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Torquay is a popular seaside resort on the coast of south Devon. Along with neighbours Brixham and Paignton it comprises the so-called 'English riviera'.
In common with the other resorts on this part of the coast, it was in the 19th century that a previously quiet fishing village turned to tourism - and grew substantially in popularity and size. As a legacy to the town's heyday you can see numerous grand villas and fine Victorian buildings both in the town and on the seven hills that famously surround Torquay, often surrounded by impressive gardens.
After something of a decline in the post-war years Torquay has made a great effort to re-define itself as a leading destination for UK holidaymakers, and it is now a popular vibrant resort town.
With a popularity initially due to the local spa waters, it was soon the beaches that attracted attention - Torquay has nine beaches, three of which have received the prestigious Blu Flag award for cleanliness and facilities. Of course, all water based sports and activities that you look for in a summer holiday are readily available in Torquay.
During the holiday season Torquay is a very lively town, with the activity on and around the beaches giving way to promenades in the early evening followed by restaurants and nightclubs as the night sets in. The water front region has been substantially restructured and improved in recent years.
It would be impossible to highlight particular shops and cafes, art galleries and pubs, streetside bars and speciality shops...suffice to say you will be able to try somewhere different every time you go out!
Other highlights in Torquay
There is more to Torquay than beaches however, so be sure to explore a little during your visit! You won't be able to miss Torquay Pavilion, an ornate Victorian structure in the centre of the town, and the palm tree lined promenades, while the harbour at Torquay is another picturesque spot. Other highlights and attractions include:
- An unexpected discovery is the important Stone Age 'Kents Cavern' cave complex, occupied since at least 30,000 years ago (and probably much longer) and now open to the public.
- The coastal zoo, called Living Coasts, is an interesting site where you can see a mangrove swamp and a penguin beach among other water related exhibits, all enclosed by a large aviary.
- Children will enjoy visiting the very extensive model village at Babbacombe, where thousands of small models picture life over the course of history.
- crime novelist Agatha Christie lived in Torquay and set some of the scenes from her books in places in the region - there is now an Agatha Christie Heritage Trail in Torquay to commemorate her life and works
- you can see the Second World War slipways at Beacon Quay
Map of Torquay and places to visit
Torquay places to visit
See more places nearby in the Devon guide