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The Coroner filming locations - Hope Cove beach

At Coast & Country Cottages, we know that holidays can (at times!) be expensive, so to help a little, we’ve created a fun-filled list of free things to do in South Devon. Our local’s guide provides a snapshot of free activities that the whole family can enjoy, regardless of season, rain or shine.

South Devon is the ultimate natural playground and boasts the perfect cross-section of beaches, countryside and woodland, all of which invite exploration. Regardless of whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, wildlife lover or history buff, there are endless activities to be enjoyed on your break! Our list of 20 free things to do in South Devon is designed to give you plenty of choice, and aside from travel, food and parking costs, you won’t need to spend a penny.

Our top 20 free things to do in South Devon

1. Walk the South West Coast Path, The Dart Valley Trail and more!

In South Devon, we are so lucky to have miles and miles of endless coastal paths, riverside rambles and rolling countryside trails on our doorstep. So, don your walking boots and explore the region by foot. You’ll find yourself discovering secluded coves not accessible by car, wild deer peering out of bracken and breathtaking vistas unlike anywhere else. We love walking so much, we made a comprehensive South Devon Walking Guide, full of detailed trails for all ages and abilities. Download your free guide here.

Free things to do in South Devon-South West Coast Path walk

2. Go crabbing

With harbourside towns, sandy beaches, secluded coves and thriving rock-pools, it comes as no surprise that South Devon has some of the best crabbing spots in Britain. It really wouldn’t be a complete holiday to the local area without trying your hand at crabbing, so we’ve collated our top crabbing tips so you can easily find those mighty clawed crustaceans.

Free things to do in South Devon-crabbing

3. Visit a free South Devon festival

Join in the fun at one of South Devon’s free festivals. Hope Cove Weekend, held every August Bank Holiday, is one of the most popular jamborees, alongside Dartmouth Regatta and Frogmore Regatta. Read our full guide to festivals in South Devon for more information.

Free things to do in South Devon - Dartmouth Regatta

4. Head to the beach

South Devon’s striking coastline is home to a variety of beaches, including secluded coves, open golden shores and pebbled beaches – perfect for skimming stones! Explore old smugglers caves, sunbathe on fine sand or explore some of the best rockpooling spots around, however you wish to spend your day you’re bound to have a fantastic time at the local beaches.

Like to get creative? Trawl the regions shores searching for seashells and collecting tidal treasures, such as driftwood and sea glass. Bring your beachcombing treasures home with you and keep them safe, ready for a crafty project during your holiday.

Free things to do in South Devon - Beesands Beach

5. Watch fishermen bring in the local catch of the day

Many South Devon villages still retain much of their fishing heritage. One of our favourite unspoilt places to visit is Beesands, where crab and lobster remain important to its economy. Watch the fisherman return with their daily catch, it can be quite a spectacle and if you’re lucky, they may let you up close.

6. What a South Devon sunset

Watching the sun go down is one of life’s most simple pleasures, and South Devon is home to a wealth of picture perfect sunset spots. Pack an evening picnic (bubbles included!) and head to the beach to bask the golden glow of the sunset. We love it at South Milton Sands, particularly as the sun drops behind Thurlestone.

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

7. Visit Slapton Ley Nature Reserve

At around a mile and half long, Slapton Ley Nature Reserve is the largest natural freshwater lake in south-west England, and it’s teeming with wildlife. Pack the binoculars and enjoy a spot of bird watching, one of the local residents’ favourite free things to do in South Devon. Located adjacent to Slapton Sands, why not spend an evening on the beach after an afternoon spent wildlife spotting at the nature reserve?

Free things to do in South Devon -Slapton Ley Nature Reserve

8. Forage South Devon’s larder

The South Devon coast is a seaside foragers paradise and is home to shrimp, mussels and an array of edible seaweed to name a few. Here is our handy seafood foraging guide for those who want to try their hand at living off the sea.

Free things to do in South Devon - sea foraging

9. Go wild swimming in South Devon

With rivers, estuaries and an expansive coastline to explore, there are many opportunities to make a splash in South Devon. One of our favourite and most hidden wild swimming spots in South Devon is off the shore at Sugary Cove, near Dartmouth Castle. To get there, we recommend taking a look at our visual walking guide from Dartmouth town centre to the beach so you don’t miss it. Go on, take the plunge and tick a wild swimming experience off your list!

10. Explore Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park is just a short drive away, and boasts 368 square miles of open moorland, forest, rivers and craggy granite tors. Don your walking boots and explore this wild and rugged landscape. Here are five of our favourite Dartmoor walks.

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

11. Spot dolphins, seals and basking sharks

For a gentle activity, find a safe cliffside viewpoint and spend your time spotting dolphins, seals and if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the lesser spotted basking shark. Bolberry Down is a brilliant place to bunker down, and you will find a handful of public picnic benches taking in panoramic ocean views.

12. Visit the ‘village that fell in the sea’

Visit Hallsands to learn about the ‘village that fell in the sea’. Remains of the old village can be seen both in and out of the water, and you will also find an information point in the village itself.

13. Learn about Exercise Tiger at Torcross and Slapton Sands

For something educational, head to Torcross Beach and Slapton Sands, the location of World War Two’s Exercise Tiger. The rehearsals for the Normandy D-Day landing ended up a tragic disaster where many servicemen lost their lives. Today, the Operation Tiger memorial, a recovered Sherman tank, stands by Slapton Ley where it was salvaged from the water.

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

14. Try geocaching in Devon

Delve into the depths of the countryside and try geocaching, a treasure hunt activity that is popular amongst both children and adults.

15. Enjoy a barbecue or picnic

Dining in the great outdoors is exhilarating whatever the season, so try eating al fresco. There’s something about a South Devon holiday that screams for beach barbecues and countryside picnics, and it makes a nice change to dining at home! Delicious sizzling sausages and melted marshmallows, topped with a locally-distilled tipple on the side, and of course the stunning backdrop of South Devon’s coast and countryside – what could be better? For the best local food and drink suppliers, read our barbecue tips blog. Alternatively, click here for our top 10 picnic spots in South Devon.

Free things to do in South Devon - beach barbecue

16. Discover Totnes

Explore the historic market town of Totnes, not forgetting to visit Totnes Castle and browse the eclectic weekly market.

17. Explore Dartington Gardens

Dartington Gardens are a firm favourite amongst those visiting South Devon. With colourful blooms in abundance and a rich sense of history and exciting features to explore, the gardens are open from dawn till dusk, seven days a week, with free entry.

Free things to do in South Devon - Dartington

18. Go to a local farmer’s market

Visit the fantastic South Devon farmer’s markets in KingsbridgeDartmouth or Totnes to sample some of region’s sumptuous larder creations and even meet local chefs.

19. Practice your photography skills

Family holidays are all about making memories, and often, so much fun is had that we forget to take any pictures. A great holiday project the whole family can get involved in is to create a travel diary, perfect for sharing stories of your holiday when back home. With mobile phone cameras and digital cameras so readily available, it’s so easy for all the family to snap away.

If you’re a keen photographer, click here to view our top 10 Instagrammable places in South Devon for inspiration.

Free things to do in South Devon - take photos

20. Download our free children’s activity pack

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a lazy morning or afternoon spent making the most of your holiday cottage, and we don’t blame you for doing so! 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 today and bring it with you on holiday, perfect for rainy days!

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

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!