Dartmouth’s importance began as a strategic deep-water port and from 1147 to 1190 it was the sailing point for the Crusaders journeying to the Holy Land. Fast forward and this gem retains its naval importance as the home of the Britannia Royal Navy College. Its streets are lined with Tudor merchants’ houses, gourmet restaurants and independent boutiques. Whether you’re staying in one of our holiday apartments for a long weekend or for a week or two, there’s plenty to do in Dartmouth and surrounding South Devon. Whether you’re a shopaholic, a foodie, a sun worshipper or need clever ways to entertain the kids, we’ve compiled a selection of our favourite places to visit.
Close to the coast, Dartmouth is within a short drive from some of the country’s most picturesque beaches. With many dog-friendly beaches, award-winning beach cafes and water sports facilities, it was hard to narrow down our favourites!
© Visit South Devon
Blackpool Sands is a Blue Flag Award winning fine shingle beach, named after the village of Blackpool and is only a short drive from Dartmouth. It has unusually clear waters and is privately managed meaning that the showers, toilets and disabled facilities are to a high standard. Dogs are permitted on the beach during restricted times of the year.
© Visit Britain
Bigbury on Sea beach is an expansive sandy beach with shallow waters, plenty of rock pools for children to explore and is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is patrolled by lifeguards from May to September and dogs are permitted to restricted sections during the summer. The beach is famous for Burgh Island which is accessible during the low tide via a causeway or at high tide by its iconic water tractor.
© Ian Wool
Across the estuary from Salcombe town, Mill Bay is a sandy beach within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can take the small ferry across from Salcombe or park in the National Trust car park. Dogs are permitted on the beach all year round and at low tide there’s plenty of rockpools for children to explore.
Dartmouth has a wealth of historic importance as a naval port and so is a favourite for city dwellers and day trippers wanting to learn and enjoy its local attractions. If you’re a history buff, a budding gardener or avid reader, you will enjoy our selection below.
Dartmouth Castle dates back to the 1380s when civic authorities needed to protect themselves against the threat of a French attack. The artillery fort overlooks the mouth of the Dart estuary and is run by English Heritage. They have events and activities on throughout the summer months and is educational and fun for all ages.
© Dartmouth Steam Railway
Step back in time and enjoy the bygone delights of the steam railway. It’s a 10.8km stretch of coastal track that was completed in 1864 and runs from Paignton to Kingswear. Have your camera and smartphones ready because the track cuts through rolling hills and provides passengers with a view of the sea and the River Dart.
© The National Trust
Greenway House was the home of global murder mystery novelist Agatha Christie. It is now run by the National Trust and is situated within its own estate on the River Dart near Galmpton. If you wish to arrive in style there’s a steam railway service with trains arriving from Paignton and Kingswear to Greenway Halt station. Booking in advance is advised.
© The National Trust
Coleton Fishacre was the home of the D’Oyly Carte family, a renowned theatrical family, and is now under the ownership of the National Trust. It has been lovingly restored to its 1920s peak and its 24-acre garden is RHS accredited. It is located near Kingswear and has a restaurant, gift shop and extensive car parking.
The royal regatta was first established in 1834 and has become the highlight of the summer for tourists and locals. With rowing and sailing events, air shows from the Red Arrows and in recent years the Royal Navy Lynx helicopter display team, The Black Cats, have delighted crowds. There’s plenty to entertain the whole family and with lots of live music and spectacular fireworks the Dartmouth Royal Regatta is not to be missed!
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No stay in Dartmouth would be complete without visiting its many wonderful restaurants and sampling its local produce. Given the town’s coastal location it is renowned for quality seafood, scrumptious ice cream and of course the traditional cream tea!
If you like quality produce sourced locally and want to enjoy the rustic setting of a Tudor building then take a stroll down to Bayards Cove. Their menu caters for many dietary requirements; there’s vegan options, fresh fish and traditional meat mains. It’s a popular restaurant so we recommend booking a table in the evening.
Dartmouth’s streets are lined with independent fashion boutiques, art galleries and nautical outfitters to suit every budget however if you wish to venture further afield here’s a selection of our favourite shopping destinations.
© Salcombe Design Company
Salcombe is a popular coastal town which has become a hub for quality food, water sports and shopping. It lies on the west side of the Kingsbridge Estuary within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is very popular with day trippers and holiday makers during the summer season because of its sandy beaches, rolling countryside and stunning views.
Totnes is located at the head of the estuary of the River Dart within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is known for its independent spirit, colourful boutiques, quaint cafes and town market.
Click below to view Ways Away's holiday accommodation
Sleeps 4. A stylish apartment within a historic Grade I listed building within the centre of Dartmouth.
Sleeps 4. A dog-friendly apartment with town and river views located only a short walk from the centre of Dartmouth.
Sleeps 5. A tastefully restored apartment within a historic Grade I listed building located in the heart of Dartmouth.
Sleeps 2. A first-floor apartment within the heart of Dartmouth with unbeatable views over the quay and river.