The hub of the English Riviera, Torquay is a charming seaside resort that has a surprisingly warm climate. With the beauty of Dartmoor and the Devon coast to explore and plenty to see in the town itself, Torquay is a delight.
South-west England enjoys warm summer weather, and Torquay is blessed with some superb beaches, from Torre Abbey on the town's seafront to tucked-away Babbacombe Bay.
It's hard to be bored in Torquay, with family attractions like Paignton Zoo, Babbacombe Model Village and Woodlands Family Theme Park not far away.
Torquay is a food lovers destination, with country pubs and sophisticated seafront eateries all offering fine seafood and traditional English dishes.
Dartmoor is both a setting for Agatha Christie novels and a stunning, romantic landscape. See beauty spots like Spitchwick and Haytor, and be back in Torquay for dinner.
Torquay has a rich history and some fabulous historical attractions. Don't miss the gardens at Torre Abbey, the excellent Torquay Museum and the manor house at Cockington Country Park.
Almost certainly the oldest residence in the Torquay area, Kents Cavern is a sprawling cave complex in the eastern part of the city and has been inhabited for at least 40,000 years. Take tours to find out how the caverns were formed 2.5 million years ago, see ancient tools and inscriptions and, if you're there at the right time, attend a Shakespeare play or meet Santa Claus in an underground setting. Up above, woodland trails and coastal walks make Kents Cavern an excellent place for a family excursion.
A couple of miles north of Torquay, you'll come across the idyllic little village of Babbacombe and the even smaller (and more idyllic) Model Village. Opened in 1963, the village is constantly updated to reflect how Britain has changed and now has a population of 13,000 figurines, always displayed with a keen sense of humor. The gardens are a delight as well, with gorgeous flowers mixed in with the tiny houses and streets. And, when the miniature world gets too small, you can take the Cliff Railway to lovely Oddicombe Beach.
Run by Paignton Zoo (which is also well worth a visit), Living Coasts is located next to the harbor in the center of town, and has a superb collection of marine and land animals. The collections are themed to reflect various coastal habitats, with charismatic locals like penguins, otters, lionfish, and South American fur seals, with creatures from all over the world. Kids can crawl under starfish tanks to get a unique view of the underwater action, there's a climbing wall to simulate the lifestyle of limpets, as well as many more coastal exhibits.
Compact but full of fascinating exhibits, the Torquay Museum can be found on Babbacombe Road, a mile or so inland from the harbor, and it's definitely worth the walk. It houses a massive natural history collection, finds from the nearby Kents Cavern, as well as a broader selection of global artifacts and Victorian costumes. But it's the events that make the museum stand out. A key venue for the International Agatha Christie Festival in September, it's a must-visit for whodunnit fans, and also hosts regular movie- and TV-themed costume events.
Torquay's most important historical building, Torre Abbey has been around since 1196 and was once an immensely wealthy Medieval abbey. That all changed when Henry VIII came along and dissolved the monasteries, but many medieval artifacts can still be seen at the Torre Abbey Museum. However, the real magic of the Abbey lies in its fusion of history, art and nature. It's home to a world-class 19th-century art collection and an intriguing Garden of Potent Plants (or poisons, as you might call them).
Torquay has a relatively long summer season (for the UK) and you can expect fine weather from around late May through to mid-September. June is a good time to go thanks to the Babbacombe Festival, while September sees the Agatha Christie festival - it's really a must-visit event for crime fans.
Exeter and Bristol airports are not far away. From Exeter, take the 56 bus (£6, around 1 hour) or take a cab for around £60. Expect taxis from Bristol to cost around £100.
Great Western Railway runs regular services into Torquay's main station, with plenty of daily connections to London (£50, around 3 hours).
If you are driving from London, take the M4 to Bristol, then the M5 towards Exeter. From there, take the A380 southbound to Torquay.
National Express and Megabus run daily bus services from London Victoria to Torquay, which take just under 6 hours and cost around £30.
Torquay has plenty of accommodation highlights, including the dazzling Somerville, the seafront Grand Hotel and cosy B&Bs like the Victorian Westbank.
Victoria Parade - Torquay's seafront Victoria Parade snakes around the harbor and is home to many hotels with beautiful sea views (as well as family attractions like Dinosaur World).
Babbacombe - Just north of Torquay, Babbacombe is a lovely coastal resort with a thriving cultural scene and some stunning beaches.
Torre - North of central Torquay, Torre boasts an ancient abbey, its own train station and excellent gastro-pubs like the Bull and Bush, which has its own microbrewery.
Stagecoach provides a reliable local bus service which will get you to Paignton and Babbacombe with ease. Dayrider tickets provide travel all day for £4.90.
Expect taxis in the Torquay area to cost around £6 per mile, although Uber is a cheaper alternative that may be worth looking into.
Local car rental options include Thrifty and Budget, with rates starting at around £25 per day.
The harbor is the place to go for small shops and chains, with malls like Fleet Walk offering a mixture of both. The Pavilion Shopping Center is another seafront shopping venue that is well worth a visit.
Supermarkets in Torquay include chains like Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose. Expect to pay around £3 for a gallon of milk.
Torquay is on the up as a gourmet destination. Excellent restaurants include Italian option Biancos, French food at Le Bistrot Pierre and traditional English pubs like the Cary Arms. There's also great fish and chips at Rockfish. Expect sit down meals to cost between £15 and £30 per head.