With its stunning coastal setting, mild climate, and rich history and culture, Dartmouth is one of the UK's most appealing holiday destinations and a firm favourite with discerning tourists. The actor John Hannah, who found fame in Four Weddings and a Funeral, has enjoyed many breaks in this South Devon town. As he emphasises in the Telegraph newspaper, Dartmouth is the 'perfect [place] for the whole family to relax and recharge'.
The view across Dartmouth Harbour, the town's beating heart, is mesmerising, especially in the summer. The clear waters seem to melt into the cloudless sky, creating a vast expanse of blue framed by lush green hills. You'll feel as if you've travelled to an exotic island when in fact you're standing on English shores.
When you want a magical vacation in a thriving hub for modern tourism, Dartmouth has much to recommend it, as the following guide makes clear. Little wonder that the social elite return year after year.
Within easy reach of Dartmouth's pastel buildings and winding streets are stunning stretches of sand and shingle.
Popular yet peaceful, the Blue Flag Award-winning Blackpool Sands is widely regarded as 'the best beach in Devon', as the Devon Guide points out. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque sandy spot anywhere else in the UK, and it's more than a match for the Mediterranean. What's more, the beach is bordered by a sub-tropical 'secret' garden.
Strete Gate's fine shingle and grassy hillocks are ideal for dog walks, while the refreshingly rugged Castle Cove, close to Dartmouth Castle, is a hidden gem that disappears at high tide.
Thanks to its naturally deep waters, Dartmouth is synonymous with seafaring and attracts a diverse range of vessels, from impressive naval ships to luxury cruise liners.
Britannia Royal Naval College has overlooked the harbour for more than a hundred years. Today it welcomes holidaymakers with a passion for maritime history during guided tours run by The Britannia Association, a charity of which Prince Charles is patron.
The combination of breathtaking landscapes and an exciting sailing scene makes Dartmouth irresistible to the affluent owners of yachts and superyachts. One of their favourite haunts, the sumptuous Dart Marina Hotel & Spa, boasts its own yacht harbour.
The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta, featuring an illuminated river procession and spectacular fireworks, is an annual highlight for thousands of sailing enthusiasts.
Immerse yourself in Dartmouth's vibrant creative community and you can't fail to be inspired.
Surely the most famous artist working in Dartmouth today is Paul Barclay, whose eye-catching signs and illustrations of yachts are often admired around the town. His talents have won him international recognition, and his paintings sell for thousands of pounds.
Dartmouth Galleries Festival showcases established artists alongside emerging talents, encouraging art lovers to expand their collections. The town's independent shops and boutiques have a wealth of tasteful jewellery, ornaments, furniture, furnishings and other delights made by local craftspeople. The Old Market Square enjoys a new lease of life each month when it hosts an eclectic artisan market.
Alternatively, for inspiration of a literary nature, head to legendary author Agatha Christie's sun-soaked holiday home, Greenway. It's just a short trip from the centre of Dartmouth.
Tens of thousands of visitors flock to Dartmouth Food Festival every autumn to sample unforgettable Devon food and drink in an unforgettable Devon setting.
The locally caught fish and shellfish served in Dartmouth's award-winning restaurants could well be the freshest and finest you've ever tasted. The Seahorse, on the banks of the River Dart, is favoured by the Duchess of Cornwall's son, food critic Tom Parker Bowles. The elegant estuary eatery, as he writes in a glowing review, 'takes world-class produce and treats it with the reverence, generosity and skill it deserves'.
Dining out and drinking in the scenery is undoubtedly the perfect way to round off a rewarding holiday in Dartmouth.
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