15 unmissable things to do in Torquay holiday cottages

15 unmissable things to do in Torquay

Caroline Abbott 17 April 2024

Torquay is one of the country’s top seaside resorts and the South Devon town has been attracting holidaymakers for generations. It’s on part of the coastline known as the English Riviera, which is famous for its golden beaches and iconic palm trees.

There are plenty of other reasons why families, couples and groups of adult friends all enjoy visiting Torquay – and many do so year after year. We’ve rounded up some of the key attractions in Torquay to give you some ideas of things to do, even if you’re looking for something free, something to do in wet weather, or just something a little unusual.

Once you’ve read our guide to unmissable things to do in Torquay, why not book a stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages and start looking forward to an unforgettable trip?

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Things to do in Torquay for families

Torquay’s vibrant seaside town is full of things to do with your family, read about some of our favourites here.

Kents Cavern

Photo taken inside of Kents Cavern

Go on a guided tour of the extensive system of caves at Kents Cavern that were once occupied by prehistoric people and Ice Age animals, and see the artefacts they left behind. You’ll get to experience total darkness, see extraordinary, ancient rock formations and learn the difference between spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.

Good to know

  • Address: 91 Ilsham Rd, Torquay, TQ1 2JF
  • Phone: 01803 215136
  • Dogs: No dogs may enter the caves apart from assistance dogs.
  • Prices: £16 adult tickets online and £14 for children 3-15, under 3s are free. 
  • Opening times: Open every day from 10am, closing times vary. Tours last just under 1 hour, but you should allow around 2.5 hours for the complete visitor experience.
  • Stay nearby: Honey Cottage Mews | sleeps 4 

Babbacombe Model Village

Photo of miniature boat taken at Babbacombe Model Village

This miniature village and railway, set in 4 acres of landscaped gardens, has something for all the family. It has hundreds of uniquely handcrafted model buildings and thousands of tiny people – and the scenes include well-known landmarks, several animated displays and plenty of puns and humour. You can have a game of crazy golf to complete your experience – one round is included free with your admission ticket. 

Good to know

  • Address: Hampton Avenue, Babbacombe, Torquay, TQ1 3LA
  • Phone: 01803 315315 
  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed throughout the gardens but only assistance dogs can go into the indoor displays and the coffee shop. 
  • Prices: £17.75 adult tickets online and £14.75 for children 3-15, under 3s are free. 
  • Opening times: Open every day from 10am, closing times vary. It is recommended you allow at least 2.5 hours for your visit – if your visit is rushed, you will miss a lot of the subtle details. Note that the attraction does not accept cash – only card payments. For more information, visit the website
  • Stay nearby: The Cliffs at Babbacombe | sleeps 4 

Torquay’s Dinosaur World

Photo of the outside of Dinosaur WorldPhoto credit: Torquay Dinosaur World

It may not look very big from the outside, but this indoor exhibition on the harbourside has full-sized as well as scaled dinosaurs set in realistic scenes – you can even sit on one, or stick your head into a T-Rex’s jaws if you’re brave enough! Budding palaeontologists can brush through the sand at the excavation site to find dinosaur teeth and bones. There’s a quiz to help visitors learn all about these amazing creatures while having fun. 

Good to know

  • Address: 3 Victoria Parade, Torquay, TQ1 2BB
  • Phone: 01803 298779 
  • Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome but note that it can get very crowded.
  • Prices: £7.95 each and under 3s are free.
  • Opening times: Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11am, with last entry at 3.30pm. The length of your visit depends on how much you want to read and interact, but the average length of a visit is 1-1.5 hours. For more information, see the website.. 
  • Stay nearby: Vane Hill Crest | sleeps 10 + 2 dogs 

Things to do in Torquay for adults/couples 

Discover the sophisticated side of Torquay with a variety of activities for adults and couples, we’ve included some more information below.

Torre Abbey

Aerial photo of the outside of Torre Abbey

Torre Abbey is Torquay’s most historic building. It dates back to 1196 and sits within 18 acres of gardens and parkland. It contains more than 600 works of art from the 18th century to the present day, and it regularly hosts visiting art exhibitions from partners such as the V&A and the Tate. Visitors can also discover the history of the abbey through videos, talking portraits and interactive displays. 

Good to know

  • Address: The King's Drive, Torquay, TQ2 5JE
  • Phone: 01803 293593
  • Dogs: Assistance dogs are welcome in the museum. Non-assistance dogs cannot enter the house or gardens but are welcome in the cafe.
  • Prices: £11 adults, £4 children 5-18 and under 5s are free.
  • Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm (last entry 4pm).
  • Stay nearby: The Marina Beach House | sleeps 4 

Babbacombe Theatre

Photo of the outside of the Babbacombe Theatre Photo credit: Andrew John Coventry Photography/Babbacombe Theatre  

This venue, situated on the beautiful Babbacombe Downs, has been part of Torquay’s tourism industry since the 1930s when it was known as Babbacombe Downs Concert Hall. It offers a range of entertainment including visiting comedians and tribute acts, but is best known for its variety shows, which often showcase the very best rising talent.

Good to know

  • Address: Babbacombe Downs Road, Torquay, TQ1 3LU
  • Phone: 01803 328385
  • Dogs: No dogs are allowed into the theatre at any time, except assistance dogs.
  • Prices: Varies depending on the show. To see what’s on and book tickets, visit the website
  • Opening times: Varies depending on the show.
  • Stay nearby: Waves End | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs 

HQ Escape Rooms

Photo of keys and 'can you escape' sign

The popularity of escape rooms has soared over recent years, and Torquay has an escape room tucked away near the harbourside. One option is Sherlocked, in which teams of two or more must follow the clues and solve the puzzles to crack the case before time runs out. The second option is The Gun Powder Plot, a 60-minute puzzle room challenge. Don’t worry: it’s not scary, and you won’t get locked into a room. The host will give you as many clues as you request. More information can be found on the website.

Good to know

  • Address: Basement, 44 The Terrace, Torquay, TQ1 1DL
  • Phone: 07939 228254
  • Dogs: Dogs are welcome.
  • Prices: Duo's £40, 3 or more players £15pp and under 16s £12.50pp.
  • Opening times: Open every day with varying opening times.
  • Stay nearby: 9 Marina Court | sleeps 4 

Free things to do in Torquay 

Embrace the charm of Torquay without spending a penny by exploring its wealth of free attractions and be sure to check out our guide on affordable fun ideas in Devon.

Agatha Christie Mile

Photo of Agatha Christie statue

The bestselling fiction writer of all time, Agatha Christie, who is sometimes called ‘The Queen of Crime’, was born in Torquay on 15 September 1890. She created the fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, and her novels include And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express. She also penned the world’s longest-running play, murder mystery The Mousetrap.

The Agatha Christie Mile was created with help from the author’s daughter and follows a trail that takes in locations that were special to her. Some locations are marked with Agatha Christie plaques. You can pick up a leaflet from the English Riviera Visitor Information Centre on Torquay harbourside or read all about it on the website.

Good to know

  • Address: 5 Vaughan Parade, Torquay, TQ2 5JG
  • Phone: 01803 211211    
  • Prices: Free
  • Opening times: The English Riviera Visitor Information Centre is open daily from 9.30am-1.30pm.
  • Stay nearby: 10 Riviera | sleeps 5 

Torquay beaches

Aerial photo across Torquay Beach and harbour

Torquay’s main beach is Torre Abbey Sands. It has a stretch of red sand that is perfect for building sandcastles and the gently sloping beach makes it safe for families who want to paddle or swim. It’s easy to access, and it’s right in front of a cluster of restaurants, bars and cafes. The iconic white spiral bridge across the road has great views over the beach so makes an ideal platform for taking some holiday snaps.

Remember to check the tide times as the beach disappears completely at high tide. There are plenty of other local beaches which vary in size, accessibility, facilities, whether they are mostly sand or shingle, and whether they are dog friendly. Full details can be found on the Torbay Council website.

Good to know

  • Address: Torbay Road, Torquay, TQ2 5JE 
  • Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on this beach between the beginning of May and the end of September, and must be kept on a lead when on the promenade during this period.
  • Prices: Free
  • Opening times: N/A
  • Stay nearby: A7 Masts | sleeps 6 

Cockington Country Park

Photo of trees and grounds in Cockington Country Park

No holiday in Torquay would be complete without a visit to Cockington. It’s picturesque and quintessentially English, with narrow lanes, thatched cottages, a manor house and a cricket ground. The 450-acre country park is a popular place for a leisurely stroll around the lakes, parkland and woodland, especially among dog walkers, and Cockington Court is a hub for creative crafts and arts. Whether or not you wish to purchase anything, you can watch the blacksmith, the glass maker and more at work in their studios. You can find out more about the history and facilities on the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust website.

Good to know

  • Address: Cockington Lane, Torquay, TQ2 6XA
  • Phone: 01803 520022
  • Dogs: The whole estate and surrounding area are dog-friendly.
  • Prices: Free
  • Opening times: N/A
  • Stay nearby: Mill Cottage, Cockington | sleeps 4

Things to do in Torquay in the rain 

Don't let the rain dampen your spirits in Torquay as there are plenty of indoor attractions for you to enjoy. Or venture further afield and discover more things to do in Devon in the rain.

Princess Theatre

Exterior of Princess Theatre TorquayPhoto credit: Princess Theatre Torquay 

The Princess Theatre, which opened on the seafront in June 1961, is the largest theatre in the area and it showcases the best West End and touring productions from across the country. It offers a wide and varied programme including first-class comedy, musicals, dance, music and children’s shows. It also hosts amateur productions by two local groups. The theatre has an on-site cafe, bar and restaurant which offers a daytime menu and pre-theatre dining. 

Good to know

  • Address: Torbay Rd, Torquay, TQ2 5EZ
  • Phone: 0333 009 6690
  • Dogs: Assistance dogs only are welcome in all parts of the theatre.
  • Prices: Varies depending on the show. To see what’s on and book tickets, visit the website.
  • Opening times: Varies depending on the show.
  • Stay nearby: Wellswood | sleeps 5 

Torquay Museum

Exterior photo of Torquay MuseumPhoto credit: Torquay Museum

Torquay Museum offers visitors the opportunity to discover 400 million years of local heritage. It’s a hands-on, family-friendly attraction with lots to see and do for children and adults alike, including exhibitions, activities, events, lectures and trails. What’s more, your entry ticket gives you access to all the galleries and exhibitions for 12 months.

Good to know

  • Address: 529 Babbacombe Rd, Torquay, TQ1 1HG
  • Phone: 01803 293975
  • Dogs: The only dogs allowed in the museum are registered assistance dogs. 
  • Prices: £11 for adults, £4.50 for children 3-15, and under 3s free. 
  • Opening times: Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 10am-4.45pm (last entry 4.15pm).
  • Stay nearby: Hidden Gem | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs 

Waves Leisure Pool

Photo of young boy on swimming pool waterslide

Waves Leisure Pool is located within the Riviera International Centre. Whether you want a casual swim or swimming lessons, there are activities for everyone. The pool has a wave machine, flume, and sloping, beach-style entry. There’s also a children’s play area and a water feature. Facilities include private changing cubicles and private showers. Lockers require a £1 deposit.

Good to know

  • Address: Chestnut Avenue, Torquay, TQ2 5LZ
  • Phone: 01803 299992
  • Prices: £6.70 for adult’s swim, £5.50 for junior swim and under 3s are free.
  • Opening times: Varies daily, see website for more information. 
  • Stay nearby: The Stables | sleeps 4

Unusual things to do in Torquay 

Embark on an adventure off the beaten path in Torquay by exploring its hidden gems, discover some of our favourites below.

Babbacombe Cliff Railway

Photo of Babbacombe Cliff Railway and surrounding coastline

Babbacombe Cliff Railway was built in 1926 to shuttle people between Babbacombe Downs and Oddicombe Beach if they didn’t fancy the steep walk. Today, it remains a more peaceful and leisurely way to travel down to the water’s edge and it offers breathtaking views.

At the end of the day, a bell is sounded at the lower station to warn passengers that the last trip will shortly take place. It should be noted that it does not accept cash – only card payments, and contactless is preferred. 

Good to know

  • Address: Babbacombe Downs Road, Torquay, TQ1 3LF
  • Phone: 01803 328750
  • Dogs: Dogs are carried free at the discretion of the operator, but dogs are not allowed on Oddicombe Beach between the beginning of May and the end of September.
  • Prices: Adults return £3.75, Children 2-16 return £2.75 and under 2s are free.
  • Opening times: Open daily from 9am-5pm.
  • Stay nearby: Oddicombe Hall Flat 2 | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs


Photo of inside of Bygones exhibition Photo credit: Bygones

Bygones is another rainy day idea. It’s a heritage family attraction packed with over 100 years of British history, authentic curiosities and quirky memorabilia set over three floors. You’ll feel transported back in time as you visit the Victorian Street. Themed period rooms show you what life was like in an upper-middle-class Victorian household, and you’ll never complain about having to visit the dentist again after taking in the scene of a visit to a Victorian dentist! There are also sections on Wartime Britain and The Railways.

You can take a break in the cafe, which is decorated in the style of a 1940s railway cafe. You can expect your visit to Bygones to last around 2 hours. 

Good to know

  • Address: Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay, TQ1 4PR
  • Phone: 01803 326108
  • Dogs: Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome. 
  • Prices: Adults £13.50, Children 3-14 years £9.50, under 3s are free.
  • Opening times: Open from 10am daily, closing times vary depending on the month.
  • Stay nearby: Abbey Mews | sleeps 5 

The Real Crime Museum

Photo of a pair of hanging handcuffs

This museum, which is tucked away near the harbourside in World War Two bunkers, is a must-see for everyone fascinated by true crime. There are exhibits about gangsters, robberies, forensics, drug smuggling, medieval torture, poisoners, serial killers, the Princess Diana inquest and Charles Bronson artwork – it’s really one of a kind. 

Good to know

  • Address: 23 Victoria Parade, Torquay, TQ1 2BD
  • Phone: None provided
  • Dogs: Dogs are welcome to join you at this attraction.
  • Prices: Adult tickets £8.95 and under 10s accompanied by an adult are free.
  • Opening times: Open daily, with varying opening times. You should allow at least 1 hour for your visit. 
  • Stay nearby: Fairhaven | sleeps 6 + 1 dog 

Map of things to do in Torquay 

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Stay in Torquay

These are just some of the attractions that Torquay has to offer holidaymakers, but are intended to show that there’s much more to the famous seaside resort than its sandy beaches.

Whether you’re visiting for a day, a weekend, or a week or two, there’s plenty to keep you busy, whatever your budget, tastes and the weather. We have a wide range of self-catering accommodation in Torquay that will help to make your visit a memorable one. 

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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