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    The English Riviera is a spectacular stretch of coastline and rolling countryside on the south coast of Devon in southern England. The combination of Blue Flag beaches, charming villages, pristine wilderness and historical landmarks make the region a fantastic place for couples, friends, and families to discover.

    The Riviera towns of Torquay, Babbacombe, Paignton, and Brixham each offer idyllic waterfronts and unique cultural attractions. These include Britain's only Agatha Christie exhibition and a life-sized replica of a Victorian Street. Beyond, you can explore ancient forts, hike across secluded moorland and watch wildlife from sea cliffs. Here's our list of the best things to do on the English Riviera.

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    English Riviera's Blue Flag beaches

    Spend the day on an award-winning stretch of sand

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    The English Riviera is home to several stunning Blue Flag beaches. Oddicombe Beach in Babbacombe is a sand-and-pebble beach sheltered by high red cliffs. This family-friendly spot has sun loungers and watersports equipment for hire, plus a café serving a superb selection of sandwiches, burgers, and cakes. For the journey back up the cliff, take the 1920s funicular cliff railway.

    If you like scenic coastal walks and swimming, head to Broadsands Beach near Brixham. The large red-sand beach has a long promenade and tranquil waters that are perfect for a relaxing dip. Located within easy walking distance from Paignton, the sandy Preston Sands Beach is great for a day of swimming in calm waters or exploring the rock pools at low tide.

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    Kents Cavern

    Explore the winding labyrinths of this prehistoric site

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    Kents Cavern is a well-preserved grotto system located 1.3 miles northeast of Torquay Harbour. Here you can see impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations that are over 400 million years old, as well as prehistoric tools and fossilised remains of animals dating back to the last ice age. Guided tours are available every day between 10.30 am and 4 pm.

    If you’re a fan of horror, Kents Cavern has an evening ghost tour which runs for about 45 minutes on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Note that this tour is only offered during the summer. It is recommended to choose your hotel accommodation situated close-by to Kents Cavern, if you're interested in taking the night tour.

    Locatie: 91 Ilsham Rd, Torquay TQ1 2JF, UK

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1803 215136

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    foto door TomGough (CC BY-SA 2.0) bewerkt

    3

    Paignton Zoo

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    There are 80 acres of animal habitats to explore at Paignton Zoo, with a Jungle Train to help you get around. Ask nicely, and they'll even let you feed the giraffes. You can also check out Dartmoor Zoo, which is located a few miles outside of Torquay.

    Locatie: Totnes Road, Paignton TQ4 7EU, UK

    Openingstijden: Daily from 10 am, closing times vary between 4.30 pm and 6 pm, depending on the season

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1803 697500

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    Babbacombe Model Village

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    The eccentric Model Village in Babbacombe is a star attraction of the area and should bring out the inner child in even the most serious grown-up. One of Torquay's star attractions, this miniature village is built with flair, imagination, and a lot of humour. Little ones will feel like giants while exploring tiny streets, and afterwards they can enjoy a round of miniature golf.

    Locatie: Hampton Avenue, Babbacombe, Torquay TQ1 3LA, UK

    Openingstijden: Hours vary by season, the shortest opening hours are from 10.30 am to 3 pm in the winter

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1803 315315

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    foto door Kolforn (CC BY-SA 4.0) bewerkt

    5

    Torre Abbey Museum

    A medieval monastery with a splendid art gallery

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    Torre Abbey is a well-preserved medieval monastery located a 5-minute walk from Torquay train station. Inside the ancient building, you can learn about the abbey's history and the fascinating Georgian Cary Family who lived there for centuries. You can view over 600 pieces of art from the 18th-century through to the present day here.

    There are also 18 acres of beautiful gardens and the ruins of the original abbey – including its now-collapsed tower – to explore. If you're a fan of Agatha Christie, visit the Potent Plants Garden where you can see several poisonous species that feature in the crime author's books.

    Locatie: The King's Drive, Torquay TQ2 5JE, UK

    Openingstijden: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

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    foto door Kolforn (CC BY-SA 4.0) bewerkt

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    National Trust – Greenway

    Discover Agatha Christie's holiday home

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    The National Trust's Greenway sits on the banks of the picturesque River Dart and is the former holiday home of the 'Queen of Crime', Agatha Christie and her family. Wandering between rooms frozen in time, you'll get a glimpse into the author's private life. See original furnishings and her collection of books, silver, archaeology, china, and even hats.

    Outside, a manicured garden and charming riverside woodland speckled with flowers run down the hill to meet the estuary. Don't miss out on the Boathouse. Besides the sublime river views, it was a murder scene in Christie's Dead Man's Folly. Before visiting the property, you'll need to prebook a parking space. Better yet, arrive on foot by the Greenway Ferry or paddle up the river in a kayak.

    Locatie: Galmpton, Greenway Rd, Kingswear, Brixham TQ5 0ES, UK

    Openingstijden: February–October: daily from 10.30 am to 5 pm. November and December: Saturday–Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm

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    foto door Becks (CC BY 2.0) bewerkt

    7

    Berry Head National Nature Reserve

    Spot wildlife along scenic coastal walks

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    Berry Head National Nature Reserve is a gorgeous headland perched on 200-ft-high cliffs above the English Channel. You can stroll or run along the coastal paths or sit on a bench and take in the spectacular panoramic views across Torbay. Don’t forget to bring some binoculars as this area is a hot spot for birdwatching – particularly for guillemots, which live and breed on the cliffs – and wildlife spotting. You may even see passing pods of dolphins and humpback whales.

    Stop off for tea and freshly-baked treats at the Guardhouse Café. The tearoom is housed inside an 18th-century Napoleonic fort. To reach the Nature Reserve, it’s a short drive or a pleasant 30-minute walk from the centre of Brixham.

    Locatie: Gillard Rd, Brixham TQ5 9AP, UK

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    Bygones

    Stroll a life-sized replica of a Victorian Street

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    Bygones is a 3-storey history museum chock-a-block with real-life displays and memorabilia from the Victorian era to the middle of the 20th century. Start on the ground floor and explore the authentic, life-sized Victorian street that features an apothecary, a sweet shop, and blacksmiths hard at work.

    On the next level, period rooms transport you back in time to a nursery, kitchen, parlour, and a dentist from yesteryear. Hop on the steam engine en route upstairs. The top floor features wartime displays and an immersive trench. There’s also a replica shopping arcade full of clothing, furniture and knick-knacks from the '50s and '60s.

    Locatie: Fore St, St Marychurch, Torquay TQ1 4PR, UK

    Openingstijden: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

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    foto door David Hawgood (CC BY-SA 2.0) bewerkt

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    Cockington Court

    See unique art and drink tea at a picturesque historic manor

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    The historic Cockington Court is a popular tourist attraction for visitors wanting to combine art and history in a scenic rural setting of landscaped gardens and lush parkland. You can explore the Manor House’s galleries, sculpture gardens and Tudor rose gardens free of charge.

    Stop by the 20 or so craft studios and watch glassblowers create incredible pieces of art or smell the rich aroma of chocolate being made. Don’t forget to pick up some unique locally handcrafted gifts from the retail craft gallery. If you’re there in the afternoon, stay to enjoy high tea at the in-house café.

    Locatie: Cockington Ln, Torquay TQ2 6XA, UK

    Openingstijden: Daily from 10 am to 4.30 pm

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    Dartmoor National Park

    Have an adventurous day trip in South Devon

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    Dartmoor National Park is 386 square miles of untamed wilderness, majestic views and ancient landmarks. The heather-clad moorland with towering rock formations (called tors), bronze-age stone remains and secluded villages feels like a scene out of JRR Tolkien’s imagination. You can explore the beautiful landscape on foot, bicycle or horse.

    The fast-flowing streams are fun for a day of fishing, kayaking or a quick refreshing dip in summer. If the weather takes a turn, there are plenty of rustic country pubs where you can stop for a hot drink and warm up by the fire. The park is about an hour’s drive from the English Riviera, and access is free.

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    Dartmouth Castle

    An impressive fortress with panoramic views

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    Dartmouth Castle has guarded the entrance to the River Dart and Dartmouth port for over 6 centuries. Exploring the medieval stone complex with maze-like passages and open-air gun platforms is a full-day adventure. On the lower floor, you can learn how the 820-ft iron harbour chain once protected the estuary from approaching warships.

    To snap photos of fabulous views of the estuary and out to sea, climb to the top of the 4-storey Gun Tower. And be sure to visit the Tea Room for tea and freshly-baked cakes. You can reach the castle by car or on foot along the 1.5-mile coastal road from Dartmouth. But the best way to arrive is on the open-top ferry.

    Locatie: Castle Rd, Dartmouth TQ6 0JN, UK

    Openingstijden: April–September: daily from 10 am to 6 pm. October: daily from 10 am to 5 pm. November–March: Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

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    Woodlands Family Theme Park

    An action-packed, fun-filled family park

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    Woodlands Family Theme Park is an indoor-outdoor park with plenty of activities for the whole family. A 15-minute drive inland from the coast, it is the largest amusement park in Devon, and you can experience thrilling water-coaster rides, a 1,600-ft Toboggan Run, and real g-force on the high-flying Swingship.

    There's also a zoo/farm full of wild and exotic animals, including alpacas, llamas, iguana, snakes and night-time creatures. The fun doesn’t stop on rainy days. The massive indoor play area features a café and kid-friendly rides, slides, and swings.

    Locatie: Woodlands Leisure Park A3122, Totnes TQ9 7DQ, UK

    Openingstijden: April–October: daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm. November–March: Saturday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 5 pm

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    Dartmouth Steam Railway

    Go on a scenic train journey along the coast

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    The Dartmouth Steam Railway runs for about 7 miles along the enchanting Torbay coast from the seaside town of Paignton to the quaint village of Kingswear, opposite the port of Dartmouth.

    Aboard the heritage train, you’ll pass breathtaking scenery: seascapes of Goodrington Sands and Broadsands, lush woodlands, the idyllic Dart estuary and through the Greenway tunnel. On bright, sunny days, you can see across the bay to the Isle of Portland. The train ticket includes the ferry crossing from Kingswear to Dartmouth.

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    Jacqui de Klerk | Schrijver

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