How to Get to Devon: by car, bus or train!

If you’re wondering how to get to Devon, you’ve come to the right place!

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.

Whether you are travelling from London Victoria Coach Station or Heathrow Airport, Scotland or North Wales – 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.

However, if you are going to East Devon, you will need to follow the M5 to junction 30 and then take A roads to your final destinations. 

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 and Exeter are the biggest cities in the county – Plymouth has 235,000 inhabitants, followed by Exeter with a population of about 130,000. Both of these cities have popular stations that you can access from other parts of the country. 

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. Exeter St Davids is also connected to train services to other beautiful beaches like those in Torbay, and North Devon. 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 St Davids and Plymouth Central are served by train services from London Waterloo, London Paddington, 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.

The London Paddington to Exeter rail line is typically a lot faster than the London Waterloo line, but Waterloo is more convenient if you are travelling from south London. 

For cheap train tickets, make sure you book in advance rather than buying on the day at the ticket office. Trainline often has some good deals on both child and adult tickets. 

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 use train or local bus services 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.

Make sure that you book advance tickets if you are planning on getting the coach, as you cannot usually book tickets at the office. 

If you do want to opt for coaches, the Megabus serves Exeter and Plymouth from Bristol, London Victoria Coach Station 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 Victoria Coach Station and Bristol. Coaches then go on to Plymouth Bus Station. 

Should I Fly to Devon? 

Exeter Airport serves a UK cities, including London Heathrow Airport, Birmingham International Airport, and a handful of foreign destinations. However, unless you are coming from abroad, I wouldn’t recommend flying to Exeter Airport, 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!

The best connected international airports in the UK are in London – although Exeter International Airport goes to a few destinations, you are better flying into London or Bristol and connecting to Devon from there.

What is the quickest way to get to Devon? 

The quickest way to get to Exeter or Plymouth is probably taking the train from London Paddington. This is a quick route with few stops along the way. 

What is the cheapest way to get to Devon? 

The cheapest way to get to Devon is to take a coach. You can get a coach from London or Bristol to Exeter, where you can connect to other locations in East Devon and North Devon, or Plymouth, where you can get to locations in South West and Central Devon. 

What is the quickest way to get to Devon? 

The quickest way to get to Exeter or Plymouth is probably taking the train from London Paddington. This is a quick route with few stops along the way. 

What is the cheapest way to get to Devon? 

The cheapest way to get to Devon is to take a coach. You can get a coach from London or Bristol to Exeter, where you can connect to other locations in East Devon and North Devon, or Plymouth, where you can get to locations in South West and Central Devon. 

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. 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.

Tips for getting to Devon

  • When you have booked your tickets, keep an eye on the website or social media accounts of the company you have booked with for travel advice. Cancellations are uncommon, but they do happen, and it’s best to know in advance!
  • If you are going somewhere that doesn’t have good public transport links (there are plenty of them in Devon!), contact your accomodation host who will advise you on the best option. They may even offer to pick you up. from your arrival station or advise you about bus services. 
  • If you are travelling from abroad or do want to fly, and would like to search flights, I recommend finding the cheapest deals on Skyscanner. 
  • If you want an action-packed adventure like hiking on Dartmoor, you might need to drive. 

Where to go in Devon if you are relying on public transport

  • I always recommend Exmouth which has great access to nature – it’s right on the end of the Jurassic Coast and you can walk to moorland – and it’s a quick train ride from Exeter. If you want somewhere to stay, check out Haven Devon Cliffs. If you want to explore more of East Devon, you can take a bus from Exmouth to other destinations. 
  • You can also take a train to Torquay or Paignton from Exeter – both have popular stations. 
  • North Devon is also an option – there is a train service from Exeter to Barnstaple. There are lots of nature trails around Barnstaple, like the Tarka Trail, and you can also take a bus to other beach destinations like Westward Ho! and Woolacombe. 
  • The city centres of Plymouth and Exeter also have plenty to offer the traveller! Exeter also has lots of nature trails along the Exe Estuary, so you can enjoy a bit of nature while having a city break. 
  • From Plymouth, you can take public transport to destinations like Salcombe and other beaches around Plymouth. 

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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