Straddling the southwestern peninsula of England, Devon's stunning coastal views, rolling hills and vast moorlands make it a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With serene, sandy, blue-flag beaches on the North Devon coast and the rugged charm of the South Devon coastline, this county epitomizes the quintessential English countryside experience.

In this guide, we delve into the Gothic splendor and historic charm of cities like Exeter and Plymouth while providing practical information for those aspiring to live in Devon, with insights into its history, landmarks and top attractions, the best places to live, top-rated schools, and excellent transport links throughout the county and across the UK.

History of Devon

Devon's colourful history has seen it inhabited since the Neolithic period, with significant developments occurring in the Roman era. Its important role in the Domesday Book, the historical record of William the Conqueror's Great Survey of England, further underscores its historical significance. In the Medieval period, Devon was known for its wool industry, and during the Industrial Revolution, it became a focal point for shipping and naval advancements, especially in the historic port city of Plymouth. This rich and varied history has left a vibrant tapestry of architecture and cultural influences throughout the county.


Among Devon's vast number of attractions are its headlining landmarks: The historic Cathedral City of Exeter with its stunning Norman Cathedral; the wild beauty of Dartmoor National Park; and the seaside town of Torbay, often referred to as the English Riviera. These three landmarks encapsulate the diverse charm and beauty of Devon, from its ancient buildings to its natural landscapes and coastal allure.

Landmarks we love

  • Dartmouth Castle: Located in Dartmouth, this impressive fortress has defended the Dart estuary for over 600 years. With its spectacular sea views and extensive history, it's an essential visit.
  • Plymouth Hoe: Set in the lively city of Plymouth, here you can marvel at the iconic Smeaton's Tower lighthouse, with panoramic views across the Sound and the city.
  • Sidmouth: This Regency resort town on the Jurassic Coast is famed for its beautiful gardens, clean beaches and charming town centre.
  • Clovelly: A picturesque fishing village in North Devon, Clovelly boasts winding cobbled streets, traditional buildings and beautiful sea views.
  • Hound Tor: Found on Dartmoor, it's regarded as one of the most atmospheric and inspiring of Dartmoor's many tors. It's best known for its awe-inspiring views.

Top 10 things to do in Devon

  • Visit the Exeter Cathedral: Take a tour of the exquisite architecture and the historic treasures within.
  • Experience the Dartmoor National Park: Explore wild landscapes, rocky tors, and the Dartmoor ponies.
  • Spend a day at Torbay: Enjoy sandy beaches and family attractions such as Living Coasts and Kents Cavern.
  • Discover Sidmouth: Relax on clean beaches, visit vintage shops and enjoy cream teas.
  • Tour Castle Drogo: Built in the 20th century, this castle offers grand rooms and breathtaking views over the Teign Gorge.
  • Explore Lundy Island: This unspoilt island is a haven for wildlife with its magnificent marine life and puffin colony.
  • Visit the Bygones in St. Marychurch: Step back in time with life-size Victorian Street and view wartime memorabilia.
  • Dive at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth: See aquatic life up close, from local species to exotic, tropical marine life.
  • Take a walk through Clovelly: Travel down the cobbled streets to the quaint harbour and fisherman's cottages.
  • Hike on Exmoor National Park: Discover open moorland, deep valleys and stunning coastline.

Our recommended areas to live in Devon

  • Exeter: A city with a historic heart and a modern edge, ideal for young professionals and families alike. It offers cultural and recreational activities, excellent schools, and easy access to both coastal and rural attractions.
  • Plymouth: A vibrant waterfront city with great maritime heritage and an array of shopping and entertainment facilities, outstanding schools, and good transport links. It's perfect for those seeking city living close to the coast.
  • Torquay: Known as the 'Queen of the English Riviera', Torquay offers seaside living with a mild climate, stunning beaches and a tranquil pace of life. With its lively harbour and various activities, it's great for families and retirees.
  • Dartmouth: Famed for its picturesque narrow streets, beautiful facades and harbour, Dartmouth provides an upmarket seaside living experience. The town is known for its regular events and activities.
  • Sidmouth: With Regency architecture, beautiful gardens and clean beaches, Sidmouth provides a relaxed, slower-paced style of living. It's excellent for those looking to retire or enjoy peaceful coastal living.

Best schools in Devon

Devon boasts a wide range of excellent schools. For primary education, St Peter's Church of England School in Tiverton and St. James Church of England Primary and Nursery School in Exeter consistently stand out. For secondary education, The King's School in Ottery St Mary and The Maynard School in Exeter provide excellent opportunities for students. Devon also offers exceptional Special and Independent schools such as Mount Kelly in Tavistock and Shebbear College in Beaworthy. Moreover, the University of Exeter is one of the leading higher-education institutions in the UK, renowned for its research in humanities, sciences and social sciences.

Transport links in Devon

Devon provides excellent transport links by road, rail, sea and air. The M5 motorway offers easy access to the rest of the UK. Rail services offer direct lines to London, Bristol, and the Midlands. International and domestic flights are facilitated by the Exeter International Airport. Numerous bus services run throughout the city and into the rural areas. For maritime travel, ferry services operate from Plymouth and Torquay. Indeed, whether by land, sea or air, travel from Devon is conveniently accessible.

In conclusion, Devon's bounty of natural beauty combined with its rich history, stunning landmarks, and vibrant towns and cities make it an attractive destination for prospective residents. The county's top-rated schools and excellent transport links further add to its appeal as a place to call home. Whether you're looking for a charming village, bustling city, or stunning seaside living, Devon offers a multitude of options that cater to various lifestyles and preferences. From memorable days out exploring unspoilt landscapes and historic sites to enjoying cream teas and seafood feasts, Devon provides a quality of life that is hard to beat.

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