27 Best Things to Do in Torbay

Torquay - best things to do in Torbay

Things to Do in Torbay: Torquay, Paignton & Brixham

We’ve rounded up the best things to do in Torbay, so you don’t have to! Use this handy guide as your go-to English Riviera getaway, with activities for all ages, whatever the weather.

It’s not hard to see why this South Devon region is a popular holiday destination. Torbay is famous for its busy harbour, beautiful beaches, family attractions, romantic getaways, and some of the freshest fish and seafood around. 

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Where is Torbay Located?

Torbay is located on the south coast of Devon comprising of three seaside resorts: Brixham, Devon, and Paignton. Torquay is situated in the north side, Paignton in the centre, and Brixham sits in the south of the bay. 

Whether you’re visiting for a day or on holiday for a week, Torbay is a vibrant area with lots going on for the whole family to enjoy.

What’s the difference between Torbay and Torquay?

The Torbay region of South Devon is home to three seaside towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. Torquay is the largest of the three, and why Torbay is commonly referred to as Torquay. 

Read on to find out the top activities and the top things to do in Torbay.

Top Things To Do In Torbay

Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the UK. 

Home to over 2000 animals, this popular zoo features six habitats, a jungle-themed train, an indoor play area, and many more activities to keep the kids entertained.

Walks in Torbay

Torbay is full of beautiful walks and hikes to enjoy. From coastal hikes with panoramic views of Torbay to woodland walks and clifftop trails, this region has it all. 

A short walk up to Berry Head is one of the best lookout spots with its panoramic views of Torbay.

If you’re looking for a gentle stroll, wander down the Breakwater in Brixham. Half a mile long, enjoy vast views of the bay from a different viewpoint. 

Some of our favourite walks in Torbay:

  • Daddyhole Plain – 1.9 miles (3.0 km)
  • Greenway, Broadsands & Galmpton Creek – 6.9 miles (11.0 km)
  • Labrador Bay – 4.3 miles (7.0 km)
  • Maidencombe Circular – 3.3 miles (5.3 km)

For more walks, take a look at this list of some of the best walks in Torbay.

Explore Nearby Towns

If you’re staying in Torbay for a longer holiday, there are many beautiful towns nearby. 

Relish the history of Cockington, spend an afternoon in Dittisham, and see the outstanding beauty in Salcombe. 

Dartmouth Steam Railway from Paignton

The Dartmouth Steam Railway from Paignton is a must-do for anyone. There’s a reason the Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boat Company have been awarded Outstanding Visitor Attraction by Heritage Railway Association, and it’s a fantastic way to view the beautiful Torbay scenery.  

Take in the spectacular scenery from Paignton along the coastline to Kingswear, and ending in Dartmouth. Take a wander around Dartmouth via a short ferry across the river, before heading back to Paignton again.

Babbacombe Model Village

Famous for its four acres of miniature landscaped gardens, Babbacombe Model Village is one of the premier model villages in Europe.

The Model Village shows a generic history of Britain through the decades with many hidden gems for everyone to enjoy. 

Adults will particularly enjoy the craftsmanship and hidden humour, with each display costing thousands of pounds to complete. 

At the end of the tour, there’s also a crazy golf experience to complete!

Kents Cavern

Step back in time and book a trip to visit Kent’s Cavern, one of the most important Stone Age sites in Europe. 

Lead by an entertaining and informative tour guide, you’ll be guided through 400 million-year-old rocks. These rocks and cave was home to ancient humans sheltering from the extreme weather and hunting Ice Ace animals.

Regular cave tours begin every day at 10 am and last for just under 1 hour, and the last tour times are 4 pm. Note that this is a popular tour and pre-booking is essential. 

Take a Boat Trip across Torbay

Boat trips from around Torbay are a great way to spend the day and visit the local towns. 

The ever-popular Western Lady Ferry Service departs multiple times a day from the Torquay harbour or from the New Pier in Brixham. Whether you’re staying in Torquay or Brixham, a ferry to the other side of Torbay and back is a great day trip. 

Or, take a boat trip to Dartmouth, or a sea life tour and locate the many species of dolphins, whales, seals, and birds that can be found in the area.

The Western Lady Ferry service runs from 1 Apr 2022 – 31 Oct 2022. Note that boat trips are weather dependent and may differ according to weather and tidal conditions.

Enjoy Fish and Chips

Fish and chips are a must when you’re on a seaside getaway, and they always taste better accompanied by a big portion of sea air. In fact, across the country, we spend nearly £ 1 billion on fish and chips every year.

As Brixham is one of the main fishing ports in England, it doesn’t get much better than fish as fresh as the sea breeze. Try the catch of the day (literally), at one of the many fish and chip restaurants across Torbay.

Read our guide to the best fish and chip restaurants here.

Crabbing in Brixham

You’ll soon see why crabbing is so popular with kids in Brixham. Grab a line, net, and some bait, and find a spot to cast along the harbour walls. 

But crabbing is not just for kids, this is a great activity for adults too. 

Berry Head National Nature Reserve

After lots of fish and chips and delicious ice cream, you’ll need to burn off some energy. Hike up to Berry Head National Nature Research and enjoy panoramic views of South Devon as you walk up there.

A stroll up to Berry Head coastal headline is a must for anyone visiting Brixham and Torbay. With breathtaking views of the bay, there are also two forts dating back to the Napoleonic Wars and an iconic lighthouse. 

You can easily spend a couple of hours here admiring the scenery and grabbing a well-earned drink or snack from the Guardhouse Cafe. There are also public toilets with disabled facilities.

Berry Head is also a popular picnic spot in the warmer summer months. 

Spot the Seals in Brixham

Brixham is home to many rare grey seals, and spotting these beautiful mammals as you stroll around the harbour is common thanks to The Torbay Seal Project.

The Torbay Seal Project was set up to monitor and protect the growing number of these rare North Atlantic Grey seals. You can find them swimming around, or relaxing on the many pontoons around Brixham’s harbour. 

If you’re really lucky, you may also spot dolphins swimming in and around the harbour!

Brixham - best things to do in Torbay

Visit the Best Beaches in Torbay

Torbay stands apart from other UK destinations because of the incredible beaches that are on offer. 

You’ll find an abundance of sandy, shingle, and pebble beaches ideal for picnics, long coastal walks, water sports from paddleboarding to jet-skiing, and for days out swimming in the sea.

Torre Abbey Sands Beach, Torquay

Torre Abbey Sands beach in Torquay is a long red sandy beach perfect for those sunny beach days. This popular beach is located close to Torquay’s town centre to explore the harbour, bars, shops, and restaurants.

The gently sloping beach is accessible for families and young children wanting to swim in the shallow and gentle waters. Torre Abbey Sands beach does not allow dogs between 1st May and 30th September.

Paignton Sands, Paignton

Paignton Sands in Paignton has everything you could possibly need for a day at the beach for the whole family. From the pier which lies in the middle of the two beaches in Paignton, to the golden sand, to the arcades and cafes. 

Note that the beach does not allow dogs between 1st May and 30th September.

Preston Sands, Paignton

Preston Sands is very similar to Paignton Sands, with an abundance of attractions nearby, but also has rock pools for the adventurous little ones wanting to explore. 

Preston Sands has a Quality Coast award and features a row of picturesque, colourful beach huts behind. The ever-popular pier sits in the middle of Preston Sands and Paignton Sands providing refreshments, amusements, inflatables, and other seaside items.

Note that dogs are not allowed between 1st May and 30th September.

Read more about the beaches near Paignton here.

Breakwater Beach, Brixham

The Breakwater beach in Brixham is Blue Flag beach, has a Quality Coast Award, and in addition has been recommended by the Good Beach Guide.

Facilities at the Breakwater include parking, toilets, a shop, and a cafe so it’s a great beach to spend the day for the whole family. 

Breakwater beach is dog friendly during the winter but dogs are banned during the summer season from May to September.

Fishcombe Cove, Brixham

Located just a short walk from Brixham’s town centre is the spectacular Fishcombe Cove. This charming cove is surrounded by red cliffs on all sides and is a stunning place to visit with a lovely little cafe.

The sheltered cliffs make this beach perfect for swimming and enjoying the beautiful Torbay scenery.

Facilities include toilets and The cafe at the top of the beach and toilets are open during the summer months. The Freshwater car park is a short five-minute walk away. 

Fishcombe Cove beach is dog friendly all year round.

Other Things to Do in Torbay

  • Try out the watersports
  • Explore the Golden Hind in Brixham
  • Stroll to Battery Gardens in Brixham and admire the views
  • Visit the local and independent shops
  • Learn at the Brixham Heritage Museum 
  • Eat a delicious Devon ice cream
  • Get adventurous at Splashdown Quaywest Waterpark in Paignton
  • Enjoy a Devon cream tea in an independent cafe 
  • Visit Paignton pier
  • Torquay wave leisure pool
  • Land train in Torquay
  • English Riviera wheel in Torquay
  • Torquay museum

FAQs about Things to Do in Torbay

What is Torbay known for?

Torbay is known for seaside resorts: Torquay, Brixham and Paignton. Each town is very different, but all have an array of shops, restaurants, bars, activities, and beaches for all ages. Torbay is famous for its stunning scenery, and coastal walks.

Is Torbay worth visiting?

Torbay is a beautiful bay located on south coast of Devon. Torbay is known for its stunning beaches, bustling fishing industry, fantastic restaurants, and beautiful coastal walks. There’s plenty to see and do in Torbay to keep the whole family entertained.

What is on in Torbay for kids?

There are many things for kids to see and do. In Paignton, kids can enjoy the pier, spend the day at the waterpark or visit Paignton Zoo. Kids can go crabbing in Brixham, go on a boat cruise, visit the Golden Hind, and watch our for seals. In Torquay, kids can ride on the land train, try out some watersports, go on the English Riviera wheel, and visit the Torquay wave leisure pool. Across the bay, there are many sandy beaches to enjoy, including some with rock pools for the little ones.

Which is nicer Paignton or Torquay?

Paignton is more of a traditional English seaside town, whereas Torquay is slightly more upmarket with its shops, restaurants, bars, and beautiful harbour views. Paignton is more focused on families and kids with a lovely beach and pier featuring an array of activities on the seafront. 

Is Torbay nice to live?

Torbay is a lovely place to live, with wonderful restaurants, coastal walks, shops and nearby towns right on your doorstep. The beautiful scenery and relaxed, seaside way of living is a draw for many people looking to relocate.

Why is Torquay called Torbay?

Torquay is called Torbay as it’s located in a large open bay called Torbay on Devon’s south coast. Torbay comprises of three main seaside towns: Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. 

Which towns make up Torbay?

Torbay is made up of three seaside resorts: Brixham, Paignton and Torquay. Brixham is located in the south of the bay, Paignton in the centre and Torquay at the north of the bay. 
Why is Torbay called the English Riviera?
Torbay is often referred to as The English Riviera. This goes back to Victorian times when visitors used to compare the bay to The French Riviera, as the area is often known for its warmer temperatures. The warmer climate comes from the Atlantic jet steam currents which push the warmer temperature into Torbay.

Summary of the Best Things to Do in Torbay

There are many great things to do in Torbay, such as visiting the beach, going on coastal walks, exploring local parks and nature areas, trying local cuisine, and visiting cultural attractions like museums and galleries.

Discover all there is to do and do in Brixham, Paignton and Torquay on your next UK staycation. 

After a long day exploring Torbay, head back to your B&B, holiday apartment, campsite or hotel to recharge your batteries for the fun-filled next day.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Torbay, take a look at The Quayside Hotel in Brixham. The hotel is set on the harbourside in the heart of Brixham, and just a stone’s throw away from shops, restaurants and bars.

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