With the summer holidays officially over, we find ourselves making plans for the next break in the school calendar year,...
There are things to do in Dartmouth to entertain everyone from shopaholics to history buffs. Here we’ve picked out five of our favourite ways to amuse ourselves in this South Devon 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’.
Unsurprisingly given the town’s estuary 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.
Other options include:
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.
Try the finest fish and chips
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:
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.
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.
Break up your retail therapy sessions and take a load of 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 beautiful Royal Avenue Gardens, stop off at one of our bakeries or perhaps even indulge in some delicious South Devon fudge.
There are plenty of other things to do in Dartmouth, including crabbing along the promenade, pampering at Dart Marina and much more. You could even time your holiday to arrive during one of its many 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:
There are enough things to do in South Devon to keep everyone happy, regardless of the size, ages and tastes of your group.
Thinking of visiting Dartmouth? Take a look at the extensive range of luxury Dartmouth Holiday Homes we have available, or call our friendly locally-based team on 01548 843773.
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!