How to Get to Devon

The county of Devon is located in the South West of England, bordering Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north and Dorset to the east. With a relatively short drive and train time from London, it’s a popular destination for weekend trips from the capital or elsewhere in the South. From cities in the North of the country, it’s a little trickier to get to Devon, but is generally made possible by connections through Bristol.

If you’re wondering how to get to Devon, read on – this guide is for you!

How to Get to Devon by Car

Unless you’re driving from Cornwall, you will probably enter Devon one of two ways – on the A303 or the M5. The A303 connects to the M3, which in turn links to the M25 – so if you are driving from London or anywhere in the South East, this will be the route for you. 

If you are driving from the north, the midlands, or Wales, you are likely to join the M5 wherever nearest – it starts in Birmingham and goes through Bristol – and take that to your desired destination in Devon.

The M5 goes through Exeter and stops in Plymouth, and has junctions at a few different destinations en route. If you are visiting one of the beautiful north Devon destinations, you will probably end up leaving the M5 near Taunton in Somerset or at the Tiverton junction.

If you are staying somewhere other than the big cities, driving to Devon will most likely involve a few country roads. If you aren’t used to them (I’m certainly not, having driven mostly in London and Bristol), take it steady, don’t let other people pressure you into going too fast, but do be aware that lots of people will drive very quickly along these roads.

Drive times 

  • London to Exeter – about 3 hours
  • London to Plymouth – about 4 hours
  • Bristol to Exeter – about 1.5 hours
  • Bristol to Plymouth – about 2.5 hours
  • Birmingham to Exeter – about 2:40 hours
  • Birmingham to Plymouth – about 3:40 hours
  • Manchester to Exeter – about 4 hours
  • Manchester to Plymouth – about 5 hours
  • Newcastle to Exeter – about 6 hours
  • Newcastle to Plymouth – about 7 hours
  • Nottingham to Exeter – about 3.5 hours
  • Nottingham to Plymouth – about 4.5 hours

Please note, these can vary wildly depending on the traffic situation, which in the UK, can be very very unpredictable. 

How to get to Devon by train

First, look at exactly where in Devon you are going. Plymouth is the largest city in the county, with 235,000 inhabitants, followed by Exeter with a population of about 130,000. You might need to get a train to one of these cities and then another train to your destination – for example, to get to Exmouth, I would take a train to Exeter St Davids and then change over. Often, a ticket will cost the same for the extra journey, so it’s a good idea to buy a ticket covering the whole trip.

Both Exeter and Plymouth are served by trains from London Waterloo and Bristol Temple Meads, and they continue into Cornwall. If you are travelling to Devon by train from other cities, you will likely need to change elsewhere; either London or Bristol, or other options include Southampton and Cardiff. 

How to get to Devon by Coach

While I am a big fan of coach travel in the UK, mainly because it is so much cheaper than the trains (British trains are potentially the biggest travel rip-off in the world), it’s not always ideal in Devon. Coaches serve Exeter and Plymouth, but unless you are staying in either city, you will likely need to transfer to train or local bus to complete your journey. That being said, there are a few direct coach services that aren’t served by trains. And, of course, coaches are about 10x cheaper, so it might be worth the hassle – just check the extra expense of getting to your destination first, while you are making your decision. 

If you do want to opt for coaches, the Megabus serves Exeter and Plymouth from Bristol, London and various towns and cities in Somerset and Dorset. 

National Express has a few more options; you can get a coach from Birmingham, Oxford, London Heathrow, Bath and Chippenham – as well as London and Bristol. Coaches then go on to Plymouth. 

Should I Fly to Devon? 

Unless you are coming from abroad, I wouldn’t recommend flying to Devon, no matter how many changes there are on the trains. It’s a lot of hassle going through the airports, and they are often far away from where you need to go. Plus, taking the train is a lot more eco-friendly – even if it takes longer!

How do I normally get to Devon? 

I have travelled to Devon from Bristol and London. I’ll normally drive if I can, as I am usually going to Exmouth, which is about half an hour on the train from Exeter. But I have also taken the train plenty of times – it takes a while from London but the Bristol connection is quite fast. I book early on for the cheapest tickets. I haven’t taken the coach from either city to Devon, but I have heard that it’s fine for connecting to the big cities, just a bit long to change to get to smaller towns. 

I hope that this post has helped you plan your trip to Devon and work out the best way for you to get to this beautiful county!

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