Gallery
  • Photo: Andrew Longden / Shutterstock

Plan Your West Country Vacation

England's West Country is a land of granite promontories, windswept moors, hideaway hamlets, and—above all—the sea. Leafy, narrow country roads lead through miles of buttercup meadows and cider-apple orchards to heathery heights and mellow villages. With their secluded beaches and dreamy backwaters, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall can be some of England's most relaxing regions to visit.

The counties of the West Country each have their own distinct flavor, and each comes with a regionalism that borders on patriotism. Somerset is noted for its rolling green countryside; Devon's wild and dramatic moors—bare, boggy, upland heath dominated by heathers and gorse—contrast with the restfulness of its many sandy beaches and coves; and Cornwall has managed to retain a touch of its old insularity, despite the annual invasion of thousands of people lured by the Atlantic waves or the ripples of the English Channel.

The historic port of Bristol is where you come across the first unmistakable burrs of the western brogue. Its Georgian architecture and a dramatic gorge create a backdrop to what has become one of Britain's most dynamic cities. To the south lie the cathedral city of Wells and Glastonbury, with its ruined abbey and Arthurian associations. Abutting the north coast is heather-covered Exmoor National Park.

There’s more wild moorland in Devon, where Dartmoor is famed for its ponies roaming amid an assortment of strange tors: rocky outcroppings eroded into weird shapes. Devon's coastal towns are as interesting for their cultural and historical appeal—many were smuggler havens—as for their scenic beauty. Parts of south Devon resemble some balmy Mediterranean shore—hence its soubriquet, the English Riviera.

Cornwall, England's westernmost county, has always regarded itself as separate from the rest of Britain, and the Arthurian legends really took root here, not least at Tintagel Castle, the legendary birthplace of Arthur. The south coast is filled with sandy beaches, delightful coves, and popular resorts.

Read More

Restaurants

View All (43)

Hotels

View All (45)

Sights

View All (89)

Shopping

View All (3)

Performing Arts

View All (9)

Top Reasons To Go

  1. Coastal walks For high, dramatic cliff scenery, choose the Exmoor coast around Lynmouth or the coast around Tintagel. The South West Coast Path is 630 miles long.
  2. Riding or hiking on Dartmoor Escape to southern England's greatest wilderness—a treeless expanse dotted with rocky outcrops; there are many organized walks and pony-trekking operations.
  3. Seafood in Padstow Celebrity chef Rick Stein rules the roost in this small, pretty Cornish port, and any of his establishments will strongly satisfy.
  4. Tate St. Ives There's nowhere better to absorb the local arts scene than this offshoot of London's Tate in the pretty seaside town of St. Ives. A rooftop café claims views over Porthmeor Beach.
  5. A visit to EdenIt's worth the journey west for Cornwall's Eden Project alone—a wonderland of plant life in a former clay pit. Two gigantic geodesic "biomes" are filled with flora.
  6. Wells Cathedral A perfect example of medieval craftsmanship, the building is a stunning spectacle.

When To Go

When to Go

In July and August, traffic chokes the roads leading into the West Country. Somehow the region squeezes in all the "grockles," or tourists,...

Read More

Check historic weather for your trip dates:

Travel Tips

Advertisement

Book Your Trip







Compare Sites:




Compare Sites:




Compare Sites:





Trip Finder
Store
Guidebooks

Fodor's New England

View Details

No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE email communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.