The best pubs in Devon for a well-earned pint

#30DaysOfScotland

Posted by Ruth on 21st February 2020

Devon pubs

Whether it’s for a restorative pint in front of a crackling fire after a long countryside walk, a thirst-quenching cider when you’ve spent the day surfing, or just as a place to catch up with friends with a round of drinks – you can’t beat a good pub, and Devon is full of them!

From historic pubs with low beamed ceilings where you have to stoop to avoid banging your head, to fancy seafront bistros where you can sup Champagne and dine on the freshest seafood – Devon has a pub for every occasion. Whether you’re staying in North Devon, South Devon or Mid Devon and Dartmoor, here’s our guide to the best pubs in Devon – plus a few places you can stay within stumbling distance (those taxi fares over the winding Devon roads can rival London’s!).

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👉 North Devon
👉 South Devon
👉 Mid Devon & Dartmoor

North Devon pubs

Best country pub

Pyne Arms, East Down

Pyne Arms
The Pyne Arms, credit: Instagram @pynearms

 

The Pyne Arms is one of those country pubs that you hope is waiting for you at the end of a long countryside ramble. Surrounded by open countryside on the southern fringes of Exmoor National Park, it’s in the perfect position for a pitstop and welcomes four-legged guests too. And, if you’re in need of sustenance after a day exploring the North Devon countryside, you couldn’t have picked a better pub – the pub has won many awards for its menu, which is created using local and seasonal South West produce.

Stay nearby: South Patchole Cottage, Combe Martin | sleeps 9

Best dog-friendly pub

Instow Arms, Instow

Instow Arms
Instow Arms credit: Instagram @instowarms

 

Situated less than 100 metres from Instow’s year-round, dog-friendly beach – and just a short hop from the traffic-free Tarka Trail – the Instow Arms couldn’t be in a better setting for four-legged visitors and their owners. One of the most dog-friendly pubs in Devon, pups are warmly welcomed on the ground floor of the pub where there are dog biscuits to nibble on and a warm fire to curl up in front of – and more than likely, they’ll get a scratch behind the ears from the local patrons too. Make sure you take a look at the hand-painted ceiling while you’re in there!

Stay nearby: Instow Breakers, Instow | sleeps 6 + 3 dogs

Best pub with a view

The Pier House, Westward Ho!

The Pier House
The Pier House credit: Instagram @lorri_stamp

 

Towering above the Atlantic Ocean as it crashes onto the rocks at Westward Ho!, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more atmospheric location for a pint than The Pier House. The pub and restaurant makes the most of its position, with a huge terrace where you can enjoy almost panoramic views across Bideford Bay, over the sandy Westward Ho! beach where surfers bob in the water, and out towards the iconic Art Deco hotel at Saunton Sands. It’s sheer bliss on a sunny day (although the view is pretty special from inside too!)

Stay nearby: Cloud 9, Westward Ho! | sleeps 4

Best family pub

Pig on the Hill, near Westward Ho!

Pig on the Hill
Pig on the Hill credit: Instagram @beccamowforth

 

This quirky pub, a few miles into the countryside from Westward Ho!, draws visitors and locals alike for its AA Rosette-winning menu – but it’s not just adults that can tuck into its delicious food. Kids can choose from the Piglets menu that’s designed for under 10s and, when they’ve finished, they can burn off some steam in the games room or the vast outdoor space while the grown-ups enjoy a pint of local cider. Visit in May for Pigstock – a family-friendly music festival with plenty of kids’ entertainment.

Stay nearby: Country Life Fuggles Cottage | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Best pub for something special

The Rock Inn, Georgeham

Rock Inn
The Rock Inn credit: Instagram @therockingeorgeham

 

Keep it to yourself, but this is where all the locals go when they want a slap-up pub meal. Situated between Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe, the 17th-century inn is a great choice after a beach walk, boasting a charming atmosphere and a great drinks menu to complement the fine food. As it’s one of the best pubs in North Devon for a Sunday roast, our top tip is to make sure you book before you go!

Stay nearby: Dunes At West Croyde, Croyde | sleeps 8 + 3 dogs

Liveliest pub

The Thatch, Croyde

The Thatch
The Thatch credit: Instagram @r_dziewulski

 

If you fancy a pint and a party, head to Croyde. The Thatch is the most popular pub in North Devon’s most popular surfing village, and so it’s always filled with locals looking for a post-surf pick-me-up – giving it a great atmosphere. Keep your eyes peeled (and ears pricked) for the pub’s live music and local entertainment, as that’s when the party really gets started.

Stay nearby: Priory Stables At Croyde, Croyde | sleeps 8 + 3 dogs

Special mention

Coach & Horses, Buckland Brewer

Coach and Horses
The Coach & Horses credit: Instagram @coachhorsesbb

 

Fans of the supernatural can’t leave North Devon without paying a visit to this 13th-century thatched pub nestled in the peaceful countryside. While it’s a lovely pub in its own right, it also has a fascinating history that’s well worth exploring. Popular with the locals, it’s also been frequented by the paranormal; a lady in black has been spotted roaming the corridors and Cavalier soldiers are said to haunt the room above the main bar!

Stay nearby: Stargazey Barn, Buckland Brewer | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

South Devon pubs

Best country pub

The Cott Inn, Dartington

Cott Inn
The Cott Inn credit: Instagram @bigman_col

 

Set on the fringes of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and within the picturesque South Hams district, The Cott Inn is in a fantastic location for a countryside pint – and has been serving patrons since 1320 AD! After exploring the surrounding area on foot, pop into the pub for a pint of local ale and something from the mouth-watering menu – in summer, the beer garden is the perfect place to soak up the rays and ease those aching feet.

Stay nearby: Bullfinch Cottage, Totnes | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Best dog-friendly pub

Cary Arms, Babbacombe Bay

Cary Arms
The Cary Arms credit: Instagram @the_cavapoo_rosie

 

Overlooking the year-round, dog-friendly beach at Babbacombe, this traditional inn is in a picture-perfect setting for a round with your hound. Dogs are warmly welcomed in the bar, where you’ll find beamed ceilings, stone walls and a roaring fire in the winter. Order a pint of local ale and soak up the views towards Portland Bill on a clear day, while your pup naps at your feet. It’s enough to set tails wagging!

Stay nearby: 8 Falcon View, Torquay | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

Best pub with a view

River Exe Café, Exmouth

River Exe Cafe
The River Exe Cafe credit: Instagram @riverexe.cafe


Ok, it’s not technically a pub, but we couldn’t miss this picturesque café in East Devon off our list. Sat aboard a custom-built barge, the River Exe Café is surrounded by water and offers 360-degree views of the Exe Estuary. It’s only accessible by boat – either the water taxi from Exmouth Marina, or your own – and it’s well worth the voyage. Tuck into a menu of locally sourced food while drinking up those views – but just check it’s open before you visit as it operates on seasonal hours only.

Stay nearby: The Roost at Riverside, Exmouth | sleeps 2

Best family pub

The Boathouse Tavern, Dawlish Warren

Boathouse Tavern
The Boathouse Tavern credit: Instagram @boathousedawlishwarren


Set opposite a Blue Flag beach and near plenty of beachfront amusements, this could be the most child-friendly pub in Devon – in fact, it’s won awards for its family dining! As well as a kids’ menu, your little ones will love the indoor soft play area and colouring-in packs, while new parents will be relieved to find two baby changing areas, highchairs, baby food to buy and bottle warming facilities available. There’s even free parking after 6pm!

Stay nearby: Corfu Cottage, Dawlish | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Best pub for something special

Start Bay Inn, Torcross

Start Bay Inn
Start Bay Inn credit: Instagram @start_bay_inn


For a true taste of South Devon – and probably the freshest seafood on the entire coastline – head to Start Bay Inn. On the tranquil and picturesque stretch of beach at Slapton Sands, the pub enjoys an extra-special location anyway, but a visit is made even more memorable by the quality of the produce. Specialising in seafood, the kitchen sources fresh fish from the waters just beyond the pub, with its very own fishing boat to ensure the catch of the day is as local as it can be.

Stay nearby: No. 9 Belle Vue | sleeps 5

Liveliest pub

The Old Firehouse, Exeter

The Old Firehouse
The Old Firehouse credit: Instagram @thewordsmen


Popular with Exeter University students, this city-centre pub has a buzzing atmosphere at almost any time of day – but the excitement around it is increased tenfold due to it being widely regarded as the inspiration for the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter series. You’re unlikely to find any witches or wizards inside, but you will instead discover crowd-pleasing pizzas, live music and famous quiz nights – just be aware that it’s a strictly over-18s venue after 5pm.

Stay nearby: Highfield Topsham, Topsham | sleeps 6 + 1 dog

Special mention

The Pilchard Inn, Burgh Island

Pilchard Inn
The Pilchard Inn credit: Instagram @pilchardinn


This highly unusual pub deserves a special mention for being possibly the only pub in Devon that must be reached by sea tractor. Situated on its own private island between Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham, this pub is worth a visit for the unusual journey alone – although, you can walk across at low tide which may be easier but is a little less ceremonial! The pub has been a feature of the island since 1336 and is a great place to sit and watch the tide ebb and flow.

Stay nearby: Rock Cottage - Salcombe, Salcombe | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Mid Devon and Dartmoor

Best country pub

The Elephant’s Nest, Horndon

Elephant's Nest
The Elephant's Nest credit: Instagram @appleby.donna


A quintessential Devon pub – and a feature in the Good Pub Guide for 25 years – The Elephant’s Nest is a welcome sight after a long walk on Dartmoor whatever time of year. If it’s winter and you need shelter from the elements, pull up a chair next to the roaring fire. Or if it’s summer and you want to soak up the rays, the extensive beer garden is a great place to enjoy a refreshing pint of Devon cider.

Stay nearby: Higher Manor The Barn, Tavistock | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Best dog-friendly pub

Rock Inn, Haytor Vale

Rock Inn
The Rock Inn credit: Instagram @gibsonbanana


Within a tail-wag of Haytor – Dartmoor’s most popular tor – this traditional pub is the perfect rest break after a lung-busting dog walk around the national park. Four-legged visitors are welcome in the garden and patio area if they’re on a lead and they can dine with you in the Riley Room too. The food certainly isn’t to be sniffed at – the pub has held two AA Rosettes since 2016.

Stay nearby: Haytor Vale Lodge, Dartmoor | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Best pub with a view

Warren House Inn, Postbridge

Warren House Inn
Warren House Inn credit: Instagram @ashling_nolan


For one of the most unbeatable views on Dartmoor, enjoy a pint from the Warren House Inn on one of the picnic benches outside the pub. The inn is the highest pub in southern England, at 434 metres above sea level, and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the national park. It’s also worth the trip to learn more about the pub’s lively history, and to see the fire which is said to have been burning since 1845!

Stay nearby: Widecombe Swallows, Widecombe-in-the-Moor | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Best family pub

The Ring of Bells, Cheriton Fitzpaine

Ring of Bells
The Ring of Bells credit: Instagram @the_ring_of_bells


This picturesque pub is a great choice if you’ve got the family in tow – including any four-legged family members, who can make friends with the resident pub dog! Little ones can choose from the kids’ menu and then play in the compact garden, and the grown-ups will love the traditional pub grub with Asian influences.

Stay nearby: Haswells Cottage, Tiverton | sleeps 4

Best pub for something special

The Mason’s Arms, Knowstone

Mason's Arms
The Mason's Arms credit: Instagram @masonsarms_kitchen


One of only four Michelin-starred restaurants in Devon, having held the accolade for 15 years, The Mason’s Arms should be top of your list for an extra-special meal. With a thatched roof, low beamed ceiling and a huge fireplace, the restaurant still retains the atmosphere of a local village pub – making the gastronomical treats even more delightful! Even better – book the set lunch menu and you can sample some of Devon’s finest food for under £30 a head.

Stay nearby: The Tall Barn, South Molton | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Liveliest pub

The Highwayman, Sourton

The Highwayman
The Highwayman credit: Instagram @lorddinkus

 

The Highwayman is often called ‘the most unusual pub in Devon’ and we can see why. Both the outside and inside of the pub are covered in all manner of mythological artefacts, life-size mannequins and interesting antiques, and the publicans often cater to Pagan and Humanist ceremonies, giving the inn a unique and welcoming atmosphere. Pop in for a pint of the award-winning local cider – it has to be seen to be believed!

Stay nearby: Fowley House, Okehampton | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

Special mention

The Cridford Inn, Trusham

The Cridford Inn
The Cridford Inn credit: Instagram @thecridford

We couldn’t complete our list of Devon pubs without mentioning the one that’s been serving the longest – so a special mention goes to the Cridford Inn: the oldest pub in Devon. Dating back to 825 AD, this charming inn now serves a wide range of local ales, 80 different gins and a seasonal menu. Sip a pint while admiring the historic features, including a mural dating back to 1081, and soak up the character of the place.

Stay nearby: Huxley’s Home, Kenn | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Welcoming locals, incredible views and historic buildings – all of Devon’s charms can be found in the county’s pubs. If you’re inspired to visit, why not also take a look at our guide to the region’s restaurants and must-do activities? Or click below for our full collection of handpicked self-catering cottages in Devon and start planning your next holiday. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.