While the joys of summer in South Devon are clear for all to see, the pleasures of a winter...
There are things to do in Dartmouth to entertain everyone, from shopaholics to history buffs. Our locally-based team have picked out 10 of our top activities and attractions, when visiting this historic harbour town.
For over 600 years, Dartmouth Castle kept the town safe from the envious eyes of pirates, privateers and foreign navies. In the late 15th century, a 250 m iron chain was raised between Kingswear Castle and Dartmouth to further bolster the town’s defences. In the centuries that followed, several other improvements were made, which you can learn about as you explore the interior of the castle.
These days, the role of Dartmouth Castle is to attract visitors to the town rather than keep them at bay – a new job to which it’s turned its hand with admirable skill!
When the sun is shining, take the castle ferry from the pontoon to Dartmouth Castle and make it a full day out. Recently, the Castle Tea Rooms have been renovated almost beyond recognition – when the sun’s out it’s well worth a walk from the centre of Dartmouth just to enjoy a light snack or drink, whether or not you intend to actually enter the castle. The Estuary view makes it an ideal setting for an al fresco bite.
While visiting the castle is one of our favourite things to do in Dartmouth in itself, its beautiful location on the South West Coast Path also makes it a gateway to some wonderful walks. Furthermore, it’s the backdrop for the annual Dartmouth Shakespeare Week, an open-air tradition that will run this year from Tuesday 26th to Sunday 30th July. After last year’s triumphant 1950s interpretation of the Merry Wives of Windsor, this year the resident Inn Theatre Company will be performing ‘Romeo and Juliet’
Dartmouth Castle is usually open every day from 10.00am until 6.00pm during the spring and summer months. From 1st October, opening times are from 10.00am until 5.00pm.
Prices are £7.20 for an adult, £4.30 for a child, and £6.20 for a concession. Family tickets (for 2 adults and up to 3 children) can be purchased for £18.70. For more information on opening times and prices, please check the Dartmouth Castle website.
Unsurprisingly given the town’s location, some of the most popular things to do in Dartmouth involve the water.
The Dartmouth Paddle Steamer is the last remaining coal-fired paddle steamer in the UK today. Enjoy a river cruise and discover the wonders of the lower reaches of the Dart. The cruise passes Bayards Cove, Warfleet Creek, Dartmouth Castle and many more scenic spots along the river.
The Greenway Ferry takes you on a 30-minute cruise to Greenway Quay, the entrance to the former estate of the late Dame Agatha Christie. Greenway House and estate, now managed by the National Trust, offers some fascinating insights into the life of one of Devon’s most famous daughters.
The charming village of Dittisham sits opposite Greenway Quay, so why not hop over on the passenger ferry to enjoy a meal or drink? The Ferry Boat Inn and the Red Lion are both popular Dittisham pubs with locals and visitors alike. Or visit the Anchorstone Café, which provides breathtaking views from its terrace as well as a fantastic menu that focuses on locally-sourced ingredients.
Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company provides a great day out which begins in Dartmouth and also takes in Paignton and Totnes, giving you the chance to see the area by ferry, steam train and bus.
Perhaps you’d rather be in charge of your own cruise? In which case, consider hiring a vessel from Dartmouth Boat Hire Company for a few hours, a morning or afternoon, or even a full day. Explore the banks, creeks, quays and settlements along the Dart or even carry on all the way to Totnes (tide permitting). Keep an eye out for wildlife too.
For more inspiration on ways to enjoy the water, read our blog 12 ways to enjoy the River Dart.
No list of things to do in Dartmouth would be complete without a recommendation to pick up a portion of freshly prepared fish and chips. There are a couple of excellent places to choose from:
Although a fantastic choice, being by the sea doesn’t limit visitors to only eating seafood. Dartmouth is a fantastic destination for food lovers, with a range of popular restaurants, traditional pubs and quaint cafés to choose from.
Dartmouth and the surrounding area are a walker’s paradise, whether you’re looking for challenging hikes or short, gentle strolls. One walk we recommend, from Dartmouth Castle to Gallants Bower, falls into the latter gamp. The views are incredible and this is a really good walk for those who want a breath of fresh sea air. It can be extended through Little Dartmouth, making it a longer hike if you’d like something more strenuous.
Alternatively, why not carry on all the way to Stoke Fleming and onwards to Blackpool Sands? This is a popular walk for relatively fit and hardy walkers who can handle plenty of hills. Along the Coast Path, it’s about four miles one way from Dartmouth Castle – it’s easily worth the effort to arrive at this beautiful Blue Flag beach.
Click here to find out more about these three scenic walking routes.
If you are looking for a picturesque spot to explore on your way home from Dartmouth, visit the stunning Start Bay coastline. With quaint fishing villages, long stretches of shingle beach and fantastic eateries, there is so much to explore just a short drive from Dartmouth.
If you enjoy shopping, you’ll love Dartmouth. The town combines local independent stores and well-known coastal chains, with a special emphasis on high-quality clothing and jewellery, original art and ornaments. It’s this wide range that makes shopping one of the most popular things to do in Dartmouth. Explore the windy, characterful streets and get yourself something special to remind you of your holiday.
Dartmouth also boasts a number of renowned art galleries. From traditional pieces to nautical home decor, there will be something to suit everyone’s taste in this picturesque harbour town, whether you’re looking to buy or simply browse.
Break up your retail therapy sessions and take a load off your feet at one of Dartmouth’s best cafes, enjoying a local speciality like a cream tea or a crab sandwich. Or if you’d rather snack on the move or in the beautiful Royal Avenue Gardens, stop off at one of our bakeries or perhaps even indulge in some delicious South Devon fudge.
If you’re looking to find activities for kids in Dartmouth, Woodlands suits all weather eventualities. Just three miles from the town centre, Woodlands is the largest family theme park in Devon, and contains facilities for children and adults of all ages. Adults do have to accompany kids on a handful of rides, depending on the age of the children.
The indoor play barn has soft play sections for smaller children, but also includes more ‘extreme’ rides for thrill-seeking youngsters. For fairer weather activities for kids, the outdoor water slides offer a cool-down from the sun and the Zoo Farm allows children to come up close to a wide variety of small animals.
If you’re visiting during the school holidays, Woodlands offer fantastic themed events for kids, including Dino Week, Fizz Pop science workshops, Super Hero shows and fun-filled days with Titan the Robot.
Just a short drive from Dartmouth town centre is the Dartmouth Golf and Country Club, a picturesque golfing venue in the rolling hills of the South Hams.
Boasting two golf courses, and featured in Golf Monthly magazine in their list of the Top 100 hidden gems in Great Britain, the Dartmouth Golf and Country Club is known as one of the most high quality and challenging courses in the South West.
Designed to challenge experienced golfers is the 18 hole, 7200 yard, par 72 championship course, which has been described as ‘a must for golfers wanting to enjoy the true Dartmouth experience’. More suitable for less experienced golfers is the 9 hole, 2,252 yard, par 33 course, which offers a more relaxing challenge.
Both courses are open daily to members and non-members. Tee-time booking is essential and can be booked 7 days in advance by calling the Pro shop on 01803 712011. Alternatively, book your tee time online and save up to 50%.
Whilst many of the best activities in Dartmouth involve making the most of the great outdoors, there are also things to do if you simply wish to relax and unwind. With two popular spas, why not indulge in some ‘me time’ during your next trip to Dartmouth?
Situated near the picturesque waterfront in Dartmouth is the Dart Marina Health Spa, described as a ‘haven for total relaxation’.
Slip into a fluffy robe, unwind in the warm pool, spa bath and steam room, or book a sensory massage and a rejuvenating facial. For total indulgence, book the spa’s signature treatment which is a magical combination of massage and facial – deeply relaxing and beneficial.
Book a spa day, or for pure indulgence, treat yourself to an ‘Afternoon Delight’ spa package which includes a swim, a 30 minute treatment, an afternoon tea and a glass of champagne.
Set within 250 acres of beautiful South Devon countryside, The Dartmouth Golf and Country Club base their spa days around how you want to feel when you leave – relaxed, revitalised or restored. Choose from either a half day or full day (which includes a two-course lunch), and their two package types, The Enrich Experience, or The Indulge Experience.
Indulge in a range of luxury treatments before relaxing in the swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.
A spa day pass is priced at £18 per person (Monday – Friday) or £20 per person (Saturday – Sunday). Alternatively, if you are looking for evening activities in Dartmouth, a twilight session (after 5pm every day of the week) is just £10 per person or £7 per child.
For a fun and cheap thing to do in Dartmouth, crabbing is popular with both children and adults. Most shops in Dartmouth sell all the elements needed for catching mighty-clawed crustaceans, in case you leave your crabbing line, bucket or bait at home.
For crabbing success, we suggest heading to the embankment or Dartmouth Castle ferry steps to dangle your line.
With years of crabbing experience, our locally-based team have put together a guide to crabbing, click here to read it.
Going for afternoon tea can be as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the stomach, with layers of cakes and sandwiches delicately presented with tea, champagne, or even gin and tonic! Add in the backdrop of the River Dart, and we can see why going for afternoon tea is increasingly one of the most popular things to do in Dartmouth. Here are just a few of our favourite spots:
With options to suit your preferred level of indulgence and extravagance, Dart Marina is the perfect spot to enjoy afternoon tea. With light as a feather scones and locally-sourced clotted cream, you will enjoy a true Devon experience, all situated by the picturesque River Dart.
Choose from the simple but sumptuous cream tea, a full afternoon tea, afternoon tea Royale with champagne, or a Hendricks afternoon tea which includes a Hendricks Gin and cucumber cocktail served in its own special ‘tea’ pot.
Afternoon teas at Dart Marina are served from 2.15-5.30pm.
Situated in the heart of Dartmouth on Smith street, this quaint and traditional tea room is well known for serving both sweet and savoury afternoon teas.
With generous portions and friendly service, we can see why The Singing Kettle has such great reviews!
Positioned in the Market Square in Dartmouth is Dart To Mouth Deli.
Declared ‘the best place to visit in the county for a cream tea’ in 2016 by independent food reviewer Ditch Townsend, this small but mighty eatery is a must visit.
Whether eating in the al fresco café or buying tasty treats to take away, Dart To Mouth’s award-winning, home made scones have developed a fantastic reputation in the town.
Run by the owners of Dart To Mouth Deli, the Picnic Boat serves cream teas with a twist. Suitable for up to 12 guests, enjoy your afternoon tea or picnic whilst pottering up and down the River Dart, one of the most stunning backdrops in Devon.
From a traditional Devon cream tea to a full seafood banquet, the Picnic Boat can cater for your every need or special event.
If this fantastic list of things to do in Dartmouth doesn’t fill your time, you could even time your holiday to arrive during one of its many annual events like the Dartmouth Regatta, Food Festival or Candlelit Dartmouth. Find out what’s on in Dartmouth here.
Dartmouth is also a great base for exploring South Devon. The town is just:
As you can see, there are some fantastic things to do in Dartmouth come rain or shine! Whether you love to shop or want to explore the history of the area, there is plenty for you to enjoy!
At Coast & Country Cottages, we have over 120 self-catering holiday homes in and around Dartmouth. From luxury apartments on the River Dart, to family-family cottages near to the Dartmouth’s most popular attractions, there is a property in our portfolio to suit everyone.
To help you plan your trip to Dartmouth, we’ve put together some facts about the area. Showcasing the diversity of the town, we hope our #Dartmouthbynumbers infographic will inspire you to visit, whether for a day trip or holiday!