This popular resort area is the heart of Devon’s English Riviera, known for its palm trees, limestone cliffs and clear blue waters.
Torquay is comprised of rocky coastline dotted with beaches bordered by red cliffs. The town has a mild microclimate, with semitropical plants throughout its parks and gardens. Relax on sandy beaches, learn about the town’s interesting literary connections and enjoy lively concerts and evening theatrical productions.
Visit one of the town’s most famous attractions, 12th-century Torre Abbey. The abbey was transformed into a country home by the wealthy Cary family and now houses a museum and art gallery. Check out the impressive drawings by William Blake. Wander around the surrounding gardens, which include a special Potent Plant plot of species used to make poisons featured in author Agatha Christie’s crime novels.
The town’s quite popular main beach, Torre Abbey Sands, takes its name from the nearby abbey. Explore some of the 20 other beaches along the town’s 22 miles (35 kilometers) of coastline. Don’t miss tranquil Beacon Cove, said to be Agatha Christie’s favorite bathing spot.
Visit the mysterious Kents Cavern, a subterranean network of caves. Touted as the oldest recognizable human dwelling in Britain, the underground maze of rock galleries and chambers can be explored on a guided tour. Look for the bear-like skull of ursus deningeri embedded in the rock of the cave’s Water Gallery.
Be sure to visit Cockington, a charming village of thatched cottages just outside Torquay. Check out the village’s picturesque church as well as its archetypal English pub designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. On the outskirts of town is Cockington Court Craft Centre, a 17th-century manor where you can watch craftspeople at work. The manor is surrounded by a beautiful 460-acre (186-hectare) country park, where walking trails meander through lush fields and woods.
To reach Torquay, drive about 20 minutes from Newton Abbot. The town is well connected to cities throughout the U.K. by National Express coach. Alternatively, take the train with direct service from Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol or London.