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Torquay City Guide - Life on the English Riviera

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On the southwest coast of England, surrounded by the wild Devon countryside, the seaside town of Torquay offers a little taste of the Mediterranean. It's on a stretch of coast which earned the nickname "the English Riviera" in the 1930s, when holidaymakers would flock to the town and marvel at its palm trees and sunny microclimate. Today, it's a charming seaside town with a large marina and vibrant cultural life.

9 great beaches


Rome may have 7 hills, but Torquay has 9 beaches, with some of the clearest waters in Britain, as evidenced by its 3 Blue Flags. You can try water sports such as scuba diving at Babbacombe Beach, search for crabs in the rock pools at Corbyn Head, or just stretch out on the secluded sands of Meadfoot Beach and gaze out at Thatcher Rock.

Pier and promenade


The Princess Pier was built in the 1890s, and generations of visitors to Torquay have enjoyed strolling beside the English Channel while breathing the sea air. There have been plenty of additions since Victorian times, like the marina filled with white yachts bobbing in the tide. You can stop for a meal on the palm-lined promenade along the waterfront, and enjoy fresh seafood caught that day by local fishermen.


Culture and nightlife


Torquay has a proud cultural history, well-known as the birthplace and beloved summer home of one of the world's most popular writers, Agatha Christie; she's even been given her own annual festival. At night, the town centre comes to life, with hip young locals heading to fashionable nightclubs and bars. Those who'd prefer to take it easy can enjoy a relaxing glass of wine outdoors in a pavement café.


  • Agatha Christie Festival, Torre Abbey and other venues around Torquay; Tel: +44 1803 211211; Website: Agatha Christie Festival


Tor Bay boat trips


The harbor in Torquay is busy throughout the year, with fishing boats mingling with the many private yachts that come to dock here. If you've got your sea legs, you can climb aboard a pleasure cruise around Tor Bay, take a ferry to nearby towns such as Paignton, or charter a private skippered yacht.



The Global Geopark


Much of the South Devon countryside around Torquay is part of the UNESCO-sponsored Global Geoparks program, an international network that seeks to preserve areas of great geological interest. You don't need to be a geologist to appreciate Torquay's rugged and captivating landscapes, whether you're rambling along the clifftops, boating around the small islands, or exploring local caves.


  • English Riviera Global Geopark, Resident and Visitor Services, Lower Ground Floor, Town Hall, Torquay TQ1 3DR; Tel: +44 1803 207358; Website: English Riviera Global Geopark