – £41
While you’re on Lundy, you can experience everything the island has to offer with its beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. The island also offers birdwatching, diving, fishing, climbing and plenty of walks.
Check the Lundy Island website here for boat timetables, Lundy island activities and details of where to stay on the island if you’re considering staying overnight.
Ilfracombe is one of the best places to visit in North Devon, thanks to its quintessential Devon seaside town atmosphere, plenty of attractions and activities, plus great restaurants and bar options to suit everyone.
Don’t miss the Ilfracombe harbour with the boats bobbing in front of the seafront shops. When the tide is out, a small beach area reveals itself which is perfect for children and young families to enjoy safely.
Grab some fish & chips from the local’s favourite Lynbay Fish & Chips on the harbour front and sit on the harbour wall to enjoy watching the boats come and go.
Take a walk up to the oldest working lighthouse in Britain, the Chapel of St Nicholas, on the mount behind the harbour – you can see it from most places in the town and visiting it is completely free with an optional donation.
There’s also plenty of family activities here including crazy golf, boat rides and family-friendly walks like Capstone Hill.
Check out this full list of things to do in Ilfracombe.
Sea Safari along the Devon coast
A great activity for families, couples and kids of any age is the amazing range of North Devon boat trips and sea safaris available from Ilfracombe harbour.
Ilfracombe Sea Safari has several options available on their website, including a half-hour sunset cruise, a 2 hour seals or dolphin tour, a coastal cruise, a smugglers cave tour or a fishing trip.
They have boat trips from Ilfracombe to suit pretty much every budget and they can be booked throughout the peak season, weather permitting. It’s a great way to experience the North Devon coast from a completely unique perspective on your trip!
Woolacombe’s long sandy beach is the perfect place to spend a relaxing beach day in North Devon. With so much beach space, cliffs and rock pools, you can have fun and enjoy the sun in the lovely seaside town of Woolacombe.
You can park at Sandy Burrows Car Park for the beach and also take a walk here along the cliff path to Morte Point for beautiful coastal views.
Woolacombe is a great central location for somewhere to stay if you’re visiting North Devon. Check out the accommodation and activities at Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park or Twitchen House Holiday Park.
Appledore is home to the North Devon Maritime Museum and also a lovely quaint waterfront.
There is also a very colourful street in Appledore, full of pastel-coloured terrace houses, head to Irsha Street to see it!
Kipling Tors is a stunning walking route above Westward Ho! The path can get steep and rocky so not good for pushchairs but it’s a lovely walk that the whole family can do.
Head up here at sunset for the perfect way to end the day with a view across the ocean.
Clovelly Village, North Devon
Clovelly is the famous privately owned fishing village at the heart of North Devon’s coast.
Without a doubt one of the best things to do in North Devon because of its completely unique history as a privately owned village, its location clinging to the cliff face and its picturesque high street.
The whole village is fully pedestrianised so you will need to park at the visitor’s centre, pay for your entry ticket and walk down the hill to the village. The walk down is steep and the high street is completely cobbled so sturdy shoes are a must.
There is a land rover service from the harbour to drive you back up the alternative route if you don’t feel like the steep walk back again!
Spend some time admiring the beautiful high street, go shopping at the local boutiques where you can find handmade Clovelly soaps, silk scarves and souvenirs.
The Red Lion down at the harbour is a great spot to enjoy a drink with a view or a spot of lunch after a walk along the harbour wall.
Don’t miss the two Clovelly museums – Kingsley Museum and Fisherman’s Cottage, both of which have plenty of information about the history of the village and how it came to be.
Check out this article for a complete guide of things to see and do in Clovelly.
Adult ticket – £8.25
Child ticket – £4.80
Family ticket – £22.25
Tickets to the village include:
- Entry to the village
- Entrance to Clovelly Court Gardens
- Visiting to the Fisherman’s Cottage and Kingsley Museum
- Audio-visual experience
- General Facilities
While Blackchurch Rock isn’t an easy one to get to, it’s the perfect place to go in Devon to escape the crowds.
It isn’t an easy route down, steep in places and with fairly overgrown dirt tracks, but once you arrive at the beach and walk to the Rock, it’s absolutely worth this stunning walk through nature.
Going at low tide gives you the best chance to see more of the rock and enjoy the beach area. Definitely wear sturdy shoes as it’s a pebbly beach and steep walk.
You can reach it by starting from the cliff walk at Clovelly or from further away if you want to plan a longer walk along the Southwest Coast path.
Hartland Point, Devon
Hartland Point is home to Hartland Point Lighthouse and the great news is that you can reach the viewpoint of the Lighthouse on a very short 5 minute uphill walk from the car park.
Alternatively you could include the stop on a longer walk as it’s also part of the Southwest Coast Path if you park at Hartland Quay (see below).
It’s worth bearing in mind that the roads out to Hartland Point are single track for traffic in both directions. So be aware of oncoming vehicles and large farm machinery.
The parking for the Lighthouse viewpoint is on a private farm and you’ll need to pay a fee to enter, £3 (2021).
During much of 2021 the Lighthouse has been covered in scaffolding so worth asking at the gate before paying if that’s all you’re there to see.
Speke’s Mouth Waterfall
A stunning hidden gem if you’re looking for lesser known places to go in North Devon.
Park at the Hartland Quay car park (not to be confused with the above Hardland Point car park), you will need to pay on entry and it covers your stay all day.
Once in the car park facing the sea, there’s a small cafe area below on the water’s edge. To the right up the coast is the route to Hatland Lighthouse, take the path on the left of the car park to follow the Southwest Coast path to Speke’s Mill Mouth Waterfall.
The walk from the car park to the waterfall is about a mile and shouldn’t take longer than 25-30 minutes.
There are some steep sections as well as some muddy fields so wear suitable shoes.
Once you reach the waterfall, there’s an amazing vantage point for photos. You can also walk to the top of the mouth and there’s also access to the waterfall’s pools below if you’re looking to do some wild swimming in North Devon.
Southwest coast path in North Devon
The Southwest Coast Path is the longest continuous walking path in the UK and covers the entire southwest coastline.
From many of the things to do on this list, you can already tell what a significant part of the local and tourist industry this walking route plays.
Regardless of where you’re staying in North Devon and whether you’re an avid walker or not, the Southwest Coast Path is never far away. It’s well worth doing even just a short walk to enjoy its natural beauty and scenery.
We’re lucky to have such a beautiful and free walking route in the UK, so don’t miss this if you’re planning free things to do in North Devon.
Did you know that Westward Ho! is the only place in the UK with an exclamation point in its name?
Westward Ho! Is a cute seaside town that makes a great base for travelling the length of the North Devon coast.
There are holiday parks for families, a great surfing beach, a beachfront amusement area, great fish & chips and quaint colourful houses.
Take a walk along Golf Links Road to see the most vibrant row of houses! Then grab some fish & chips from Atlantic Bay and tuck into them on the seawall.
The walk along the beach road is beautiful, especially in the evening or the walk to Kipling Tors for sunset.
Explore North Devon by bike
If lots of walking isn’t your thing, exploring North Devon by bike is a great option to still get outside and enjoy North Devon’s nature.
You could take your own bike on your trip. Alternatively hire a bike from somewhere like Bideford Cycle Hire where you can hire a bike for half a day from £10 or a full day from £13.
They have plenty of information and route tips on their website or you can check out North Devon cycle trails.
Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon
The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is perfect if you’re looking for things to do in North Devon in the rain.
The museum is also another great option if you’re looking for free things to do in North Devon on a budget because admission to the museum is free.
It’s a great place to learn about the specific history of North Devon and discover ancient pottery, natural history and artefacts all relating to North Devon.
National Trust Arlington Court
The National Trust Arlington Court is also home to the Carriage Museum while the grounds itself are full of over 20 miles of lakeside footpaths and nature walks, as well as plenty of wildlife to spot.
You can also visit the Victorian Gardens of the Regency era house and admire the stunning collections in the museum.
The estate sits on the edge of Exmoor and has been owned by the same family for over 500 years. There’s fascinating collections and artefacts to explore in the surprisingly inviting interior of the house and museum.
Watermouth Castle is a weird and wonderful place, perfect for family days out in North Devon.
The Victorian Castle and Gardens are full of strange and interesting collections and are open to explore but the estate also consists of a theme park, children’s rides and play areas
The weird mix of history and curios with a theme park and play areas means the attraction is ideal for things to do in North Devon with kids.
Adults – £15.50
Children under 92cm – Free.
SUP or Kayak hire at Combe Martin Beaches
If you’re a fan of adventure travel and activities, the calm waters of Combe Martins beaches and bay are perfect for a spot of watersport activities.
The Surfside Kayak Hire is on the main road right by the waterfront on Combe Martin. They were one of the finalists for the Devon Tourism Board Tourism Awards in 2020.
They offer kayaking tours if you’d prefer to be guided with a group, or you can hire their rental equipment like kayaks, SUPs and fishing tackle.
Check out their website for more information and the latest prices.
Pack O’Cards Inn Combe Martin
A must-visit tourist stop while you’re in Combe Martin!
This weird and wonderful pub and hotel not only looks like a pack of cards, but is also card themed!
With a large outdoor area, BBQ space and situated right by the river, this is a quirky and unique stop for a beverage or two to add to your North Devon itinerary!
RHS Garden Rosemoor
If you’re a keen gardener or green-fingered enthusiast, don’t miss the beautiful RHS garden at Rosemoor.
The huge 8 acre garden and 32 acres of pasture were donated to the RHS in 1988 by Lady Anne Berry and have been cultivated into the beautiful gardens you can see today.
You could easily spend an entire day here exploring the pathways and admiring the stunning horticulture on display across the property.
RHS members – Free
Adults – £12.15
Children – £6.10
The BIG Sheep – perfect for families
If you’re looking for the best things to do in North Devon with kids, make sure to add the BIG Sheep theme park to your list.
The animal-themed amusement park is located just outside of Bideford and is suited to young children and their families although there are teen attractions available too.
There are activities like sheep racing and lamb feeding as well as softer rides for very young children and lots of all-weather attractions and green open spaces to take a picnic on the day too!
Adults – £14.95
Children – £14.95
Children under 3ft – £6
Babies – £2
There are also reduced prices for activity specific entry tickets.
Summary: Things to do in North Devon
This list of North Devon places to visit and North Devon attractions is ideal to select your preferred types of activities from and use them to build the ideal itinerary for your North Devon trip. Hopefully it gives you some inspiration for the best places to visit in North Devon and the amazing amount of things there is to see and do.
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2 thoughts on “25+ Things to do in North Devon”
This brought back some great memories of living in England & visiting Devon! It’s such a lovely place & such a pretty coastline! Thanks so much for sharing!
I was hoping to make it down to this part of the country over the summer but never managed to, which is a shame because it looks stunning! There is a lot of stunning scenery here that I’d love to see in person.