16 Stunning Locations to Go to in South West England (+ Distinctive Stays)


From Cornwall’s surf-friendly shores and the Jurassic Coasts’ fossil-heavy seashores to The Cotswolds sandstone villages and Devon’s rugged moorlands, one of the best locations to go to in South West England are primarily encountered within the untamed countryside or alongside the enchanting coast.

Nonetheless, it’s not all lapping waves and wild trails; the area has its justifiable share of cultural points of interest and concrete centres unfold throughout the seven counties which type South West England.

Main cities and cities embody Tub, Bournemouth (my residence city), Plymouth, Cheltenham (famed for the horse races), and free-spirited Bristol – a incredible metropolis which I haven’t coated on this article as I’ll as a substitute concentrate on smaller or barely extra uncommon locations to remain and go to in South West England. 

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In fact, many of those locations make nice day journeys from London, however some are additionally incredible UK staycation concepts. My recommendation for exploring this a part of the nation is to string some landmarks and locales collectively right into a highway or rail journey, staying in some distinctive hideaways en route.

Listed here are simply a few of my favorite locations to go to in South West England – however belief me, this checklist may simply be ten instances longer!

Gothic Exeter Cathedral
Gothic Exeter Cathedral

Exeter, Devon

Exeter – Devon’s county city (the regional capital) and cathedral metropolis – is a pleasant mixture of crooked timber buildings and grand Gothic structure in its Previous Core, with pubs and shaded walks alongside the River Exe.

Based by the Romans greater than 2000 years in the past – a few of the metropolis partitions are nonetheless seen – the storied streets are dotted with historic landmarks. Highlights embody the Fifteenth-century Guildhall (visitable on a guided tour), the underground medieval passages, and the much-celebrated Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

Town’s cultural crown, nonetheless, is the grand Gothic cathedral. Constructed within the thirteenth century, this is among the stand-out locations to go to in South West England. Outdoors, quite a few carved statues adorn the facade, whereas the inside, with its vaulted ceilings and splendid stained-glass home windows, is equally magnificent.

With loads of first rate pubs (The Fats Pig and Mill on the Exe are nice, plus The Imperial for the transformed structure), eating places (try Cosy Membership) and selections of B&Bs, Exeter is a superb base to discover Devon from – even for those who aren’t within the historic choices.

Citadel Combe & The Cotswolds, Wiltshire

A lot of my household reside in Wiltshire, residence to a part of the Cotswolds Space of Pure Magnificence, so I’ve been very fortunate to have loved loads of visits to this stunning area – and sure, it greater than lives as much as its title.

A quintessentially English panorama – suppose quaint sandstone villages, verdant woodlands, and huge pastures – is intensive and stretches throughout six counties. But, within the Wiltshire half, there may be one village that appears to draw essentially the most consideration: Citadel Combe.

It’s truly fairly minute – lower than 400 folks name the village residence – and has no important points of interest to boast. However, with a small tributary of Avon River operating by, and picturesque cottages, it’s garnered loads of Instagram consideration.

Don’t let that deter you from visiting, although, as there are greater than 750 sq. miles of The Cotswolds – and lots extra villages – to get misplaced amongst. Ramble on woodland trails, slip into rural pubs for pies and pints, and fall in love with South West England. That is one of the best of the British countryside.

Camping pod with a view
Tenting pod with a view over St Michael’s Mount © Distinctive hideaways

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

With so many unimaginable locations to go to in Cornwall, I may pack this text out with simply these options alone (observe that hyperlink for all my favourites there. As an alternative, I’ve picked two of the area’s most well-known landmarks, beginning with St Michael’s Mount.

Like France’s Mont St Michel, this tidal island in South West England was based as a pilgrimage web site with a Benedictine church. Later, it turned a fortress, then a stately residence, earlier than changing into at the moment’s well-known vacationer attraction.

The walkway to St Michael's Mount
The walkway to St Michael’s Mount

Accessed from the city of Marazion by a brick causeway, you possibly can cross from the mainland to the island on foot. On arrival, you possibly can tour the storied fort – nonetheless a household residence – and the terraced gardens earlier than visiting the 14th-century church.

In the event you’re on the lookout for one of many extra uncommon locations to remain in South West England, you possibly can’t go flawed with this luxurious tenting pod, full with privileged sizzling tub views throughout the mount and surrounding landscapes. You’ll even be effectively positioned to get pleasure from considered one of my favorite trails within the space, the mighty Perranuthnoe to Porthleven coastal stroll.

Man O' War Beach in Dorset
Man O’ Warfare Seaside in Dorset

Lulworth, Dorset (Jurassic Coast)

For the subsequent three spots on this South West England checklist, we’re heading to England’s solely pure UNESCO World Heritage Web site, the Jurassic Coast.

Whereas stunning Bournemouth and its magnificent seaside deserve a point out as a great start line for a highway journey alongside Devon & Dorset’s finest locations on the Jurassic Coast, the true magic is discovered within the coves, bays and fossil-infused rock formations which this close to 100-mile lengthy stretch of shore is famed for.

What makes it so distinctive is the historical past held throughout the cliff faces, and generally even on the seaside itself, the place it’s possible you’ll discover Ammonites and Belemnites your self. Fossils relationship again some 185 million years  – together with the Jurassic and Cretaceous durations – have and are nonetheless being found right here, making it as fascinating as it’s fetching. 

Beautiful Durdle Door, surrounded by 150 million years of history
Stunning Durdle Door, surrounded by tens of millions of years of historical past

Lulworth Cove is among the most picturesque villages to move to for an introduction to the realm. With conventional pubs clad in stone, ice-cream vans, and a close to good peddled bay, it’s seaside holidays personified.

From right here, it’s round a one-mile stroll alongside the path to 2 of the Jurassic Coast’s most well-known spots. Durdle Door, a formidable limestone arch which climbs into the ocean, is the outstanding landmark, whereas Man O’Warfare seaside is among the area’s extra dazzling.

Removed from being one of many extra uncommon locations to go to in South West England, these two areas turn out to be very crowded in the summertime months. That’s why it’s considered one of my favorite locations to go to in Europe in April, because the wildflowers arrive earlier than the crowds that means it’s stunning for rambling. In fact, in order for you seaside climate, you’ll have to go for the hotter summer time months.

Kimmeradge Bay South West England
Kimmeridge Bay

Chapman’s Pool Seaside & Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset (Jurassic Coast)

These are two of my favorite locations on the entire Jurassic Coast, and at any time when I return, I can’t assist however smile at childhood recollections. The primary, Chapman’s Pool Seaside, near the city of Swanage, is among the wilder and extra secluded swimming spots in South West England. This implies no lifeguards and a step slender entry path, however for those who don’t thoughts that you simply’ll be rewarded when you attain the waters.

The second, Kimmeridge Bay on the Isle of Purbeck (a peninsula fairly than an island), is one other breathtaking bay. Sadly, like Durdle Door, it’s situated on non-public land, so there’s a cost to enter and park on the lane. This does imply that it will get fewer guests than a few of the different public seashores, and for those who schedule a go to at low tide, the possibilities of discovering a fossil listed below are extra doubtless than on the busier bays.

The Etches Assortment museum close by homes a few of the extra important and extra spectacular fossil findings from the bay. Whereas it’s actually attention-grabbing, you’ll need to issue within the £9 entrance payment (household tickets can be found) and think about for those who’d choose to go to the extra intensive and barely lower-priced museum in Lyme Regis as a substitute.

Lyme Regis is one of Dorset's best beach towns
Lyme Regis is considered one of Dorset’s finest seaside cities

Lyme Regis, Dorset (Jurassic Coast)

Lyme Regis is one other fashionable seaside escape in South West England. At first look, it’d seem to be every other beach-facing city, but, for some motive, this one feels ‘particular’.

As with a lot of the coast, the traditional fossils that give the route its title can typically be seen – the well-known fossil collector Mary Anning hails from Lyme Regis – and the geology-focused Lyme Regis Museum and spectacular fossil assortment at Dinosaurland supply additional perception.

The city can be filled with loads to do. There are stunning seashores but in addition fairly gardens, loads of pubs, close by strolling trails and an old-school inventive vibe. Each time my college associates’ WhatsApp group comes alive with the chatter of us all returning to Dorset for the summer time, we normally set our sights on having fun with a couple of days away collectively right here, drawn by the very fact you possibly can keep at chalets proper on the seaside.

Lyme Regis Chalet © Distinctive hideaways

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

Set within the Mendip Hills of Somerset, this magnificent limestone gorge and cave system is among the extra uncommon locations to go to in South West England. Whether or not you simply benefit from the dramatic drive by the gorge or cease for a hike, it’s going to actually depart you marvelling at mom nature.

For individuals who do cease, you’ll be rewarded with a real journey playground. Hike up Jacob’s Ladder – a set of stairs – and benefit from the magnificent views from 450 ft above as you embark on the cliff-top path. One factor to notice is that this half is on non-public land, so that you’ll want to purchase a ticket to climb the steps and go to Pavey’s Lookout Tower.

Cheddar Gorge can be a really traditionally important location, as that is the place the oldest human skeleton in Britain – round 10,000 years previous – was discovered. Actually a hidden gem in Europe value making the detour for!

Certainly one of Englands oldest mysteries, Stonehenge

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Maybe essentially the most well-known place to go to in South West England is the intriguing assortment of pre-historic sarsen stones often called Stonehenge. I’m going to warn you, although, it’s going to price you somewhat over £20 to see them up shut, though you will get a free glimpse from additional again on the general public heritage path.

No matter the way you determine to go to, one factor is for certain – this weathered rocky ring of upright sarsen and bluestones are considered one of our nation’s best mysteries. 

Surrounded by burial mounds and a favorite place to be on the solstice as a result of alignment, it’s actually fairly fascinating. I’ll admit, I used to be adamant I wasn’t going to pay to enter and simply have a look from additional away, however ultimately, I succumbed, and I’m glad I did.

One other bonus of getting into with the Nationwide Belief ticket is you possibly can see some mocked-up fashion ‘houses’ from the time interval and go to the training centre to try to grasp an understanding of how these 25-ton stones had been positioned. In fact, many mysteries stay, and also you gained’t come away with all of the solutions, however then once more, possibly we’ll by no means understand how or why this Neolithic monument was constructed greater than 4000 years in the past.

Poppy Yurt © Unique Hideaways
Poppy Yurt close to Dartmouth © Distinctive Hideaways

Dartmouth, Devon

Hugging the mouth of the River Dart, the gorgeous city of Dartmouth is a stable base to select to discover all South Devon affords – each for the coast and the area’s inside.

That is additionally a fantastic spot for water sports activities in South West England, as you possibly can select from the calmer waters or journey alongside the coastal path to Compass Cove Seaside.

Dartmouth additionally has a few galleries and cultural points of interest to go to, such because the small Dartmouth Museum – primarily WWII and maritime-focused – and Bayard’s Cove Fort, which dates from the Tudor interval. Outdoors of the summer time season, guests are additionally comparatively scarce, making the low season one of the best time to go to. Even within the peak months, you possibly can nonetheless discover some fairly priced lodging, particularly for those who look somewhat inland and think about tenting or glamping in a jazzed-up yurt. Being barely inland will supply quick access to different close by points of interest, equivalent to Nationwide Belief properties and the kid-friendly Woodlands Household Theme Park.

Glastonbury Abbey
The stays of Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury, Somerset

In the event you’ve heard of Glastonbury earlier than, you’re doubtless imagining muddy fields, music raves and hippy tents. Sure, that is the house to South West England’s best-known occasion, Glastonbury Pageant.

But, when the music isn’t blaring, Glastonbury stays one of the attention-grabbing cultural locations to go to in South West England – and is undoubtedly much more chilled out exterior of June.

Legends and myths linger within the air of this city, and essentially the most outstanding pertains to King Arthur’s Tomb, which you will discover right here. The excessive road itself additionally feels fairly storied and is typically in comparison with Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books. The cobbled aspect streets are dotted with natural and potion shops, jewelry retailers, and loads of vegan and uncooked meals cafes – when you’ve visited it, you’ll see why this ‘superior 80’s hippy city’ as my dad and mom name it turned host to the pageant.

One other fashionable spot, particularly for the views, is Glastonbury Tor. From St Michael’s Tower atop, you’ll have lush and inexperienced far-reaching vistas throughout the countryside. There are additionally the stays of the Eighth-century Glastonbury Abbey, which was left in disrepair because of Henry VIII’s resolution to destroy the Catholic Church.

Dartmoor Ponies
Ponies in Dartmoor

Dartmoor Nationwide Park, Devon

Sadly, Dartmoor was within the information for all of the flawed causes in late 2022, as a court docket case banning wild tenting – one thing which has at all times been accepted right here – dominated the headlines. Whereas there will definitely be an attraction to this ruling, Dartmoor Nationwide Park must be loved as among the finest days out in South West England for now, fairly than a tenting journey.

And boy, what a lovely a part of the nation it’s. Even on my most up-to-date go to, when the climate did the standard English drizzle-and-grey-skies combo, I used to be reminded of how particular this huge moorland is.

Being a comparatively flat nationwide park, Dartmoor is a superb place for low-impact hikes with out climbs. Throw into the combination some waterfalls, the lovable and famed Dartmoor Ponies, and the odd medieval bridge and neolithic tomb, and also you’ve bought an thrilling mixture of sights to get pleasure from whereas rambling by the park. It’s actually a distinction to the lovable coastal cities and villages Devon is normally identified for.

Houseboat on the Isle of Wight
Houseboat on the Isle of Wight © Distinctive hideaways

Isle of Wight 

Whereas some would think about the Isle of Wight considered one of South West England’s finest days out, I’d counsel spending at the very least a couple of nights on the isle to absorb all of its charms.

Having circumnavigated the entire island on foot – my finest pal and I made a decision to stroll all of it for charity after we had been 15 as our first foray into backpacking – I can personally verify each nook of the Isle of Wight guarantees picturesque panoramas. 

Simply accessed by ferry from Southsea, Lymington and Southampton, the quick journey throughout the Solent will whisk you to the island. On arrival, you’ll discover a extra laid-back air, with vintage-style seaside huts, dazzling seashores, and – from the opposite aspect of the island – views throughout the English Channel. 

Rent a Kayak to absorb The Needles (chalk ridges protruding from the ocean), burn by all of your coppers on the amusement arcades of Shanklin, and settle in for an evening of incredible stargazing – it is a great spot to modify off from the trendy world.

Tenting, guesthouses, and lodges of all sorts might be discovered on the Isle, however to essentially really feel near the island life, you could possibly keep onboard a yacht or houseboat – actually one of many extra uncommon locations to remain in South West England. In the event you plan to go to throughout The Isle of Wight Pageant, you’ll want to e book your lodging upfront.

Tavistock, residence of previous market locations

Tavistock, Devon

Tavistock sits on the sting of Dartmoor and makes for a fantastic place to cease for lunch on a day trip in South West England. An historic market city – buying and selling stalls have been promoting their wares and produce right here since 1105 – it retains a persona from bygone days.

The market operates from Tuesday till Saturday – Friday being the normal fruit and veg day – within the Market Sq., and it’s a pleasant place to name in to select up native crafts and merchandise from small companies.

Brownsea Island, Dorset

What makes Brownsea Island – a brief boat experience from Poole – one of many extra uncommon locations to go to in South West England are the island’s animal residents. Dwelling to one of many greatest communities of protected purple squirrels, a small inhabitants of peacocks, and even deer, it’s a fantastic different day trip in Dorset.

As effectively land animals, loads of migratory and native fowl species might be noticed – specifies various relying on the time of yr. Puffin sightings aren’t out of the query both, particularly for those who take a ship journey to try to witness them. You may as well decide to camp on the island in a single day.

With a restrict on customer numbers through the season, the island is open to the general public (round April to October), it by no means feels too busy, and Nationwide Belief members don’t have to pay the payment to go to. Personally, I’d say it’s effectively definitely worth the roughly £20 ticket, which incorporates entrance and the ferry, however to be honest, I’ve been obsessive about Brownsea Island since I visited as a child on a college journey. Even now, having travelled a lot additional afield, it stays considered one of my favorite islands to go to.

A view across St Ives, one of the best places to visit in Cornwall
A view throughout St Ives, Cornwall

St Ives, Cornwall

For hundreds of years, St Ives has been one of the fashionable locations to go to in South West England for a UK staycation. The attractive and expansive swatches of creamy sands – particularly magical at low tide – quaint whitewashed streets, and abundance of recent seafood eating places are crowd pleasers, making it among the finest locations to remain in Cornwall because it has the lot.

It’s additionally a fantastic base to discover a few of the prime journey actions within the UK, equivalent to hikes alongside the Lizard Peninsula or browsing on Carbis Bay. From St Ives itself, you possibly can take boat journeys to identify dolphins or see the Godrevy Lighthouse up shut. For somewhat tradition, the spectacular trendy artwork assortment at The Tate will oblige.

Bath England
The historic Roman Baths of Tub, South West England

Tub, Somerset

Okay, so I hadn’t deliberate to incorporate the ‘main’ cities of South West England, equivalent to Bristol and Tub, however seeing as I imagine the latter is among the finest locations to go to in England, I made a decision it will be prison to not point out it.

On my first go to to Tub, I immediately fell in love. It has the right steadiness of historical past and heritage buildings mixed with a vibrant, forward-thinking vitality. If I ever transfer again to England from Portugal, this could undoubtedly be one of many first locations I might think about.

I’m clearly not the one one who thinks this manner, as Tub is among the hottest locations to go to in South West England as folks flock to see the Roman Baths, which give the town its title.

Bath Abbey, one of the most popular landmarks in South West England
Tub Abbey, one of the fashionable landmarks in South West England

Now serving as a time capsule and museum, the thermae date again practically 2000 years. Whereas it’s going to price you near £20 to enter and tour the baths, actually on the steep aspect for a UK attraction, it’s a good worth if you embody the museum and the audio information, which may be very informative.

Tub Abbey, one other of South West England’s landmark points of interest, can be value a go to and works on a donation fairly than ticketed entry. Hovering fan-vaulted ceilings and towering stained-glass home windows make this considered one of England’s most stunning buildings, and the (paid) towers present sweeping views over the town.

Away from the star points of interest, the remainder of the town is dreamy. Honey-coloured stone buildings, small impartial shops, and the River Avon mix to create a postcard-worthy vacation spot. Certainly one of my favorite locations is the 18th-century Pulteney Bridge which crosses the river, because it’s considered one of solely a handful of bridges on the earth with enclosed retailers on both aspect.

Discover some of the best places to visit in South West England, including unusual spots and special stays for a unique getaway.
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Whether or not you need to snuggle up in a forest tree home, examine in to a transformed cart, or spend your days wistfully gazing on the ocean out of your cabin’s mattress, you’ll discover loads extra distinctive locations to remain within the area on the Distinctive hideaways web site.

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