Ilfracombe’s reputation as the culinary and cultural hub of North Devon has been steadily growing for the past few years, with many visitors referring to it as the new St. Ives.
As well as being a haven for foodies, the town is home to a host of world famous attractions including the world famous aquarium and the unique Tunnel Beaches, as well as Damien Hirst’s sculpture, Verity.
Popular with holiday makers
Ilfracombe has been popular with holiday makers since the 1800s thanks to its stunning coastline, where you’ll find a host of award-winning sandy beaches and unique attractions. The town is surrounded by beaches, making it the ideal location for anyone looking for a beach holiday. On one side there is Wildersmouth Beach which you can access via the South West Coast Path, as well as Rapparee Cove and Hele Cove, which are smaller, secluded areas ideal for rock pooling.
The Tunnels Beaches is one of the most famous beaches in the area and also double as a wedding venue and a heritage attraction. Hand carved in the 1820s, these tunnels are a unique look at the town’s Victorian history.
The installation of the four tunnels are what transformed this fishing town into a popular seaside resort without sacrificing Victorian etiquette. The tunnels were how men, women, girls and boys were segregated on their way to the beach. Once you’ve made your way through the historic tunnels, you will find yourself on a unique and stunning, secluded beach. It’s no wonder that this area has become a premium wedding location in Ilfracombe, the rugged coastline makes for an incredible backdrop to wedding photos! Even if you aren’t getting married, it is a wonderful place to spend a few hours learning about the town’s heritage and taking in the sights.
Aside from the beach, Ilfracombe is full of family friendly attractions and activities from the Aquarium in the harbour to Watermouth Castle and theme park, which combines the remains of a Victorian era castle with a theme park and gorgeous landscaped gardens. Arts and crafts are also popular in Ilfracombe with regular events and galleries dotted around the town, perfect for those that love the arts. The annual Arts Trail is hugely popular and draws in huge crowds every year, so make sure to add the dates to your diary! For other creative entertainment, check out the programme at Ilfracombe’s Landmark Theatre, ranging from vintage festivals to internationally acclaimed music, drama and comedies.
Another reason why Ilfracombe is known all over the world is because it is home to renowned artist Damien Hirst’s famous 20m high sculpture
Whether you love her or hate her, Verity is hard to miss. You’ll find her at the pier overlooking the Bristol Channel towards Wales. The statue is of a pregnant woman holding a sword and a set of scales while standing on a pile of books. Half the statue shows the woman’s insides with the foetus on full show, Damien Hirst described the statue as being a modern allegory of truth and justice and whether you like it or not, no trip to Ilfracombe would be complete without paying her a visit.
Haven for foodies
If you’re someone looking for a foodie break, head for Fore Street where you’ll find Ilfracombe’s gastronomic hub. Many of the town’s restaurants and other eateries can be found here and there are a whole load of other high quality menus featuring seasonal, local produce around the harbour. The town has some incredible views which makes it the perfect place for fine dining, particularly if you time it right so you catch a sunset right as your dinner is being served.
Being one of the most historic harbours and a popular fishing points in the north of the county, Ilfracombe has an abundance of wonderful seafood menus, if you’re not a fan of seafood, don’t worry, there are a whole range of culinary delights to choose from in this charming seaside town.