Dartmoor on a Winter’s Day, Devon, photographed by Rob Gillies.
Take in the spectacles of Devon this winter at its quietest and most enchanting time of year. Whilst Devon is renowned for its beaches and summer weather, experiencing the countryside and dramatic coasts this season is unlike anywhere else in the UK. Enjoy a sneak peek into the abundance of things to do in Devon in winter including some of the UK’s best attractions that locals witness daily.
A quieter side of Devon
The county of Devon tends to quieten during the colder seasons, adding a serene and peaceful atmosphere to tourist destinations that would otherwise be busy. The benefits of this are less crowded towns, more accessible parking and more countryside attractions for you to enjoy up close. A significant advantage of this time of year for locals is that they experience areas of astounding beauty practically to themselves, which makes Devon perfect for a staycation away where you can get up to some walking.
For a county that looks different with every season, there’s never a dull moment here, even in the winter. The coastline and beaches in Devon are home to some of the UK’s best beaches, perfect for long coastal walks with the family on a sought-after beach you get to enjoy for as long as you want if you’re a local. Living in Devon is undoubtedly the most considerable envy in the UK, especially at its most magical time around Christmas.
Winter events in Devon
Check out Devon’s winter events calendar and see what annual events will add a touch of magic to your trip. From the county’s favourite winter events to its dazzling festive attractions, Devon in winter has plenty of things to do at Christmas time.
Exeter Christmas Market
A Devonshire local’s Christmas plans would only be complete with a visit to Exeter’s Christmas market. Explore the decorated festive chalets outside the iconic Exeter Cathedral and choose from an assortment of homemade festive food and local handcrafted gifts unique to the area. With on-street seasonal entertainment fun for all ages, a trip to Exeter this Christmas is a perfect winter outing to start feeling festive.
“GloWild” event at Paignton Zoo
Visit Paignton Zoo with their fantastic winter event, “GloWild“, for an evening of immersive light displays, tunnels, silent discos and many fun game activities perfect for little ones and families to take part in. Experience the zoo at its most magical time of year and be amazed by the colourful lights and animal exhibits decorated like never before.
Totnes Christmas Festival
Date: Exact dates TBC for December 2024 – January 2025
Get swept away from the cold with warm mulled wine and fresh, festive food available at Totnes Christmas Festival. Bring the whole family to Totnes’ most significant event of the year, with many stalls and live entertainment in the market square. Be captivated by the medieval streets full of lights, and the assortment of local arts and crafts available, perfect for gifting something special at Christmas.
Bay of Lights in Torquay
Date: Exact dates TBC December 2024 – January 2025
Torquay’s favourite event attracts locals and tourists alike to celebrate the winter season in a flurry of illuminations known as the Bay of Lights. Experience winter at the bay with many light trails to follow along Torquay’s seafront. Visitors can see everything from lantern parades and illuminated steam trains to carols aside from the grand English Riviera.
Devon’s best winter walks
Going for a scenic winter walk through some of Devon’s most spectacular Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a walking holiday essential – but make sure to wrap up warm if you want to appreciate the breathtaking views to the fullest!
Dartmouth South West Coast Path (Easy to hard walks)
With around 35 different walks to choose from within ten miles of Dartmouth, discover some of the best coastal views brought to life in the winter. See close-up views of dramatic waves and surreal frosty landscapes exclusively on the South West Coast Path. With easy-to-hard walks available for all abilities, why not follow the marked signs across Devon’s coast for a day of outdoor adventures?
Easy walk: Dartmouth town centre to Sugary Cove – 2 miles
Start point: Dartmouth town centre. End point: Sugary Cove
Witness views of the woodlands and sea by following the pavements from Dartmouth town centre to the walking trails down to the well-renowned Sugary Cove. The walk to Sugary Cove is perfect for families looking for a day of walking and enjoying the beautiful views awaiting the cove. There is no signage to guide you for this walk, so having a map or phone on hand is best to navigate your way there. However, it’s a very popular route for residents who live in South Devon, so you should be able to ask anyone nearby if you are stuck.
Dartmoor Circular Walks (Easy to hard walks)
Easy walk: Bellever Forest – 3 miles
Start/End point: Main Forestry Commission car park in Bellever.
Perfect for families and little ones, Bellever Forest Walk is a short circular walk with an easy forest track to walk on and quick returns to the car park. On your walk, witness the wild ponies and, if lucky, resident deer roaming Dartmoor.
Moderate walk: Meldon Quarry Circuit – 6.5 miles
Start/End point: YHA Okehampton Car Park, north of Dartmoor.
The Meldon Quarry Circuit walk follows Dartmoor’s long paths for far-reaching views of the moorland and dense green woodland, which, in the snow, offer spectacularly magical views from up high. Follow the signs at signposted footpaths for this steep yet scenic walk and pass under the famous Meldon Viaduct on your circular route.
Hard walk: Tavy Cleave and Hare Tor Walk – 4.5 miles
Start/End point: Forestry Commission car park in Postbridge.
For experienced walkers and hikers only, the Tavy Cleave and Hare Tor walk takes you through high inclines and against the undulating countryside. Discover the breathtaking valley of Tavy Cleave and steep valleys for spectacular landscape views.
Important note: Before your walk, check the appropriate times, as parts of the walk enter the Dartmoor Firing Range.
Dog-friendly winter beaches
Winter is the best time for dog walking, as several of Devon’s beaches open to dogs from October onwards with fewer crowds and more space for dogs to enjoy. There are however many spectacular beaches to choose from that allow dogs to enter all year, regardless of the season!
Babbacombe Beach (TQ1 3RT) & Oddicombe Beach (TQ1 3LB)
Explore Oddicombe and Babbacombe’s vast shingle beaches and witness its spectacular cliffside views with your dog. Near Torquay and other neighbouring beaches, Babbacombe is ideal for regular walks with your furry companion and is close to a small car park that is quiet during winter.
Clovelly Harbour and Beach, near Bideford (EX39 5TA)
Clovelly Beach is dog-friendly and unique with its waterfall, and its nearby village has a long history of being on the clifftops. Bring your dog up and down Clovelly’s famous cobblestone streets and take in the lush scenery on the pebble beach or up on the cliffside. With an assortment of things to do and places your dog can go, there are plenty of fun activities for you and your dog waiting for you at Clovelly.
Saunton Sands, near Braunton (EX33 2NU)
Saunton Sands is self-dubbed as one of the ‘most dog-friendly beaches in Devon’ and has plenty of sandy beaches for your dogs to play and walk along up to the beach’s slipways. This long beach is relatively quiet during the winter, meaning there will be plenty of space to play games with your dogs and get some exercise.
Important note: Inside fenced areas of the dunes, you should keep your dog on a lead and be careful around livestock belonging to private landowners.
Salcombe North Sands Beach, Salcombe (TQ8 8LD)
Just an easy walk away from Salcombe town centre, the sandy beach of Salcombe North Sands is suitable for dogs during all seasons. Experience breathtaking views with your furry friend and walk back home after a long day of fun at a local favourite beach treasured during the winter.
Devon’s cosiest pubs to dine in this winter
There is no better feeling than cosying up from the cold in a traditional English pub or restaurant with a fireplace, ideal for warming up after a long winter walk. Treat yourself to a hearty lunch and indulge in our selection of Devon’s cosiest pubs to dine in this winter.
The Warren House Inn on Dartmoor (PL20 6TA)
Relax and unwind at the charming Warren House Inn on Dartmoor and experience the luxuries of local food in a remote rural location. Equipped with a roaring fireplace and exceptional views of the moors, settle down with a cider and order from a delectable selection of exquisite cuisine.
From hearty vegetable soups to locally sourced Dartmoor steak, you are guaranteed to have fresh food and generous portions here. For the perfect day of hiking around Dartmoor, stopping at the Warren House Inn is the best ending to a cold winter’s day.
The Royal Oak Inn in Meavy (PL20 6PJ)
Situated on Dartmoor next to the charming village of Meavy, the Royal Oak Inn is a popular establishment for walkers seeking respite by the fire and excellent food and drink. With a selection of local cuisine, The Royal Oak Inn caters to all dietary requirements, including vegan and vegetarian options suitable for all.
The Williams Arms in Braunton (EX33 2DE)
Indulge in a high-quality assortment of local meats with a carvery meal at the grand Williams Arms, which is close to the village of Braunton. Here, you can celebrate special occasions and relax with your dog by the firelight with a drink at the lounge bar. This historic establishment has been maintained for hundreds of years, attracting travellers near and far.
The Hope & Anchor in Hope Cove (TQ7 3HQ)
With frosty seafront views of South Devon’s coastline, the Hope & Anchor is in the perfect location for scenic coastal walks and al fresco dining by the sea. With a warm, welcoming atmosphere from the staff and fire, your search for local cuisine with excellent views has been answered. After a rejuvenating lunch, why not explore Hope Cove beach just outside?
Devon’s best indoor attractions
Devon has plenty of indoor attractions when the weather isn’t so favourable, which is ideal for those particularly snowy winter days.
Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter (EX4 3RX)
Entry fee: Free
One of Exeter’s best free attractions is the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, the perfect indoor activity for taking in the local history and looking at exciting artefacts with the whole family. You can access the museum from Queen Street in Exeter City or the rear entrance through the Gardens, with no entry fee required at the door.
Torquay’s prehistoric Kents Cavern (TQ1 2JF)
Entry fee: £17.50 per adult/senior, £14.00 per child. (Children under 3 have free entry)
Step into the Stone Age- Torquay’s prehistoric Kents Cavern will transport you on a journey through time and let you see the intricate caverns up close. Suitable for all ages and families, follow your tour guide and learn about the caverns’ history and ice age animals from the inside of the caves themselves. Touring the caverns is a unique West County indoor activity only a short drive away from Torquay that is sure to be the highlight of your winter holidays.
National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth (PL4 0LF)
Entry fee: £22.50 per adult (16+), £11.25 per child (3-15), £20.50 per senior, £17.50 per student. (For children under 3, carers and returning adults and children ticket holders, entry is free)
On a cold winter’s day, escape to the largest aquarium in the UK, Plymouth’s iconic National Marine Aquarium. Near Plymouth’s city centre, walk directly to the aquarium from the city and discover a variety of sea life up close for an educational day out.
Find your new home in Devon with Cavanna Homes
Witness all these unique experiences during this quieter season and all year round with a new home in Devon. From astounding walks to unique winter activities, the allure of Devon has captivated the UK with its astounding locations and natural landscapes.
Living in Devon can be enjoyable with every season. With countless sought-after locations nearby, there will never be a regretful moment when you’re living in a tranquil holiday destination.
Why worry about the intricacies of moving when we at Cavanna Homes can help assist you with every step? Moving to the South West is an exciting lifestyle change and can be massively rewarding for those looking to settle in a beautiful place with an active social community.
We offer a diverse range of properties across Devon available for sale now, from coastal seafront homes to properties in prime city and town locations and more.
Ready to move? Enquire about your dream home with us today, and we can help you find the perfect Devon property for your requirements.