21 free things to do in Devon

The beauty of holidaying in the UK is that, despite the weather, there are so many things to do outdoors. Down on the beautiful South Coast, you’re likely to have some sunshine days throughout the year, whether it’s a lazy hazy summer glow or the crisp rays of winter. All of this adds to the appeal of Devon’s wide range of beaches, rolling countryside and nature reserves. In addition to the great outdoors, Devon has a whole host of free things to do that you won’t find in the rest of the country. So get planning!

1. Get to the beach

Location: All around the coast!



On any Devon holiday, the number one free activity is a no brainer: a trip to the sea. From surfing at Woolacombe in North Devon to reclining on Sandy Bay Beach in the south, this country has golden sands to suit everyone.

2. Visit a Donkey Sanctuary

Location: Sidmouth


Providing a refuge for mistreated and rescued donkeys, Sidmouth’s Donkey Sanctuary is a family-friendly, free day out in East Devon. Walk the farm’s trails and introduce your children to the curious equine residents.


3. Haldon Forest Park

Location: Kennford



Hike, bike or follow wildlife trails in the wonderful Haldon Forest Park. Pack a picnic to spend the day there. If you do want to splash some cash, the treetop zip wires of GoApe or a segway experience are both on offer.

4. Royal Albert Memorial Museum

Location: Exeter


London doesn’t have a monopoly on world-class museums. The outstanding collections at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum include fine art, archaeology and natural ephemera from around the world.

5. Spot ponies in the wild

Location: Dartmoor National Park



Dartmoor National Park is home to all sorts of different landscapes and wild locations, best explored for free on your own two feet. Ponies have roamed here for thousands of years, and are one of the moorland’s most iconic sights.

6. House of Marbles

Location: Newton Abbot


Bespoke and interactive marble runs, a games museum, garden and glass-blowing workshop; Newton Abbot’s House of Marbles is a wondrous place. Stop in the shop to buy a vintage handcrafted game as a souvenir of your visit.

7. Wild swimming

Location: River Teign



There are loads of spots to go for a wild dip in Devon, from Dartmoor’s rivers and lakes to the Rivers Teign and Dart, which ripple their ways through the county.

8. Walk on the South West Coast Path

Location: The coastline along both North and South Devon


Following the water is the goal for South West Coast Path walkers. Devon’s sections cover iconic beaches such as Ilfracombe and Woolacombe, as well as stretching all the way along the Jurassic Coast from Exmouth towards Dorset.

9. Bird-watching

Location: Exminster Marshes



Bird lovers will be in their element in Devon. The Exminster Marshes are just one of many excellent twitching locations in the county, with lapwings and warblers regular visitors to the wetland landscape.

10. Tarka Trail

Location: North Devon


Inspired by the fictional Tarka the Otter, walking or cycling along the Tarka Trail will introduce you to the diversity of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

11. Exeter Quay

Location: Exeter



After a visit to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, head down to the lively Exeter Quayside. This bustle of bars and restaurants, and cocktails and coffee shops, is the place to enjoy Devon’s vibrant nightlife.

12. Stargazing

Location: Exmoor


Exmoor National Park was Europe’s first ever dark sky reserve. A more magnificent nocturnal experience in England would be hard to find. Take a blanket (or several) and find the perfect place for a starlit midnight feast. 

13. Grand Western Canal

Location: Tiverton



The Grand Western Canal may be another country park but this one has a difference. It’s one of the only remaining places in the UK where you can witness horse-drawn barges pulling their freight along the waterway.

14. Decoy Park Country Park

Location: Newton Abbot


With a lake, woodland,  trim trail, water feature, child’s play area, and weekly free walks, Decoy Park Country Park is an award-winning adventure playground where it’s easy to stay for the day. 

15. Buckfast Abbey

Location: Buckfastleigh



The beautiful Buckfast Abbey is a haven of peace on the banks of the River Dart. Home to a community of Benedictine Monks, the fascinating complex of religious buildings are free to visit and a treat at the cafe is the cherry on top! 

16. Teignmouth Seafront Park (The Den)

Location: Teignmouth


The Den in Teignmouth is one of Devon’s best family-friendly parks, with a bowling green, community space and cafe creating adult-friendly space next to the large children’s play area, skate park and crazy golf.

17. Rock pooling

Location: Combe Martin



Nestled between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe, the deep pools and sheltered coves of Combe Martin are full of colourful sponges, strawberry anemones and more. Wembury Beach on the south coast is also a marine wildlife haven.

18. South Molton Pannier Market

Location: South Molton



Grabbing a picnic from any number of Devon’s excellent farmer’s markets is a delicious way to support local businesses. The South Molton Pannier Market is an enormous affair of 70+ stall holders selling food and much more.

19. The Box

Location: Plymouth


With a commendation in the European Museum of the Year awards, The Box, Plymouth, is an expertly curated collection of art, fashion and more. Child-friendly events are also free.

20. Ilfracombe Harbour

Location: Ilfracombe



Choose any of Devon’s delightful harbours to sit with a box of fish and chips, and watch the fishing boats hauling up their catch. We’ve picked Ilfracombe’s lively, boat-filled bay, which always has lots of activity to keep you entertained.

21. Berry Head

Location: Brixham


Get a glimpse into history at Berry Head, with 18th-century Garrisoned Forts, and Victorian cliff walk gardens. Aside from that, with epic coastal views and nature walks, it’s got day trip written all over it.


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