Browse our 'Top 10 Recommendations' lists for South West England to find hotels and weekend breaks, places to visit and things to do. Ideas include museums, rainy days out, parks, galleries, views, cathedrals and railway journeys.
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South West England, Visitor & Tourism Guide



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Counties: Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bristol
National Parks: Dartmoor, Exmoor, New Forest
AONB: South Devon, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, North Devon, East Devon, Dorset, Tamar Valley, Blackdown Hills, Quantock Hills, Mendip Hills, North Wessex Downs, Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs, Cotswolds
Select Cities: Bristol City, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth, Salisbury
Select Towns: St. Ives, Lyme Regis, Dartmouth, Padstow, Salcombe, Sidmouth
Select Villages: Castle Combe, Clovelly, Beer, Sennen, Dunster

UK holiday hotspot
Tens of millions of UK residents holiday here every year and millions travel from abroad to experience its coastline and countryside. From high moors to huge Atlantic facing beaches, rolling downland to rugged coastline, there's landscape for all. Its attractions are second to none, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites and world class historical buildings, superb museums and extraordinary railway journeys. There are some of the UK's leading hotels in which to stay and superb self-catering properties. It's a top place for a holiday or weekend break.

Unsurprisingly, the region's in the south west corner of the UK. The Atlantic Ocean's to the west, the English Channel to the south, the West Midlands to the north and South East England to the east.

South West England contains the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and the city of Bristol which has a population of about half a million people. Its other cities include Bath and Exeter, Salisbury and Plymouth. Click on the links to learn more about these destinations and to read our 'Top 10 Recommendations' for each.

Two National Parks and Twelve AONBs
The region's home to two National Parks.*

Dartmoor National Park is fringed with exceptional wooded valleys cut by rivers which flow from the high moors. Famous for its tors, the Park is particularly stunning in Spring when the wild flowers are out. Exmoor National Park is smaller with similar moorland and steep wooded valleys but it has a magnificent coastline with views across to the Wales coast. Both Parks are perfect for those into outdoor life. PictureTheUK is partly based in Devon and we think Dartmoor National Park and Exmoor National Park are ideal for young families.

There are also twelve Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you're looking for sea and sand, we'd point you in the direction of the South Devon and Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and North Devon. Try the coastlines of East Devon and Dorset, too. If you're more interested in rolling countryside and exceptional English villages we'd recommend the Tamar Valley and Blackdown Hills, the Quantock Hills and Mendip Hills. There are the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs and Cotswolds as well. We've researched and photographed all of them extensively and would recommend any for a holiday.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites and world class attractions
Some world class attractions can be found in the South West including four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The City of Bath is internationally famous. Our summary guide outlines its various attractions. The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site is a less well known UK UNESCO World Heritage Site but, especially down on The Land's End Peninsula (The Penwith Peninsula), it's superb. The Jurassic Coast is a treat and Stonehenge/Avebury Stone Circle are stunning.

Then there's The Eden Project and St Michael's Mount, the SS Great Britain and Longleat Safari Park. Check out our 'Top 10 Recommendations' lists for other ideas.

If you're into castles there are Corfe Castle and Castle Drogo and Gardens , if you're into cathedrals there are Salisbury Cathedral and Wells Cathedral.

For walking, we'd recommend sections, or all, of the South West Coast Path. Dartmoor's the last great wilderness in southern England, the Cotswold Way takes you through some of the UK's most popular countryside. Over in the east of the region, walk to see Wiltshire's many white horses.

Beaches and coastline
Most people head down to this region of the UK for its beaches and coastline. Clearly, the best way to discover the coastline is via the South West Coast Path. Highlights, for us, include Sennen Cove Beach and Perran Beach, Rock Beach and Dunes and the area around Beer Beach. Again, browse the 'Top 10 Recommendations' lists to discover more.

Towns and villages
For towns in which to base yourself for a weekend break or holiday, we'd recommend Lyme Regis and Dartmouth, Salcombe and Padstow. Inland, try Cirencester and Marlborough. St. Ives is essential UK visiting, Swanage is in a superb location.

For something a little more intimate, Castle Combe is generally considered to be one of the UK's most beautiful villages. We'd recommend Lacock and Dunster, West Lulworth and Lynmouth. Clovelly is a peach of a place, the location of Sennen a joy.

Click on the links within this guide to learn more about the various counties and destinations within South West England.

*The New Forest National Park runs into Wiltshire, so it's possible to include that National Park, too.

By James Penman


Top 10 Recommendations

Top 10 Hotels
Selected from the best Hotels in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Travelodges
Selected from the best Travelodges in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Weekend Breaks
Selected from the best Weekend Breaks in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Places To Visit
Selected from the best Places To Visit in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Things To Do
Selected from the best Things To Do in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Beaches
Selected from the best Beaches in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Tors
Selected from the best Tors in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Towns
Selected from the best Towns in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Villages
Selected from the best Villages in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Museums
Selected from the best Museums in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Views
Selected from the best Views in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Rainy Days Out
Selected from the best Rainy Days Out in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Castles
Selected from the best Castles in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Cathedrals
Selected from the best Cathedrals in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Railway Journeys
Selected from the best Railway Journeys in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Gardens
Selected from the best Gardens in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Country Houses
Selected from the best Country Houses in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Churches
Selected from the best Churches in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Bays
Selected from the best Bays in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Walks
Selected from the best Walks in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Zoos And Wildlife
Selected from the best Zoos And Wildlife in South West England we've listed our top 10.
Top 10 Honeymoons
Selected from the best Honeymoons in South West England we've listed our top 10.

Local Map

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Local Attractions  [See more Attractions]

Killertton House and Gardens, Devon

Located in Exeter, Devon, South West England, England

Approximately 3.8 miles away.

National Trust property to the north east of Exeter. Part of a large agricultural estate, Killerton House and Gardens were gifted to the National Trust in 1944. The gardens, in particular, are a joy. Look out for 'The Be...

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Local Accommodation  [See more Accommodation]

Bickleigh Castle, Tiverton
© Owner
Star Rating

Approximately 1.5 miles away.

Total Rooms: 16; Rates: 60 - 175 Per Night

One of Devon's most beautiful wedding venues and bed and breakfast breaks, this 14th century castle nestles in a valley surrounded by 30 acres of lush green land...

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Thorverton Arms, Exeter
© Owner
Star Rating

Approximately 1.5 miles away.

Total Rooms: 4; Rates: 50 - 85 Per Night

This village inn with an award-winning restaurant rests in the picturesque village of Thorverton in Devon...

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The Retreat
© Owner
Star Rating

Approximately 4.4 miles away.

Rates: 304 - 593 Per Week

Set in lush Devon countryside this well appointed barn conversion is an ideal location for enjoying the charms of Tiverton a fine market town with great walks and horse drawn boat cruises along the canal. Boasting its ow...

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