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What to See and Do in Torquay - Views from Above, Prehistoric Caves, and Rural Devon

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Torquay is a great destination for a classic beach holiday, but there's a lot more to the area than sun and sand. The region is rich in history, from Stone Age cave dwellers to Edwardian innovators, and it's a place where the traditional English way of life blends harmoniously with the modern.

Torquay from above


The fastest and most fun way to get an overview of Torquay and its surroundings is from a seat on the English Riviera Wheel. This big wheel's 6-seater gondolas are fully enclosed - so you needn't worry about the weather - and you'll be carried up to 200 feet in the air. From there you'll enjoy a memorable panorama by day or night.


  • English Riviera Wheel, Princess Gardens, Torbay Road, Torquay; Tel: +44 115 967 9991; Website: English Riviera Wheel

Train to Babbacombe Beach


Babbacombe Beach is one of the most popular in the area, with facilities including a café, deck chair hire, and water sports like windsurfing. The most memorable thing about Babbacombe, however, is getting there, which you do via the century-old Babbacombe Cliff Railway. Old-fashioned carriages carry you slowly down the side of the hill to the sandy beach below, with spectacular views as you descend.


  • Babbacombe Cliff Railway, Babbacombe Cliff Railway Community Interest Company. Babbacombe Downs Road, Babbacombe, Torquay TQ1 3LF; Tel: +44 1803 328750; Website: Babbacombe Cliff Railway


Visit an ancient cave


Torquay has been a popular destination for over 40,000 years, judging by fossils that have been discovered in Kents Cavern. Expert tour guides are on hand to lead you around this remarkable subterranean structure, where bones of early Homo sapiens - thought to be the oldest in Europe - were discovered in the 1920s. If you're feeling especially brave, you can hear about the spooky side of Kents Cavern, with spine-tingling ghost tours on selected evenings.


  • Kents Cavern, Kents Cavern Ltd., Cavern House 89/91, Ilsham Road, Torquay TQ1 2JF; Tel: +44 1803 215 136; Website: Kents Cavern


Traditional rural England


The little village of Cockington, just outside Torquay, is a perfectly preserved slice of pastoral English life from bygone days. You can stroll among the thatched cottages, enjoy a fresh scone in the tea house, and watch cricket on the green. The centrepiece is Cockington Court, where the manor is home not to a lord but to 25 local artists and craftspeople whose wares you can buy.


  • Cockington Court Manor, Cockington Court Craft Centre, Cockington, Torquay TQ2 6XA; Tel: +44 1803 607230; Website: Cockington Court Manor


A 12th-century abbey


One of the proudest treasures of Devon's heritage is Torre Abbey, with a history that stretches back to 1196. You can explore the ruins of the original church, learn about the Spanish prisoners kept here after the defeat of the Armada, and enjoy a stroll through the enchanting gardens. Inside the main building, you'll find a fascinating museum and extensive art gallery.


  • Torre Abbey, +44 1803 293593; Tel: Torre Abbey Historic House and Gallery, The King’s Drive, Torquay TQ2 5JE; Website: Torre Abbey