9 of the best things to do in Brixham  holiday cottages

9 of the best things to do in Brixham

Kate Atkin 19 December 2023

Golden coves lined by exotic palm trees and pastel-painted fishermen’s cottages; Brixham is the perfect place to get away from it all.

This picture-postcard slice of the English Riviera was once the busiest fishing port in the south of England. These days, visitors are drawn in by the breathtaking views, the bustling harbour and excellent seafood restaurants.

There are so many exciting attractions in this Devon seaside town, from its beautiful beaches to its swashbuckling pirate festivals. So, we’ve chosen a few of the best things to do in Brixham to look forward to during your next holiday here.

Skip to these top things to do in Brixham:

1. Wander along Brixham Harbour

A collection of images showing Brixham Harbour and Breakwater

Life in Brixham centres around its picturesque harbour. One of the busiest fishing ports in the UK, Brixham Harbour is always bustling and it’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere of this charming coastal town.

Protecting the harbour is the extensive structure of Brixham Breakwater which is always a popular spot for crabbing. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along its 0.5-mile length or wander along the waterfront, dipping in and out of the shops which showcase a variety of locally made souvenirs, crafts, and food. You can watch the harbour’s fleet of heritage trawlers coming in with their daily catch from the viewing platform.

2. Tour the Brixham Fish Market

Brixham Fish Market lit up early in the morning, and fish ready to be sold

An early morning visit to the famous Brixham Fish Market is an authentic way to experience ‘England’s Seafood Coast’. With a strong fishing tradition dating back to the 14th century, Brixham is credited with being one of the birthplaces of sea trawling. So, it’s no wonder the town is home to England’s largest fish market (by value of fish sold).

One of the top unique things to do in Brixham, early risers can join a behind-the-scenes tour and see the exciting auctions in action at the market, where some of the nation’s best chefs source their seafood. Every morning at 6am, over 40 different species of fish are sold at Brixham Fish Market, with the main catches consisting of cuttlefish, lemon and Dover sole, squid, monkfish, and turbot. It’s definitely worth dragging yourself out of bed for!

3. Relax on Brixham’s Beaches

The curved shingle cove of Brixham Breakwater Beach

If you’re looking for the best free things to do in Brixham, then you can’t beat a bucket-and-spade day on the sand. There are several lovely beaches in Brixham or close by, including Breakwater Beach which sits at the mouth of the harbour. This shingle Brixham beach may be small, but it’s won countless awards for its cleanliness and is a firm favourite with scuba divers as the water is clear and relatively calm.

Families are sure to adore the shingle sweep of Shoalstone Beach, home of the Shoalstone Seawater Pool – an iconic Art Deco lido built on a natural rock pool. And within 1.5 miles of the town centre, you will find St Mary’s Bay, Churston Cove and Fishcombe Cove, which are all slightly quieter than Brixham’s main beaches if you fancy escaping the crowds.

4. Enjoy Brixham Pirate Festival

A young child having their face painted by a pirate

While there are many events and festivals in Brixham throughout the year, one of the highlights on the calendar is the annual Brixham Pirate Festival. This swashbuckling weekend celebrates the town's maritime history through live music, parades, and activities.

Join the local brigands and buccaneers for an assortment of seaside shenanigans and pirate-themed fun, as the sound of seagulls, shanties and skirmishes fills the air. With street entertainers, flamboyant fancy dress, treasure hunts, reenactments of historic pirate battles, and sword-fighting workshops, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Brixham.

5. Board the Golden Hind

The Golden Hind docked at Brixham Harbour

If the Pirate Festival in Brixham has sparked an interest in the sea, then you might like to board the Golden Hind. This full-sized replica of Sir Francis Drake's iconic exploration ship has been a feature of Brixham Harbour for over 50 years, entertaining and educating thousands of visitors. It has even starred in a variety of TV programmes and films.

Climb aboard this 16th-century sailing ship and experience five decks of Tudor history. The fascinating displays and hands-on exhibits give visitors a wonderful insight into life aboard this incredible galleon.

6. Visit Berry Head National Nature Reserve

A collection of images showing the scenery and birds of Berry Head

For nature lovers and those looking for dog-friendly things to do in Brixham, Berry Head National Nature Reserve is a great day out in Devon. This magnificent headland, with its iconic lighthouse and Napoleonic fort, is surrounded by water on three sides and offers breathtaking views across Torbay and beyond. 

An internationally acclaimed heritage site, Berry Head marks the entrance to the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark. It is also a designated Special Area of Conservation, a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, boasting history, flora, and fauna in abundance.

The South West Coast Path traces the headland, making this a superb spot for walkies. Dogs on leads can join you as you appreciate over 600 species of birds and a variety of rare and endangered wildlife, including horseshoe bats, and one of the largest colonies of guillemots on the southern coast.

7. Explore Brixham’s museums

An aerial view of Brixham Battery Gardens

If you’d like to delve a little deeper into the town’s fascinating history, then a visit to the Brixham Heritage Museum is a must. Another of the top free things to do in Brixham, this museum is packed with interesting exhibits, maritime models, and archaeological finds relating to the Napoleonic fort at Berry Head.

From the sailing of the Mayflower to the Americas to the impact of the Second World War, and the town’s place in Britain’s fishing history, this free-to-enter museum is a great place to while away a few hours. Its collection includes over 10,000 objects and there are plenty of activities for children to enjoy.

Continue your journey through the town’s intriguing past by exploring Brixham Battery Heritage Centre (open seasonally). Located on the site of a former military battery, built in 1940, this lovely little museum is run by volunteers and features a selection of displays, a genuine Second World War Anderson Shelter, and a recently restored twin Bofors gun.

8. Book a wildlife-watching boat trip

Looking across the sea at a fishing boat in Brixham

Next to Brixham Harbour, there is a row of booths offering a plethora of boat trips, including pleasure cruises, fishing trips and wildlife-watching excursions. Boarding a boat and taking to the waves is a wonderful way to see the sights from a different perspective and offers the chance to get up close to some of the English Riviera’s most incredible sea life.

Our favourite boat trips in Brixham:

  • Funfish Trips: Sea fishing, seal and dolphin watching wildlife cruises, and excursions along the English Riviera
  • Boatsafari: Bespoke marine wildlife sea safaris, bay cruises, sunset cruises, and private hire cruises
  • Kelly’s Hero Charters: Tailored fishing tours and bird and wildlife cruises
  • WeFerry: Fishing trips, round robins, and sunset cruises
  • Paignton Pleasure Cruises: Fishing trips, wildlife-spotting cruises, evening and sunset cruises

9. Dine out in Brixham’s restaurants

A plate of seafood and a couple toasting glasses of wine

Nestled in the heart of England’s Seafood Coast, it should come as no surprise that fish and seafood dominate the restaurant scene in Brixham. If you look at the specials board in any of the eateries dotted around the harbour such as Rockfish, Beamers, or Breakwater Bistro, you’ll most likely see 'catch of the day’.

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Brixham for couples, then a romantic meal for two should certainly be top of the list. Read our guide to the best places to eat and drink in Brixham for some of the most revered dining spots. It covers everything from the best fish and chip shops to the finest restaurants in Brixham.  

Map of the best things to do in Brixham

You’ll find all the places included in this guide of the best things to do in Brixham on this handy map.

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Stay in Brixham

With so many exciting days out in Brixham to enjoy, you’ll need a relaxing base for your adventures. Our Brixham holiday cottages offer the perfect setting for your holiday in Devon, whether you’re looking for a romantic cottage for two or a fun-filled family retreat. Click the button below to browse our full collection of self-catering accommodation in Brixham.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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