Looking for things to do in Torquay? In this guide we will share with you the best Torquay tourist attractions as well as giving you the lowdown on how best to get there and where to stay.
What to Know About Torquay
The town of Torquay, Devon is a seaside resort on Britain’s southwest coast. The coastline around Torquay is known as the English Riviera thanks to its sandy beaches, mild climate and many visitor attractions.
The town is home to a large harbour where you can watch fleets of fishing boats bring in the day’s catch before sampling these delights of the sea in one of the local restaurants.
Torquay has a long and varied history going back to prehistoric times. At Kents Cavern you can bear witness to stone age tools dating back over 40,000 years! The town’s economy was principally based on fishing, however thanks to its great location, from the 19th Century onwards this shifted towards tourism.
Torquay UK is packed with interesting things to do from the town’s beautiful beaches, country parks, pubs cafes and restaurants. There is also a vibrant nightlife, so if you are looking for things to do in Torquay at night, you’ve come to the right place.
Getting to Torquay
By Car: Dawlish is easily reachable from London via the M3 and A303. The 193-mile journey takes 3h30m by car. What’s more, the route even takes you right next to Stonehenge so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!
By Bus: There are direct buses to Torquay from London taking just five hours and twenty minutes with tickets starting at £20.00 one-way. Check bus times and book tickets on Omio here.
By Train: Trains to Torquay depart London Paddington several times per hour. Tickets start at £50.00 one way and the journey time is around three hours depending on which train you catch. There is one change of trains in Newton Abbot. Book the train at the best prices on Trainline here.
By Plane: With Exeter International Airport just 26 miles from Torquay, and Bristol International 86 miles, it’s easy to reach Dawlish from the rest of the UK or Europe by plane. Check flight prices on Kiwi here.
Budget: Trecarn Hotel is a fantastic budget option in Torquay. You can be at the beach in less than 20 minutes by foot, rooms are clean and comfortable, and they also offer breakfast and dinner for a small additional daily fee. Rooms start at £49 per night. Book a stay at the Trecarn Hotel here.
Mid-range: Regina Hotel is a little bit dated inside, but for only £100 a night, you absolutely cannot beat the location and views. Head to the hotel’s bar for views over the harbour, or head out and walk their yourself as it’s only a few minutes away. For £5 extra per person per night you can also enjoy breakfast with your double room. Book a stay at the Regina Hotel here.
If you can up your budget to about £125 per night, the Heritage Hotel feels like luxury at a much more affordable price. It’s a beachfront hotel with modern and clean rooms, views over the sea (the breakfast room is particularly fantastic), and there’s also a swimming pool. Book a stay at the Heritage Hotel here.
Luxury: Imperial Torquay is luxury at a fantastic price. With rooms coming in at under £200 per night including breakfast, you can enjoy a pool with a view over the sea, plush beds in quiet rooms, and a wonderful breakfast each morning. Book a stay at the Imperial Torquay here.
If you would prefer to self-cater or have an apartment while you are on holiday in Torquay, be sure to check out all of the fantastic Torquay apartments available in Plum Guide here. They are always luxurious, beautifully designed, well-located, and comfortable.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in and discover what to do in Torquay!
The Best Things to do in Torquay
These are some of our favourite things to do in Torquay. Whether you’re only here for the sea and sand or you want to get out and explore more of the surrounding towns in Devon, there’s plenty on this list to keep you busy.
1. Relax at Torre Abby Sands
Torre Abby Sands is Torquay’s main beach and just a few minute’s walk from the station. This golden, sandy beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and making the most of the English Riviera. The beach is lined with grand hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes, so you won’t have to walk far to enjoy a bite to eat or some refreshment after a dip in the ocean!
2. Take a Dip at Meadfoot Beach
The second of Torquay’s golden, sandy beaches, Meadfoot is a kilometre-long stretch of beach overlooking the headland and Thatcher Rock. As with Torre Abby Sands, there is plenty of entertainment on offer so you can choose to relax on the beach, swim, surf, paddleboard and go sea-kayaking among other things.
3. Ride the English Riviera Wheel
Forget the London Eye, the English Riviera Wheel is situated right on Torquay Harbour overlooking the town and this beautiful stretch of coastline. Thanks to incorporating the latest technology, the wheel is completely silent as it makes its 12-minutes trip.
After witnessing the stunning views, you can enjoy a drink in the Riviera Wheel café back on terra firma! Tickets cost £6.00 for adults and £4.00 for children.
The wheel is open 10:00 am to 10:00 pm on weekends and 10:00 am am to 8:00 pm weekdays. During school holidays the wheel is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week.
The English Riviera Wheel is definitely one of the top things to do in Torquay, day or night!
4. Explore the Caves in Kents Cavern
One of the more unusual things to do in Torquay is to explore the neolithic caves at Kents Cavern.
Kents Cavern is a cave system and archaeological site dating back tens of thousands of years. The caves were formed during the early Pleistocene period and were once inhabited by early man, whose remnants can still be seen in the form of stone-age tools.
The tour lasts one hour and costs £14 for adults and £13 for children. You can book online on the official website.
5. Visit Torre Abbey
The 12th Century Torre Abbey is home to a museum and art gallery set within acres of green land on the coast. The grounds contain a number of different gardens. Be sure to check out the Potent Plants section; a nod to Torquay’s most famous resident, Agatha Christie.
The Abbey has year-round events including the International Agatha Christie Festival which celebrates her achievements as being the most widely read author in the world. There are workshops, talks, films and walks among other activities.
Tickets cost £9.50 for adults and £3.70 for children and include access to the Abby and surrounding grounds and gardens. The house and gardens are open from Tuesday to Sunday and the cafe is open seven days a week.
6. See the Art at Cockington Court
Cockington Court is a working art gallery and craft centre cultivating local and national talent. Housed in a 16th-century manor, the site has a history dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book (kind of like a medieval English census or survey).
You can witness artists at work, admire the old architecture, shop for a piece of art or enjoy the pleasant grounds and gardens. The court holds different events throughout the year so be sure to check the website to see what’s on.
Admission to the manor house and gardens is free and the opening times are from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm every day.
7. Walk Part of the South West Coast Path
One of the most popular walks to do is to follow the coast path from Torquay to nearby Paignton. This three-mile walk takes around an hour and takes in some stunning views of the coastline from atop the cliffs.
You can walk back along the same route, or hop on the Number 12 bus from Paignton town centre for the 20-minute journey back to Torquay.
8. Step Back in Time at Bygones
Another one of the slightly unusual things to do in Torquay is to go back in history to a bygone age. With over 2,000 artifacts, displays and dioramas charting the Victorian era, Second World War and later history, this is one of the great days out in Devon for the whole family.
Tickets are £11.50 for adults and £7.95 for children and can be booked online.
9. Take a Walking Tour of Babbacombe
Babbacombe is a suburb of Torquay backing onto a set of cliffs overlooking the English Channel and is the most picturesque district. This part of Torquay has had its fair share of famous guests from Queen Victoria to Oscar Wilde. Join the daily walking tour and learn about the history
10. Take the Cliff Railway
The Babbacombe Cliff Railway is a funicular that shuttles tourists down to Oddicombe Beach. The track has been running since 1926 and offers unparalleled views out along the coast. This is definitely one of the best things to do at Torquay and is a great way to get to the beach!
The railway is open seven days a week from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm. An adult single fare is £2.20 and a return is £3.00. A child single is £1.80single and £2.20 return.
11. Take Giant Steps at Babbacombe Model Village
Have you ever wanted to feel like a giant? Well, you certainly can at the Babbacombe Model Village. This miniature world will leave you in awe as you walk through a tiny version of England past and present.
The model village is one of the best Torquay attractions and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Set in over four acres of land with additional gardens and a mini golf range, whether you are a big kid or small, a visit will be sure to leave an impression!
Tickets cost £13.50 for adults and £11.50 for children (card only). You can book online on the official website. Open 10:00 am to 5:30 pm every day (last admission 3:45 pm).
Things to do in Torquay at Night
Don’t miss out on the nightlife in Torquay! These are our favourite pubs, bars, nightclubs, and theatres in Torquay.
12. Hit the Town
Torquay has a buzzing nightlife with a great selection of bars and clubs to choose from. If you are looking for some live music then head to The Attic or Rock Garden (which doubles as a great restaurant too). If dance music is more your sort of thing then head along to The Foundry, Torquay’s top nightspot with guest DJs from around the country.
Looking for a slightly quieter evening? Then there are some excellent bars to choose from such as the Cru Beach Bar; the best cocktail bar in town!
13. Enjoy a Night at the Theatre
If you are looking for things to do in Torquay at night, then one of the town’s three theatres is a great option. Princess Theatre is located by the harbour and there is also the Babbacombe Theatre and Pavilion.
Check the websites for current listings:
Things to do Near Torquay
Torquay is in a prime location with many other great Devon attractions on its doorstep. Below is a small selection of things to do near Torquay.
14. Visit Exmouth
Exmouth is another charming Devon seaside town at the mouth of the River Exe. The town is famed as the starting point of many of Sir Walter Raleigh’s voyages and has a history dating back to the 11th century.
Exmouth is the jumping-off point for exploring the UK’s Jurassic Coast; a stretch of coastline with unique geological features dating back millions of years and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town itself is packed with excellent restaurants, bars, cafes and craft shops.
Read our complete guide of things to do in Exmouth.
15. Visit Dawlish
If you are looking for a more laid-back pace than the busier resort towns along the English Riviera, then the small town of Dawlish is the perfect place to visit. This quaint town has plenty to offer including beaches, pubs, nature trails and the famous Dawlish black swans!
The jewel in the town’s crown however is the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve. This area of outstanding natural beauty is home to a long, sandy beach that doesn’t get as busy as many of the other beaches in along the south coast.
Read our complete guide of things to do in Dawlish.
Is Torquay worth visiting?
Having been a hugely popular destination for holidaymakers for hundreds of years, Torquay is definitely worth visiting.
With so many things to do in Torquay and the mild climate, this is one UK destination that should be on your bucket list! Looking for more of Devon? Discover these other enchanting Devon towns.