With just a little over 5,000 inhabitants, you wouldn’t think that much would be going on in this town on the River Dart. Yet, Dartmouth attracts thousands of visitors each year not only for it’s mild, warm climate and many sunny days as well as dozens of historical, architectural and natural attractions.
From Dartmouth, it’s very easy to take trips to the surrounding countryside by taking advantage of the many boat and ferry connections as well as the historic steam train to Paignton. And not only Cornwall is easy to explore from here – for those who don’t drive, there’s a direct coach connection from London, Birmingham and many other cities to Dartmouth and rail links to Totnes and Paignton.
Culture & attractions in Dartmouth
Located at the centre of Dartmouth, Foss Street is a charming pedestrian street that dates back to the 13th century. Originally, it was built as a dam to hold the Mill Pool, today the street houses a variety of shops, cafés and restaurants. Another interesting road is Browns Hill, which used to be the main road leading to Dartmouth and is a spectacular sight with the many small, colourful streets leading off it.
Architecture fans will enjoy the churches of Dartmouth, such as St Saviour’s Church with an outstanding 14th century door, or St Petrox Church which offers some of the best views over the surrounding countryside.
From Bayard’s Cove, the Pilgrim Fathers set sails for the new world in the 17th century, and Bayarts Cove Fort used t be an important defence line against foreign intruders.
One of the most popular attractions of Dartmouth is the giant Newcomen Engine, the first steam engine that became widely successful and usable for the mining industry.
Must-do highlights in Dartmouth
Dartmouth Castle is an English Heritage Castle – actually, two castles, that have protected the town for over 600 years and even played a role in the Second World War. The castle include an impressive collection of Victorian defence mechanism and massive guns. Throughout the year, many events as take place in and around the castle grounds and various exhibitions let you learn about the history of the castle and town.
For a modern adventure, head to Woodlands Park, which is the UK’s biggest indoor play centre with 15 different play zones for every age group. In addition, the Park has it’s own little zoo and falconry that will fascinate young and old alike.
In 1864, the first railway came to Dartmouth and connected the town with nearby Paignton until 1971. Today, you can follow this historic route in an old steam train and experience for yourself what it meant to travel in style in the old days.
As a day trip to Dartmouth, the Gardens of Heligan are a not-to-miss sight. The mysterious gardens belong to an estate that belonged to the Tremayne family for more than 400 years. Viewing the many glorious plants and different theme gardens today, it’s hard to believe that these gardens were forgotten for many centuries until the big restoration project started in the 1990s.
Another great excursion is as cruise to Salcombe, a charming town about 20 miles away that offers varied shopping opportunities as well as the fabulous Overbecks Museum and Gardens where you can enjoy blooming flowers and some of the area’s best cream tea. Hope Cove Beach is excellent for walks along the sea side and taking in the crystal clear blue sea.
Eating & drinking in Dartmouth
Dartmouth offers a wide variety of high-quality restaurants and bistros for every taste. There’s no avoiding the local seafood – you probably have not eaten fish this fresh before!
For a quick snack, the Café Alf Resco (no, not a typo) is a relaxing spot for breakfast or a cup of coffee any time.
For great a Sunday lunch, head to the Café Alf Resco, which offer master carvery and a choice of three different meats, fish and a vegetarian option and as much dessert as you can eat!
Accommodation in Dartmouth
Especially during high season, Dartmouth’s hotels can get quite crowded – if you are looking for some piece and quiet, there is a wide variety of holiday apartments and cottages in the area.
The two room luxury apartment Dartwood for example offers place for up to five people and is just a five minute walk from the town centre, yet has an amazing view over the River Dart.
Dart View is a pet-friendly 2 bedroom apartment at the outskirts of town and offers views over the Dart Valley as well as a sunny patio.
1 Elm Cottage is a charming apartment in nearby Kingswear, which is connected to Dartmouth by a short ferry ride and offers great views over the town. From here, you can also take a direct ferry to Torquay and Brixham.
So that’s our round up of things to do on a weekend in Dartmouth. Have you ever been there? What would you recommend doing if someone went there for the weekend? Please share you experience with us…