10 things to do in Kingswear, Devon
Kingswear’s brightly coloured houses sit on the east side of the River Dart and are an unmistakable part of the South Devon landscape. This riverside village is a quieter spot than Dartmouth, which is a short ferry ride away. But that gives you the best of both worlds – a rural retreat and the hustle and bustle of the neighbouring town across the river. Here’s our guide to things to do in and around Kingswear:
1. Dartmouth Steam Railway
While named after Dartmouth, this Devon steam railway actually runs from Paignton to Kingswear. The station beside the river opened in 1864 and is connected to the railway’s final destination by the Dartmouth passenger ferry.
The train takes a scenic route along the river, through the South Devon countryside and past the coast including stops at Agatha Christie’s Greenway and Goodrington Sands on the English Riviera. You can extend your journey by adding a river boat cruise to your tour. This trip takes about half an hour each way.
Check the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company website for opening times, events, timetables and to buy tickets online.
2. Take a coast or river walk
Kingswear is a good starting point a walk along the coast or the Dart Valley Trail, which follows the river. If you take the South West Coast path you can do a circular walk past Kingswear Castle and the 80ft Daymark navigational tower that sits on the headland. For a longer walk you can continue all the way to Coleton Fishacre or Berry Head and Brixham.
If you take the Dart Valley Trail along the river from Kingswear you can reach Greenway. Cross the river here to Dittisham for the return route to Dartmouth on the opposite side. A more relaxed option for your return trip is to board the Greenway Ferry and sail back down the Dart. This runs from Spring to Autumn. Check the website for the latest timetable.
3. Visit Coleton Fishacre
This National Trust property is a short drive from Kingswear in Devon. Or you can reach it by walking the South West Coast Path.
The house is 1920s Art Deco style. Before coming to the Trust it was owned by the D’Oyly Carte family who were famous for their connections to the world of opera.
The house is relatively modern compared to the Trust’s other properties in Devon. It’s the gardens that steal the show whatever the time of year. They are always in bloom.
Be prepared for steep hills within the gardens. There are some more accessible paths, so ask for directions at reception if you are visiting with a pushchair or wheelchair.
4. Visit Greenway
Greenway is another National Trust property within easy reach of Kingswear. It’s the former holiday home of crime writer Agatha Christie and features it in at least three of her books.
The gardens run along the side of the River Dart and the house is full of Christie memorabilia and other curiosities collected by her family. During WWII it was used by US Navy personnel who left an air raid shelter in the grounds and a military mural in the library.
You can reach Greenway by walking 4.5 miles along the Dart Valley Trail, catching the Dartmouth Steam Railway (speak to the conductor as Greenway Halt is a request stop) or drive. Be aware that car parking is limited and must be booked in advance.
5. Explore Brixham
The fishing town of Brixham is a short drive from Kingswear. Here you’ll find a vibrant harbour with England’s largest fish market, a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind and an abundance of restaurants selling seafood and locally sourced Devon dishes.
If you walk south along the breakwater you’ll also find the Art Deco Shoalstone Lido, which is a wonderful place to cool off with sea views. It’s open from May to September.
6. Go to the beach
Some of Devon’s finest beaches are within easy reach of Kingswear. Our top recommendations are Blackpool Sands, which is on the other side of the River Dart, or Broadbands near Paignton.
Here’s our full guide to the best South Devon beaches, including places where you can hire water sports equipment, dine at beach front restaurants and walk your dog all year round.
7. Take a walk at Berry Head
There’s panoramic views and plenty of points of interest at Berry Head on the headland at Brixham. Here you can explore the nature reserve and the ruins of two forts built to defend the coast during the Napoleonic Wars. From Fort 2 you can see the whole of Torbay. You’ll also find the Guardhouse cafe here.
Here’s some more coast walks to try in South Devon, including Little Dartmouth to Dartmouth Castle.
8. Stay during an event
Keep an eye on the Dartmouth Steam Railway website for visits by guest locomotives and the train line’s special events including the iconic Train of Lights at Christmas.
9. Cross the river to Dartmouth
Kingswear is the perfect location for a quiet holiday with the attractions of one of South Devon’s vibrant coastal towns right on your doorstep.
The Kingswear to Dartmouth passenger ferry runs all year round and takes just a few minutes to reach the other side of the River Dart. You can also cross on Dartmouth Lower Ferry, which takes passengers and cars.
In Dartmouth you can browse the independent shops and market, visit the theatre, dine at one of the numerous restaurants and go crabbing from the embankment. For families there’s Woodlands Theme Park not far outside town and other attractions in nearby Totnes.
10. Kingswear pubs and places to eat
For a small village you’re not short on places to eat or pick up a takeaway treat:
Kingswear Coffe Co.
Kingswear Coffee Co. on The Square next to the Lower Ferry slipway is a cafe serving coffee, cakes and savoury snacks. You can also pop in to buy local produce to enjoy during your stay or take home as gifts. Kingswear Coffee Co. is open from the spring to autumn each year.
Steam Packet Inn
If you enjoy stone-baked pizzas then this is the speciality at the Steam Packet Inn in Kingswear. It is open seven days a week and serves food all day. Other dishes available include sea food, chicken wings and desserts.
The Ship Inn
This Kingswear pub’s terrace is one of the best places to sit with a drink and get a view of Britannia Royal Naval College across the river in Dartmouth. The Ship Inn’s menu is a mix of pub classics and Italian fare. Trying the homemade tiramisu is a must. Sea food sourced from nearby Brixham also features prominently.
Kingswear holiday cottages
If we have whetted your appetite for a stay in Kingswear in Devon then check out our selection of Dartmouth and Kingswear cottages that can accommodate up to eight people. Many are also dog-friendly and come with parking.
We also have cottages in nearby Dittisham, Cornworthy and Tuckenhay. If you would like help finding the perfect South Devon holiday cottage we know all of our properties first hand. Contact us for a chat.