Well heeled and comfortable, Exeter exudes evidence of its centuries-old role as the spiritual and administrative heart of Devon. The city's Gothic cathedral presides over pockets of cobbled streets; medieval and Georgian buildings, and fragments of the Roman city stretch out all around.
Dartmouth & Around
Home to the nation's most prestigious naval college, the riverside town of Dartmouth is surely one of Devon's prettiest, awash with pastel-coloured, punch-drunk 17th- and 18th-century buildings leaning at crazy angles, and a picturesque harbour stacked with yachts and clanking boat masts.
Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor is an ancient, compelling landscape, so different from the rest of Devon that a visit feels like falling straight into Tolkien’s Return of the King. Exposed granite hills (called tors) crest on the horizon, linked by swathes of honey-tinged moors. Streams tumble over moss-smothered boulders in woods of twisted trees.
Torquay & Around
It may face the English Channel, rather than the Med, but the coast around Torquay has long been dubbed the English Riviera; famous for palm trees, piers and russet-red cliffs. At first glance, Torquay itself is the quintessential English seaside resort in flux, beloved by both the coach-tour crowd and stag- and hen-party animals.
Totnes & Around
Totnes has such a reputation for being alternative that local jokers wrote 'twinned with Narnia' under the town sign. For decades famous as Devon's hippie haven, eco-conscious Totnes also became Britain's first 'transition town' in 2005, when it began trying to wean itself off a dependence on oil.
Ilfracombe & Around
If there's anywhere that sums up the faded grandeur of the British seaside, it's surely Ilfracombe. Framed by precipitous cliffs, elegant town houses, crazy golf greens and a promenade strung with twinkling lights, it's a place that sometimes seems pickled in a bygone age.
Croyde & Braunton
While surfers in Cornwall head for Newquay, bros and bro-ettes in Devon make a beeline for Croyde. Devon's north coast receives essentially the same swell as Cornwall's, but the scene is a lot less brash than around Newquay: here, the thatched cottages and pubs of the old village sit happily alongside the surf shops and wetsuit-hire firms.
Clovelly is the quintessential, picture-postcard Devon village. Its cottages cascade down cliffs to meet a curving crab claw of a harbour that is lined with lobster pots and set against a deep-blue sea. A clutch of impossibly picturesque inns and B&Bs makes it even harder to leave.
Okehampton huddles on the edge of an uninhabited tract of bracken-covered slopes and granite tors – the mind-expanding landscape known as the higher moor. The town has a staging-post feel, and its traditional shops and pubs are good places to prepare for a foray into the wilderness.
Set in the heart of the remote, higher moor, Princetown is dominated by the grey, foreboding bulk of Dartmoor Prison and on bad weather days the town can have a bleak feel. But it's also a useful insight into the harsh realities of moorland life and makes an atmospheric base for some excellent walks.
With its honey-grey buildings and imposing church tower, this is archetypal Dartmoor, down to the ponies grazing on the village green. The village is commemorated in the traditional English folk song of Widecombe Fair, a traditional country pageant that takes place on the second Tuesday of September.
Chagford & Around
With its wonky thatches and cream-and white-fronted buildings, Chagford clusters on the edge of Dartmoor around a picturesque square. But this apparently timeless moorland scene is also now home to some supremely stylish places to eat and sleep. The bustling market town of Moretonhampstead sits 5 miles east.