Your guide to Torquay holidays
This shimmering resort on the English Riviera’s appeared in the top 10 for the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards two years running, and if you’ve already fallen in love with it you’ll understand why. Palms flutter, the sea glistens and boats make their way slowly across the bay…and we can’t imagine a prettier corner of Devon for some relaxation.
Whether you’re content to sit beside the harbour and watch the world go by over a latte, or you’d prefer to stake your claim on a corner of sandy beach and spend a day creating castles, there’s something for everyone on a Torquay holiday. Thanks to Torbay’s special microclimate, the weather tends to be mild too, and that’s why the streets are lined with palms that give the whole town a rather continental feel.
Torbay’s home to Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, so you’ll be able to explore the beaches of Paignton or the fishing history of Brixham with one of the boat trips that ferries visitors across the bay – and if you keep your eyes peeled you might even spot a dolphin or two following the boat!
Things to do in Torquay
When it comes to things to do in Torquay we have to start with the annual Agatha Christie Festival. If you didn’t know, Agatha Christie was born in Torquay and Greenway House in nearby Kingswear was her family’s private retreat from it all. These days it’s owned by the National Trust, but it’s open to the public and it plays host to many events associated with the annual festival. The festival takes place for two weeks every September, and it sees fans from all over the world dig out their 20s costume and celebrate all things Agatha in the town she called home. During the festival, it’s not uncommon to bump into Poirot wandering his way along the seafront, or to see ladies in their flapper dresses strolling along the pier just as Agatha back in the day.
With its setting on the coast of South Devon, Torquay’s also a popular destination with walkers. The South West Coast Path winds its way gently around the town, and it’s a great way to take in the panoramic views out to sea during your Torquay holiday. With Dartmoor only 15 minutes away by car, you’ll be able to take in the countryside too, so it’s just a question of where you fancy a yomp.
The Princess Theatre sits at the end of the Princess Pier on the seafront, and it hosts some of the biggest names and shows on the showbiz scene throughout the year. If you fancy a night of comedy or a good old singalong during your stay, you’ll find a show that’ll have you clapping along if not dancing in the aisle (which my nan genuinely did once).
Places to visit in Torquay
Now for a few of our favourite places to visit in Torquay, and get ready because there are plenty of days out to choose from no matter what the season. You can’t miss Torre Abbey, the gorgeously elegant mansion that sits just behind the seafront and hides centuries of the area’s history behind its walls. Torre Abbey’s the kind of attraction that sits at the heart of the town, and it’s connected to everyone from the Cary family, to the Singers (of sewing machine fame) and even Agatha Christie (she used to visit the gardens for inspiration on poisons to use in her plots).
Tucked behind the harbourside you’ll find Living Coasts coastal zoo, and it’s home to a colony of penguins that’ll have you wishing you could take them all home. You’ll be able to watch the keepers feeding them their fish, and they even wander around amongst the visitors when they fancy a waddle…there’s a penguin crossing to enable them to get through the crowds safely too – and trust us, it’s the most adorable thing you’ll ever see!
Babbacombe Model Village is one of those attractions that should just be for children but’s actually great fun for adults too. Discover the whole world (and some local Torquay landmarks come to that) in miniature, and it’s the cheeky puns you’ll spot as you make your way around that make a visit so hilarious.
Restaurants in Torquay
There’s a continental feel to Torquay, and that means it’s home to the kind of restaurants and cafes where you can just take your time over a good meal while you enjoy the views. For the foodies, there’s The Elephant. The home of fine dining in the bay, The Elephant has a Michelin Star to its name, and most of its ingredients are grown on their own dedicated farm over in Brixham. The Orange Tree is another favourite with foodies in Torquay, and there’s a relaxed atmosphere at this restaurant that makes it a cosy place to experience fine dining.
Now, you’ve got to try a cream tea at least once during your stay, and there’s only one place to do it in true Torquay style – at the Angels tearoom in Babbacombe. This tearoom may be small, but it’s the little things they do that make it such a popular place for a chat and a scone. From the mismatched tea cups and saucers to the angels that dot the room, Angels Tearoom is one of our faves.
You’ll find 20 beaches and coves along the coastline of the English Riviera, and that means that there’s a sandy spot to suit every kind of beachgoer. Torre Abbey Sands is the main beach in Torquay, and this long stretch of sand is close to shops, cafes and the amenities of the seafront. There are lifeguards on hand during the summer, and if you time your visit on a Sunday there’s a man with a rake who draws huge pictures in the sand – and even the odd marriage proposal! For quieter days, there’s Meadfoot beach in Wellswood. This shingle beach is a pictuyresque spot for a quiet walk along the shore, and there’s something peaceful about it because it’s further from the town centre than some of the other beaches.