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A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO… ILFRACOMBE

21st July 2017

Categories: Visitor News

Ilfracombe, North Devon’s third largest town with a population of more than 10,000, is loved by both holidaymakers and locals alike.

Home to Henry Williamson, author of popular novel Tarka the Otter, Damien Hirst artwork, and the UK’s oldest working lighthouse, the town is full of history – but also has plenty of present-day energy!

From the mouths of the locals themselves, here we detail the highlights of Ilfracombe and what to expect when visiting the area…

WHERE CAN I SHOP?

With so many independent stores to shop in, there’s such a variety of the items you can pick up in Ilfracombe. Start on the High Street for a mixture of national chains, independent beauties and an indoor market.

Move on through to Fore Street – also the sight of the seasonal fairs – and you get craft shops and quaint cafes.

Follow the quaint road and you come to the harbour. Starting with the arcade, head further round towards Damien Hirst statue Verity on the Quay and you’ll pass; the local fishing shop, Lamb Land, hand crafted stores, jewellery, clothes, and the traditional holiday souvenir shops for the fridge magnets.

WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO EAT?

Mixed in with the shops around Ilfracombe, you’ll find many places to eat, especially on the High Street. Down the harbour you’ll experience a plethora of fish and chip shops and ice cream kiosks to enjoy.

Plus there are some beautiful restaurants to try during your time in Ilfracombe. We could be here all day naming them, but for every taste there is an option; have an explore and see what tickles your taste buds.

Some highlights include Settantanove, Alfie and the Kaiser, Giovanni’s, Relish, Thomas Carr at The Olive Room, Emperor’s Court, Maddy’s Fish and Chips, and The Thatched Inn away from the high street. There’s also a Wetherspoons – The Admiral Collingwood (shown below) – which has a delightful rooftop dining area.

They’re all different, and we’re sure you’ll find a favourite there.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR A DRINK?

For those who want to sit back, relax, enjoy the views and watch the world go by, Ilfracombe is the ideal place to put your feet up with a drink. Whether you go with a busy bar down by the sea front promenade or pick a quiet garden away from it all, the list is a great one!

Our highlights include St James Place, where a selection of cafes offer hot and cold drinks with cheeky cake.

Then there’s The Habit Boutique Rooms on Fore Street, The Antidote Wine Room also down on St James Place, The Great British Tea Room (great name!), Annie and the Flint, The Britannia pub overlooking the beach and harbour, and The Chill Bar for Saturday night drinks and live music.

WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN ILFRACOMBE?

Oh where do we start?! Of course you have to stand under Vertiy with an ice cream, and enjoy fish and chips with your feet dipping in the sea. Then, to walk it off, explore The Torrs to find the toposcope, or climb Capstone and Hillsborough.

There’s the duck pond at Bicclescombe Park, and the Cinema for evening entertainment. For trips down memory lane there’s the galleries to explore, along with Tunnels Beaches (above).

With the family enjoy the Aquarium, Mini Golf, have a splash in the swimming pool or simply go down to the rock pools and look for crabs. Plus if you drive, Watermouth Castle is a few miles down the road.

You can also catch the MS Oldenburg over to Lundy, and did you know there’s a public land train to drive you around in the summer?

See our previous blogs to get the full variety of activities in Ilfracombe and the surrounding North Devon area.

IS ILFRACOMBE BEST FOR COUPLES, OR BIG FAMILIES?

We honestly feel it’s a perfect blend for both worlds. Couples or small groups can make use of the network of paths. This includes the South West Coast Path, allowing easy access to the surrounding locations if you want to stretch those legs.

Then there’s the romantic and quiet beaches hidden away from sight, perfect for watch the sun go down and cuddling up under the stars.

For families and those with limited movability, sticking to the centre of Ilfracombe is the best option. The town is hilly, but pathways allow swift access around, and with all the main points of interest within walking distance of each other, you can tick off all of the to-do list.

WHEN’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?

That’s easy – anytime of the year.

REALLY, ANY TIME OF YEAR?

Absolutely, in winter the Christmas spirit is in the air, with stalls and pantomimes. Dark nights mean cosy sessions by the fire and during the early part of the year, if it snows you’re in for a real treat.

Spring and autumn are exciting times in North Devon. Quieter, but active. There’s always something to do and most attractions are open all year round. We don’t shut down outside summer like many people think.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Ilfracombe is situated on the north coast of North Devon and is a well-connected town, with regular buses from across the region.

Trains run from Exeter to Barnstaple, from where buses or taxis are available to ferry to the seaside town of Ilfracombe.

The A39 leads to the A361 North Devon Link Road which, in turn, heads to the M5 around 40 miles away, while the A39 leads down to Cornwall.

Then again, you could always sail there…

IN SUMMARY…

One of the real highlights of Ilfracombe is the selection of places to eat and drink. Pair this with the attractions, shops and leisure pastimes, visitors are spoilt of choice.

A central part of North Devon, Ilfracombe is perfect for a flying visit or a longer stay.

Whatever your holiday plans this year, make sure Ilfracombe is on your to-visit list.

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