10 best things to do in Dartmouth holiday cottages

10 best things to do in Dartmouth

Cath 16 August 2023

Situated on the mouth of the River Dart, Dartmouth is one of South Devon’s most beautiful and enchanting towns. The beauty of the landscape, the historical buildings and a charming harbour all make Dartmouth the perfect holiday destination.

There is so much to do in Dartmouth you will be spoilt for choice. It really does have something for everyone, including historic castles, family-friendly attractions like Woodlands Theme Park nearby, beaches, steam railways, boats and water sports – you certainly won’t struggle to find something to do here!

Discover our favourite things to do in Dartmouth in this guide or click on the button below to begin your Dartmouth holiday cottage search straight away.

10 of the best things to do in Dartmouth

Use our quick links below to help navigate your journey, or read on for our guide to the 10 of the best things to do in Dartmouth…

  1. Visit Dartmouth Castle
  2. Spend the day on the Dartmouth Steam Railway
  3. Discover local heritage at Dartmouth Museum
  4. Relax at Blackpool Sands
  5. Have fun at Woodlands Family Theme Park
  6. Take a tour around Dartmouth Royal Naval College
  7. Hop on The Greenway Ferry and visit Greenway House
  8. Spend the afternoon at Dartmouth Harbour
  9. Visit Bayard's Cove Fort
  10. Take the ferry over to Kingswear

1. Visit Dartmouth Castle

View of Dartmouth Castle from the river Dart

Dartmouth Castle is believed to have been built in the 13th century to protect what then would have been an important harbour. Today, the seaside castle has plenty to offer visitors – climb to the top of the gun tower for stunning views over the River Dart, explore the two open-air gun platforms or head to the lower floor and find out more about the harbour chain which would have been stretched across the estuary. 

The Castle Tea Rooms can be found nearby for when you are feeling peckish with a great selection of cream teas, cakes, and hot and cold drinks.

2. Spend the day on the Dartmouth Steam Railway

Dartmouth steam railway train beside the water

The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company operate a variety of trips from Dartmouth daily including the round robin, steam and cruise, Dartmouth River cruise and Dartmouth to Totnes River cruise.

If you have time, we recommend the Round Robin which is a full-day excursion and includes a steam train, river boat and bus visiting the towns of Paignton, Dartmouth and Totnes. This ticket is a favourite with all ages where you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery. There are many different options available each day so you can choose the itinerary that suits you best, spending time exploring the towns along the way.

3. Discover local heritage at Dartmouth Museum

Exterior of Dartmouth Museum

Photo credit: Dartmouth Museum

Dartmouth Museum is a fascinating museum of local life and heritage, housed in the Butterwalk, a picturesque timber-framed merchant's house built between 1635 and 1640. The Dartmouth Museum houses extensive collections of local artefacts, models, paintings and photographs. 

A particular highlight of the museum is the King’s Room, named after its links to King Charles II. The king's ship was forced to put into Dartmouth in 1671 due to a severe storm. The king and his royal entourage were hosted here, in what was considered the best room in town. One reminder of the visit is a painted and gilded royal coat of arms over the fireplace.

4. Relax at Blackpool Sands

Aerial view across Blackpool Sands

Situated about a 10-minute drive from Dartmouth is Blackpool Sands. Blackpool Sands is a Blue Flag award-winning beach backed by evergreens and pines. It is a privately managed beach which keeps its standards high, making it one of the most popular family beaches in the area.

The South West Coast Path also runs through Blackpool Sands, so is an ideal place to start or finish a walk along this beautiful piece of the South Devon coastline. 

5. Have fun at Woodlands Family Theme Park

Photo credit: Woodlands Family Theme Park

Woodlands Family Theme Park is the largest theme park in the South West, set within a hundred acres of countryside with 11 mammoth play zones. The park offers the best variety of family rides and attractions – from the fantastic zoo farm with hundreds of family favourites and exotic animals to zooming down the fastest waterslides – it’s truly a day out to remember.

There’s also a massive indoor play centre with mega rides, slides and play equipment. Also, don’t miss the fascinating flying displays in the Falconry Centre as well as the Big Bug Show. Woodlands has it all.

6. Take a tour around Dartmouth Royal Naval College

Exterior shot of Dartmouth Naval College

With an intriguing heritage spanning over 150 years, Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth is an essential place to visit for any Devon visitor with an interest in British history.

Join one of their expert resident tour guides on a revealing voyage from past glories to the present day. During the tour, you will be taken into the heart of the college, from the elegant chapel through to areas including the quarterdeck, parade ground, gun room and heritage museum.

The tour lasts about 2 hours and is generally available on most Mondays and Wednesdays from February through to November, starting from a convenient pick-up point in Dartmouth town centre.

7. Hop on The Greenway Ferry and visit Greenway House

Exterior of Greenway House

The Greenway ferry connects Dartmouth, Dittisham and Greenway as frequently as every hour. Whether you take the ferry from Dartmouth to the quaint village of Dittisham or the home of the late Dame Agatha Christie at Greenway, taking to the water is a must when visiting South Devon’s beautiful River Dart.

We recommend taking the ferry to Greenway House (what a way to arrive in style!). The cruise takes roughly 30 minutes and, once you arrive at Greenway Quay, you are a short 5-minute stroll from Greenway House which Agatha Christie herself described as ‘the loveliest place in the world'. 

8. Spend the afternoon at Dartmouth Harbour

Dartmouth harbour at sunset

In the heart of Dartmouth is the town’s inner harbour which is surrounded by wonderful independent shops and eateries. Why not spend a few hours just watching the world go by from here? 

Right next to the harbour, you will find the beautiful and peaceful Royal Avenue Gardens. The park is filled with beautifully planted flower beds, which are linked by twisting paths allowing you to meander around the relaxing space. 

In the heart of the garden, stands the cast iron bandstand which makes an impressive centrepiece as well as providing a stage during town celebrations.

If harbours are your sort of thing, click out our guide to Devon harbours here! 

9. Visit Bayard's Cove Fort

Bayards Cove Fort taken from the River Dart

Bayard's Cove Fort, also known historically as Berescove or Bearscore Castle is a 16th-century artillery blockhouse, built to defend the harbour entrance. Constructed in the early part of the 16th century, it had 11 gunports for heavy artillery and was intended to engage enemy vessels that broke past the external defences of the Dartmouth and Kingswear castles. 

It remained armed during the English Civil War but was neglected in the 18th century. The fort was restored in the late 19th century and is now managed by English Heritage and open to visitors.

10. Take the ferry over to Kingswear

Kingswear ferry crossing river Dart

Dartmouth has two ferries that connect the town to Kingswear, just across the estuary and both are car and passenger ferries. The Higher Ferry is situated on the north-easterly point of Coronation Park – with a single passenger fare costing £1 each way.

There is also the Lower Ferry which uses the historic ferry and tug, one of which is aptly named Hauley (Hawley) after a previous Dartmouth mayor – with a single passenger fare costing £2 each way. 

Things to do in Dartmouth map

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Where to stay in Dartmouth

If you haven’t booked yourself a holiday to Devon yet, what are you waiting for? Browse our excellent range of self-catering holiday homes and cottages throughout Dartmouth and pick out the perfect retreat for you. Whether you are travelling to the area with your loved one for a romantic break or a break with friends and family, we have accommodation large and small to fit your chosen occasion.

Also, before you visit, check out our guide to the best Dartmouth restaurants and places to eat out here! 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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