Ilfracombe is the premier holiday resort in North Devon. It enjoys a setting of rare beauty amongst the breathtaking scenery of Exmoor and the North Devon coastline and boasts a range of activities, attractions and events to suit all age groups.
The town nestles in the hills and cliffs of Capstone and Hillsborough which overlook the recently re-developed harbour. There are splendid walks along the Coastal Path including the famous Torrs walks, or swimming at the Tunnel beaches, which were first developed in the Victorian period. The Landmark Theatre provides high quality comedy, drama and music in its state-of-the-art auditorium.
There are boat trips with the opportunity to observe seals and falcons at close quarters. Boat trips also run to the Isle of Lundy, an island shrouded in myth and mystery.
Ilfracombe hosts a number of competitions and festivals, such as the Ilfracombe Carnival Procession and Victorian Week. The whole of North Devon is characterised by varying landscapes, from a coastline of spectacular cliffs and sandy coves to an expanse of wild moorland, fertile river valleys and lush rolling hills.
National Trust properties and stately homes such as those of Marwood Hill and Rosemoor, with grounds and delightful gardens are dotted across the area. There are numerous possible excursions ranging from a fun day out at the Big Sheep with its duck trials and sheep racing, to a trip to Lynton and Lynmouth - the 'Little Switzerland' of England - with their unique connecting water-operated cliff railway.
Ilfracombe's town centre is a treat for shoppers and fans of Victorian architecture and history. The town's selection of independent shops, greengrocers, butchers and bakers, some handed down through generations, complement well-known High Street names, whilst around the harbour and along the seafront there is a range of souvenir and traditional seaside shops.
Beach and Gardens
In between the intriguing caves and towering cliffs, the resort provides access to award-winning, clean and extensive beaches such as Woolacombe and Croyde, as well as the shingle/pebble beach of Wildersmouth. Inland, Ilfracombe is noted for its delightful gardens, Runnymede and Jubilee, which surround its bustling harbour.
Activities and Attractions
Tourist Information. Tel:01271 863001
Landmark Theatre Tel:01271 324242
This state-of-the-art theatre provides high quality entertainment throughout the year, often featuring well-known acts and shows.
Tunnels Beaches The hand-carved tunnels provide unique access to a beautiful area of coastline which is inaccessible by any other means. There is a wealth of information regarding the history of the tunnels throughout the site.
Chambercombe Manor Tel:01271 862624
The 11th century manor house was featured in the TV series 'Most Haunted' and is also mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is said to be haunted by at least seven spirits, including that of Katherine Wallace, daughter of the manor's former tenant.
Barnstaple Heritage Centre Tel:01271 373003
Situated a few minutes drive from Ilfracombe, the Heritage Centre relives the history of Barnstaple with the use of computer touch-screens, text & graphics panels and audio-visual presentations.
Ilfracombe Museum Tel:01271 863541
Located in a former Victorian laundry, the museum houses a fascinating range of exhibits from around the world. Amongst the curiosities is a two-headed cat and a selection of pickled bats!
Broomhill Sculpture Gardens Tel:01271 850262
This fascinating attraction features over 300 sculptures set in ten acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Quince Honey Farm Tel:01769 572401
See the living wonder of wild Exmoor honey bees in their natural habitat and observation hives.
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
A sub-tropical paradise with hundreds of exotic birds and animals and realistic dinosaurs. Daily sea lion shows, falconry displays, light shows and the UK's only Wolf Research Centre are amongst the attractions.
An exhibition of the more unusual creatures found lurking around the British coast, including sea scorpions and our own native basking sharks.
Victorian Week Tel:0845 458 3630
Enjoy the atmosphere of the 19th Century as locals dress up in Victorian costume. Usually held in mid-June.
Ilfracombe Carnival Procession Tel:01271 864213
Characterised by street processions, floats and performers.
North Devon Festival Tel:01271 324242
Over 200 events taking place at various locations throughout the summer.
Exmoor Food Festival takes place at a number of venues in October.
Bird Man Competition Tel:01271 867281
In August, competitors attempt to fly the furthest, using their own man-made flying machines, off the end of Ilfracombe Pier. Also includes funfairs and live music.
Sidmouth Folk Week takes place over the first week in August and is one of England's best folk gatherings.
Walking Festival Tel:0845 458 3630
Takes place during the first week in May and comprises of a series of walks designed to make the most of the breath-taking scenery of Exmoor and the coast.
For more events in North Devon see:
Places of Interest
The details below are intended as a general guide only. For specific tour details, first check Availability and then follow the link from the Tour Description.
Lynton and Lynmouth are spectacularly situated on the northern edge of Exmoor National Park and connected by a unique water-operated cliff railway.
Bideford and Great Torrington Bideford offers some of the best shopping in the area. Nearby is Great Torrington, famous for its Dartington Glass Factory.
Dunster and Minehead Travel along the north coast of Devon to Minehead, a thriving holiday resort and return via picturesque Dunster, a fascinating historic village with a Norman castle and historic Old Yarn Market.
Lundy Island is a granite outcrop which is just 3½ miles long and ½ a mile wide. It is an unspoilt haven of peace and tranquility. Most of the buildings are constructed from the island's own light coloured granite. There is also a 13th century castle and a lighthouse. Visitors are transported to the island aboard Lundy's own ship, the MS Oldenburg, which moors at Bideford.
Barnstaple is the oldest borough in England and also offers the best shopping in North Devon. It has weekly markets and a series of interesting buildings, such as St Anne's Chapel Museum and the Three Tuns Tavern.
The Big Sheep Tel:01327 472366
A great day out for all the family, with sheep races and duck trials taking place throughout the day, whilst cream teas are served in the excellent coffee shop.
Exmoor Steam Railways is part of the extensive steam network of Devon kept open by enthusiasts. Enjoy the transport of days gone by and the surrounding countryside.
Woolacombe is a former winner of both the Excellence Gold Award and Premier British Beach Award. Away from the beach, it is a lively village with interesting shops, friendly pubs and a laid back atmosphere which is perfect for whiling away a summer's afternoon.
Croyde is a village which is steeped in old-world charm. The beautiful sandy beaches are perfect for relaxing in the sunshine and there are numerous footpaths which lead to hidden gems such as Baggy Point, set amongst some of the most dramatic scenery in the UK. Many of the original, old stone cottages and thatched roofed buildings, which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries are still in use today.
Combe Martin lies in a beautiful valley on the western edge of Exmoor National Park. It is a magnet for walkers, being situated directly on the South West Coast Path and the famous Tarka Trail. Other popular attractions include the Wildlife and Dinosaur Park and an interesting museum which documents the history of the town and the surrounding area.