Torquay is one of Britain's most famous resorts, situated at the heart of 22 miles of unspoilt coastline, often referred to as the 'English Riviera'. Torbay is blessed with a mild climate, sparkling blue waters, Blue-Flag beaches and extensive attractive gardens.
Torquay is characterised by its Mediterranean feel, created by its palm tree lined seafront, Italian style white villas perched high on the hillsides and fabulous yachts and boats moored in the popular marina. Fashionable since Victorian times and the former home of such figures as crime author Agatha Christie and comedy actor Peter Cook, Torquay offers contrast and variety, day and night, from its bustling harbour and marina to its exclusive shops and sophisticated restaurants and bars, which are open well into the evening along the promenade.
Activity is focussed around Torquay's new multi-million pound waterfront which provides a comprehensive programme of exhibitions, concerts and theatrical productions, as well as a world-class marine animal visitor attraction and state of the art foot-bridge across the bay. The new waterfront is supplemented by a number of attractions, varying from steam trains and boats to swimming pools and golf courses.
Torquay lies at the edge of Dartmoor, known as the last great wilderness in England. The area is diverse and fascinating, varying from ancient woodland to nationally important butterfly and archaeological sites which may be visited throughout the year. Even so, Torquay is not isolated, being ideally situated between Devon's two principal cities, Plymouth and Exeter.
In short, Torquay is both a gateway to nature whilst retaining close links with urban centres renowned for excellent shopping and intriguing historical buildings and sites.
The heart of the town is the harbour which has many shops along its edges. The town is hilly but the location of the Regina Hotel is on the flat harbourside and the shops, promenade and Pavilion Theatre are all a level walk from here.
Beaches and Gardens
Torbay has excellent bathing beaches at Babbacombe, Torre Abbey and Paignton. Torre Abbey Gardens make a pleasant walk along the seafron from the harbour.
Activities and Attractions
Tourist Information Tel:01803 211211
Babbacombe Model Village Tel:01803 315315
Situated just two miles from Torquay, this is a miniature version of the thatched houses, gardens and railways found in the English countryside.
Torquay Museum Tel:01803 326108
Considered to be one of the finest museums in the south west, the collections cover many subjects including Egyptology, Entomology and local history.
Bygones Victorian Museum Tel:01803 326108
Step back in time and relive the nostalgia of over 20 life-size Victorian shops. There is also a giant model railway, World War 1 trench and Anderson shelter.
Living Coasts Tel:01803 202470
Situated opposite the Regina Hotel, this world-class marine animal attraction boasts a superb restaurant with panoramic views over the harbour.
Kent's Cavern Tel:01803 215136
A geological and archaeological jewel, these Palaeolithic caves contain evidence of human occupation dating back almost half a million years.
Oldway Mansion & Gardens Tel:01803 20796
Originally the family home of Torbay's most colourful family, the Singers of sewing machine fame, the mansion was modelled on the Palace of Versailles. The grand staircase and gallery, crafted from the finest marble, the gilded pillars and elaborately painted ceilings, together with magnificently laid out gardens are a splendid sight.
Cockington Tel:01626 873978
The Domesday Book village of Cockington has hardly changed throughout the centuries. Visitors can explore the picturesque village, with its 14th century forge and stately manor house, or wander through the 450 acres of woods, parklands and lakes.
Torbay Carnival Tel:07709 092250
The July annual festival includes dog shows, car shows, concerts and dancing as well as fair rides, refreshments and a host of entertainment.
Agatha Christie Festival takes place in September and celebrates the life and works of the most published novelist of all time, who was born in Torquay.
English Riviera Bowls Tournament takes place over the last week in June.
Torbay Steam Fair takes place at the beginning of August in nearby Brixham and includes exhibits of full size and miniature engines, as well as stalls and a fairground.
Babbacombe Festival Held in June, a week of various activities and events culminates in a spectacular fireworks display.
Torbay Poetry Festival is held at the end of October in Torquay and celebrates its 10th year.
Torbay Food & Arts Festival takes place in May and features over 30 stalls offering an array of local food, arts and crafts.
Torbay Week Held in early August, this event replaces the former regattas of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham and includes sailing events, air shows and fireworks displays, as well as plenty of on-shore entertainment.
BrixFest replaces the long-running Brixham Heritage week. Held in June, highlights include the annual historic trawler races, Brixham Birdman and fireworks displays.
For listings of more events in Torbay see:
Places of Interest
Brixham Tourist Information Tel:01803 211211
A short trip from Torquay, the ancient fishing port of Brixham has a vibrant harbour which boasts a full size replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship, the 'Golden Hind'.
Exeter Tourist Information Tel:01392 265700
Devon's most historical city has a magnificent cathedral, originally built by the Anglo-Saxons. Pay a visit to the Ship Inn, frequented by Sir Francis Drake or spend some time browsing around the excellent array of shops.
Plymouth Tourist Information Tel:01752 306330
An interesting mix of historic city and modern port, Plymouth is the region's shopping capital and has a rejuvenated waterfront overlooking Plymouth Sound.
Buckfastleigh is a small town with a large modern Benedictine Abbey. Over forty monks live and work in the abbey producing a range of goods from wine to honey. There is also a restaurant and shop on site.
South Devon Railway is a popular steam railway which, when taken as a combined trip including a boat cruise on the River Dart, is an ideal way to while away an afternoon.
Paignton boasts a long stretch of sandy beach backed by a level promenade which is lined with friendly pubs and cafés. Experience the romance of the steam age on a seven mile stretch of the Great Western Railway, or spend an afternoon at Paignton Zoo, which has recently undergone a £6m re-development programme and is home to many rare and endangered species.
Teignmouth lies along a stretch of red sandstone coast on the estuary of the River Teign. With an elegant crescent of Georgian buildings dating back to the 1800's, Teignmouth is steeped in maritime history and the town's museum celebrates the area's long assoociation with the sea. Teignmouth's long sandy beaches, Victorian pier, interesting old backstreets and pedestrianised shopping areas have ensured the town has become one of the region's top seaside destinations.
Tourist Information Tel:01626 215665
Dawlish is a pretty seaside town situated between Torquay and Exeter. Dawlish Warren, just to the north offers safe sandy beaches and during the summer months, there is entertainment on the beach and a weekly open-air market.
Totnes is an ancient borough which lies in an enviable position above the River Dart. The town is full of colour and character that stems from a rich cultural, historical and archaeological heritage. It is also the second oldest borough in England.
Dartmouth is set in a picture postcard location, on the River Dart and flanked by steep wooded hillsides. Two of Dartmouth's oldest buildings, the Cherub pub and Agincourt House, are fine examples of the 14th century constructions which have survived in the town. There is also a superb range of shops, boutiques and bistros.
Kingswear lies on the opposite side of the River Dart to Dartmouth in the South Hams area of south Devon. The privately owned 15th century castle dominates the headland and the village is home to several attractive 19th century villas overlooking the harbour which, during the annual Royal Regatta, is bustling with splendid yachts and marine craft.
Salcombe is the principal resort in the South Hams district and a well known sailing centre. The Salcombe Museum of Maritime History explains the town's long association with the sea, from smugglers and piracy to the role the town played in the run up to the D-Day landings. Nearby Hope Cove is a charming coastal sanctuary, with a collection of thatched stone cottages huddled around a tiny square.