21 best things to do in Sidmouth, Devon in 2024

Are you looking for the best things to do in Sidmouth? Here’s our full guide!

The natural beauty of Sidmouth, one of East Devon’s premier resort towns, has been attracting travellers for decades.

Sidmouth is a small town sitting on the Jurassic Coast and has a tiny population of about 12,500 people. But it’s well-catered for tourists, with an abundance of hotels and restaurants. 

Boasting a fascinating history not just from the Jurassic period, but also from the town’s rise as a holiday resort, the coastal town is renowned for its excellent walks, beautiful sea views and landscaped gardens.

Gaze up at towering red-sand cliffs, be amazed at the golden beaches and go back in millennia of history as you discover the Jurassic Coast.

I live in nearby Exmouth (about half an hour from Sidmouth), and I’ve visited the town lots of times in my childhood and more recent years.

While Exmouth is much bigger and more accessible, Sidmouth has a wonderful charm that you only really find in smaller towns.

Whether you fancy strolling around the lovely countryside or enjoying family fun on Sidmouth’s beaches – or if the weather’s not too kind and you need to shelter – all of the main attractions of the seaside town are featured in this post!

Things to Do in Sidmouth

The best things to do in Sidmouth include:

  • lazing on the beach
  • admiring the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast (and maybe even doing a hike or two on them!)
  • walks up the River Sid
  • learning about the town’s history with its blue plaques
  • visiting the nearby donkey sanctuary – East Devon’s most adorable attraction. 

Here’s a full list of what to do in Sidmouth!

1. Admire the towering Jurassic Coast cliffs in the town centre

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is the only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in England, spanning 95 miles through East Devon and Dorset, and travelling 185 million years back in time in the process.

The stunning coastline is home to fascinating fossils, glorious beaches and rugged steep cliffs; and the far west segment is its oldest part.

You can see the beautiful cliffs right from Sidmouth town centre, so bring a camera and snap away!

2. Walk on Sidmouth Beach

Before you go and snap those iconic pictures though, make sure to make the most of Sidmouth Beach. It’s beautiful, clean and accessible.

Try and get there when the tide is out to be treated to gorgeous red sand and rockpools otherwise covered by the sea.

If you’re an adventurer, head out to the eastern end where you can hire kayaks and canoes. As Sidmouth is in the sheltered Lyme Bay, the waters here are generally calm and fantastic for watersports!

3. Visit Sidmouth Museum

Are you more of a museum person?

Don’t worry, Sidmouth covers all grounds – and the collections and exhibitions in this museum are not to be missed.

Given the important geographical location of Sidmouth, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this museum is dedicated to fossils, minerals, and rocks that have been found in the area.

There are many interactive displays and so much to learn – it really is fun for all the family!

And don’t miss The History of Sidmouth exhibit to learn all about the area in the 1700s!

4. Stroll up and down the River Sid

Sidmouth and the Sid Valley encompass a fantastic riverside walk.

While you might not fancy the entire 40-mile stretch (good luck to you if you do!), the entire route is full of beautiful views and calm, quiet pathways perfect for a stroll.

However far you choose to go, make sure you don’t miss Byes Tollhouse, one of the oldest properties in Sidmouth which dates back to the 1800s.

5. Climb up Peak Hill

Another fantastic option for a walk is to climb Peak Hill, which has immense views from the top.

Run by the National Trust, this short, relatively easy walk will reward you with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast.

It’s around a half hour walk each way.

6. Visit Connaught Gardens

Dating back to the 1930s, Connaught Gardens are beautiful partly walled-in glorious gardens that absolutely can’t be missed on a trip to Sidmouth.

It’s around 1.25 hectares in size and boasts many mixed borders and municipal beddings.

The setting is perfect for wandering around and marvelling at the lovely rare plants on display.

Refreshments are available at The Clock Tower Cafe and if you come in the summer, you might be treated to an entertainment event or concert.

7. Laze on Jacob’s Ladder Beach

Another amazing beach, Jacob’s Ladder is named after a wooden stairway that comes directly from Connaught Gardens.

Not only is it stunning, but it’s also backed by some impressive cliff faces.

That also means you’re slightly protected from the wind. This is a very convenient win – you know what the British seaside is like!

One of the more interesting things about this beach is that the pebbles are actually protected by law!

There are rock pools, sand, and shingles, but you can’t take anything from the beach.

8. Kick back in a Sidmouth pub

Sidmouth, Devon

What would a trip to the British seaside be without a trip to the pub?

It’s almost as important as getting fish and chips!

Sidmouth has some wonderful pubs and given the location, you’re almost guaranteed to get some incredible views while sipping on your pint.

Don’t forget to try the local cider!

Some good pubs I’d suggest are:

9. Pay a visit to the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary

A visit to the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, UK

The Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary is a lovely spot to visit, especially if you have little’uns with you.

It’s over 50 years old and is dedicated to transforming the lives of donkeys across the world.

This sanctuary for donkeys has rescued hundreds of amazing animals over the years, many of whom were adopted after being mistreated for tourism purposes.

You’ll learn all sorts at this place and come away with a newfound love of donkeys.

10. Follow the blue plaques to learn about Sidmouth’s heritage

One thing about Sidmouth? There are a lot of blue plaques.

That means the town has a lot of history!

So, what better way to learn all about it than to do a mini tour and find them all?

Learn as much as you can and visit sites of historical importance (with pitstops at the pub, of course).

In fact, it’s a heritage trail and it’ll take you through exotic gardens, places of extraordinary architecture, and tell you all about the town’s royal connections.

There are 64 in total, can you find them all?

11. Sidmouth Toy and Model Museum

The Toy and Model Museum is full of fun and is the accumulation of 40 years of work and collecting by owners Ian and Rebecca.

From model cars, trains, and aircraft, to Star Wars and Harry Potter exhibits, this one is particularly popular with younger children.

There are also vintage Barbie dolls and board games!

12. Walk to Branscombe, Beer, or Seaton

Beer beach

Another great walk on this list, but upping the ante to a strenuous level, the South West Coast Path walk to Seaton (which goes via Branscombe and Beer if you fancy a shorter trek) is an impressive 10.3 miles.

Hiking on the coastal path is one of the best things to do in Devon, so don’t miss this hike for epic views!

You know what that means? You’ll have earned that cider and carvery by the end of it!

You’ll see butterflies, red cliffs, and masses of wildflowers.

That’s all while walking across rocks that are nearly 200 million years old!

It’s a stunning walk, just make sure you’re kitted out and have the right footwear on.

13. Walk to Exmouth

Ladram Bay

If you want a longer walk, but don’t fancy so many ups and downs, head to Exmouth on the coastal path from Sidmouth.

This one is easy to moderate in difficulty making it a much more chilled-out route.

It’ll take you through the resort of Ladram Bay, home to a gorgeous beach that is open to the public in the winter months.

Then, it goes through the town of Budleigh Salterton which has tonnes to do including beaches and vineyards, and along the way, you’ll see woodland and cliffs and do lots of open-field walking.

Check out the Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton walking guide here.

14. Visit the Beer Quarry Caves

17 minute drive from Sidmouth

Admittedly, this one is a 20-minute drive away, but it’s so good, we had to include it!

The Beer Quarry Caves are man-made caverns that are 2,000 years old, home to Beer stone which has been used in many of the nation’s cathedrals, Exeter’s guildhall and countless churches and buildings across South West England.

On guided tours of the underground quarry, you can learn all about the cave’s history and ecology, including how it became one of the most important industrial sites in the UK.

15. Explore charming Branscombe

17 minute drive from Sidmouth

Branscombe is a quintessentially quaint British fishing village, so we just had to put it on this list!

The longest village in England, this delightful settlement is home to fossil hunting, charming thatched roof cottages, South West Coast Path hikes and charming tea rooms and pubs.

Check out the best things to do in Branscombe here!

16. Day trip to Exmouth

Lovely sunset at a sandy Exmouth beach, Devon

30 minute drive from Sidmouth

Home to Stuart Line Cruises and Orcombe Point which is the start of the Jurassic Coast, Exmouth is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Visit Krispies Fish and Chips in the town centre for award-winning food (or check out the other restaurants in Exmouth!), bask on the two-mile-long beach or enjoy the East Devon Way hiking trail.

You can see all of the best things to do in Exmouth, from boat trips to the town’s museum, here.

17. Visit Dartmoor National Park

solitary white wild horse in Dartmoor at sunset

30 minute + drive from Sidmouth

Dartmoor National Park is a must-do in Devon.

With popular attractions like its many tors (Brent Tor with the church on top is my favourite!), National Trust site Castle Drogo and a plethora of incredible hiking routes, this wild and rugged landscape is one of the UK’s most iconic national parks.

Get ready for sensational views and look out for wild ponies as you drive around! 

Check out my full guide to Dartmoor national park here.

18. See the historic Exeter

Travelling at Old center of Exeter (Devon), UK

33 minute drive from Exeter

One of Devon’s two cities, Exeter is close to Sidmouth and is packed full of interesting historical attractions.

The most famous is Exeter Cathedral, but it’s also home to an enigmatic quay, one of the narrowest roads in the world, a house that was moved and Medieval passageways.

Check out my full guide to Exeter here.

19. Go back in time at Killerton House

34 minute drive from Sidmouth

An atmospheric house basking in stunning countryside, Killerton House is one of the best national trust properties in Devon. 

It dates back to the 18th century and was donated to the National Trust in 1944 by the Acland family.

Along with historic rooms, the house boasts a collection of historic fashion. 

Plus, the 2590-hectare estate, which contains the remains of an iron-age fort, is ideal for walks.

20. See Honiton

High Street in Honiton, Devon famous by antique shops

22 minute drive from Sidmouth

Honiton is one of the more underrated places to visit in Devon, but it’s famous for its lace-making industry that dates back 400 years.

While you’re here, explore the town’s rich history at the Allhallows Museum or, if you’re visiting on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, check out the Honiton Farmer’s Market.

Honiton’s on the edge of the Blackdown Hills, a stunning (yet offbeat) AONB, and from the town you can take in a variety of walking and cycling routes. 

21. Spend a day in Seaton 

19 minute drive from Sidmouth

Just a stone’s throw from the Dorset border, Seaton’s a popular Jurassic Coast seaside resort. 

It’s home to the Seaton Tramway, which explores the beautiful Axe Valley as it journeys to Colyton. 

Plus, check out Seaton Wetlands, a nature reserve that’s home to hikes and plenty of birds!

Bask on the beach, or enjoy the variety of coastal walks that leave from the town – you can even hike into Dorset from here! 

All of the best things to do in Sidmouth!

Stunning scenery unfurls before your eyes and there’s a range of fun family attractions to keep everyone entertained – Sidmouth is without a doubt one of the most beautiful holiday spots in the country.

Most tourists come for the beaches but stay for the mesmerising views from the cliff tops.

You can also enjoy amazing family days in East Devon or just kick back on Sidmouth beach – there’s so much on offer in this East Devon town!

If you’re planning a trip to this part of the country, don’t forget to check out my full Devon travel guide full of all my local trips to the county!

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