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Top six things to do in Devon in the winter

Whether you enjoy a frosty coastal walk, shopping at a Christmas market or eating delicious pub grub, there’s nowhere quite like Devon to enjoy the winter months. Read on to discover our top six things to do in Devon in the winter.

1. Take a ramble along the South West Coast Path

What’s Devon known for? Our beautiful beaches of course! Take advantage of the low season and enjoy a quiet walk along the golden sands of Devon’s coastline or take in a stunning variety of beaches by walking the South West Coast Path.

Offering a range of circular and short walks in addition to walks for the more experienced rambler, the South West Coast Path has plenty to offer. Click here to discover some of Devon’s most popular walks.  

Looking for accommodation by the coast? Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa, Sidmouth Harbour Hotel, Royal York & Faulkner Hotel, Langstone Cliff Hotel, Cary Arms & Spa, Hotel Riviera and Watersmeet Hotel are all excellent choices.


2. Keep warm inside the region’s best pubs and restaurants


Warm Sunday lunches and puddings are just what you need when you’re out and about in the cold, don’t you think? Studies have shown that we actually consume more food in the winter, with daily caloric intake higher by 86 calories compared to the spring (source: Nature.com). Maybe that’s because we’re burning more energy on walks to keep us warm, so don’t feel too guilty about it.  

If you’re looking for fine food as a reward for a ramble, Devon is here to satisfy your every craving. Our region is festooned with traditional English pubs, trendy wine bars and five-star restaurants, just ready for you to boost those energy levels, or simply indulge yourself.

Looking for a gastro pub which provides a buzzing atmosphere and serves award-winning food and drink? Try the Jack in the Green in Rockbeare. Enjoy dishes such as Pork Tenderloin with Orange Glazed Carrot, Pistachio and Apple, 10oz West Country Rump Steak, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Salted Caramel Tart with a Green Apple Sorbet. That’s got to be worth working up an appetite for.

Travel into Exeter’s city centre and discover Rendezvous Wine Bar and Restaurant nestled in the leafy Southernhay quarter. Filled with a warm glow, soft sofas and cosy corners, Rendezvous is the perfect winter hideaway to enjoy a glass of wine… or two! With over 60 delicious wines from around the world and a food menu to get your mouth-watering, Rendezvous is a must visit when you are in the beautiful cathedral city of Exeter.

Just a short distance away from Exeter is The Galley, Topsham’s finest seafood restaurant. Take a stroll along the picturesque estuary before enjoying an exquisite meal. Diners can look forward to dishes such as Steamed Fowey Mussels in green curry and coconut sauce and Prosecco Battered Brill Fillet with triple cooked chips and tartare sauce.

If you’re looking for somewhere exceptional to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or simply to enjoy a fine dining experience, Lympstone Manor near Exmouth makes an excellent choice. This five-star luxury manor house is home to a Michelin starred restaurant which showcases the region’s very best local produce. The menu changes regularly to match the seasons, so one visit is never enough. Lympstone Manor also serves Afternoon Tea, a perfect treat for mums and daughters or for a catch-up with friends. The question is cream or jam first?


3. Ignite your festive spirit at the Christmas markets


Visiting Devon this side of Christmas? If you are, the county’s Christmas markets are a slice of seasonal joy. Perfect for unique, unusual or original gifts they’re just what you need for the person who has everything (there’s one in every family). Glowing with festive cheer, you can indulge a glass of mulled wine, a warm mince pie, amazing street food or even a tot of seasonal spirit. They’re just too good to miss!

Exeter Christmas Market always draws a crowd thanks to over 90 outdoor craft, gift and food stalls. Located in front of the historic cathedral, the market is made up of winding lanes lined with Bavarian-style chalets and decorated with twinkling fairy lights. Running from Thursday 18th November to Saturday 18th December 2021, you’ve a full month to make the most of this outdoor extravaganza.

If you are staying in South Devon, the Plymouth Christmas Market is a must-see. Located in the heart of the city centre in the piazza, you can enjoy a range of stalls as well as a festive itinerary which includes illuminated roller skating, sofa driving Santa and Angie’s Festive Funky Hooping. Running from Tuesday 2nd December to Friday 19th December 2021.

In Braunton, the North Devon Christmas Market returns this year with over 130 traders. Visitors can expect to see live entertainment, bars and international street food in addition to a festive shopping experience. The market takes place on Saturday 4th December 2021, 12pm to 8pm.  


4. Delve into the past inside a Devon museum


Winter doesn’t always present us with the best weather but fear not as Devon boasts a mass of museums where you can shelter from the rain and learn a thing or two about the past.

In North Devon, you can discover Kingsley Museum in Clovelly dedicated to the author of The Water Babies. There’s also North Devon Maritime Museum set in an 18th century listed merchants house and Ilfracombe Museum which is home to a shrunken head and pickled bats!

Further south, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter is worth a visit. Free to enter, you can marvel at world-class collections from the 18th and 19th centuries and learn about the rich history of Exeter and Devon from prehistoric to the present day. Travelling in South Devon? Why not try the Dartmoor Prison Museum in Yelverton which provides a fascinating insight into prison life over the last 200 years.


5. Indulge in a spa day


Escape the cold and head to a luxury spa in Devon. Now is the perfect time to treat yourself to a spa day or even a weekend! Devon has so much to offer, from coastal retreats to countryside hideaways.

Echoing the tranquillity and therapeutic flow of the River Bovey, the Elan Spa at Bovey Castle, Dartmoor, is an experience like no other. From individual treatments including an Optimal Skin Health Facial and Deep Tissue Massage to spa packages which include treatments, refreshments and full use of the spa facilities, you’ll feel energised and rejuvenated ready for 2022.  

You will also find the Ilsington Country House Hotel & Spa on Dartmoor. Here you can enjoy a hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room and even a ‘kubel dusche’ – an elevated bucket of cool water which drenches your skin. Now that will awaken the senses! 

Enjoying a spot of shopping in Exeter city centre? Rest those tired feet and relax inside the spa at Hotel Du Vin. Nestled in a beautiful walled garden, The REN Spa is the perfect place to recharge with its inside/outside pool and relaxing treatment rooms. 

If you prefer a sea view, the Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa is the getaway for you. A heated pool, hydrotherapy pool, steam room, sauna and state-of-the-art fitness suite are waiting for you inside this four-star hotel. Lie back and relax on a comfy lounger by the indoor pool or treat yourself to a facial or body wrap. The team even offer special pregnancy packages for mums-to-be and treatments especially for men so there really is something for everyone.  You could also check out the Cary Arms, which overlooks Babbacombe Bay.

If you plan to visit the wonderful, rugged North Devon coast, why not treat yourself to a pamper session by the sea? Watersmeet Hotel & Restaurant offers dreamy treatments including Full Body Holistic Massage, Indian Head Massage and Full Body Hot Stones Massage. And, relax – ahhhh.


6. Enjoy plenty of family fun at a Devon theme park


Theme parks are always a big hit with the kids and Devon has plenty of them to suit all ages.

Woodlands Family Theme Park near Totnes is one of the largest theme parks in Devon with a huge indoor play area and array of rides. Crealy Theme Park & Resort is located just outside Exeter. Enjoy over 60 rides and attractions from log flumes to rollercoasters, crazy bridges to a swinging pirate ship.

Visiting Devon with toddlers? Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh might be more suited. Enjoy cuddles with Pennywell’s famous miniature pigs, bottle feed an orphan lamb, collect eggs at the hen house and even watch ferrets race.

If you’re travelling in North Devon, why not try out The Big Sheep in Abbotsham, just outside Bideford. From little ones to grandparents, there’s something for everyone. Thrilling rides, friendly animals, sheep racing (watch out for Woolly Jumper) and hilarious live shows all await. Alternatively, in Higher Clovelly, you can discover a host of rides including two roller coasters, a 30ft donut slide, plus a host of indoor experiences including the Droid Destroyer Dodgems, all at the award-winning Milky Way Adventure Park.

All of these parks have Christmas activities scheduled so don’t miss out and book your tickets online to avoid disappointment.

Looking for accommodation close to these theme parks? Check out Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa 30 minutes away from Woodlands, Gipsy Hill Hotel 15 minutes away from Crealy and Islington Country House Hotel & Spa just 20 minutes away from Pennywell Farm. For the theme parks in North Devon, you’ll find Northcote Manor, Watersmeet Hotel and Highbullen Hotel Golf and Country Club just a short distance away.

We hope you feel inspired to go on a Devon adventure this winter. Remember to explore the rest of our website to discover excellent accommodation and dining options in this fantastic corner of the UK. 

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