Is Torquay Worth Visiting?




Torquay harbour

Torquay maintains its position as a favoured family resort due to the wide variety of visitor attractions and accommodation on offer. For couples and solo travellers, the numerous options make it easy to find accommodation to meet their needs. Most of the main attractions are connected by a frequent bus service, boat or train, making Torquay and the wider Torbay area easy to get around car-free.

Like many seaside resorts during the Covid-19 pandemic the region endured a tough few years, at times the tourism industry was forcefully shut down. This post explores why Torquay is still so popular and whether it is right for you.

Why is Torquay so Popular?

The mass popularity of Torquay goes back to the Victorian era and the arrival of ‘railway mania.’ A lot of people thought that the sea air and relatively mild weather gave health benefits, and many were attracted to the idea that it might cure them of any ill health. The arrival of the train helped transport visitors from industrial cities and towns to the region. Throughout history, many famous people and Royalty have stayed or built their private holiday homes in Torquay.

Torquay’s popularity has been established off the back of this long-standing history as a traditional family friendly resort as well as a clever marketing campaign in the 1980s which branded the area ‘The English Riviera.‘ The Torbay region as it is known has proven experience and understanding in terms of attracting visitors to its shores whilst still managing to provide a range of experiences to suit different tastes.

Geographically the area has some of the prettiest towns and villages. Many people choose to visit out of the main season, in fact, some of the best times to visit are the spring and early autumn while the weather is still mild with fewer crowds to compete with.

Torquay harbour
Harbourside development in Torquay

Is Torquay Shabby?

Written summer 2022

A recent post on Tripadvisor is currently attracting a lot of attention, it’s provocatively entitled ‘What’s happened to Torquay?!’ the original post author says that they visited it in the 1970s and it [Torquay] isn’t the same now. A lot of the responses pointed out that the main shopping area has seen better days, but most agreed that the main area, close to the harbour and seafront, the main tourist areas are quite pleasant to walk around.

We have seen a lot of change since the 1970s in terms of our town centres and even our seaside resorts. So it is not surprising that the original author had seen a lot of change.

Many seaside towns have a seasonal economy and employment opportunities take an adverse ‘hit’ for the worse during the winter months. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic over the last few years has been disproportionately harsh on tourism, and for a town that relies heavily on tourism, this impact would have been felt considerably. One of the losses was the closure of the popular Living Coast Zoo. Thankfully the nearby zoo in Paignton has survived the economic effects of the pandemic and is still open to visitors, as are most of the pre-pandemic attractions, which is a testament to their strength.

The local council is investing heavily in Torquay and has a ongoing regeneration scheme to build back the local economy post-pandemic.

Torquay bar harbourside
Torquay Harbourside bars and cafe’s

What is Torquay Like?

Torquay can easily be summarised as a traditional family resort, with plenty of activity in the resort and nearby. There is a good choice of cafes and places to eat. It is a perfect base for a fun-packed family holiday. You can come here for a week or two and not need the car, the public transport throughout Torbay makes travel easy. See my recent post on car-free Torquay. It can not easily be classed as a quiet resort, especially in the high season, although you can find areas that are quieter than others. Traffic (and parking) around Torquay can also be congested during this period as well.

Attractions in and around Torquay are by far some of the most popular with families and couples visiting Devon, a quick scan of the Tripadvisor rating and comments under ‘things to do’ will show high levels of visitor satisfaction. The majority of ratings show 4.5 out of 5 with often thousands of reviews.

Which is The Best Area in Torquay to Stay in?

There is a lot of accommodation choice in Torquay to suit all tastes and budgets.

Before you book any accommodation check out the location on google maps to see the walking distance to the harbour if that is a concern.

Stay close to the centre if you want nightlife within walking distance, Torquay can be hilly, or be prepared to get a taxi. The harbourside on an evening can be quite busy with the clubs, bars and restaurants.

Looking for adult-only accommodation? Lincombe Hall & Spa, the Meadfoot Bay and Crofton House Hotel are the main options if you are not looking to travel with children.

The THL Leisure resort is a group of four hotels which are linked together on one 7-acre site. Guests benefit from a range of facilities. THL also offer a range of out of season discounts, the resort is ideal for those who like to have lots of options or entertainment nearby.

For wheelchair accessible: Abbey Lawn Hotel, Carlton Hotel (part of the TLH group – as above). Please do check your requirements ahead of booking.

Should You Stay in Babbacombe or Torquay?

Babbacombe is a district of Torquay and is the next bay north along the headland. You might have heard about it and wonder whether you should stay in Babbacombe or close to Torquay harbour?

As the ‘little-sister’ resort to Torquay, Babbacombe is much more laid back and quieter. It is perfect on its own, for a long weekend away from it all, or if you are looking for a few days of relaxation. Those seeking a longer break are likely to need to travel out of the resort or into Devon more generally. Indeed, if you need more activity, especially on an evening, you can easily wander a bit further into Torquay or afield. There are of course some bars and restaurants and even a small theatre.

Depending on where you are staying in Babbacombe it is about a 45-minute walk to the Torquay harbour. Several buses pass through Babbacombe to the centre of Torquay on a frequent basis.

Babbacombe beach
Babbacombe Torquay

Above is Babbacombe beach, there is a steep walk down from the cliff, where the hotel’s are to the shingle beach. Alternatively you can take the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, which has been operating since 1926. Below one of the main hotels in Babbacombe.

In Summary….. Torquay and its sub-district, Babbacombe offer between them a wide range of accommodation and visitor attractions, suitable for different needs and interests. The local scenery is very pretty and transport in and out of the location is excellent. The hotel industry has a long established history, some of the hotels are large and elegant serving luxury experiences, other options are smaller boutique B&Bs, or larger, busier entertainment orientated family resorts.

Please note I do try to keep this site up to date, but as things change often, it is recommended that before travelling any distance you do your own checks.

If you wish to feedback on the site content please get in touch.

Latest posts

  • Is Paignton Zoo Good? A Review & Advice

    Is Paignton Zoo Good? A Review & Advice

    A visit to the Zoo—an event that promises enjoyment for all ages. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park stands out making it a wonderful experience whether you’re entertaining small children, exploring with teenagers, or celebrating a birthday. Moreover, if you’re considering organising a special business event or party, the Zoo offers a unique and memorable venue that…

    Read more

  • Dartington Estate and Gardens: A Hidden Treasure Worth Exploring

    Dartington Estate and Gardens: A Hidden Treasure Worth Exploring

    Nestled in the picturesque South Devon landscape, Dartington Estate and Gardens offer a peaceful haven, inviting visitors to unwind and reconnect with the beauty of nature. With its captivating history, stunning gardens, and a diverse range of attractions, Dartington provides an ideal escape for individuals seeking a relaxing spot to gather with friends for a…

    Read more

  • Best East Devon Walk With Hidden WWII Secrets

    Best East Devon Walk With Hidden WWII Secrets

    We start at the Honesty Café just outside Otterton and embark on a moderately easy walk to Brandy Head, the site of a World War II Observation Post. This trail is popular with locals and visitors alike, offering dramatic cliff-top views and opportunities to spot birds and marine life. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature…

    Read more

error: Content is protected !!