Sidmouth is situated on the east Devon coast, to the south-east of Exeter. It falls on the edge of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is part of the Jurassic Coast world heritage site.
The town has been a preferred seaside destination for well over 100 years and Sidmouth gains most of its income from tourism - in order to help preserve this important heritage a significant part of the centre of Sidmouth is now designated as a conservation area.
Start your visit with a walk along the esplanade (the sea front), enjoying the sea breeze, the coastal scenery, and admiring some of the fine old houses that line parts of the seafront. At the eastern end of the esplanade a small bridge crosses the River Sid and reaches a longer beach.
Sidmouth town itself is a very pleasant place to explore, with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants to tempt you, and numerous Regency period buildings - it is a very traditional seaside town. There is also a small museum explaining the history of the town next to the church.
Many of the fine houses were built by the nobility and by London Society in the Regency era when sea-bathing was becoming very popular. Look for the double-headed eagle on Fortfield Terrace which celebrates a visit by the Grand Duchess of Russia in 1830.
She came with 100 lords, ladies and servants and gave a reception that was attended by local artist and historian Peter Orlando Hutchinson copies of whose work can be seen in the Sidmouth museum.
There is a pebble beach in the centre of Sidmouth which becomes a lovely sandy beach when the tide is out, with the red cliffs of Salcombe Hill rising to the east - head for the top of Salcombe Hill, or Peak Hill on more red Triassic cliffs to the west of the town, for nice coastal views and for views back across the town itself. Other beaches are nearby, including Jacob's Ladder Beach, just to the west of the main beach and named after the staircase that is usd to reach the beach.
This area of the coast is popular with fossil hunters and you will often see people scouring the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs.
Another highlight of a visit to Sidmouth is the attention to flowers and gardens, and there are a couple of well maintained parks to discover (the town has won several awards for the quality of its gardens). The walled Connaught Gardens were positively ablaze with colour when we visited!
A Canadian admirer of Sidmouth, Keith Owen, had planned to retire here but on finding he had a terminal illness donated a large sum of money to the Sid Vale association asking for some of it to be spent 'planting a million bulbs'. Now if you visit at daffodil time (around March) you will huge swathes of daffodils across the area.
Note: folk music enthusiasts will enjoy visiting during the Sidmouth Folk Week held early each august. The festival has quite a reputation for attracting folk musicians from around the world and the streets are filled with music. See Sidmouth Folk Week for details.
Places to Visit Nearby
Nearby Branscombe is one of the prettiest villages in the region with its thatched cottages and coastal position. Beer is another really lovely village on the sea. If you are looking for a bigger centre Lyme Regis is a lovely town and is also on the sea front. It makes an excellent base for visiting the area.
Photos of Sidmouth
Click any picture to start the gallery
Map of Sidmouth and places to visit
Sidmouth places to visit
See more places nearby in the Devon guide