A holiday to sunny Torbay doesn't have to break the bank. Here's our top thrifty tips and free activities to help the pounds go further.
Life's a Beach
With over 20 stunning beaches around the Bay to choose from grab your bucket and spade, bathers, some sunscreen and a delicious picnic and head to the English Riviera.
Crabbing is a centuries-old pastime that can keep children and adults entertained for hours. You’ll need to bring along some string, a bucket, a small fishing net, an old washing bag and some tasty bait to tempt the crabs, who are particularly partial to uncooked bacon and fish!
There are lots of piers, jetties and harbour slipways to choose from. Goodrington beach is a hotspot for exploring the many rock pools at low tide and the nearby Seashore Centre, managed by Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust has free interactive displays about the area’s UNESCO Global Geopark status and the local marine environment for children to discover and learn about.
Start off by filling your bucket with some local seawater, seaweed and pebbles to recreate a crab’s natural environment, this helps to reduce their level of stress when you catch them. Remember to refresh the water in the bucket regularly and keep the number of crabs in the bucket to a limit of 10 at any one time. Keep the bucket out of direct sunlight and remember to return the crabs to the sea at the end of the day, playing your small part in conserving these charming species.
Walk on the Wild Side
Not only is a spot of outdoor walking good for your health but it’s good for your wallet too! So put your best foot forward and discover some picturesque walks within the English Riviera's designated UNESCO Global Geopark.
Maritime history at Brixham Museum
The Brixham Heritage Museum is a free attraction housed in an old police station at the gateway to the town and picturesque fishing harbour. If you’re visiting Brixham for the very first time this is a great place to start as the museum holds an extensive collection celebrating the port’s rich heritage.
The museum won the prestigious Kids in Museums, Family Friendly Museum Award in 2013 so your little ones will find lots of things to do. The museum encourages a ‘hands-on’ experience for its young visitors from dressing up, borrow an activity bag, drawing activities and taking part in competitions to encourage learning.
In the Swim
Whether you fancy some wild swimming or a good old-fashioned dip in the sea, a favourite past time of our Victorian ancestors, there are lots of stunning spots to discover.
Swimming is a great way to explore this beautiful area and to view the 22 mile stretch of South Devon coastline from another perspective. With over 20 local beaches and secluded coves you’ll be simply spoilt for choice.
When you’re in Brixham make sure you visit Shoalstone Pool, one of only a few remaining seawater lidos in the entire country boasting spectacular views across the Bay. It’s free to use with donations welcome and there’s a picnic area if you want to bring your own food and drink along, making it a very affordable day out for the whole family to enjoy.
Down on the Farm
Occombe Farm is a fun, free day out for all the family. Discover the daily workings of this delightful all year round organic farm and educational visitor attraction on the outskirts of Paignton
This is the ultimate outdoor experience for children with a range of farmyard activities including getting up close to the resident pigs, cows, ducks and alpacas; wandering through the community and wartime themed gardens to learn about horticulture and taking a 2km nature trail through the woodland area and exploring the bird hide.
Head for the Heights
Berry Head National Nature Reserve in Brixham is a wonderfully scenic place to stretch your legs and enjoy spectacular coastal views. Napoleonic forts, a unique lighthouse, rugged countryside, diverse wildlife and bracing sea air combine to make a memorable and free day out.
The stunning landscape forms part of the gateway to the English Riviera’s UNESCO Geopark with unrivalled far reaching views across the Bay and beyond.
There are lots of free activities, films and trails to keep the children occupied and housed within the nearby Napoleonic Guardhouse is the all year round, award winning Guardhouse Cafe serving freshly-prepared hot meals, snacks and drinks.
Get the Abbey Habit
Torre Abbey in Torquay is a fascinating state-of-the-art museum and art gallery, where kids and teens up to 19 years go absolutely free with a paying adult. There's 800 years of history to discover through interactive displays and galleries with talking pictures, statues and even dining plates. There’s a whole host of free self-led children's activities like brass rubbing, activity sheets, backpacks and games and play equipment as well as a dressing up area with monk and medieval princess costumes.
For the ultimate in free family fun, check out the amazing Geoplay Park , a popular adventure playground for children on Paignton Green. Designed to highlight the English Riviera's prehistoric history and UNESCO Global Geopark status, there's over 30 pieces of fun play equipment including a zip wire, seesaw, climbing hut and towers, a trampoline, six-way swing, climbing logs and even a life-size sabre tooth tiger to sit on.
Step back in time at Cockington Village
Set back from Torquay seafront and within a short walking distance you’ll discover the picturesque thatched village of Cockington, believed to date back to Saxon times.
Take the footpath through the shaded water meadows and woodland area towards this pretty village. This is a very popular route so you’ll see many dog walkers and visitors pass you by. It’s also wheelchair and pushchair friendly too making it very accessible. At the end of the boardwalk you’ll be at the very heart of the village with Cockington Forge, thought to date from the 14th Century where the local blacksmiths once plied their trade and today make miniature 'lucky horseshoes' for tourists. Look out for the horse-drawn carriage service offering tour rides around the beautiful Devon grounds.
The grounds are open all year round and it’s free to enter, making it an inexpensive and unforgettable day out.
Other days out nearby (not free)
Dartmouth Steam Railway & River Boat Company enjoy your days out in Devon on our steam trains, boat trips and paddle steamer dartmouth rail river
Holiday home of celebrated author Agatha Christie
Splashdown Quaywest is the wettest, wildest attraction on the English Riviera. Great fun water slides, some laugh out loud fun and some will have you screaming. splashdown waterpark
Paignton Zoo With over 2,500 animals across 80 acres – you’re in for a really wild time at Paignton Zoo. Come rain or shine, Paignton Zoo is a fun filled day out for all the family, and you’ll need all day to see it all! paignton zoo
Head underground and find out about our Stone Age ancestors, Sabre Toothed Tigers and what it was like to live 10,000 years ago at the fascinating Kents Cavern in Torquay
The Bygones Museum a family-friendly attraction with 3 floors of British history (Victorians, Railways, Fifties), nostalgia, authentic curiosities, interactive displays. bygones
Babbacombe Model Village is a miniature village and railway located in Babbacombe in Torquay, Devon. The model village was opened in 1963 model village
Powderham Castle a 600 year old manor near Exeter and the home of the Earl & Countess of Devon.