Home to the world’s best B&B and birthplace of the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie, Torquay has been a popular resort for holiday makers since the reign of Queen Victoria. You might not think of it as being a good destination for the autumn months, but this time of year, you’ll be able to still enjoy the relatively warm climate of the English Riviera while avoiding the crowds that you find in the summer.

Having been described as one of Britain’s “most booming seaside towns, undergoing a style revival with Michelin-starred restaurants and swanky yachts” and being voted the top UK holiday destination in 2021, it’s unlikely that you won’t have heard of Torquay. It is well known for having streets lined with palm trees, a sandy beach and plenty of family friendly fun. If you’re not familiar though, Torquay is one of the premier towns in the English Riviera, located in the south of Devon. It features around 22 miles of coastline, sandy beaches and palm trees throughout, so on a sunny day, you can easily imagine being somewhere on the continent. The whole of the English Riviera, which also encompasses the resorts of Paignton and Brixham, has been designated as UNESCO Global Geopark status – it is one of just seven in the UK! So, basically, Torquay is much more than just a coastal town, and makes a fun and safe destination for families, couples and solo travellers all year around. Whether you’re on the hunt for somewhere to relax, somewhere to challenge yourself to watersports, somewhere to shop, somewhere to entertain the children or somewhere to indulge in fabulous food and drink, you’ll find plenty to do here. You can find cuisine from around the world here, not only the traditional fare like fish and chips. Why not sample some incredible French inspired cuisine by visiting Bistrot Pierre? Sat near the Princess Theatre and overlooking the bay, Bistrot Pierre is a relaxing and stylish place to enjoy sea views and affordable menus.

Torre abbey

Image: Torre Abbey

One of the big draws to the region outside the summer is the Agatha Christie Festival which takes place during September, but just because you’ve missed the festival doesn’t mean you can’t discover more about the Queen of Crime. The Agatha Christie Mile is a walking trail that takes you around the town and gives you the chance to catch sight of some of the town’s top locations including Torre Abbey which features a garden inspired by the author’s fascination for poisonous plants. Torre Abbey isn’t just for the Christie fans either, as the Torbay’s most historic building and with 18 acres of garden and parkland, it is a fascinating place with more than 600 works of art and a programme of exhibitions, perfect for the whole family.

If history is your thing, there is plenty to keep you busy in Torquay. Aside from the Georgian architecture there is also Kents Cavern which falls within the UNESCO Global Geopark and is one of the top stone age cave attractions in Europe. The caves are open daily all year around and during the school holidays, there are fun family activities for you all to get involved with. For an interesting day out, join one of the cave’s guides and explore thousands of years of history.

If history isn’t your thing though, there is plenty more to keep you occupied, from watersports to visits to the beach and the various coves and bays to explore. If you fancy indulging in some retail therapy, head to Fleet Walk. Located in the heart of the town centre with the harbour as your backdrop, here you can find high street names and a mix of independent shops complete with vibrant cafés. Open daily, you can easily pick up gifts and bargains or meet up with friends for a quick coffee and a cake (or two…)!

As you might imagine from such a popular tourist resort, there is an array of places to stay to suit every taste and budget. Like we said, the world’s best B&B can be found in Torquay, but that isn’t the only award-winning property available. The Cary Arms and Spa, which is in an enviable position overlooking Babbacombe Bay, consistently wins awards. With the values of a traditional inn and the atmosphere and luxury of a boutique hotel, the Cary Arms and Spa is perfect for those wanting to relax in comfort and even offers dog friendly accommodation for those wanting to bring their dogs along to explore the English Riviera. If you choose to stay here, you not only get the chance to rejuvenate in their spa but you are also less than a mile from the popular Babbacombe Model Village. Famous for its miniature landscaped gardens and for being one of the best model villages in Europe, this is a fun way to spend a day when in the area and visiting during the autumn will give you a chance to see the gardens in a whole new light.

babbacombe model village
Image: Babbacombe Model Village

If you’re looking for a spa hotel stay, there are lots of options here in Torquay. Another option for you is the Headland Hotel and Spa, which occupies two acres of grounds and being on a headland has incredible views over the Torbay. The spa has three hydrotherapy pools, steam room, hot tub, sauna and gym, as well as offering a host of beauty treatments. If you want to recharge before the rush of the Christmas period, book a stay here and enjoy some pampering. Many of the hotels and self-catering properties in Torquay can be found in magnificent Victorian villas that would have once been the family homes of high society. The Imperial Torquay is one of these hotels, with breath-taking views and a popular restaurant and health centre. Spread over seven floors, the hotel has a distinctive style and has complimentary BT WiFi for each room, many of which have sea views.

imperial torquay
Image: Imperial Torquay

Hotels aren’t for everyone, so if you want a little more freedom, take a look at some of the self catering properties on offer. The Osborne Apartments are right in the heart of the English Riviera and have a range of different sized apartments, so you can pick one that best suits your needs. During your stay, you have use of a range of facilities, including pools, tennis courts, gyms and more, so if the weather takes a turn, you can still have fun. The Barramore Holiday Apartments also offers self catering holidays all year around in their own grounds, giving you all the privacy and space you could need during your stay. Or why not take a look at some of the town’s B&Bs? If you like starting your day with a hearty breakfast, these properties are perfect. Located just a stone’s throw from the beach is The Briarfields, where you can choose from a selection of contemporary ensuite bedrooms and take advantage of free electric vehicle charging, should you want to bring your car to explore further.

Speaking of the car, a stay in Torquay gives you the freedom of leaving it at home thanks to the mainline rail network that runs through the town and also connects you to places across Devon, so you can explore without having to worry about navigation or those winding lanes!

Looking for more inspiration for things to do in Torquay this autumn? Click here. 

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Torre Abbey

Torre Abbey is Torbay’s most historic building, a multi-award winning visitor attraction, set…