Whether you’re a nature lover, a bit of a history buff, or someone who simply enjoys exploring new places, the South Hams has something to offer everyone. Let’s dive into the 50 fun things you can do in this beautiful part of England.
1. Have a Beach Day
The South Hams boasts several stunning beaches, perfect for relaxing, sunbathing, and building sandcastles with your family. Some popular beaches include Bantham Beach, Blackpool Sands, and South Sands. With their golden sand and crystal-clear waters, these beaches offer an idyllic coastal setting. The majority of beaches in the South Hams are also dog-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your four-legged friends behind.
2. Visit Dartmouth Castle
Situated on the banks of the River Dart, Dartmouth Castle is a historic fortress that dates back to the 14th century. Explore the castle’s fascinating history, walk along its battlements, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Dart Estuary and beyond.
3. Explore the Dart Estuary
Get on the water or take a leisurely stroll along the Dart Estuary and immerse yourself in the stunning scenery. Admire the charming villages, picturesque cottages, and lush green hills surrounding this beautiful waterway. If you are feeling especially adventurous, why not rent a stand-up paddleboard?
4. Spot Wild Ponies in Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Lace up your walking boots and explore the park’s rugged landscapes, ancient stone tors, and peaceful, meandering rivers. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the famous Dartmoor ponies that roam freely in the area.
5. Discover the Historic Town of Totnes
Step back in time as you wander through the historic streets of Totnes. This charming town is located on the banks of the River Dart and is known for its medieval castle, independent shops, and vibrant arts scene. Explore the unique boutiques, visit the local markets, and soak up the bohemian atmosphere.
6. Embark on a River Cruise
Hop aboard a Dartmouth river cruise and sail along the tranquil waters of the River Dart. Enjoy the scenic views, spot wildlife, and learn about the area’s rich history from the knowledgeable guides on board. Ticket prices start from just £10.50 for an adult.
7. Eat Fresh Seafood
If you’re craving fresh and delicious seafood, the South Hams is the place to be! This region boasts an abundance of seafood delights in its many restaurants, from locally caught crab and lobster to juicy scallops seared to perfection. If classic fish and chips are more your style, you can also find plenty of those.
8. Wander Through Salcombe’s Cobbled Streets
Salcombe is a picturesque town nestled on the banks of the Salcombe Estuary. Stroll along the charming waterfront, browse the boutique shops, and enjoy a meal at one of the many waterfront cafes or restaurants.
9. Visit Quirky Burgh Island
Accessible only by a tidal causeway, Burgh Island is a unique and iconic landmark. Explore the art-deco hotel, take a dip in the natural seawater pool, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the island’s summit.
10. Explore Slapton Ley’s Freshwater Lake
The freshwater lake of Slapton Ley is the largest in South Devon. Separated from the sea by a narrow shingle beach, it attracts an array of fascinating birdlife, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. The surrounding Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve provides a sanctuary for rare plant species and a wide variety of wildlife, making it a vital conservation area in the region.
11. Take a Ride on the South Devon Railway
Experience the nostalgia of a bygone era by taking a ride on the South Devon Railway. Travel in vintage carriages pulled by steam locomotives and enjoy the scenic journey through the picturesque South Hams countryside.
12. Visit the Many National Trust Sites
The South Hams is home to several great National Trust sites, including Coleton Fishacre, Greenway Estate, and Overbecks Museum and Garden. Explore the beautifully maintained gardens, discover the history of these stately homes, and enjoy hearing or reading about the stories behind them.
13. Try Watersports in Bigbury-on-Sea
Bigbury-on-Sea is a popular destination for watersports enthusiasts. Try your hand at surfing, paddleboarding, or kayaking in the clear blue waters of the bay. Lessons and equipment rentals are available for all skill and experience levels.
14. Indulge in a Traditional Cream Tea
No visit to the South Hams is complete without indulging in a traditional cream tea. Treat yourself to freshly baked scones, clotted cream, and homemade jam while sipping on a cup of tea. Many quaint tearooms and cafes across the region offer the full experience.
15. Discover Blackpool Sands
Blackpool Sands is known as South Devon’s most picturesque beach – and for good reason! This Blue Flag beach has crystal-clear waters and is set in the stunning South Hams countryside. Enjoy a day of relaxation, swim in the turquoise sea, or explore the rock pools teeming with marine life.
16. Explore the Town of Kingsbridge
Kingsbridge is a vibrant market town nestled in the heart of the South Hams. Discover its charming streets, browse the local shops and boutiques, and sample the delicious produce at the regular farmers’ market.
17. Visit the Start Point Lighthouse
Perched on the stunning Start Point Peninsula, the Start Point Lighthouse is a must-visit. Take a guided tour of the lighthouse, learn about its fascinating history, and marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views of the rugged coastline.
18. Have A Spa Day
South Devon is the ideal place to relax. If you aren’t the adventurous type, why not treat yourself to a spa day? There is an abundance of delightful spas and swimming pools in the area offering a selection of treatments.
19. Wander the Gardens of Greenway Estate
Greenway Estate, once the holiday home of renowned author Agatha Christie, is now open to the public. Explore the beautiful gardens, stroll along the riverbank, and discover the inspiration behind Christie’s famous novels.
20. Go Fishing
The South Hams is a paradise for anglers. Grab your fishing gear and spend a day casting your line in the region’s rivers, such as the Dart, Avon, or Yealm. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, the South Hams offers excellent fishing opportunities.
21. Have A Stand Up Paddleboarding Adventure
The South Hams is a treasure trove of secret coves, unspoilt beaches, hidden creeks, islands and vast estuaries to explore. Some of these are only discoverable by water. The team at SUP Walk can take you and your friends or family out on a bespoke tour. Alternatively, you can hire your own and see where the waves take you.
22. Visit the South Devon Chilli Farm
For those who enjoy a bit of spice, a visit to the South Devon Chilli Farm is a must. Explore the farm’s chilli plantations, taste a variety of chilli-based products, and learn about the art of chilli cultivation. Don’t forget to bring some fiery souvenirs back home.
23. Take a Dip in the Outdoor Pools
The South Hams offers several outdoor swimming pools where you can take a refreshing dip on a sunny day. From the heated pool in Totnes to the saltwater pool in Shoalstone, these pools provide a unique swimming experience surrounded by beautiful scenery.
24. Discover the Stunning Coastline of Hope Cove
Hope Cove is a hidden gem on the South Hams coastline, known for its breathtaking beaches and stunning coastal walks. Explore the rock pools, enjoy a day of sunbathing, or venture out on a coastal hike to take in the panoramic views.
25. Experience Kingsbridge Farmers Market
If you’re a food lover, make sure to visit the Kingsbridge Farmers Market. Sample and purchase a wide variety of locally sourced produce, including fresh fruits and vegetables, artisanal cheeses, and homemade baked goods.
26. Visit Overbecks Museum and Garden
Overbecks Museum and Garden is a unique attraction nestled on a cliff overlooking the Salcombe Estuary. Explore the museum’s eclectic collection, wander through the subtropical gardens, and enjoy the views of the estuary.
27. Enjoy a Picnic in the Countryside
Pack a picnic basket with delicious local treats and head out to one of the many scenic spots in the South Hams countryside. Whether it’s a riverside picnic or a hilltop sandwich halfway through your walk, the region’s natural beauty provides the perfect backdrop for some memorable al fresco food.
28. Take a Kayaking Tour
Discover the South Hams from a different perspective by embarking on a kayaking tour (you can choose between sea kayaking, for those who don’t mind some rough seas, and river kayaking). Paddle along the tranquil rivers, explore hidden coves, and get up close to the wildlife that inhabits the waterways.
29. Attend a Festival or Event
The South Hams hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating music, food, arts, and local traditions. From the Dartmouth Music Festival to the Kingsbridge Food and Music Festival, there’s always something happening in the region.
30. Explore the South Hams by Bicycle
Hop on a bicycle and explore the South Hams at your own pace. Cycle along the scenic coastal paths, pedal through picturesque villages, and enjoy the fresh sea breeze as you discover the hidden gems of the region.
31. Taste the Local Rum and Gin
Visit Salcombe Distilling Co for a taste of the iconic Salcombe Gin. Try before you buy at their on-site bar. You can even sign up for a tour and tasting experience. If rum is more your thing, the Devon Rum Company is a must-visit. Relax in their bar on Island Street and try their unique cocktails.
32. Discover the Art Galleries
The South Hams is home to a vibrant art scene, with numerous galleries showcasing the work of local artists. Visit the art galleries in towns like Dartmouth and Kingsbridge, and admire the range of paintings, sculptures, and crafts on display.
33. Try Local Cider and Ale
The South Hams has a rich brewing tradition, producing a range of excellent ciders and ales. Visit the local breweries and cider farms, Sandford’s Orchard and Red Rock Brewery are some of our favourites, sample their products, and learn about the art of traditional brewing.
34. Take a Guided Walking Tour
Join a guided walking tour and let the knowledgeable guides take you on a journey through the South Hams’ history and heritage. Discover the hidden stories behind the region’s landmarks and immerse yourself in the local culture.
35. Visit the South Sands Beach
South Sands Beach is a picturesque sandy cove located near Salcombe. Enjoy a day of fun with the family before heading into the town for lunch or dinner on the sea ferry. The beach is also a great spot for rock pooling and exploring marine life.
36. Explore Haldon Forest Park
There’s something for everyone at Haldon Forest Park, whether you’re looking for a quiet stroll or an exhilarating mountain biking trip. Among Haldon Forest’s numerous walking and cycling trails are a pump loop, a cycle skills area, orienteering courses, and so much more.
37. Enjoy Horse Riding in the Countryside
Experience the beauty of the South Hams countryside on horseback. Join a horse riding excursion and explore the scenic trails, canter along the beaches, and enjoy the freedom of riding through the open countryside.
38. Hire a Boat
Hire a self-steer boat and embark on a scenic trip along the meandering River Dart. Admire the picturesque villages, lush green landscapes, and stunning wildlife as you cruise along the peaceful waters. Enjoy the freedom and make a day out of it!
39. Visit the Sharpham Vineyard and Cheese Dairy
Indulge in a wine and cheese tasting experience at the Sharpham Vineyard and Cheese Dairy. Learn about the winemaking process, sample a selection of their award-winning wines, and pair them with locally produced cheeses. What more could you possibly want!?
40. Discover the Ancient Totnes Castle
Explore the ruins of Totnes Castle, a 1,000-year-old fortress that offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside. Step back in time as you wander through the castle grounds and learn about its fascinating history.
41. Try Crabbing in Salcombe
Head to Salcombe’s bustling waterfront and try your hand at crabbing. This popular activity is great fun for all ages, and you can spend hours trying to catch crabs using a line, net, and bucket. Don’t forget to release them back into the water afterwards.
42. Visit the Start Bay Inn
The Start Bay Inn is a historic pub located in the heart of Start Bay. Enjoy a traditional pub lunch, sample the locally caught seafood, and soak up the charming atmosphere of this quintessential English pub.
43. Explore the Wildlife at Dartmoor Zoo
Dartmoor Zoo is a fantastic place for animal lovers and families alike. Discover a wide range of animal species, including big cats, monkeys, and meerkats, as you explore the zoo’s spacious enclosures and attend informative talks and feeding sessions.
44. Visit the Avon Mill Garden Centre
Nestled on the riverside, in the Avon Valley, the Avon Mill Garden Centre is a beautiful spot to shop, mooch and relax. The popular cafe provides a range of food and drink, from homemade soup to salads and cream tea. After your visit, why not take a walk in the surrounding woodland?
45. Enjoy a Round of Golf in Thurlestone
Thurlestone boasts a stunning cliff-top golf course with breathtaking views of the coast. Play a round of golf surrounded by natural beauty and enjoy the challenge of this well-regarded course.
46. Visit Pennywell Farm
Pennywell Farm is the perfect place for families, especially those with young children. Get up close to a variety of farm animals, enjoy tractor rides, and take part in interactive activities and shows.
47. Discover the Devon Heritage Centre
Explore the rich history and heritage of Devon at the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter. Delve into the archives, uncover fascinating stories, and learn about the county’s past through interactive exhibits and displays.
48. Visit the Barn Cinema at Dartington
Dartington is home to the independent Barn Cinema, showcasing recent films and best-loved classics. It also hosts a diverse range of live performances, including concerts, and theatre productions. Immerse yourself in the arts and enjoy a memorable evening of entertainment in this historic setting.
49. Go on a Poetry Trail
The Ted Hughes Poetry Trail was created to celebrate Hughes’ poetry and long-standing links with Devon. On the trail, visitors can read or listen to examples of Hughes’ finest poems relating to nature. The poems were selected with the assistance of Carol Hughes, his late wife, and matched with the wildlife found in each area of the park. This is a must-do for any literary lovers out there.
50. Have a BBQ at Home
What better way to kick off your holiday than with a barbeque? Make sure that you choose a holiday home with outside space and a BBQ, such as West Soar House near Salcombe. This is the perfect way to get the family together again.
From stunning beaches and historic landmarks to picturesque towns and delicious local cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the South Hams. Immerse yourself in the countryside and create unforgettable memories during your visit.
Explore our properties if these activities have inspired you to stay in the South Hams on your next holiday.