Torquay: where to stay and see
Devon Life is partnering with Exeter and the Heart of Devon Hotels and Restaurants Association in a year-long celebration of the best of the county’s accommodation. This month we focus on Torquay
Torquay has a hold on many people’s hearts. As a famous Victorian destination for holidaymakers the town became a literary hotspot in the 19th century, with Charles Kingsley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Darwin all spending time there over this period. Around the same time Dame Agatha Christie was born here: she would go on to use Torquay as the inspiration for many of her novels.
The coastal town has an interesting range of architecture from Torre Abbey originally founded in 1196 and its medieval Spanish Barn, to the town’s Venetian Gothic Style Museum, the Mediterranean inspired Grade II listed Vane Tower, the beautiful sweep of Hesketh Crescent reminiscent of Regency London, to the hotels and guest houses which scale the cliff sides overlooking the bay.
Torquay and Torbay have many award winning beaches: along the 22 miles of English Riviera coastline there are 20 beaches and coves. Some are small and secluded and others sweeping and sandy: in the latter category, keep your eyes open for the amazing sand artist often found creating incredible works of art at Abbey Sands.
On a sunny day stroll around the international marina, watching the yachts and boats come in and out of the harbour; climb up the cliff face to the Royal Terrace Gardens overlooking the stunning scenery of Tor Bay; or wander down the seafront Pavilion Gardens taking in the sea air - it is plain to see why the area is known as the English Riviera.
Seven splendid things to do in Torquay:
The English Riviera Big Wheel
- 1 A fond farewell to Torbay from the captain of cruise ship Eurodam
- 2 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 3 Win £500 of English wine from Lyme Bay Winery
- 4 20 of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire
- 5 10 great hill walks in Cheshire
- 6 35 great Surrey pubs with beer gardens and terraces
- 7 Who is the real Hampshire soldier behind BBC Two's new drama Danny Boy?
- 8 17 of the best spots for al fresco dining in Essex
- 9 12 outdoor dining experiences in Surrey
- 10 Rare gold medal of Nelson's Norfolk protégé expected to sell for up to £80,000
Towering 60 metres high, the big wheel stands out in its Princess Gardens setting and offers unrivalled views of the town and the coast. Open over the summer from 10am to 8pm and until 10pm during the school holidays.
Living Coasts: Owned by nearby Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts, is a coastal zoo home to penguins, otters, octopus, seals and more. livingcoasts.org.uk
Torquay Museum: This summer the museum is showcasing an English Riviera Cat Trail and a Samurai exhibition as well as an improved Agatha Christie gallery. torquaymuseum.org/events/type/exhibitions
Princess Theatre: On the beautiful seafront, a wide range of touring comedy, theatre and music events. atgtickets.com/venues/princess-theatre-torquay/
Kents Cavern: Formed 2.5 million years ago, 450,000-year-old human artefacts were discovered in this labyrinth of caves. kents-cavern.co.uk
Bygones: See, smell, hear… Victorian Streets, the Fabulous Fifties and the Railways are among the displays at Bygones bygones.co.uk
Torre Abbey: Stunning heritage rooms, art exhibitions, interactive displays, videos and games to bring history to life. torre-abbey.org.uk
And nearby Devon Hotels…
Cary Arms, Babbacombe
The nearby town of Babbacombe is host to the historic Cary Arms. Nestled in the sunny Babbacome Bay the hotel enjoys stunning views all year round. Boasting a range of superb accommodation including rooms, suites, cottages and most recently luxury beach huts, the hotel also offers a restaurant, bar and their new spa will be ready this autumn.
For your chance to win a nights stay for two in the Cary Arms click here: http://www.devonlife.co.uk/competitions-offers/
The Quayside Hotel, Brixham
The Quayside Hotel at Brixham, the pretty fishing village, was originally six fishermen’s cottages. Now boasting 30 harbour side en suite rooms, the hotel has a restaurant and private dining options. The Hotel has views across the bay towards Torquay and is around eight miles by road or a 30 minute ferry ride.