A guide to Totnes, Devon

Penned on the 15th August 2023

A guide to Totnes, Devon

If you dream of cosy coffee corners, candlelit dinners, eclectic independents and weekly markets, Totnes is a destination you need to pop on your wanderlist. This quirky town in South Devon boasts a year-round bustling high street. The vibrant array of bespoke shops draws attention from far and wide, while community spirit is high, and keeping things local- seasonal and small is a key priority in this special corner of the UK. It’s also a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, with the stunning River Dart flowing through the town itself. And if that wasn’t enough to tempt you to this heavenly destination, just a stone's throw from Totnes, you’ll find Dartmoor National Park, so if green fields and rolling hills call, you can rest assured that nature is within easy reach. Here’s our guide to Totnes, with recommendations tried and tested by the Unique hideaways team…

The food

Best for seasonal goodness

The menu and exterior at The Bull Inn, Totnes

The Bull Inn is bursting with good food, great wine and an incredible atmosphere. It’s the sort of space you walk into and instantly want to sweep up the interiors to take home. The menu changes daily and consists of only the highest quality, local, seasonal and organic produce. When we visited, we shared a few small plates, such as the chicken skewer with chimichurri, aioli and pickles, and the aubergines under oil, with whipped tahini, almonds and apricot salsa… delicious! We also went for the house white wine which was so good we had to order another glass. We cannot recommend The Bull enough if you are looking for wholesome, honest food, and an ambience that’s good for the soul! 


Best for dining with the locals

The exterior of Rumours Bar and Kitchen, Totnes

Loved by the locals of lovely Totnes, Rumor Kitchen and Bar is the perfect spot for a scrumptious dinner. Think friendly staff and hearty food sourced from local suppliers. There’s a good range of veggie, vegan and meat options, plus small plates and larger dishes for those with a bigger appetite. We love the sound of the baked feta and honey on sourdough and the pizzas look too good to resist! 


Best for a veggie lunch

Friends enjoying lunch at Seeds 2 Totnes

Seeds 2 is one of those places you wish existed in every local town! It’s a unique concept that is truly amazing. You pay for a plate rather than a specific dish and it’s an all-you-can-eat style vegetarian buffet - the food is colourful, nutritious and heartwarming. The dahl has to be our favourite warm dish and the salads are fresh and nourishing. They kindly ask that you don’t overload your plate to avoid leaving waste, but you are very welcome to pop back up to the counter and top up if your first plate doesn’t quite satisfy your hunger. 


Best for a cosy Sunday

The cosy Cott Inn, in Totnes Devon

Think thatched country cottage charm with a roaring fire and hidden nooks, where you can enjoy a glass of red while playing your favourite card game with that special someone. The Cott Inn looks as if it’s arrived out of a scene of a fairytale. We visited on a cold Sunday in late January and sat beside the flickering fire. True to any wintery weekend, we opted for the roast beef… it was amazing. All the meat is sourced from naturally reared Devon farms and the fish is local and line caught. To finish off our wholesome lunch we shared a sticky toffee pudding. In our opinion, no cosy Sunday is complete without dessert.


Best for a unique dining experience

The interiors and summer salads at Riverford Field Kitchen

Offering a unique dining experience of 100% organic, seasonal veg, Riverford Field Kitchen is the perfect spot for those looking for brunch, lunch or dinner with a twist. The food is veg-centric and all sourced from the kitchen gardens, which are just a stone’s throw from the restaurant. The menus are set and designed to share in feast style. During the summer, meals are served outside on the garden terrace, but if the weather isn’t so kind, dining takes place in the restaurant where beautiful dried flowers decorate the walls. Riverford Kitchen Garden is an excellent option if you are looking for somewhere different to try with friends… sociable feasting at its finest! 


The Coffee

Best for a taste of Italy 

The Curator Cafe in Totnes Devon

Calling all coffee lovers! The Curator is a dream come true for you. Inspired by Italian coffee, this trendy little cafe tucked at the bottom of Totnes high street brews the best wood-roasted coffee in town. They also serve Italian sweet treats, focaccia sandwiches and fresh pasta for lunch. The interiors are minimalist with surfboards for decor and a cool selection of stylish prints. 


Best for plant-based goodness

The Hairy Barista exterior and summer salad

When stepping into The Hairy Barista you feel as if you are hopping off your moped in Bali and entering the coolest cafe for a sunshine smoothie bowl. The vibe is energetic, yet cool, calm and collected. Tables are for sharing so grab a seat quickly, as it’s a really popular spot even mid-week. We visited on a rainy day in July and ordered two oat milk lattes. Piping hot and served in the perfect mug (why is it that some mugs just make your coffee taste better?), it was just what we needed after a windswept morning exploring all the independents. As the menu looked too good to miss, we also ordered the salad plate with homemade hummus, colourful veggies and fresh sourdough which we highly recommend! 


The Shopping

Best for bespoke gifts

Pretty interior of Chi Chi's lifestyle store Totnes

Searching for the perfect gift for your best friend, mum, dad, sister or partner? Then you are in luck, as Totnes is full of the trendiest, prettiest and most unique independents. One of our favourites has to be Chi Chi’s; a paradise for those who love all things girlie! Stocking hair clips, jewellery, pretty prints, gorgeous gift cards and so much more, you are sure to find the ideal treat for that special someone. Forest is another great store situated at the top of the high street, almost next door to The Hairy Barista. Selling the likes of funky glassware, colourful mugs and wicker baskets, it’s a treasure trove for those seeking something special. And, just around the corner from The Bull is where you will find Me and East, a beautiful little shop we can’t resist when visiting Totnes. Full of candles, bud vases, journals and so much more, you are bound to find the perfect gift or treat for yourself! 


Best for interior inspiration

Interiors of Nkuku Lifestyle Store in Totnes

Just on the outskirts of Totnes (around a 10-minute drive) is where you will find the Nkuku Lifestyle Store. Here at UH, we are big fans of Nkuku. We love their ethical trading standards and of course, we dream of dressing our homes head to toe in their simply stunning designs. The lifestyle store is a great place to take in all the beauty of this amazing brand. From furniture to candle sticks and soft furnishings there's a lot to explore. They also have a gorgeous cafe onsite serving coffee and cake, as well as delicious soups, sandwiches and other lunch items. Another lovely homeware shop in Totnes is Holly Keeling Interiors. As you enter into this colourful haven you are greeted with bespoke lamps, patterned cushions and a whole array of nick-nacks perfect for decorating any floating shelf or mantle piece. 


Best for children

Cosy corner in The East Gate Bookshop, Totnes

When shopping with little ones, it’s nice to be able to pop in and out of shops that will keep them entertained. Small Folk offers a bespoke collection of clothes, shoes, books and so much more for children, babies and women. Everything they stock promotes sustainability which is why we love visiting. You’ll find wooden toys, linen clothes and a whole array of games that are perfect for gifting. If your ‘small folk’ love to read then why not explore The East Gate Bookshop at the bottom of Totnes high street? This traditional bookshop is a wonderland for bookworms and has a wholesome feel that’s sure to bring back nostalgic memories of choosing a new book to read before bedtime. 


Best for music fans 

The exterior of Drift Record Store Totnes

Established in the early 90s, Drift is a well-respected independent record shop settled at the top of Totnes high street. The shop is light and airy and stocks a whole array of new and reissued music across a wide range of genres. Such as; jazz, post-punk, house, techno, country, funk and many more! If you are a lover of a record then add this independent to your list of places to visit in quirky Totnes. 


Best for wine drinkers

Wines from across Europe at Totnes Wine Company

Perched in the middle of the high street is Totnes Wine Company. Selling wines from all over the world, but with a strong focus on Europe, it’s a lovely spot to pick up a treat to take back to your hideaway to enjoy under the stars. Perhaps a bottle of Italian fizz or maybe a rich red from France is more to your liking, perfectly paired with a cheese board of course. If wine isn’t your choice of tipple they also sell a good array of local spirits and beers. 


Things to do in Totnes

Best for outdoor enthusiasts

Wild swimming along the River Dart near Totnes

If being in nature is more your style than wandering the cobbled high street, then you are in luck, as Totnes is a fantastic location for adventure seekers. The River Dart runs through the town of Totnes and is a great focal point for walkers, wild swimmers and water sports lovers. From easy riverside strolls to rambling countryside hikes, there’s a whole array of walking routes in and around Totnes suitable for various levels, so pack a picnic and enjoy a day exploring Devon’s glorious countryside. For those who love a refreshing dip, there are several wild swimming spots to enjoy along the River Dart, that are easily accessible by foot from the town centre. The river bank just above the weir is easy to hop in and out of and is a popular spot with the locals. If you love the water but don’t fancy diving in, why not explore the River Dart by kayaking or paddle boarding? You can hire equipment from Totnes Kayaks and could even book a guided tour if you fancy the full experience. And, for families looking for an exciting day out, take a look at the combined river and railway experience between Totnes and Dartmouth.


Best for history lovers

Lavender blooming at Compton Castle, Devon

For those who love to take a trip back in time, Totnes boasts an array of historical places to visit, such as the town's very own castle. Totnes Castle is one of the earliest and best-preserved examples of Norman motte and bailey earthworks and is the largest of its kind across Devon. Being perched up high, the far-reaching views out towards the town, River Dart and Dartmoor are worth the climb.

If you love to amble around historic houses and gardens, there are several National Trust properties in and around Totnes that are worth visiting. Such as Compton Castle, Saltram House and Greenway (Agatha Christie’s summer house).


Best for events

Summer events at Dartington Trust, Devon

During your time in Totnes, we highly recommend visiting Dartington, especially if you have your family with you. The trust is a thriving visitor destination and charity that supports learning in arts, ecology and social justice, all set within their beautiful 1,200-acre estate. It’s an award-winning destination with woodland walks, riverside trails, cafes and restaurants. Throughout the year, Darting Trust hosts a wide range of events. From film nights in their bespoke Barn Cinema to music events and crafty workshops, if you feel like soaking up some culture, Dartington is the place to visit. 


The best hideaways in and around Totnes

Twilight at Rosie's Hut

As you can probably tell by now, we are big fans of Totnes and as we are lucky enough to have a wide array of hideaways in and around the area, it’s somewhere we often get to visit as a team. Our hideaways include an array of shepherd’s huts, such as; Holsome Hideaway, Bowhay and Rosie’s Hut. If you are seeking a unique place to stay in this unforgettable location, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our full collection of hideaways in Devon here. 


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