Are you looking for the best things to do in Seaton in East Devon?
A pebble beach sandwiched between ancient cliffs, Seaton’s a quaint slice of seaside that sees a fraction of tourists of other Jurassic Coast and Devon beaches.
This is partially due to its distance from other holiday hubs and partially due to the fact that the beach isn’t powdery white sand – but while it might not be a tropical-feeling beach like others in Devon and Cornwall, Seaton has a particular rugged charm.
It’s not only on the rocky South West Coast Path, but it’s also in a prime position in the heart of the Jurassic Coast.
Enjoy ancient geology or climb on board the double-decker Seaton tramway, which travels up the Axe Estuary to Colyton and then journeys back to the seaside.
In fact, there are quite a few things to do in the hidden gem of Seaton, and as I live just down the coast in nearby Exmouth, I’ve visited a few times to check them all out!
Things to do in Seaton
The best things to do in Seaton include riding the Seaton Tramway, traversing Seaton Wetlands, enjoying the cliff views from the beach, hiking to Beer or Lyme Regis on the coastal path or exploring picturesque nearby towns and villages like Colyton and Axmouth.
1. Seaton Tramway
Seaton Tramway is the main allure of this coastal town.
It’s a vintage electric tram that trundles along the Axe Estuary, past the Seaton Wetlands Nature Reserve (“you’ll never know what you’ll find here” the tour guide told us as we rode past!) and the village of Colyford.
The tramway spans a distance of just three miles, taking 25 minutes in a scenic voyage where you can fully engross in the scenery and nostalgic atmosphere!
I was expecting the Seaton Tramway to be large, possibly the size of a bus – but it’s actually minute, with ten single chairs running along the top with a small aisle in between them.
The tramway terminates in the tiny town of Colyton, home to a church with parts dating from the 12th century and an unusual octagonal tower.
Enjoy the vintage tram stations en route – they reminded me of the nostalgic stations on the Dartmouth Steam Railway in South Devon.
2. Seaton Wetlands
Seaton Wetlands is a stop along the Seaton Tramway, but you can also explore it independently.
The wetlands encompass 4km of hiking trails and a few bird hides, making it one of the best places in the area to visit if you’re into birdwatching.
For twitchers and non-twitchers alike, the weaving trails through the midst of nature are a wonderful recluse from the busier coastline of Devon.
You can access the Seaton Wetlands by walking from the town or it’s a stop on the Seaton Tramway.
3. Seaton Beach
Seaton has an expansive pebbled beach, which is both a blessing and a curse – it’s not the most comfortable to relax on, but it’s usually a lot quieter than other beaches in Devon and Cornwall!
Plus, while it doesn’t entice sunbathing as much as other spots, that’s not to say that it’s not stunning.
From the pebbles, gaze over to the Jurassic Coast cliffs – from here, you can see the white chalk Beer Head which dates back to the Cretaceous age.
There are a few restaurants along the beach, including The Hideaway which has probably the best view in town!
4. Seaton Hole
Venture down the cliffs to uncover Seaton Hole Beach.
In the past, the waters teemed with spider crabs, creating an extraordinary snorkelling experience, but the increasing popularity of Beer Beach has affected Seaton Hole’s appeal.
Now situated on a no-through road due to a significant landslip, Seaton Hole and its accompanying cafe make a refreshing stop if you’re hiking along the coastal path.
Don’t miss the fault where red Triassic rocks meet younger chalk formations, adding a fascinating geological element to the area’s allure.
5. Seafield Gardens
Since East Devon District Council took over Seafield Gardens in 1974, the gardens have maintained their classic layout while introducing revamped planting schemes.
Seafield Gardens showcases a diverse range of horticultural styles and features.
You’ll find a bowling green, a striking clock tower with views of the seafront, an inviting pond, outdoor gym, cactus house, tennis courts, and an adventure golf course.
The area between the tennis courts and the cactus house was transformed into a sensory garden in 2022.
6. Cliff Field Gardens
Scenic Cliff Field Gardens overlook the bright blue Lyme Bay waters.
Within the gardens, you’ll discover shrub beds, a herb garden, a boules court, and the Seaton Chine.
It’s a bit of a steep walk to reach Cliff Field Gardens, but dramatic views await from the top.
You’ll also find the labyrinth, a hedged section of the garden that focuses on wellness and calmness.
7. See tranquil Axmouth
The picturesque village of Axmouth is situated alongside the western banks of the Axe estuary.
It’s a small village but dates back to the 7th century, when it was one of the most important harbours in the country.
St. Michael’s Church dates back to at least 1140 AD and there are two excellent pubs – the Harbour Inn and the Ship Inn.
Axmouth’s also in an ideal location for walks along the river or even fishing from the harbour.
8. Walk to Beer
The Seaton to Beer walk is a short-but-sweet coastal path hike that traverses the expanse of Seaton Beach and then climbs the cliffs before descending into Beer.
It passes by Seaton Hole, a quieter beach with clear water and rock pools.
9. Walk to Lyme Regis via the Undercliff walk
The Undercliff Walk stretches 6.7 miles between Seaton and Lyme Regis and is a completely different hike to many others along the coast path.
This terrain was born from a landslide in 1839, which transformed the cliff face into a diverse landscape of woodland and grassland.
This area brims with ferns, bracken, wild garlic, and ash trees, and the coast path takes you inland – up to 500 metres from the shore.
However, there’s still the occasional glimpse of the sea!
Look out for birds as you go – the Undercliff is a National Nature Reserve and is home to birds like buzzards and kestrels.
The walk takes 3-4 hours (the terrain’s a bit uneven, which means it’s likely to take longer than you think!).
For the return journey, the 378 bus connects the two towns.
10. Explore Colyton
The picturesque market town of Colyton is known as the “most rebellious town in Devon“, thanks to its part in the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellions.
Colyton’s a sleepy place, situated at the end of the Seaton Tramway route, but it’s home to a few thatched-roof cottages, a church with a 12th-century tower and bright stained glass windows and walks along the River Coly.
Cream teas are available at the vintage station where the Seaton Tramway departs from to journey back to the coast.
11. Visit Beer Quarry Caves
A must if you’re on holiday in the area (and just a seven-minute drive from Seaton!), Beer Quarry Caves are Roman manmade caverns that offer guided tours to curious tourists.
The caves were first made to mine Beer stone, known for its malleable but strong qualities, which has been used in buildings like Westminster Abbey and Exeter Cathedral.
Hour-long tours take you around the caves, detailing how and why they were built and some fascinating individual stories about people who worked there.
Close by is the village of Beer, known for the furthest west chalk cliffs which shelter a pebble beach.
12. Axe Valley Wildlife Park
Just a 15-minute drive from Seaton you’ll find the Axe Valley Wildlife Park – a family-friendly East Devon highlight.
This compact zoo is an absolute delight, especially if you’re with children under 12.
Prepare to be awestruck by the diverse animals, from the meerkats and arctic foxes to the majestic zebras and tapirs.
If you’re a bird lover, their feathery residents including the flamboyant Chilean Flamingo and the exotic Java Green Peafowl are a must-see!
Dare to get up close with reptiles? You won’t be disappointed!
There are immersive daily activities like Guinea Pig fishing and interactive handling sessions.
The park is comfortably navigable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, and there’s a café – Ringo’s Rest, for when hunger strikes!
Places to visit near Seaton
There are plenty of places to visit near Seaton, including towns and villages along the East Devon coastline and inland nature spots in Dorset. Here are the best of them!
The picturesque village of Beer doesn’t have anything to do with the drink, but it’s a lovely cove with a shingle beach and smuggling history.
It’s right next to Seaton – around an hour’s walk or five-minute drive – so don’t miss it if you’re staying in town!
Hop over the Dorset border to the bustling town of Lyme Regis, affectionately called “The Pearl of Dorset”.
Famous for fossils, Lyme Regis was home to the legendary Mary Anning, who collected some of the most renowned fossils on the Jurassic Coast.
Walk along The Cobb, a breakwater which was featured in a variety of films, including The French Lieutenant’s Woman featuring Meryl Streep.
Lyme Regis is old-fashioned seaside fun, so grab some fish and chips or ice cream and enjoy the coastal atmosphere!
Branscombe’s a picturesque village not far from Seaton.
It’s thought to be the longest village in the UK – the main road is nearly a mile long.
Famous for its historic forge and thatched roof cottages, it’s also home to The Mason’s Arms, a historic 14th-century inn.
There’s also a pebble beach that’s surrounded by cliffs – hike to the top of one of these for one of the best views in East Devon!
Sidmouth’s a small resort town, that’s always been a popular spot – Queen Victoria even lived here as a child!
Famous for its fantastic walks, awe-inspiring sea views, and beautifully landscaped gardens, Sidmouth has plenty to offer tourists of all tastes!
It’s also home to the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary, a lovely project that rescues adorable donkeys.
How to get to Seaton
It’s relatively easy to get to Seaton!
Take the A303 from the M3 (which connects to the M25 for London) and then change to the A358 and turn right at the end of the road toward Colyford.
Just before Colyford, turn left and south towards Seaton.
If you’re travelling on the M5 (from Bristol, Birmingham or other cities further north), take junction 25 from Taunton and take the B3170 through the Blackdown Hills.
You’ll then join the A303 and follow the same directions as before.
There isn’t a train station in Seaton, but buses connect the town to Exeter (which has connections to other UK cities) or Axminster (which has a station with local train connections).
How to get around Seaton
Seaton’s a walkable town – it only has around 7,000 inhabitants, and most of the attractions are spread along the beachfront (although the tramway is a short way back!).
If you can’t or don’t want to walk, buses run around the town.
Where to Stay in Seaton
There’s a variety of places to stay in Seaton; here are some of the best!
The Eyre Court is a family-run hotel close to Seaton Beach.
Begin your day with a full English breakfast and enjoy live music in their pub on Sunday afternoons.
The rooms are clean and well-furnished, offering homely touches whenever possible.
The Mariners Hotel boasts clean rooms, a generous breakfast, and friendly staff.
Visitors adore the seafront location and touches like fresh milk for tea and coffee and free bottled water in the bedrooms.
Owners Lisa and Dean consistently receive praise for their warm welcome and attentive service, making Mariners Hotel one of the best places to stay in Seaton!
Just 200 metres from Seaton Beach, 3 Grove Mews is a spacious holiday home with sea views.
This accommodation has three bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and three bathrooms with walk-in showers.
There’s also private parking on-site.
Where to eat in Seaton
There are a few decent places to eat in Sidmouth; here are my favourites!
The Hideaway in Seaton has outdoor seating overlooking the sea and indoor seats.
With consistently delicious coffee and cakes, friendly staff, and a good food menu, it’s a place worth returning to!
Frydays Fish and Chips is a popular spot for tasty fish and chips, offering both takeaway and restaurant options.
The friendly service adds to the dining experience, making it a go-to place for satisfying fish and chips in Seaton!
Le Pisani is a highly-rated Mediterranean restaurant in Seaton; I visited here a while back, and it still seems to be ever-popular!
Guests rave about dishes like the seafood linguini and lamb.
Plus, the passion of the couple who run the restaurant shines through, making it one of the best restaurants in Seaton!
FAQs about visiting Seaton
Is Seaton Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Seaton is a charming beach town that has something for everyone.
Whether you’re a nature lover enticed by the Seaton Wetlands and the Jurassic Coast or a history buff interested in the town’s rich heritage, there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Is Seaton in Devon or Dorset?
Seaton is located in East Devon, on the south coast of England.
It sits at the mouth of the River Axe, offering wonderful views of the English Channel and the beautiful Devon countryside.
What is Seaton Known For?
Seaton is known for its beautiful coastal location, its position along the Jurassic Coast (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the Seaton Tramway which is a popular tourist attraction.
The town is also home to the Seaton Wetlands which is a haven for wildlife.
Can You Swim in the Sea in Seaton?
Yes, you can!
Seaton has a lovely pebble beach where you can relax, sunbathe, and indeed, swim in the sea!
There’s no lifeguard present any time throughout the year, so I’d only recommend swimming in the sea if you have experience.
Which is Better: Seaton or Sidmouth?
It depends on what you’re looking for!
Seaton and Sidmouth both have beautiful coastal views, opportunities for watersports, and a relaxing atmosphere.
Seaton has the Seaton Tramway and wetlands, while Sidmouth is known for its regency history and the lovely Connaught Gardens.
Personally, I prefer Seaton, but many like Sidmouth!
Why is Seaton Called Seaton?
The name ‘Seaton’ can be traced back to the Old English ‘Fleet’, meaning a stream or brook.
The town was originally called Fleet, named after the small river that flows into the sea here.
The name evolved to Seaton (Sea-town) due to its coastal location.
Can You Walk Along the Coast from Seaton to Beer?
There’s a beautiful coastal walk from Seaton to the nearby village of Beer.
It’s a part of the South West Coast Path and offers breathtaking views of the Jurassic Coast.
The walk is around 2 miles and can take roughly an hour; it’s one of the shorter coastal hikes on the South West Coast Path!
Arey you ready to visit Seaton?
Seaton might not be the most popular beach in Devon, but the expansive shingle, ancient cliffs and the wonderful Seaton Tramway which connects the beach town with the market town of Colyton make it well worth visiting.