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Torquay

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Torquay (pronounced "Tor-kee") is an English town on the coast of Devon in the West Country. Since the 19th century, it has been a fashionable seaside resort in the English Riviera. The town is situated on the English Channel, on the southern edge of Torbay, an east facing bay that is part of the larger Lyme Bay.

Understand

Torquay's advantages as a seaside resort and destination are obvious, with 9 sandy beaches and extremely high standards of water quality (holder of 3 European Blue Flags, more than any other English resort). Torbay enjoys a warm micro-climate that allows palm-like trees to grow readily, though these are not true palms but rather Cordyline australis - Cabbage Tree.

Torquay is infamous as the setting of Fawlty Towers, the hotel owned by Basil and Sybil Fawlty in the classic 1970s British television comedy. The TV show was inspired by the now closed Gleneagles Hotel which the cast stayed at while filming Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The coastal area of Torbay which includes Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, was given the nickname 'English Riviera' because of the large amount of sandy beaches and the relatively warm climate compared to the rest of the country. Officially known as Torbay, it is almost completely made up of tourist resorts and small fishing communities. It is in a natural east-facing harbour.

Torquay is also known for being the place where explorer Percy Fawcett was born.

Get in

By car

Torquay is connected to the UK motorway network by the A380, which traces the outskirts of the town as Hellevoetsluis Way and Hamelin Way, leading to the A38 and then on to the M5 at Exeter. The A3022 branches from the A380, leading into Torquay as Riviera Way, to the seafront as Newton Road and then Avenue Road, and then on to Paignton as Torbay Road. The A379 runs past the harbour to the Babbacombe and St Marychurch areas of Torquay, and then north along the coast to Teignmouth.

By train

Torquay has two railway stations. Both stations are on the Riviera Line serving ExeterStarcrossDawlishTeignmouthNewton Abbot, Torre, Torquay and Paignton.

1 Torquay railway station is situated near the sea, close to Torre Abbey Sands. Torquay railway station is also part of the Manchester Picadilly to Paignton line.

2 Torre railway station is situated a little inland adjacent to the road leading to Newton Abbot. Not all trains stop at Torre.

By plane

The nearest airport is 3 Exeter Airport (EXT IATA).

Get around

Two bus routes operated by Stagecoach Devon pass through Torquay - the 'Bayline' number 12 service between Newton Abbot and Brixham, and the X46 service between Exeter and Paignton - while other routes operate within the town.

See

  • 1 Kents Cavern. Home to early man for some 700,000 years, tourists can visit this subterranean wonderland. The caves have attracted many famous people, among them Agatha Christie, Beatrix Potter, King George V of the United Kingdom and Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie who was so impressed with his visit that he gave his guide, Leslie Powe a gold sovereign.
  • 2 Living Coasts, Torquay Harbourside, Beacon Hill, TQ1 2BG, ☏ +44 1803 202470. 10AM-4PM. A large coastal zoo.
  • 3 Babbacombe Model Village, Hampton Avenue, Babbacombe, TQ1 3LA, ☏ +44 1803 315315. This is considered one of the best examples of a model village in England.
  • 4 Torre Abbey. A Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1196.
  • 5 Babbacombe Cliff Railway, Babbacombe Downs Rd, TQ1 3LF, ☏ +44 1803 328750.
  • 6 Cockington Court and Country Park, Cockington Ln, TQ2 6XA, ☏ +44 1803 607230. Oct-Mar 10AM-4PM; Apr-Sept 10AM-5PM;. Set in a country park a mile away from the seafront, Cockington Court is an historic manor house with over 20 craft studios, tea rooms, walled art garden, tudor rose garden, contemporary art gallery and a children’s play area. Free.

Museums

  • 7 Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Rd, TQ1 1HG, ☏ +44 1803 293975. 10AM-4PM. The oldest museum in Devon. A Victorian museum centred around Agatha Christie though with many other exhibits throughout the ages.
  • 8 Bygones Victorian Museum, Fore St, TQ1 4PR, ☏ +44 1803 326108. 10AM-4PM.

Do

  • 1 English Riviera Wheel, 10-12 Vaughan Rd, TQ2 5EQ, ☏ +44 115 967 9991. 10AM-8PM. A 60 m (200 ft) tall ferris wheel, similar to the London Eye, offers souvenir photographs. Booking online saves 20%, private bookings are also available. Adult: £6, Concessions (Students / Senior Citizens): £5, Child (under 1.4 m (4.6 ft)): £4, Family (2 adults plus 2 children under 1.4 m (4.6 ft)): £18.
  • 2 Harbour Amusements, Victoria Parade, TQ1 2BD, ☏ +44 1803 297990. As with any seaside town, there is an amusement arcade which provides a great way to get rid of loose change.

Theatres

  • 3 The Princess Theatre, Torbay Rd, TQ2 5EZ, ☏ +44 844 871 3023. Torquay's main theatre overlooking the waterfront.
  • 4 Babbacombe Theatre, Babbacombe Downs Rd, TQ1 3LU, ☏ +44 1803 328385.
  • 5 Little Theatre, St Mark's Rd, TQ1 2EL, ☏ +44 1803 299330.

Beaches

Torquay is also set along a coastline renowned for its 9 main beaches. The high standards of water quality and beach facilities mean that many carry coveted awards. Torquay's beaches and coves are stretched out along the palm-lined coast:

  • 6 Maidencombe Beach.
  • 7 Watcombe Beach.
  • 8 Oddicombe Beach.
  • 9 Babbacombe Beach.
  • 10 Anstey's Cove.
  • 11 Meadfoot Beach.
  • 12 Torre Abbey Sands.
  • 13 Corbyn Sands.

Buy

Union Square and Fleet Walk shopping centres are near to the Harbour. They offer a wide range of high street shops, ranging from independent boutiques to large chain stores.

  • 1 Union Square Shopping Centre, Union St, TQ1 3UT, ☏ +44 1803 294892. 9:15AM-5:30PM. A small shopping centre with a Gregg's, Shaul's Bakery, Saver's, Superdrug, Wilko, Iceland, GAME, O2, The Entertainer, That's Entertainment, Peacock's, F. Hind's, Specsaver's, Chiselcraft and Shaw's the Drapers.
  • Fleet Walk Shopping Centre, Fleet Walk, TQ2 5EA, ☏ +44 1803 200508.

The Willows, a few miles from the centre, offers a retail park with a large Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's, Next and electronics stores.

  • 3 The Willows, Nicholson Rd, TQ2 7XA.

Eat

Chefs in the area are spoilt for choice when it comes to locally sourced seafood and meat. The cuisine has a distinctive west country flavour. Adventurous diners can take a culinary journey around the world, sampling everything from French, Italian and Spanish, to Indian, Thai, Moroccan, Mexican and Lebanese cuisine

Accolades like AA Rosettes, Michelin Stars and Les Routiers can be found, while even several of the fish and chip shops are award winning. From restaurants with stunning views across the emerald bay, to Country pubs offering hearty fare, Torquay has it covered.

Budget

  • 1 Bamboo Sandwich & Coffee Bar, St Marychurch Rd, TQ1 4TY, ☏ +44 1803 326015. M-Sa: 9AM-5PM, Su: 10AM-3AM. A small cafe, with a great sandwich selection.

Mid-range

  • 2 Hanbury's Famous Fish and Chips, 24 Princes St, TQ1 3LW, ☏ +44 1803 329928. M-Sa: 11:45AM-1:45PM, 5PM-9PM; Su: Closed. Fish & chip shop and restaurant, winner of several awards including Best Fish & Chip Shop 2007.

Splurge

  • 3 The Room in the Elephant (The Elephant Restaurant), Beacon Hill, TQ1 2BH, ☏ +44 1803 200044. Torquay's first Michelin star restaurant. Specialises in seafood.
  • 4 The Orange Tree, 14-16 Parkhill Rd, TQ1 2AL, ☏ +44 1803 213936. Tu-Sa 7PM-9PM; Su-M closed.

Drink

There are numerous pubs, clubs and bars close to the harbourside, ranging from traditional English pubs to classy wine bars.

  • 1 Visto Lounge, Unit 3, Ground floor, Abbey Crescent, Torbay Rd, Torquay TQ2 5HD, ☏ +44 1803 211009. Just across from the beach.
  • 2 The Drum Inn, Cockington Ln, Torquay TQ2 6XA, ☏ +44 1803 690264. Dating back to 1936. A country pub surrounded by great countryside.
  • 3 The Green Ginger, Lower Ground Floor, Winter Garden, Fleet Walk, TQ2 5DZ, ☏ +44 1803 217960. Wetherspoons pub. The unusual name dates back to 1846 and refers to green ginger wine sold at the time.
  • 4 The Hole in the Wall, 6 Park Ln, TQ1 2AU, ☏ +44 1803 200755. 11:30AM-midnight. Apparently Torquay's oldest pub dating back to 1540.

Sleep

Torquay is well supplied with bed and breakfast (B&B) and self-catered accommodation. The Tourist Information Centre is a good source of quality information about accommodation and Torquay in general.

  • 1 The Richwood and Beirut Bistro, 20 Newton Road, TQ2 5BZ, ☏ +44 1803 293729, fax: +44 1803 3226662, ✉ office@therichwood.org.uk. Lebanese (halal), European and English cuisine in the Beirut - Bistro. The Richwood is a Victorian mansion, comfortably furnished, centrally heated throughout, with a cosy bar, heated swimming pool and sun terrace. All 13 bedrooms are en-suite, have colour TV with DVD players and tea and coffee making facilities. Evening meals are available (booking and orders in advance), with a choice of home-cooked international dishes. Free Wi-Fi. Free private parking, first come, first served; alternative free parking on the Newton Road. Pool table and games room. TV lounge with international satellite programs. 30ft x 15ft heated swimming pool (25°C) open from June to October. Sunbathing terraces, pool snack bar, hot spa, CCTV and security system. From £50 per night.
  • 2 The Meadfoot Bay Hotel, Meadfoot Sea Rd, TQ1 2LQ, ☏ +44 1803 294722, fax: +44 1803 214473, ✉ stay@meadfoot.com. The Meadfoot Bay is an award-winning family-run guest house situated in the area of Meadfoot, just a stroll from Meadfoot Beach and a short walk from Torquay harbour. From £36 per night.
  • 3 Braddon Hall Hotel, 70 Braddons Hill Rd East, TQ1 1HF, ☏ +44 1803 293908, fax: +44 1803 293908, ✉ stay@braddonhallhotel.co.uk. 500 metres from the harbour, shops and beaches. From £155 weekly.
  • 4 The Hotel Balmoral, Meadfoot Sea Rd, TQ1 2LQ, ☏ +44 1803 293381, ✉ contact@thehotelbalmoral.co.uk. 4 nights £119 special offer.
  • 5 Torcroft Hotel, 28-30 Croft Road, Torquay, TQ2 5UE, ☏ +44 1803 298292, ✉ info@torcrofthotel.co.uk. Torcroft Hotel is a stylish and friendly B&B. They have 11 rooms including 2 large balcony rooms, 2 deluxe double rooms, a family room and twins and doubles. All rooms are en-suite and have flat screen TVs. Free parking and Wi-Fi. Great breakfasts. from £50.

Go next

  • Paignton – A coastal town which has lots of tourist attractions.
  • Brixham – A small fishing town, reachable by ferry.
  • Totnes – A small market town.



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