With a large natural harbour, Salcombe has long played an active role for local boats and shipping, dating back to the rare Bronze Age shipwreck that has been found off the coast here. The town itself, with the current buildings largely dating from the 19th century, was built around the wealth from building and repairing ships. Ships are no longer built in Salcombe, and the harbour is now essentially used by pleasure boats and yachts, and some fishermen.
The town benefits from a warm and protected micro-climate, and is the surrounding region is a haven for wildlife and popular with birdspotters. The town is also very popular with visitors, and during summer you should use the 'park and ride' system to avoid the difficulties of driving through Salcombe itself.
There are several beaches close to hand, both to the south of Salcombe and on the opposite side of the estuary (which can easily be crossed on the ferry). North Sands, South Sands and the beaches of East Portlemouth (on the eastern side of the estuary) are the most easily accessed (the last two via ferry or sea-tractor). The beaches also have good visitor facilities.
Shopping and eating
Salcombe is more upmarket than most of the Devon resorts - the natural harbour now attracts a wealthy clientele of sailing enthusiasts - and has many expensive bars, restaurants and shops, and art galleries etc. The main street runs along the attractive waterfront, with other streets to explore running up the hill behind containing more designer shops and boutiques.
What else to do in and around Salcombe?
Sailing Schools: Want to join the jet-set but don't know where to start? Several companies based in Salcombe harbour offer sailing courses.
Hope Cove: a small quaint village 7km west of Salcombe in a pretty waterside setting, and with a fascinating history based around smuggling
Overbecks Garden: At Shapitor, just outside Salcombe, this National Trust run property is a fine Georgian House surrounded by very well maintained and extensive gardens and lovely views out across the estuary. The house also features a small museum explaining the history of the ship and boating industry - but the exotic gardens are the highlight...
Map of Salcombe and places to visit
Salcombe places to visit
See more places nearby in the Devon guide