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13 Great Things to do in Dawlish

13 Great Things to do in Dawlish

Looking for things to do in Dawlish, UK? In this article, we will discover what to do in Dawlish, a beautiful south Devon seaside town packed with charm and character.

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What to Know About Dawlish

Dawlish Devon was once a small fishing town but has since expanded into something of a seaside resort after it became a popular place to holiday in Victorian times.

It’s not as well-known as the larger resort towns of Exmouth and Torquay along the same stretch of coastline, but it has plenty going for it nevertheless.

The town has had its fair share of famous visitors, and Jane Austin spent a long holiday here in 1802. The town must have left an impression as it is mentioned in her classic novel Sense and Sensibility.

Dawlish is the perfect place if you are looking for sandy beaches, untouched nature and a more laid-back vibe than the busier towns along the English Riviera. But that doesn’t mean you will be bored! Read on to discover the very best things to do in Dawlish!

Getting to Dawlish

Driving to Dawlish: Dawlish is easily reachable from London via the M3 and A303. The 185-mile journey takes 3h45m by car. What’s more, the route even takes you right next to Stonehenge so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

Buses to Dawlish: There are buses to nearby Exeter from London taking from five hours with tickets starting at £28.00 one-way. From Exeter bus station (Stand 6) take the 2B to Dawlish. The journey time is around 40 minutes. Check bus times and book tickets on Omio here.

Trains to Dawlish: Trains to Dawlish depart London Paddington several times per hour. Tickets start at £31.00 one way and the journey time is around three hours depending on which train you catch. There is one change of trains in Exeter. Check train times and book tickets on theTrainline here.

One of the most unique things about the town is its black-feathered inhabitants in the form of a flock of jet-black swans. These swans have called Dawlish home since they were introduced in 1906 (they are native to Australia) and now count as one of the major tourist attractions in Dawlish.

To find these guys, just head to The Brook, also called Dawlish Waters. It’s the waterway that runs right through the centre of town. Visit at the right time of year and you’ll spot the cygnets paddling around as well. 

They’re so famous, there’s even a black swan live camera that you can tune into at any time of day. 

famous black swans in dawlish with their cygnets.

Black Swans of Dawlish.

8. Visit Dawlish Museum

Looking for things to do in Dawlish in the rain? A great option is to discover the history of the town and surrounding area at the Dawlish Museum.

With hundreds of rare photographs and artifacts charting the creation of the nature reserve to World War Two memorabilia and the “great storm of 202014”, there is something for everyone.

The museum covers 11 rooms over three floors and the building itself dates back to the year 1800.

Entrance costs £2 for adults and £1 for children (cash only). Open from 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday to Friday and 10 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

See location on Google maps

9. Visit the Pubs in Dawlish

No trip to the town is complete without visiting some of Dawlish’s homely pubs. One of the best is the White Heart which promises: “The setting is just like you have been invited to a 19th century rural Devon home…” Other options include the Swan Inn and the Brunswick Arms.

Most pubs in the town also sell cream teas, lunch and evening meals. If you fancy a swift pint or two after a day at the beach or exploring the nature reserve, then you can’t go wrong with the pubs in Dawlish.

A Selection of the Best Dawlish Pubs

view up over the harbour near dawlish uk

Dawlish Warren.

10. Have a Picnic at Mamhead

Mamhead is the home of a sprawling parkland and woods on the outskirts of Dawlish. A great place for a leisurely stroll with excellent views across the Exe Estuary and surrounding countryside. There are a number of different hikes ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate.

There aren’t many facilities at Mamhead, although a pop-up coffee shop has now opened. The site has lots of benches and picnic tables making it a great option to dine al-fresco thanks to the incredible views! Free entry and parking.

See location on Google maps

Things to do near Dawlish

If you are spending even more time in Dawlish, don’t miss out on these nearby Dawlish attractions that are well worth exploring.

castle near Dawlish uk

Powderham Castle.

11. Enjoy a Day Out at Powderham Castle

The Medieval Powderham Castle makes for an excellent day out for all the family. Set within beautiful gardens on the west bank of the Exe Estuary, the Castle is easily reachable from Exmouth.

The grounds include the magnificent gothic castle, dating back over 600 years, beautiful walled gardens, a lake, gallery, chapel and café. There are daily guided tours, or you can just mooch about on your own exploring one of Britain’s most impressive historical sites.

An adult day ticket for the castle and grounds costs £12.95 and children £10.95. You can also opt for a ticket for just the grounds. Open from Sunday to Friday.

See location on Google maps

beach in the uk

Exmouth beach.

12. Visit Nearby Exmouth

The town of Exmouth sits just across from the Estuary opposite Dawlish and is well worth a visit. This charming market town dates back to the 11th Century and is the port from where Sir Walter Raleigh set off to on many of his epic voyages.

The weekly market is a great place to pick up local handicrafts and produce, and the town is packed full of wonderful things to do from beaches to the lifeboat station and much more.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Exmouth.

See location on Google maps

harbour in devon

Torquay, UK.

13. Take a Trip to Torquay

Torquay is one of Devon’s larger resort towns and if you are looking to liven things up then it is well worth a visit. Situated on the stunning English Riviera, Torquay is packed with activities from theatres to watersports. Torre Abby Sands is one of the nicest beaches along the south coast and has been popular with holidaymakers for centuries.

With local parks, caves, castles, pubs and restaurants, a day trip to this beautiful Devon town is a must for anyone visiting the area.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Torquay for more.

See location on Google maps

Is Dawlish worth Visiting?

Dawlish is a great place for those looking for a chilled-out seaside holiday, surrounded by sandy beaches, nature reserves, and some of the best pubs in the west country. What’s more, Dawlish makes a great base for exploring the rest of the English Riviera and nearby Jurassic Coast.

Spending more time exploring the UK? Check out some of our top posts about UK travel so you don’t miss anything!

See location on Google maps

red cliffs in dawlish

Jurassic Coastline.

6. Follow the Dawlish Town Trail

The Dawlish Town Trail forms part of the gorgeous South West Coast Path that stretches all the way around Devon and Cornwall. The Dawlish Town Trail is a round-trip walk starting and finishing at the station located right next to the town beach.

The walk is suitable for all levels of fitness and is a great way to explore all the town and coastline has to offer.

If you are looking for a more strenuous hike, there are also over 10 other routes to choose from ranging in difficulty from moderate to challenging. Check the Southwest Coastpath website for details and maps of all the local routes.

7. See the Famous Black Swans

One of the most unique things about the town is its black-feathered inhabitants in the form of a flock of jet-black swans. These swans have called Dawlish home since they were introduced in 1906 (they are native to Australia) and now count as one of the major tourist attractions in Dawlish.

To find these guys, just head to The Brook, also called Dawlish Waters. It’s the waterway that runs right through the centre of town. Visit at the right time of year and you’ll spot the cygnets paddling around as well. 

They’re so famous, there’s even a black swan live camera that you can tune into at any time of day. 

famous black swans in dawlish with their cygnets.

Black Swans of Dawlish.

8. Visit Dawlish Museum

Looking for things to do in Dawlish in the rain? A great option is to discover the history of the town and surrounding area at the Dawlish Museum.

With hundreds of rare photographs and artifacts charting the creation of the nature reserve to World War Two memorabilia and the “great storm of 202014”, there is something for everyone.

The museum covers 11 rooms over three floors and the building itself dates back to the year 1800.

Entrance costs £2 for adults and £1 for children (cash only). Open from 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday to Friday and 10 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

See location on Google maps

9. Visit the Pubs in Dawlish

No trip to the town is complete without visiting some of Dawlish’s homely pubs. One of the best is the White Heart which promises: “The setting is just like you have been invited to a 19th century rural Devon home…” Other options include the Swan Inn and the Brunswick Arms.

Most pubs in the town also sell cream teas, lunch and evening meals. If you fancy a swift pint or two after a day at the beach or exploring the nature reserve, then you can’t go wrong with the pubs in Dawlish.

A Selection of the Best Dawlish Pubs

view up over the harbour near dawlish uk

Dawlish Warren.

10. Have a Picnic at Mamhead

Mamhead is the home of a sprawling parkland and woods on the outskirts of Dawlish. A great place for a leisurely stroll with excellent views across the Exe Estuary and surrounding countryside. There are a number of different hikes ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate.

There aren’t many facilities at Mamhead, although a pop-up coffee shop has now opened. The site has lots of benches and picnic tables making it a great option to dine al-fresco thanks to the incredible views! Free entry and parking.

See location on Google maps

Things to do near Dawlish

If you are spending even more time in Dawlish, don’t miss out on these nearby Dawlish attractions that are well worth exploring.

castle near Dawlish uk

Powderham Castle.

11. Enjoy a Day Out at Powderham Castle

The Medieval Powderham Castle makes for an excellent day out for all the family. Set within beautiful gardens on the west bank of the Exe Estuary, the Castle is easily reachable from Exmouth.

The grounds include the magnificent gothic castle, dating back over 600 years, beautiful walled gardens, a lake, gallery, chapel and café. There are daily guided tours, or you can just mooch about on your own exploring one of Britain’s most impressive historical sites.

An adult day ticket for the castle and grounds costs £12.95 and children £10.95. You can also opt for a ticket for just the grounds. Open from Sunday to Friday.

See location on Google maps

beach in the uk

Exmouth beach.

12. Visit Nearby Exmouth

The town of Exmouth sits just across from the Estuary opposite Dawlish and is well worth a visit. This charming market town dates back to the 11th Century and is the port from where Sir Walter Raleigh set off to on many of his epic voyages.

The weekly market is a great place to pick up local handicrafts and produce, and the town is packed full of wonderful things to do from beaches to the lifeboat station and much more.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Exmouth.

See location on Google maps

harbour in devon

Torquay, UK.

13. Take a Trip to Torquay

Torquay is one of Devon’s larger resort towns and if you are looking to liven things up then it is well worth a visit. Situated on the stunning English Riviera, Torquay is packed with activities from theatres to watersports. Torre Abby Sands is one of the nicest beaches along the south coast and has been popular with holidaymakers for centuries.

With local parks, caves, castles, pubs and restaurants, a day trip to this beautiful Devon town is a must for anyone visiting the area.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Torquay for more.

See location on Google maps

Is Dawlish worth Visiting?

Dawlish is a great place for those looking for a chilled-out seaside holiday, surrounded by sandy beaches, nature reserves, and some of the best pubs in the west country. What’s more, Dawlish makes a great base for exploring the rest of the English Riviera and nearby Jurassic Coast.

Spending more time exploring the UK? Check out some of our top posts about UK travel so you don’t miss anything!

See location on Google maps

paddleboarding with the sunset over the sea at the horizon

Paddle boarding in Dawlish.

4. Escape the Crowds at Dawlish Warren Beach

This 1.5-mile-long stretch of beach backed by rolling sand dunes is the perfect place for those looking to escape the crowds. There are still plenty of fun activities on offer though from surfing to golf and go-karting. You can also enjoy a cream tea or ice cream, at one of the beachside cafes.

This beach forms part of the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve (see below) and is a great place for sunbathing, swimming and generally relaxing on this sublime stretch of coastline with fewer holidaymakers than the town beach.

See location on Google maps

5. Explore Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve

Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is an area of sand dunes, mudflats and sandy beach jutting out in the Exe Estuary a few miles downriver from Exeter. This area of outstanding natural beauty is home to an array of wildlife. Each August up to 23,000 migratory birds visit the reserve and stay until the following March, making it a vital habitat for all sorts of waders and wildfowl.

The nature reserve is free to enter and there are many activities year-round. You can watch steam trains pass along the railway line here (perfect for the ‘gram), take a guided nature walk, enjoy the annual arts festival or the fireworks spectacular in August each year. Visit the official website to see what’s going on now.

See location on Google maps

red cliffs in dawlish

Jurassic Coastline.

6. Follow the Dawlish Town Trail

The Dawlish Town Trail forms part of the gorgeous South West Coast Path that stretches all the way around Devon and Cornwall. The Dawlish Town Trail is a round-trip walk starting and finishing at the station located right next to the town beach.

The walk is suitable for all levels of fitness and is a great way to explore all the town and coastline has to offer.

If you are looking for a more strenuous hike, there are also over 10 other routes to choose from ranging in difficulty from moderate to challenging. Check the Southwest Coastpath website for details and maps of all the local routes.

7. See the Famous Black Swans

One of the most unique things about the town is its black-feathered inhabitants in the form of a flock of jet-black swans. These swans have called Dawlish home since they were introduced in 1906 (they are native to Australia) and now count as one of the major tourist attractions in Dawlish.

To find these guys, just head to The Brook, also called Dawlish Waters. It’s the waterway that runs right through the centre of town. Visit at the right time of year and you’ll spot the cygnets paddling around as well. 

They’re so famous, there’s even a black swan live camera that you can tune into at any time of day. 

famous black swans in dawlish with their cygnets.

Black Swans of Dawlish.

8. Visit Dawlish Museum

Looking for things to do in Dawlish in the rain? A great option is to discover the history of the town and surrounding area at the Dawlish Museum.

With hundreds of rare photographs and artifacts charting the creation of the nature reserve to World War Two memorabilia and the “great storm of 202014”, there is something for everyone.

The museum covers 11 rooms over three floors and the building itself dates back to the year 1800.

Entrance costs £2 for adults and £1 for children (cash only). Open from 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday to Friday and 10 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

See location on Google maps

9. Visit the Pubs in Dawlish

No trip to the town is complete without visiting some of Dawlish’s homely pubs. One of the best is the White Heart which promises: “The setting is just like you have been invited to a 19th century rural Devon home…” Other options include the Swan Inn and the Brunswick Arms.

Most pubs in the town also sell cream teas, lunch and evening meals. If you fancy a swift pint or two after a day at the beach or exploring the nature reserve, then you can’t go wrong with the pubs in Dawlish.

A Selection of the Best Dawlish Pubs

view up over the harbour near dawlish uk

Dawlish Warren.

10. Have a Picnic at Mamhead

Mamhead is the home of a sprawling parkland and woods on the outskirts of Dawlish. A great place for a leisurely stroll with excellent views across the Exe Estuary and surrounding countryside. There are a number of different hikes ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate.

There aren’t many facilities at Mamhead, although a pop-up coffee shop has now opened. The site has lots of benches and picnic tables making it a great option to dine al-fresco thanks to the incredible views! Free entry and parking.

See location on Google maps

Things to do near Dawlish

If you are spending even more time in Dawlish, don’t miss out on these nearby Dawlish attractions that are well worth exploring.

castle near Dawlish uk

Powderham Castle.

11. Enjoy a Day Out at Powderham Castle

The Medieval Powderham Castle makes for an excellent day out for all the family. Set within beautiful gardens on the west bank of the Exe Estuary, the Castle is easily reachable from Exmouth.

The grounds include the magnificent gothic castle, dating back over 600 years, beautiful walled gardens, a lake, gallery, chapel and café. There are daily guided tours, or you can just mooch about on your own exploring one of Britain’s most impressive historical sites.

An adult day ticket for the castle and grounds costs £12.95 and children £10.95. You can also opt for a ticket for just the grounds. Open from Sunday to Friday.

See location on Google maps

beach in the uk

Exmouth beach.

12. Visit Nearby Exmouth

The town of Exmouth sits just across from the Estuary opposite Dawlish and is well worth a visit. This charming market town dates back to the 11th Century and is the port from where Sir Walter Raleigh set off to on many of his epic voyages.

The weekly market is a great place to pick up local handicrafts and produce, and the town is packed full of wonderful things to do from beaches to the lifeboat station and much more.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Exmouth.

See location on Google maps

harbour in devon

Torquay, UK.

13. Take a Trip to Torquay

Torquay is one of Devon’s larger resort towns and if you are looking to liven things up then it is well worth a visit. Situated on the stunning English Riviera, Torquay is packed with activities from theatres to watersports. Torre Abby Sands is one of the nicest beaches along the south coast and has been popular with holidaymakers for centuries.

With local parks, caves, castles, pubs and restaurants, a day trip to this beautiful Devon town is a must for anyone visiting the area.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Torquay for more.

See location on Google maps

Is Dawlish worth Visiting?

Dawlish is a great place for those looking for a chilled-out seaside holiday, surrounded by sandy beaches, nature reserves, and some of the best pubs in the west country. What’s more, Dawlish makes a great base for exploring the rest of the English Riviera and nearby Jurassic Coast.

Spending more time exploring the UK? Check out some of our top posts about UK travel so you don’t miss anything!

Pop into one of the many cafes for a traditional Devon cream tea; a must for any trip to England’s west country! The town has lots of parks and open green spaces such as “the Lawn”; a large grassy park in the centre of town. However, the beach and surrounding nature reserve are the best places to enjoy the fresh air here!

people surfing in the sea

Surfing is possible depending on time of year in Dawlish.

2. Relax at Dawlish Town Beach

Dawlish’s very own town beach is easily reachable from the town and is the perfect place to cool off in summer. This sandy beach is backed by red sandstone cliffs and the South Devon Railway line passes just inches from the sea wall.

From sunbathing, swimming and exploring rock pools to kayaking and paddle boarding, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this golden sandy stretch of coast. You can hire a deckchair for the ultimate relaxation, and there are nearby amusements, cafes and bars.

Dawlish’s railway station is just metres from the beach so you don’t even have to wait for a paddle if you are coming from elsewhere!

See location on Google maps

3. Try Your Hand at Paddle Boarding

If you’ve ever wanted to have a go at paddle boarding, the calm waters around Dawlish are the perfect place to try it out! We’ve all seen those Youtube videos of people paddle boarding next to great whites or killer whales, but fear not, you won’t find either within a few thousand miles of the calm waters of Dawlish!

What you will find, however, is the serenity of being on the ocean in one of the most picturesque parts of the UK! Check out Dawlish Paddle Board Hire where you can rent all the equipment you need for a fun day on the water. Prices start from £35.00 per day.

See location on Google maps

paddleboarding with the sunset over the sea at the horizon

Paddle boarding in Dawlish.

4. Escape the Crowds at Dawlish Warren Beach

This 1.5-mile-long stretch of beach backed by rolling sand dunes is the perfect place for those looking to escape the crowds. There are still plenty of fun activities on offer though from surfing to golf and go-karting. You can also enjoy a cream tea or ice cream, at one of the beachside cafes.

This beach forms part of the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve (see below) and is a great place for sunbathing, swimming and generally relaxing on this sublime stretch of coastline with fewer holidaymakers than the town beach.

See location on Google maps

5. Explore Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve

Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is an area of sand dunes, mudflats and sandy beach jutting out in the Exe Estuary a few miles downriver from Exeter. This area of outstanding natural beauty is home to an array of wildlife. Each August up to 23,000 migratory birds visit the reserve and stay until the following March, making it a vital habitat for all sorts of waders and wildfowl.

The nature reserve is free to enter and there are many activities year-round. You can watch steam trains pass along the railway line here (perfect for the ‘gram), take a guided nature walk, enjoy the annual arts festival or the fireworks spectacular in August each year. Visit the official website to see what’s going on now.

See location on Google maps

red cliffs in dawlish

Jurassic Coastline.

6. Follow the Dawlish Town Trail

The Dawlish Town Trail forms part of the gorgeous South West Coast Path that stretches all the way around Devon and Cornwall. The Dawlish Town Trail is a round-trip walk starting and finishing at the station located right next to the town beach.

The walk is suitable for all levels of fitness and is a great way to explore all the town and coastline has to offer.

If you are looking for a more strenuous hike, there are also over 10 other routes to choose from ranging in difficulty from moderate to challenging. Check the Southwest Coastpath website for details and maps of all the local routes.

7. See the Famous Black Swans

One of the most unique things about the town is its black-feathered inhabitants in the form of a flock of jet-black swans. These swans have called Dawlish home since they were introduced in 1906 (they are native to Australia) and now count as one of the major tourist attractions in Dawlish.

To find these guys, just head to The Brook, also called Dawlish Waters. It’s the waterway that runs right through the centre of town. Visit at the right time of year and you’ll spot the cygnets paddling around as well. 

They’re so famous, there’s even a black swan live camera that you can tune into at any time of day. 

famous black swans in dawlish with their cygnets.

Black Swans of Dawlish.

8. Visit Dawlish Museum

Looking for things to do in Dawlish in the rain? A great option is to discover the history of the town and surrounding area at the Dawlish Museum.

With hundreds of rare photographs and artifacts charting the creation of the nature reserve to World War Two memorabilia and the “great storm of 202014”, there is something for everyone.

The museum covers 11 rooms over three floors and the building itself dates back to the year 1800.

Entrance costs £2 for adults and £1 for children (cash only). Open from 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday to Friday and 10 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

See location on Google maps

9. Visit the Pubs in Dawlish

No trip to the town is complete without visiting some of Dawlish’s homely pubs. One of the best is the White Heart which promises: “The setting is just like you have been invited to a 19th century rural Devon home…” Other options include the Swan Inn and the Brunswick Arms.

Most pubs in the town also sell cream teas, lunch and evening meals. If you fancy a swift pint or two after a day at the beach or exploring the nature reserve, then you can’t go wrong with the pubs in Dawlish.

A Selection of the Best Dawlish Pubs

view up over the harbour near dawlish uk

Dawlish Warren.

10. Have a Picnic at Mamhead

Mamhead is the home of a sprawling parkland and woods on the outskirts of Dawlish. A great place for a leisurely stroll with excellent views across the Exe Estuary and surrounding countryside. There are a number of different hikes ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate.

There aren’t many facilities at Mamhead, although a pop-up coffee shop has now opened. The site has lots of benches and picnic tables making it a great option to dine al-fresco thanks to the incredible views! Free entry and parking.

See location on Google maps

Things to do near Dawlish

If you are spending even more time in Dawlish, don’t miss out on these nearby Dawlish attractions that are well worth exploring.

castle near Dawlish uk

Powderham Castle.

11. Enjoy a Day Out at Powderham Castle

The Medieval Powderham Castle makes for an excellent day out for all the family. Set within beautiful gardens on the west bank of the Exe Estuary, the Castle is easily reachable from Exmouth.

The grounds include the magnificent gothic castle, dating back over 600 years, beautiful walled gardens, a lake, gallery, chapel and café. There are daily guided tours, or you can just mooch about on your own exploring one of Britain’s most impressive historical sites.

An adult day ticket for the castle and grounds costs £12.95 and children £10.95. You can also opt for a ticket for just the grounds. Open from Sunday to Friday.

See location on Google maps

beach in the uk

Exmouth beach.

12. Visit Nearby Exmouth

The town of Exmouth sits just across from the Estuary opposite Dawlish and is well worth a visit. This charming market town dates back to the 11th Century and is the port from where Sir Walter Raleigh set off to on many of his epic voyages.

The weekly market is a great place to pick up local handicrafts and produce, and the town is packed full of wonderful things to do from beaches to the lifeboat station and much more.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Exmouth.

See location on Google maps

harbour in devon

Torquay, UK.

13. Take a Trip to Torquay

Torquay is one of Devon’s larger resort towns and if you are looking to liven things up then it is well worth a visit. Situated on the stunning English Riviera, Torquay is packed with activities from theatres to watersports. Torre Abby Sands is one of the nicest beaches along the south coast and has been popular with holidaymakers for centuries.

With local parks, caves, castles, pubs and restaurants, a day trip to this beautiful Devon town is a must for anyone visiting the area.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Torquay for more.

See location on Google maps

Is Dawlish worth Visiting?

Dawlish is a great place for those looking for a chilled-out seaside holiday, surrounded by sandy beaches, nature reserves, and some of the best pubs in the west country. What’s more, Dawlish makes a great base for exploring the rest of the English Riviera and nearby Jurassic Coast.

Spending more time exploring the UK? Check out some of our top posts about UK travel so you don’t miss anything!

Flights to Dawlish: With Exeter International Airport just 15 miles from Dawlish, and Bristol International 80 miles, it’s easy to reach Dawlish from the rest of the UK or Europe by plane. Check flights on Kiwi here.

dawlish trains

Taking the train to Dawlish.

Where to Stay in Dawlish

Budget: The Railway Inn is a very affordable option for spending a few nights in Dawlish. The rooms are part of the local pub both of which are family-run. The rooms were recently renovated and rooms are clean and comfortable. Prices start at £35 per night. Book a stay at the Railway Inn here.

Mid-range: The Blenheim is without a doubt the best value for money hotel in Dawlish. Rooms start at £90 for a twin room and all rooms include a fantastic breakfast. Rooms are modern and clean, the team running the B&B couldn’t be nicer, and the location is right in the centre of town and only 10 mintues walk to the beach. Book a stay at the Blenheim here.

Luxury: You have to travel a bit out of town for true luxury, but you don’t have to go far to find it. About a 25-minute drive away you will find your at Lympstone Manor Hotel and it will be worth every extra pence you pay on fuel. This hotel has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool perfect for summer holidays as well as an on-site bar open year-round. Grab a room with a patio to look out over the surrounding natural beauty of Devonshire. Rooms start at £395. Book a stay at the Lympstone Manor Hotel here.

Top Things to do in Dawlish

There are so many wonderful things to do in Dawlish, whether you’re just here for the relaxing beach time or want to explore more of the natural beauty that this region of the UK has to offer, there is plenty to keep you busy (and plenty of beaches where you can be not busy at all!).

1. Explore the Town

Dawlish is built around the beach and Dawlish Water; a small river that runs through the town. The town is packed with medieval churches, Georgian and Victorian buildings, rustic pubs, independent shops and plenty of places for dining out.

Pop into one of the many cafes for a traditional Devon cream tea; a must for any trip to England’s west country! The town has lots of parks and open green spaces such as “the Lawn”; a large grassy park in the centre of town. However, the beach and surrounding nature reserve are the best places to enjoy the fresh air here!

people surfing in the sea

Surfing is possible depending on time of year in Dawlish.

2. Relax at Dawlish Town Beach

Dawlish’s very own town beach is easily reachable from the town and is the perfect place to cool off in summer. This sandy beach is backed by red sandstone cliffs and the South Devon Railway line passes just inches from the sea wall.

From sunbathing, swimming and exploring rock pools to kayaking and paddle boarding, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this golden sandy stretch of coast. You can hire a deckchair for the ultimate relaxation, and there are nearby amusements, cafes and bars.

Dawlish’s railway station is just metres from the beach so you don’t even have to wait for a paddle if you are coming from elsewhere!

See location on Google maps

3. Try Your Hand at Paddle Boarding

If you’ve ever wanted to have a go at paddle boarding, the calm waters around Dawlish are the perfect place to try it out! We’ve all seen those Youtube videos of people paddle boarding next to great whites or killer whales, but fear not, you won’t find either within a few thousand miles of the calm waters of Dawlish!

What you will find, however, is the serenity of being on the ocean in one of the most picturesque parts of the UK! Check out Dawlish Paddle Board Hire where you can rent all the equipment you need for a fun day on the water. Prices start from £35.00 per day.

See location on Google maps

paddleboarding with the sunset over the sea at the horizon

Paddle boarding in Dawlish.

4. Escape the Crowds at Dawlish Warren Beach

This 1.5-mile-long stretch of beach backed by rolling sand dunes is the perfect place for those looking to escape the crowds. There are still plenty of fun activities on offer though from surfing to golf and go-karting. You can also enjoy a cream tea or ice cream, at one of the beachside cafes.

This beach forms part of the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve (see below) and is a great place for sunbathing, swimming and generally relaxing on this sublime stretch of coastline with fewer holidaymakers than the town beach.

See location on Google maps

5. Explore Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve

Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is an area of sand dunes, mudflats and sandy beach jutting out in the Exe Estuary a few miles downriver from Exeter. This area of outstanding natural beauty is home to an array of wildlife. Each August up to 23,000 migratory birds visit the reserve and stay until the following March, making it a vital habitat for all sorts of waders and wildfowl.

The nature reserve is free to enter and there are many activities year-round. You can watch steam trains pass along the railway line here (perfect for the ‘gram), take a guided nature walk, enjoy the annual arts festival or the fireworks spectacular in August each year. Visit the official website to see what’s going on now.

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red cliffs in dawlish

Jurassic Coastline.

6. Follow the Dawlish Town Trail

The Dawlish Town Trail forms part of the gorgeous South West Coast Path that stretches all the way around Devon and Cornwall. The Dawlish Town Trail is a round-trip walk starting and finishing at the station located right next to the town beach.

The walk is suitable for all levels of fitness and is a great way to explore all the town and coastline has to offer.

If you are looking for a more strenuous hike, there are also over 10 other routes to choose from ranging in difficulty from moderate to challenging. Check the Southwest Coastpath website for details and maps of all the local routes.

7. See the Famous Black Swans

One of the most unique things about the town is its black-feathered inhabitants in the form of a flock of jet-black swans. These swans have called Dawlish home since they were introduced in 1906 (they are native to Australia) and now count as one of the major tourist attractions in Dawlish.

To find these guys, just head to The Brook, also called Dawlish Waters. It’s the waterway that runs right through the centre of town. Visit at the right time of year and you’ll spot the cygnets paddling around as well. 

They’re so famous, there’s even a black swan live camera that you can tune into at any time of day. 

famous black swans in dawlish with their cygnets.

Black Swans of Dawlish.

8. Visit Dawlish Museum

Looking for things to do in Dawlish in the rain? A great option is to discover the history of the town and surrounding area at the Dawlish Museum.

With hundreds of rare photographs and artifacts charting the creation of the nature reserve to World War Two memorabilia and the “great storm of 202014”, there is something for everyone.

The museum covers 11 rooms over three floors and the building itself dates back to the year 1800.

Entrance costs £2 for adults and £1 for children (cash only). Open from 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday to Friday and 10 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

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9. Visit the Pubs in Dawlish

No trip to the town is complete without visiting some of Dawlish’s homely pubs. One of the best is the White Heart which promises: “The setting is just like you have been invited to a 19th century rural Devon home…” Other options include the Swan Inn and the Brunswick Arms.

Most pubs in the town also sell cream teas, lunch and evening meals. If you fancy a swift pint or two after a day at the beach or exploring the nature reserve, then you can’t go wrong with the pubs in Dawlish.

A Selection of the Best Dawlish Pubs

view up over the harbour near dawlish uk

Dawlish Warren.

10. Have a Picnic at Mamhead

Mamhead is the home of a sprawling parkland and woods on the outskirts of Dawlish. A great place for a leisurely stroll with excellent views across the Exe Estuary and surrounding countryside. There are a number of different hikes ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate.

There aren’t many facilities at Mamhead, although a pop-up coffee shop has now opened. The site has lots of benches and picnic tables making it a great option to dine al-fresco thanks to the incredible views! Free entry and parking.

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Things to do near Dawlish

If you are spending even more time in Dawlish, don’t miss out on these nearby Dawlish attractions that are well worth exploring.

castle near Dawlish uk

Powderham Castle.

11. Enjoy a Day Out at Powderham Castle

The Medieval Powderham Castle makes for an excellent day out for all the family. Set within beautiful gardens on the west bank of the Exe Estuary, the Castle is easily reachable from Exmouth.

The grounds include the magnificent gothic castle, dating back over 600 years, beautiful walled gardens, a lake, gallery, chapel and café. There are daily guided tours, or you can just mooch about on your own exploring one of Britain’s most impressive historical sites.

An adult day ticket for the castle and grounds costs £12.95 and children £10.95. You can also opt for a ticket for just the grounds. Open from Sunday to Friday.

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beach in the uk

Exmouth beach.

12. Visit Nearby Exmouth

The town of Exmouth sits just across from the Estuary opposite Dawlish and is well worth a visit. This charming market town dates back to the 11th Century and is the port from where Sir Walter Raleigh set off to on many of his epic voyages.

The weekly market is a great place to pick up local handicrafts and produce, and the town is packed full of wonderful things to do from beaches to the lifeboat station and much more.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Exmouth.

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harbour in devon

Torquay, UK.

13. Take a Trip to Torquay

Torquay is one of Devon’s larger resort towns and if you are looking to liven things up then it is well worth a visit. Situated on the stunning English Riviera, Torquay is packed with activities from theatres to watersports. Torre Abby Sands is one of the nicest beaches along the south coast and has been popular with holidaymakers for centuries.

With local parks, caves, castles, pubs and restaurants, a day trip to this beautiful Devon town is a must for anyone visiting the area.

Read our complete guide to all the things to do in Torquay for more.

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Is Dawlish worth Visiting?

Dawlish is a great place for those looking for a chilled-out seaside holiday, surrounded by sandy beaches, nature reserves, and some of the best pubs in the west country. What’s more, Dawlish makes a great base for exploring the rest of the English Riviera and nearby Jurassic Coast.

Spending more time exploring the UK? Check out some of our top posts about UK travel so you don’t miss anything!