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The Coroner filming locations - Hope Cove beach

No matter where you go, holidays can be expensive, so to help you out a little, we’ve put together a fun-filled list of 20 free things to do in South Devon. Our local guide provides a snapshot of free activities the whole family can enjoy, regardless of season or weather.

South Devon is undoubtedly mother nature’s playground and boasts the perfect cross-section of beaches, countryside, and woodland. All of these places are just waiting to be explored. Regardless of whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, wildlife lover, or history buff, there are endless free activities in South Devon to enjoy during your break.

Free things to do in South Devon

Use our quick links below to view a specific activity or read on for our local guide to free things to do in South Devon:

Outdoor Activities:

Local Towns and Villages:

Historical Places in South Devon

Family-friendly Activities:


Free Outdoor Activities in South Devon

Explore Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor walks at Haytor- free things to do in South Devon

The vast expanses and giant granite tors of Dartmoor National Park are just a short drive from your holiday cottage. Boasting 368 square miles of moorland, forest, rivers, and craggy tors there’s a wealth of walks, hikes, and trails to explore.

Here are five of our favourite Dartmoor walks.

Walking and Biking Trails

South Devon has miles and miles of coastal paths, riverside rambles, woodland trails, and rolling countryside right on your doorstep. So if you’re a lover of the outdoors why not put on your walking boots or grease up those bike chains and explore the abundance of trails that are on offer.

From the paved paths of Drake’s Trail to the uphill climbs along the South West Coast Path, there is a route that everyone will love. Discover secluded coves, spot deer hidden in the bracken, and be awed by breath-taking vistas.

Read our South Devon Walking Guide for more walks in South Devon.

Go Wild Swimming in South Devon

With plenty of rivers, estuaries, and an expansive coastline to explore, there’s a wealth of opportunities to make a splash in South Devon. So if you’re looking for wild swimming spots in South Devon you’ll be spoilt for choice. One of our favourite and most hidden spots is off the shore at Sugary Cove, near Dartmouth Castle.

Explore The Open Water by Surfboard, Kayak, or Paddleboard

We believe there is no better way to view the South Devon coast than from the water. From the rip curls at Bantham to the shallow waters of the Salcombe estuary, don your swimming costumes, trunks, or wet suits and kayak, surf, or paddleboard across its water’s for a different view of South Devon.

Watch a South Devon Sunset

Thurlestone Beach at sunset - free things to do in South Devon

Watching the sun go down is one of life’s most simple yet delightful pleasures. We may be biased here, but South Devon has a wealth of picture-perfect sunset spots for when you want to slow down for an evening and enjoy a little bit of beauty.

Pack an evening picnic (with bubbles included) and head to the beach to bask in the golden glow. One of our favourite spots is at South Milton Sands where you’ll see the sun drop behind Thurlestone.

Enjoy a Picnic or BBQ

At Coast & Country Cottages, we love dining al fresco and we think you will too. There’s something truly special about a South Devon holiday that screams for beach barbeques and countryside picnics, and it makes a nice change from dining at home.

Delicious sizzling sausages and melted marshmallows accompanied by a locally-distilled tipple plus the backdrop of South Devon’s Coast and countryside – what could be better? For the best local food and drink suppliers, check out our barbeque tips blog.

Alternatively, check out our top 10 picnic spots in South Devon.

Visit Local Towns and Villages

Discover Totnes

Discover the historical market town of Totnes. Explore the independent shops, take a walk up to the top of Totnes Castle, and browse the eclectic weekly market.

Explore Dartmouth

Situated on the mouth of the River Dart, you’ll find the beautiful town of Dartmouth. It’s one of South Devon’s most popular and enchanting towns. Discover Dartmouth Castle, walk the streets and explore the numerous shops, and grab a bite to eat whilst watching the boats go by in any number of its eateries.

Check out our guides below for more inspiration:

Spend The Day in Plymouth

Known as Britain’s Ocean City, with strong links to the navy, Plymouth is a great family-friendly day out. From museums and the National Marine Aquarium to shops, restaurants, and famous landmarks, there are plenty of both paid and free things to satisfy the whole family.

Walk Through The Streets of Salcombe

Located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Salcombe is known for its stunning coastal views and rolling countryside surroundings. It is also a hub for sailing, boating, and watersports, and plays host to a number of fun events and festivals throughout the year.

Check out our guides on sailing in Salcombe, boat hire in Salcombe, and exploring the Salcombe Estuary.

Free Education Historical Places in South Devon

Visit The ‘Village That Fell In The Sea’

Take a trip to Hallsands and learn about the ‘village that fell in the sea’. The remains of the old village can be seen both in and out of the water and you’ll also find an information point in the village itself.

Learn About ‘Exercise Tiger’ at Torcross and Slapton Sands

Torcross memorial at Slapton Sands - free things to do in South Devon

For something educational why not take a drive to Torcross Beach and Slapton Sands, the location of World War Two’s ‘Exercise Tiger? It was here on the beach where rehearsals for the Normandy D-Day landing ended in tragedy and many servicemen lost their lives.

Today, you can see the Operation Tiger Memorial, a recovered Sherman tank, standing proud by Slapton Ley where it was salvaged from the water.

Free Family-Friendly Activities in South Devon

Crabbing and Rock Pooling

Free things to do in South Devon-crabbing

With harbourside towns, secluded coves, countless beaches, and thriving rock pools, it comes as no surprise that South Devon has some of the best crabbing spots in Britain. Plus it wouldn’t really be a complete holiday without trying your hand at crabbing, here are our top crabbing tips to help you find those clawed crustaceans.


Bigbury-by-sea and Burgh Island

South Devon’s striking coastline is home to a variety of beaches. Including secluded coves, pebbled beaches, and wide-open golden shores. Discover old smuggler’s caves, sunbathe on fine sands, and explore a wealth of rock pools.

From the world-renowned Bigbury-on-Sea and Burgh Island to the dog-friendly sands of East Portlemouth and Gara Rock, there’s a beach that everyone can enjoy.

Forage South Devon’s Larder

Whether you’ve done foraging before or are a complete novice, the South Devon coastline is a seaside forager’s paradise. It’s home to an array of crustaceans including shrimp, crab, and mussels as well as edible seaweed.

So if you’re interested in living off the sea, we’ve put together a handy seafood foraging guide to help you along the way.

Try Geocaching in Devon

A great way to explore South Devon’s vast countryside is by trying your hand at geocaching, a treasure hunt activity loved by children and adults. Get your detective skills in check and follow the clues to find a little treasure. There’s even an app for your smartphone that you can the locations of geocaches across the UK.

Spot Dolphins, Seals, and Basking Sharks Off The Coast

Another free thing to do in South Devon is dolphin, seal, and also shark spotting. Find a safe cliffside viewpoint, bring your binoculars, and spend your time spotting dolphins and seals. If you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the lesser spotted basking shark.

One of the best places to hunker down is Bolberry Down where you’ll find a handful of picnic benches to sit at whilst enjoying the panoramic sea views.

Practice Your Photography Skills

Free things to do in South Devon - take photos

We know as well as you do that family holidays are all about making memories. Often, we end up having so much fun that we forget to take any pictures. Why not start a holiday project the whole family can get involved in and create a travel diary filled with photos?

It’s a great way to share stories when you get back home and because smartphone and digital cameras are so readily available, it’s easy for your family to snap away. If you’re a keen photographer, here’s our guide on the top 10 instagrammable places in South Devon for some more inspiration.

Free things to do in South Devon - downloadable children's activity book

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a lazy morning or afternoon spent making the most of your holiday cottage. To keep the kiddies entertained, we’ve created our free, downloadable activity book so the little ones can colour away, complete a word search and have fun indoors.

<< Click here to download your activity book >>

Free Events In South Devon

Visit Some Farmer’s Markets

Famer’s Markets are a great way to discover and sample some of the regions sumptuous larder creations. The South Devon farmer’s markets in Kingsbridge, Dartmouth and Totnes are some of the best and you’ll even be able to meet local chefs to help give you inspiration for dishes.

Go To A Free Festival in South Devon

Free things to do in South Devon - Dartmouth Regatta

Join in the fun at one of South Devon’s free festivals. Every August Bank Holiday head down to Hope Cove Weekend, one of the most popular jamborees in South Devon, alongside the Dartmouth Regatta. Another popular festival in South Devon is the Pirate Festival in Brixham, be prepared to dress as a pirate and enjoy a range of activities for the whole family.

Read our full guide to festivals in South Devon for more information.

South Devon Holiday Cottages


At Coast & Country Cottages our South Devon holiday cottages are ideally situated to explore the wealth of free things to do in South Devon. From coastal cottages and beach holidays to country escapes and even farm holidays, you really are spoilt for choice and we are sure you’ll find something to suit.

<< Book your holiday today! >>