Coasteering in South Devon is hands down one of the region’s most popular outdoor activities, especially for thrill-seeking groups of...
There are an abundance of things to do in Dartmouth with something to entertain everyone regardless of whether you’re a shopaholic, history buff or outdoor enthusiast. Our locally-based team have curated a list of our 10 favourite activities and attractions to enjoy when visiting the historic harbour town of Dartmouth. Whether you’re wondering what are the top attractions to visit in Dartmouth, or are simply looking for things to do in Dartmouth in the rain, we have it covered!
Use our quick links below to help navigate the content, or read on for our comprehensive guide to 10 brilliant things to do in Dartmouth…
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 27th to 31th July. After the performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in 2019, this year we can expect to enjoy ‘The Comedy of Errors’.
Unsurprisingly given the town’s location, some of the most popular things to do in Dartmouth involve the water, and so if you want to cruise the River Dart, you really are spoilt for choice…
The Dartmouth Paddle Steamer
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
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.
The Round Robin
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.
Dartmouth Boat Hire
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 things to do in Dartmouth that utilise the water, including kayaking in Dartmouth and paddle boarding in Dartmouth, read our blog on 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, and as you would expect, 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. At Coast & Country Cottages it’s no secret that we love food, and so we have carefully curated our top 10 restaurants in Dartmouth to share with you.
Dartmouth and the surrounding area are a walker’s paradise, with a route for every age, mood and ability – from challenging hikes to short, gentle strolls. At Coast & Country Cottages we love walking in Dartmouth and the surrounding area, so much so we have detailed our favourite routes in a comprehensive Dartmouth walks guide. One walk we particuarly recommend, from Dartmouth Castle to Gallants Bower, falls into the latter – the views are incredible and this is a really good walk for those who want a breath of fresh sea air, and best of all it can also 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.
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 breadth of variety 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 fresh 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 Family Theme Park suits all weather eventualities. Situated 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 a popular spa, why not indulge in some ‘me time’ during your next trip to Dartmouth? Set within 250 acres of beautiful South Devon countryside, The Dartmouth Golf and Country Club Spa anchor all of their experiences around how you want to feel when you leave – relaxed, revitalised or restored. Choose from a variety of package experiences and be sure to indulge in a range of luxury treatments before relaxing in the swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.
For a fun and cheap thing to do in Dartmouth, crabbing is popular with both children and adults alike. Most shops in Dartmouth sell all the elements needed for catching mighty-clawed crustaceans, so don’t worry if you leave your crabbing line, bucket or bait at home. To achieve peak crabbing success, we suggest heading to the embankment or Dartmouth Castle ferry steps to drop your line. At Coast & Country Cottages we have years of crabbing experience under our belt – our locally-based team have put together a guide to crabbing in South Devon, be sure to read it for all our tips and tricks!
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.
Situated in the heart of Dartmouth on Smith street, The Singing Kettle is a 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 the 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.
With so many things to do in Dartmouth, it comes as no surprise that you will want to visit! 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. We also have a number of dog-friendly cottages in Dartmouth, so the whole family can be involved in the fun!