There are so many things to do in North Devon you will be spoilt for choice – Devon, in the southwest of England, has sandy beaches, sea cliffs, towns with medieval history, seaside resorts, parks, fishing, and water sports.
North Devon is known for it’s highest sea cliff on the mainland, the largest sand dune in the UK, and the oldest lighthouse. There is the village of Clovelly, with harbours and cobblestone streets, as well as an amusement farm park called The Big Sheep.
Related: Holiday Parks in North Devon
Below we highlight 10 of the best places to visit in North Devon.
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park has woodlands, moors, and valleys with breathtaking scenery and many trails to walk on.
There are long walking trails with maps and signs to help visitors find their way. At night, Exmoor National Park is one of the best places for families to star gaze. The Exmoor Dark Skies Festival is held each year in October, where many constellations and stars can be seen without telescopes in the night sky.
Exmoor National Park has fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and road cycling.
Related: UK National Parks Travel Guide
Ilfracombe is a seaside town in North Devon that is surrounded by cliffs. It has one of the oldest lighthouses in the UK, historical buildings, parks and zoos.
The harbour is one of the largest on the coast. There are cruises to Lundy Island and nature watching trips.
Ilfracombe has many restaurants and pubs with delicious food and drink on offer, many of which is locally sourced.
In Victorian times they cut paths into the cliff and these paths lead to sandy protected beaches called Tunnel Beaches, still there for tourists to see. Visitors can walk and climb the many cliff side paths, with spectacular views.
Visit the inside off Watermouth Castle – a Gothic style home with antiques, amusement machines, tools and furniture. It has rides, a maze, Water War Zone, playground, and golf. Illfracombe has one of the oldest corn mills to tour as well as boating, and swimming.
Village of Clovelly
Clovelly is a fishing village located in North Devon. Located on a 400 foot cliff, with cobble stone streets. There are shops with handmade crafts, soap, pottery, and silks.
There are two museums in the village – the Kingsley Museum and Fisherman Cottage. The Court gardens are walled gardens and greenhouses that grow local fruits and vegetables for the two local inns.
Donkeys were once used for transportation and the Clovelly Donkeys are now a tourist attraction. They can be visited from January to June. Other Clovelly activities are boating trips, fishing, dining out and shopping .
Beaches in North Devon
North Devon has several scenic beaches and the best are Woolacombe, Croyde, and Saunton Sands.
Woolacombe is a three mile beach with lifeguards on duty from April to September. There are rides at the end of the beach, and pubs and a restaurant in Woolacombe Village. Woolacombe Beach has parking, a snack bar, beach huts for rent, and a surf school. The beach allows dog in some areas.
Croyde Bay Beach is known as one of the best surfing locations in the UK. This beach has a lifeguard from April to September. Croyde village is within walking distance and there are many pubs to eat and drink at. Activities include surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. It has a snack bar, surfing lessons, parking, and restrooms.
Saunton Sands has 5 miles of beach area and is ideal for surfing and long walks. There are deck chairs and sunbeds for hire and the Beachside Grill that serves food all day. There is also a surf school.
Related: Best Beaches in North Devon
Lynton and Lymouth
Lynton is a Victorian village perched high with cliffs about 450 feet over Lymouth. Lynton is known for its authors and publishers. Lymouth is known for its fishing cottages, harbours, and fishing boats.
Both villages are close together and share many attractions.They both have scenic walks along the ocean – the Valley of the Rocks, and the Southwest Coast Path. The Lynton/Lymouth Clinton Railway is the best way to travel between the two towns. Lynton has a town hall, the Lyn Valley Arts and Crafts centre and a converted church with toys, leather goods, pottery, jewellery, cards, paintings, glass and photography.
Hartland Abbey and Gardens
Hartland Abbey and Gardens was once a monastery, and later owned by several wealthy families in North Devon. It has a courtyard, large hall, drawing room, stenciled celing, murals, and a billiard room.
The property has woodland gardens, walled gardens and walkways carpeted with wildflowers. There is a circular walk to the beach and a gazebo. On the walk you will see amazing cliffs and stunning views. The Old Kitchen Tea rooms serves desserts, lunch, and beverages in the kitchen rooms or courtyard. For children, they have walking paths, nature trails, indoor activities, donkeys and sheep.
Surfing is one of the top sports in North Devon. In the warm weather, as well as the cold, there are many beaches to surf on. Lots of beaches offer surfing lessons to tourists.
Great locations for surfing and surfing lessons are Saunton Beach, Croyde Beach , and Puttsburgh Beach. Other popular watersports are stand up paddleboarding canoeing, kite surfing, swimming, and wind surfing. Most water sport activities have businesses that offer lessons for beginners as well as more experienced visitors.
The Big Sheep
The Big Sheep is a farm and amusement park. The Big Sheep currently allows visitors to safely see sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, and alpacas on the Big Sheep Ramble. It is a long walk, but there is a shorter walk for smaller children.
The Nursery Barn and Pet Corner is open to see small animals puppies, goats, ducks, piglets, and lambs.They have a scavenger hunt and a daily show. The Barn Cafe is open serving sandwiches, cake, coffee and tea – there is also a gift shop called the Sheepy Shop.
The Milky Way Adventure Park
The Milky Way Adventure Park has a wide range of outdoor rides and activities. The roller coaster – The Milky Way Typhoon – is open for rides, and the space ride, Ziggy’s Blast Quest.
Gravity Rider a 200 foot long slide is open for daring individuals, and the Cosmic Caterpillar, a small roller coaster for younger kids.
For bird lovers, the North Devon Birds of Prey outdoors shows is open. Other activities include the Sci Fi Memorabilia collection of art, costumes and toys, as well as jump stations, mini golf, train rides, a maze, and pottery classes.
Planet Play Pizza and Snack Shack are open serving snacks, meals and beverages.
Skern Lodge is a training centre and outdoor adventure centre that provides adventurous activities for primary and secondary students – and adults in the summer.
They have private activities for small groups, adventure days, adventure weeks for 8-15 year olds, and family play and stay. Some of the activities offered include surfing, kayaking, rafting, climbing, high ropes, zip wire, archery, pool kayak, tunnels, crate stacking, and an assault course. Camping stays let family live in a family suite or tent with meals and activities planned for several days.The dining facility caters to guests staying there and seats over 100 guests.