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Mild ocean breezes, sandy beaches and swaying Torbay Palms give the small English town of Torquay a distinctively Mediterranean feel. More than just a beach spot, Torquay boasts an enormous coastal aviary and the famous Kents Cavern Prehistoric Caves. Agatha Christie spent most of her life here, and the city is now home to multiple film companies. With such a rich literary history, Torquay may be the perfect place to finish writing that novel or screenplay, or just to relax with a good mystery.
With its seafront lido, busy international port, and waterfront Barbican district, Plymouth’s maritime heritage takes centre stage, but head inland and the numerous museums, shopping malls, and arts venues reveal why it’s earned the title of Devon’s cultural capital.
Set against a backdrop of Devon’s rolling hills and rocky coastline, Exeter is the county’s historic showpiece. Roman ruins, medieval buildings, and Georgian façades dot the modern town, contrasting with the quayside pubs and glass-fronted shopping malls.
<div id="VR_GEO_BLURB_TITLE">Devon Cottages - The Ultimate in Relaxing Breaks </div><div id="VR_GEO_BLURB_CONTENT"><p>From the wilds of Dartmoor to the wooded hillsides of the Lyn Valley, Devon is undoubtedly one of England's most beautiful counties. Its overwhelmingly rural landscape means that catered accommodation is restricted to over-subscribed Bed and Breakfasts and hotels which are mostly concentrated in towns like Exeter and Barnstaple. </p><p>Devon is a great location for a family holiday in the great outdoors, with everything from beach resorts at Ilfracombe to rambling in the hills of Exmoor and tors of Dartmoor. It is a large county, but whether you want to follow the Tarka Trail, or walk down the Doone Valley, you can be sure there will be cottages open for holiday rentals nearby. </p><div>Devon's Cottages, All Mod Cons </div><p>Most of Devon's holiday rental cottages started as farm buildings of some sort, and planning restrictions mean that many of them retain their rural charm on the outside. However, the cottages are generally renovated to 21st Century standards inside, with double glazing, TV, washing machines and fully-equipped kitchens. Families are well catered for in the higher end properties with games rooms, sometimes including full-size pool tables and large gardens for children to explore. </p><p>Despite the unpredictability of Devon's weather even during the summer months, the comfort of these properties gives great peace of mind. Moreover, a week's holiday rental of a cottage in Devon can cost as little as £300 - £400. During the peak season you can spend as much as £900 a month for one of the larger or more luxurious cottages, which still works out to be cheaper than a lot of hotels, especially if you have to book several rooms to accommodate a family of four or five. </p><div>Town Mouse or Country Mouse </div><p>To get the best of Devon's startling countryside and its friendly communities, renting a holiday cottage near Lynton and Lynmouth can be a good start. It is a useful base from which to explore North Devon, and is within walking distance of several beauty spots, such as Watersmeet (complete with a small but impressive waterfall) and the Valley of the Rocks. Separated by a steep cliff, you can travel up a funicular railway from coastal Lynmouth to clifftop Lynton, with plenty of stunning walks, shopping opportunities and several beaches and boat trips to nearby coastal attractions. </p><p>The twin villages also boast a concentration of well-equipped holiday cottages, from modest fisherman's cottages on the path to Watersmeet to grander hillside houses on the way to the Valley of the Rocks. Whatever your budget, Lynton and Lynmouth can provide some tempting accommodation options for your first Devon holiday. </p></div>
Hit the beautiful beaches of Weymouth to soak up the surprisingly powerful U.K. sun—there are plenty of waterfront options to pick from. The quaint harbor of Weymouth bobs merrily with fishing boats, and, downtown, Hope Square and Brewers Quay bustle with shoppers and merrymakers.
Walking is a way of life in the picturesque Cornwall town of Padstow. The South West Coast Path—which, at 630 miles, is Britain’s longest footpath—stretches along the coast and, via ferry, across the River Carmel. The former fishing port is today a hub of fine wining and dining. Lose yourself in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a fairyland of heirloom flowers, or go back to the future at the Eden Project, a horticultural wonderland housed inside dramatic biodomes.
Catch a wave in Cornwall! Beach, surfing, and scenery draw the crowds to Newquay every summer. Perfect your tan on the beach, paddle in the shallows, or join the surfers out at sea. Just out of town, the Holywell Bay Fun Park, Newquay Zoo, and Blue Reef Aquarium provide family fun, and dedicated cycling tracks offer an alternate way to tour nearby towns of Bodmin, Padstow, and Truro.
<p>Nestling on the Jurassic Coast of West Dorset, Lyme Regis is a town where you can escape the pace of twenty-first-century life. Famous for geology and fossils, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that remains unspoiled.You are sure to visit the harbour at Lyme Regis, where there is a famous stone construction known as the Cobb that shelters the boats. Don't miss the aquarium on the Cobb in the summer, especially if you are interested in seeing gigantic lobsters. A Literary Lyme Walking Tour might be more your thing, as the Cobb features in John Fowles' novel “The French Lieutenant's Women” as well as in Jane Austen's “Persuasion”. Plan your holiday for July or August and go on a ghost tour; August also devotes one week to a regatta and carnival. On a rainy day, pay a visit to the Town Mill with its art gallery, craft centre, bakery and brasserie. </p>
You've probably heard that Guinness tastes better in Dublin (fresh from the factory), but what you may not know is that Dublin is a perfect destination for the whole family. No, we're not suggesting you let the kiddies drink a pint. Instead, take them to the Dublin Zoo, to feed the ducks in Stephen's Green or on a picnic in Phoenix Park. Scholars enjoy walking in the literary footsteps of such writers as Yeats and Joyce, while discerning shoppers have their pick of designer boutiques.
Plan to cross many bridges when in Cork. Ireland's third-largest city began life as an island and now spans both banks of the River Lee, with watery channels running beneath some of its main thoroughfares. The best way to experience this hilly southern seaport is on foot, following the signposted walking tour past St. Finn Barre's Cathedral and the riverside quadrangle of University College up the hill to red and white Shandon Church. Along the way, you'll meet plenty of the city's talkative residents.
Don your most comfortable shoes for Killarney, where town trails offer history lessons and country walks traverse Ireland's first national park: 26,000 acres of woodlands, sandstone mountains and low-lying lakes. In the town centre, Killarney House and Gardens provide a break for urban explorers. Renowned Muckross House, with its 15th-century abbey ruins and massive yew tree, is just outside the town. If your feet wear out, take in Killarney National Park's legendary scenery from a boat trip from Ross Castle.
"The City of Tribes" provides a fun blast of the Ireland many first-time visitors expect. The compact city centre, with its winding streets, packed pubs and air of celebration, is easily walked - or pubcrawled. The west-coast city of almost 70,000 is home to merry bands of students, artists, writers and craftspeople, and is merriest during summer's Galway's Arts Festival. Don't miss shopping for Claddagh rings, the Druid Theatre or having a pint o' the black stuff at the atmospheric Tigh Neachtain pub.
Belfast has grown into a cosmopolitan city and become a popular weekend-break destination. The city pulses with an irrepressible optimism and energy. The Northern Ireland capital has an increasing number of intriguing bus, taxi, boat and pedestrian tours. Attractions such as Ulster Folk Museum and Belfast Cathedral, award-winning restaurants, lively bars from modern lounges to traditional pubs, hip clubs, great shopping, impressive theatres, galleries and live music make it a vivacious destination.
The town that gave the country (and port wine) its very name, Porto is Portugal’s second-largest metropolis after Lisbon. Sometimes called Oporto, it's an age-old city that has one foot firmly in the industrial present. The old town, centered at Ribeira, was built on the hills overlooking the Douro River, and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 14th-century São Francisco church is a main attraction, as are the local port wine cellars, mostly located across the river at Vila Nova de Gaia.