Torquay has been rated the sixth best destination in the UK in TripAdvisor's 2016 Travellers' Choice Awards and has been highly ranked in the first 10 places in 2014 and 2015.
Swaying palm trees, bright white houses and a café-lined harbour: on first glance, Torquay can appear more like alike a Mediterranean resort than a Victorian retreat. Scratch the surface, however, and you’ll soon find that Torquay is a quintessential English seaside town… even if it does boast an uncommonly warm microclimate.
Gaining fame in the early 1900s for its craggy cliffs, beautiful beaches and soothing spas, Torquay continues to draw visitors for these reasons. But alongside the traditional attractions are newer draws like fine dining, a coastal zoo and an Agatha Christie-themed walk. They are all part of what makes this Devon town special.
What to see and do
Torquay is jam-packed with sights and activities – whatever your interests. For history lovers, there is Kents
Cavern, a subterranean settlement that was home to prehistoric man more than 700,000 years ago, as well as Torre Abbey, an extraordinarily well-preserved 12th century abbey once home to White Canons and now to permanent art exhibits. For nature lovers, there’s the expansive country park and gardens of Cockington
Court, and the myriad mammals, birds and marine life of the seaside zoo Living Coast. While for educational family fun, there is Babbacombe Model Village, an intricate miniature world that spans four acres, and the Agatha Christie Literary Trail, which takes in landmarks featured in some of the author’s best known novels. But without doubt, Torquay’s biggest draws are its beaches. The coastline around Torquay is renowned for its award-winning, palm-lined beaches, and there are no less than nine sand and/or shingle beaches within easy reach of the town. If you are looking to join the crowds and enjoy the facilities, try Torre Abbey Sands.
Or, if you’d rather relax away from the amusement arcades and water parks, head to Maidencombe Beach. Alternatively, for sheer seclusion within easy reach of Torquay, take the steep path down to Anstey’s Cove.
Where to eat and drink
Dartmouth has long been South Devon’s foodie capital, but in recent years Torquay has emerged as a fierce challenger to its title. Locally-sourced seafood, meat and other produce allows many restaurants, cafés and pubs to offer an authentic taste of the west country, while there is also great international fare; from Italian to Indian, Mexican to Moroccan. Many of the restaurants in Torquay can now boast prestigious food awards, from Michelin Stars to AA Rosettes, and even one of the town’s fish and chip shops is a major award winner. For fine seaside dining with a British flavour, we would recommend Orange Tree Restaurant and Number 7
Fish Bistro, both situated by the harbour and serving sublime seafood. Michelin-starred The Elephant is also popular for those with delicate palates and deep pockets. For cheaper eats, there is The Shack, which serves up gourmet burgers and chargrilled chicken to its adoring fans, and Green Leaf Cafe, which prides itself on its delicious farmhouse sandwiches, wraps and salads. For superb international cuisine, there is the Greek-and-Turkish Ephesus, the ever-popular Italian Biancos and many more. As for that award-winning fish and chip shop: Hanbury’s is among the best five in the UK, according to the 2016 National Fish and Chip Awards.
How to get in and around
Torquay is very easily reached by train (it has two railway stations), by car (it’s just off the A350 and is on the coastal Riviera Way) and even by plane (Exeter International Airport is just a 35-minute drive away).
Getting around is simple too, with bus routes along the coast and around town. So why not dedicate a weekend, or longer, to exploring beautiful Torquay? You’ll find your ideal accommodation with Discovery.