Guide to Cottage Holidays in the West Country

cottages south west England The south west of England is always a popular area for family holidays. The beaches and coasts of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset are a magnet for holidaymakers in the summer months.

Holiday Destinations in England's West Country include:





There are also plenty of tourist attractions in the area; zoos and parks to visit, moors to explore, National Trust properties of interest with beautiful gardens - lots to do for the whole family.

More information about self catering and country cottage holidays in the West Country.

The South West of England is often referred to as the West Country.  This part of England is known as a hot spot for summer holidays and for ice creams, pretty fishing villages, beaches and the coast.  Popular for coastal cottage breaks but also country cottage breaks in the beautiful countryside.  In particular, this part of England is ideal for family self catering holidays.

In many parts of the West Country, particularly in Cornwall, even if you stay in the country, you are usually never too far away from the sea.  Do check maps though before booking to make sure you are happy with the location of the self catering cottage that interests you.

If you aren't familiar with the West Country in England, do read through our guide which sets out the highlights of each area.

Highlights of the West Country


Cornwall is a popular UK holiday destination which with recent hit TV programmes like Poldark has only grown in popularity over recent years.  So popular that it has once again been voted the top UK holiday destination for the second year running in the British Travel awards.  Many have heard of Land's End in Cornwall and wish to visit the most southernly tip of the English mainland.  Many artists also head to Cornwall for inspiration and fantastic scenery.  Cornwall is known for producing delicious ice cream from Cornish cream.  The Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall deserves a special mention as this area is known for beautiful turquoise waters and stunning beauty, recognised in its award as an area of outstanding natural beauty.   Over recent years Poldark Country has become increasingly popular too!

One famous Cornish attraction is the Eden Project.  Many travel to Cornwall for self catering holidays to visit the Eden project alone but it is by no means Cornwall's only attraction. Cornwall has an amazing number of places to visit, one of the main ones being beautiful gardens of all kinds. The climate of Cornwall is perfectly suited to plants and even brightly coloured daisy flowering succulents thrive in the abundant sunshine. The National Trust has many properties to visit for days out in Cornwall and the West Country - all of which make for interesting days out and possible lunch or afternoon tea. Apart from that there are art galleries, museums, animal centres, tin mines and theme parks such as Flambards or Crealy for families.

Read our Guide to Cornwall

There are beaches galore in Cornwall, so you can pack your bucket and spade, build sandcastles, paddle and more.  Chapel Porth in St Agnes is known to be a secluded beach whereas if you like to see all the action and enjoy surfing then you may want to head to Porthmeor beach in St Ives or one of Newquay's enormous sandy beaches. If you are feeling adventurous and want to do a spot of swimming in the sea, then Gorran Haven in Mevagissey is known to be a reasonably sheltered beach.    

Boat trips from Penzance and other ports where you can go in search of seals and birdwatching.
Each of the villages and towns on the coast and in the country in Cornwall have their own attractions for day trips or self catering cottage stays.

Popular resorts include:

  • Bodmin, known primarily for the unspoilt Bodmin moor area.
  • Falmouth, home to Pendennis castle and the National Maritime Museum.
  • Penzance, boat trips operate from here where in season you may even spot dolphins
  • Truro - city in Cornwall with a cathedral.
  • Looe - picturesque port, a few miles from quaint Polperro.
  • Mevagissey
  • Newquay - this place has been awarded the favourite seaside town award in a number of polls and with 4 beaches it's not hard to understand why.
  • St Ives - recently earned the coveted award of Best UK seaside town.  It has a picturesque harbour, three good beaches and independent shops and eateries in a ramble of narrow lanes. Many artists have made St Ives their home and art is everywhere.
  • Find Cottages in Cornwall


Devon attracts many for self catering breaks, not just for its pretty countryside, but also because of its bays and beaches. The World Heritage site of the Jurassic coast covers part of the East Devon coastline, attracting many keen beachcombers to this area.  Other appealing areas in Devon include the country areas of Exmoor and Dartmoor, both of which are national parks.  The main city in Devon is of course Exeter, which has an attractive cathedral.  Plymouth is the other main city in Devon.  There are a number of market towns dotted throughout Devon to visit.  The best known of these include Tiverton, Honiton, Sidmouth, Exmouth, Torquay, Lynton and Paignton. There are also a number of pretty villages, both by the coast and in the country.  Attractive seaside villages include Clovelly and Beer.  Inland, Broadhembury, a village of thatched cottages, is worth a visit.  Combe Martin is also known to be attractive.  Find Holiday cottages on the coast and in the country in Devon

A part of Devon is often described nowadays as the English Riviera, this name refers to Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.  

If you want more information on all that Devon has to offer for self-catering breaks, read our Holiday Guide to Devon.


Dorset is located just south of Somerset and Wiltshire.  Dorset is located on the west side of the West Country. Dorset's most famous attraction is undoubtedly its jurassic coast which it advertises as one of the wonders of the world due to its world heritage status.  There is an interesting combination of cliffs, beaches, coves and bays.  The rolling countryside of Dorset attracts many also with its heathlands, fields and parks.  Some parts of Dorset have been officially recognised as designated areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Want to find out more about Dorset?  Read our guide to cottage holidays in Dorset.

Looking for accommodation?  Browse Holiday cottages in the country and on the coast in Dorset


cottage holidays Burnham on Sea SomersetThinking of taking a cottage holiday in Somerset?  Exmoor national park covers part of the West of Somerset.  Somerset has many areas of beautiful countryside and also a number of well known seaside resorts such as Minehead, Burnham on Sea (shown on the left) and Weston super Mare. 

Whereas in the pretty Somerset countryside you can find Frome and Wells (home to historic Wells Cathedral).  Another popular place to visit in Somerset is Glastonbury, famous for the Glastonbury festival and mystical Glastonbury Tor.  In the very north of Somerset there is the beautiful historical city of Bath with Roman baths and elegant architecture, which if you haven't been, is well worth a visit, and if you have been, of course worth returning to again. 

Burnham on Sea has lots to recommend it for family self catering holidays, find a self catering cottage in Burnham on Sea, Somerset.     

This part of England is also well known for its cider and cream teas, both of which add a small happy memory of their own to your self catering break.

If you are looking for a relaxing self catering holiday in picturesque countryside or looking to spend time by the coast, Somerset has it all. 

For more hints and tips on what Somerset has to offer, read our guide to Somerset.

Page last reviewed on 09 October 2023
by Yvonne Dean

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