The English Riviera - Where it is & Things To Do

24 August 2018

We take thousands of people to towns and cities in this part of England, but where exactly is the English Riviera and what can you do there?

The English Riviera is a small borough in Devon and is home to some of the finest beaches and seafood in Britain, with many events being held throughout the year to keep you visiting again and again. The main towns in this glorious coastal area are Torquay, Brixham, Paignton and Babbacombe, all unique with their own character, features and history. 



For a more traditional beach experience, head over to Abbey Sands in Torquay with the delectable sea, sand and sunshine. As well as stunning views, this area is a booming harbour with lots of sailing ships and yachts heading out, enjoyable to watch or get involved with. At certain times of the year, you'll see racing or enjoy a boat ride to some of the neighbouring towns. We highly recommend having a stroll down the South West Coast Path to take in the jaw dropping views.

For a spot of shopping, head over to Torquay. The seafront and marina have a great mix of independents and big brand stores for you to peruse, and when you've finished shopping, why not head over to the Royal Terrace Gardens to unwind. Feeling suitably relaxed? Hunt down some of the finest dining in the region at the wonderful restaurants and sink your teeth into some freshly caught and beautifully cooked seafood.

Fresh seafood dinner

Aside from the shopping, there's lots to do, such as the Living Coasts Marine Zoo & Aquarium, the phenomenal underground caves at Kents Cavern or Torre Abbey with the Agatha Christie inspired Potent Plants Garden. Every year there's an International Agatha Christie festival for the local writer, where you can take part in walks to discover the places that inspired murders in the many novels she wrote.


The English Riviera's beaches, in a word, are stunning. Brixham offers a lovely coastal walk and Churston Cove, a secluded bay that gives the ultimate peaceful and tranquil location to relax in the summer. Venture down the steep hill and through the lush green woodland and enjoy this picturesque area - you'll be rewarded for the walk with a clean beach and crystal clear sea.


Brixham is a bustling fishing harbour and home to the famous Fish Market, where you'll find the freshest of the days catch available to you. If you're not here to cook (let's face it, you're on holiday!), then head over to one of the many restaurants to try the delicasies. Don't miss the annual Fishstock urban music and food festival and the new Fish Quay in Brixham. It's an action packed day with live music, cooking demonstations and mountains of seafood and delicious dishes to sample.

Brixham is renound for it's pirates and smugglers that used this harbour, so to celebrate, you'll find many a swashbuckler in the Old Fish Market during the summer holidays. There'll be lots of shenanigans to entertain, with pirate games, crafts and there's even a replica of famous ship, the Golden Hind, which you can climb aboard to uncover the booty.


Described as the "jewel in the crown of the English Riviera", Paignton is a vibrant seaside town. The compact resort means it doesn't take long to get from one attraction to the next - from the promenade to the pier to the stores along the seafront, they're all a short walk apart. You'd be forgiven for thinking you're abroad with the palm trees swaying in the sea breeze, the sub-tropical climate this area enjoys and the glorious golden beach.

One of the most prominent features of Paignton is the steam railway, which runs still today, chugging along the seafront past the iconic, colourful beach huts. You can enjoy a ride on these classic trains on a journey from Paignton to Dartmouth (another place well worth visiting!), where you'll uncover hidden coves, travel along historic viaducts and when in Dartmouth, even take a look at Agatha Christie's famous residence.

Paignton Steam Train

Paignton Harbour, which has been a bustling fishing haven since the 18th century holds a festival annually to raise funds for for the Fishermens Mission, putting on music all day and night, boat races, cooking demonstrations, circus skills for children and much more. If you visit at this time of year, you're in for a fun day with so much to see and do at this wonderful harbour.


A beautiful seaside village, Babbacombe offers spectacular views, award winning gardens within a model village and historical streets to take you back in time. For a small and tranquil village there is plenty to see and do. Let's start with the scenery and the Babbacombe Downs, where you can take a bracing stroll along the highest cliff top promenade in England and soak up the dramatic coastline of South Devon. You'll be able to spot a lot of wildlife whilst you're up there with seabirds, seals and even dolphins often seen from these high cliffs.

If you're looking for a scenic train journey, Babbacombe has got it with the Babbacombes Cliff Railway, which takes you along the coastline to Oddicombe Beach, a wonderful place to relax and play in the sea with the family and perhaps get a bite to eat at the stylish Three Degrees West café, bar and bistro. 

As we've mentioned, Babbacombe has a fantastic model village, which also has four acres of gardens to wander - did we happen to say these gardens are award winning? Whilst in Babbacombe you should head to Bygones and step back in time to the end of Queen Victoria's reign. A lifesize street filled with items from this era. See the varied conditions of living from the poor to the rich, visit sweet shops, the tailors and the dentist and learn about daily life. That's not all, you can also move forward in time to the recreated trenches of WWI, hideout in a WWII Anderson shelter and learn about the medals, uniforms and militaria from various battles in history. It's a nostalgic journey that'll live long in your memory.

Finally, if you've got time, why not catch a show at Babbacombe Theatre, which has fantastic performances throughout the year, or take a stroll through the tranquil village, popping in to the independent shops, boutiques or cosy tearooms. 

Babbacombe Model Village

The English Riviera is a beautiful place to visit, there is so much to see and do, not just in the towns mentioned above, but in the whole area. What would you recommend doing when visiting the English Riviera? Share your advice or fond memories of your coach holidays with us in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter.


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