Things to do and attractions in Devon and Torquay
Read more about what’s going on in the heart of the English Riviera…
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As a fairly frequent visitor to Torquay over the years, I have had the opportunity to discover the varied range of attractions which make it a location to suit almost every taste and interest. It is probably best known as a traditional resort town in the heart of Torbay with wonderful views and beaches and several of the best hotels in the West and the town’s authorities have made many recent improvements in the facilities for visitors.
The long, level seafront provides the centrepiece of the ‘English Riviera’ and is ideal for that bracing morning walk past the palm trees, parks and colourful flowerbeds. The seafront and the close- by town centre offer all the expected features to meet the needs of a family holiday, but there are also many other alternatives. Just a mile east of the centre is Meadfoot Bay, with a much quieter beach and its own beach café and other amenities, also providing an ideal location for those interested in scuba diving. Then not much further to the east is Babbacombe, almost a small resort in its own right with its attractive cliff-top park area, hotels and restaurants and the beach down below with a funicular railway link. Going in the other direction from the town centre, the quaint thatched village of Cockington and Torre Abbey are also both well worth a visit.
Going further afield, it is always rewarding to spend a day in the bustling fishing port of Brixham – either by crossing Torbay on a boat trip or taking the road route around the bay. And once there, it is not much further to explore Berry Head for more wonderful scenery and views (and to sample the local crab sandwiches at the Berry Head Hotel!).
For boating enthusiasts, there is a well-equipped and centrally-located Marina; and for golfers, the Torquay Golf Club offers a warm welcome and an enjoyable challenge for visitors. Also worth a visit is the nearby golf course at Teignmouth where from the higher points of the course there are breathtaking views along the coast in both directions and inland across Dartmooor.
Torquay is, of course, also a good base from which to explore many other parts of Devon – my favourite places include Dartington, famous for its glassware and the photogenic riverside village of Stoke Gabriel. By taking some of the narrow country roads, there are many other picturesque villages to be found, both inland and on the coastline, which to add to the variety of a vacation in the area.
And finally, for Silver Travellers able to avoid holiday periods and weekends, all this is even more enjoyable if you can find a relatively quiet time of the year.
Below are details of some of the highlights of the area provided by the local Tourist Board:
TORQUAY AND COCKINGTON
Yachting, Café Culture, Shopping
Torquay has been a fashionable haven since the 19th century and the waterfront area remains very much the focus of life in the town. Part of the UNESCO-recognised English Riviera Global Geopark, Torquay is internationally renowned for its beautiful coastline and diversity of landscape, wildlife and culture. There is a picturesque harbour with great shopping, many waterside restaurants, cafés and bars to choose from and delightful palm tree-lined promenades framing the marina.
Dame Agatha Christie, the world's most famous mystery and crime writer, was born in Torquay in 1890 and lived for many years in the area. Many of the English Riviera’s locations can be recognised in her novels and the area is popular with Christie fans from around the world (see also our Agatha Christie fact sheet).
Beaches, Boat Trips and Birds
Torquay is known for its beautiful beaches, including Torre Abbey Sands and Meadfoot Beach, and there are a wealth of boat trips and water sports to enjoy off the coast. There are also some truly world-class tourist attractions, including Living Coasts, the award-winning coastal zoo and conservation charity. Here the whole family can have fun meeting the free-roaming penguins, watching the fur seals and learning about the natural habitats of a wide range of marine species.
This spectacularly beautiful underground cave system is a National Protected Monument, an International Prehistoric Show Cave and a Gateway Site for the English Riviera Global Geopark. Kents Cavern is by far the most important prehistoric cave dwelling in Britain and is known around the world for its archaeological record of prehistoric human life in ancient Europe. A fun and exciting all-weather option for the visitor, Kents Cavern has fascinating guided tours plus a great programme of events.
New! Royal Terrace Gardens – Spectacular Illuminated Staircase / Geopark Platform
A stroll through the beautiful Princess Gardens towards Torre Abbey Sands and along the promenade will take you to the newly-opened Royal Terrace Gardens. Here there is a stunning illuminated staircase up the cliffs which leads you to the new Geopark viewing platform. This has to be one of the best view points across South Devon’s beautiful bay.
Culture vultures shouldn’t miss out on a visit to Torre Abbey. The restored ancient monument and gardens offer a fascinating insight into 800 years of history and also house one of the biggest art collections in the Westcountry. Every summer, the Abbey hosts a “Summer of Arts”. In addition, it is the site of the Agatha Christie-inspired Potent Plants Garden.
Cockington – Quintessentially English Village and Craft Centre
A mile from Torquay seafront you will find Cockington, often described as the prettiest village in England; the world-famous thatched village has remained virtually untouched throughout the centuries. Cockington Court, a 17th century manor house surrounded by a beautiful country park, houses a number of craft studios where you can watch artists at work before enjoying a delicious cream tea.
To find out more visit www.englishriviera.co.uk
Silver Travel Advisor recommended partner: The Toorak Hotel
Listen to Silver Travel Radio Show
Lydia Stone of English Riviera spoke to the Silver Travel Show about all the wonderful things you can do beside the sea in Devon.
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