Plymouth, the capital and historic hub of maritime Devon is a superb city indeed. A choice of museums abound, focusing on Plymouth's historic maritime history from the Pilgrim Fathers to famous names such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. Discover superb art galleries, arts and crafts shops, and a fantastic quay lined with chic bars and cafes.
The South Hams area of Devon is just waiting to be discovered, and rapidly cultivating it's own culture and charm. You've got 60 miles of some of the most gorgeous coastline and beaches on the South Hams Coast, did you know? A selection of fine restaurants and food, much of which is organic, can be found in the area. Vegetarians and vegans will love South Hams. Check out Totnes!
Plymouth is home to a huge university, so has a vibrant student side to it. Great shopping, fantastic museums, the historic Barbican quayside, a revived beautiful seafront lido, a famous lighthouse, ample boat-trips around the Sound, and lots for the kids such as Plymouth's great aquarium. A south west cultural hotspot indeed, Plymouth is a joy and marked by it's Elizabethan celebrities and rich merchants.
Hop on the trail of those Plymouth Pilgrims who boarded the Mayflower in September 1620 and anchored at Cape Cod 66 days later. Check out the superb Plymouth Mayflower Exhibition on the Quay opposite their own monument, the Mayflower steps.
Contemporary Plymouth is alive and kicking. Plymouth Quay and the attractions around historic Plymouth Hoe and Plymouth Sound are wonderfully accessible.
Plymouth Tourist Information Centre, 3-5 The Barbican, Plymouth. Tel: 01752 306330.
You'll catch your breath when you first see sublime Dartmouth. Probably the most popular of all the South Hams hotspots, Dartmouth has much to offer. The spectacular Dartmouth Castle for one, perched on the edge of the waterfront plus a selection of superb specialist shops, some ancient character pubs and inns and the beautiful Dart estuary, home to many a yacht and host to Dartmouth's famous annual Regatta.
Totnes is a glorious spot in South Hams and it takes pride in it's Green Tourism approach. There's a bohemian and alternative feel to Totnes high street, lined with organic food shops, choice vegetarian and vegan cafes and restaurants and some Devon arts and crafts specialist shops you'll spend hours in!
Totnes has a fascinating history as well. It's an ancient market town which began life as a fortified Saxon settlement and served as protection against Viking invasion along the upper Dart River. Totnes Castle is a good example of a motte and bailey, and was built just after the Norman conquest. Also in Totnes is the interesting Elizabethan Museum.
Today Totnes has a radical kick if you like, with it's resident community of writers, therapists, musicians, and herbalists. Expect to see a few buskers, and lots of organic and vegan/vegetarian cafes. Plus a selection of great bookshops and quirky specialist shops. Watch parking and traffic, both can be a little tricky. Totnes Castle has it's own fee paying car park, so for a central position head for that, following signs for the castle.
At the tip of the estuary lies Kingsbridge, the considered capital of South Hams with it's convenient central position and interesting rural life museum. It's a good base for access to the Salcombe Estuary, and a host of attractions. Alternatively look to the increasingly popular Salcombe further down the estuary on the coast.
Salcombe is a most attractive village, with local Southsands beach offering a range of watersports, particularly sailing, diving and scuba diving, Yacht charters and fishing boat trips. Salcombe is the land of yacht clubs, and has a rather luxurious feel to it these days.
Beaches at Southsands and Northsands, Salcombe are superbly clean, and offer great territory for water sports and fishing. Take the walk up the high cliffs of Bolt Head for views of the estuary and a visit to the eccentric Overbecks Museum & Garden. Sheltered beaches, rock pools and coves are all on the menu around the Hope Cove and Thurlstone sands area. Salcombe really is a hotspot location in Britain for sailing, yacht charter and all things water sports.
Enjoy the outdoors on the water? Head for Salcombe and Salcombe Estuary! Kingsbridge and surrounds is also good for Golf, with Bigbury golf club right on the coast with views of Burgh Island.
Start Point Lighthouse is the perfect spot for watching the sun go down. You can take tours of this lighthouse as well (tel: 01803 770 606). There's some idyllic coastal villages along and inland from Start Bay, and the amazing nature reserve, Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve centred around the freshwater lake of Slapton Ley. Only a very narrow strip of shingle separates this lake from the sea. One time big smuggler village Strete is also well worth a visit, for great views over Slapton Sands. Stoke Flemming, Slapton, Torcross and Beesands are all stunning, picturesque South Hams coastal villages strung along the Start Bay stretch. Take time to explore!
Slapton Ley Nature Reserve is home to the largest freshwater lake in the South West. If you like fishing, head for here as Slapton Ley lake holds a host of fish including pike, perch, roach and Rudd.
Blackpool Sands blue flag beach is one of the most popular, and one of the best along the South Devon/South Hams coast. Popular with water sports fans, Blackpool Sands offers excellent clear water swimming on it's award winning blue flag beach!
Newton Abbot sits conveniently at the head of the pretty Teign Estuary, with easy access to both Dartmoor National Park and Torquay and the English Riviera. Newton Abbot, as you'll discover, is a bit of a cross-roads hence the heavy traffic on-route down to Torquay or back up to Dartmoor. Persevere through this though and you'll discover a friendly and busy market town, with a renowned livestock market.
Newton Abbot though is particularly famous for two tourist attractions, the superb Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum, a journey through Devon's railway heritage, and it's home to Tuckers Maltings which is the only working malt house in the UK, and bonus it is open as a visitor attraction to the public!