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You might snigger, but Great Britain has its very own English Riviera, and the seaside town of Torquay is one of the jewels in its crown. Since the 19th century, people have been coming to this resort in Devon to enjoy the red cliffs and the string of nine high-quality beaches. Torquay is one place where a car rental makes all the difference if you want to explore the ruggedly handsome coast of Devon or cruise inland to the wild Dartmoor National Park.
Who to Book With
Torquay is home to a decent selection of national rental chains like Enterprise and local firms such as Riviera Rentals. You can find a handful of offices at the train station or scattered around town near strategic road junctions. Summers in Torquay get quite busy, with the town’s population tripling. Travellers are advised to make their car hire bookings online in advance for lower rates and a better selection of cars.
Best Time to go
Like most English seaside resorts, Torquay’s finest season is summer. The months of July and August are particularly fine, but that’s no secret, so the local population swells incredibly. To avoid the crowds, consider a trip on the edge of the summer holidays, in May or September, when the weather is still reasonably warm.
Need to Know Essentials
These documents are required when collecting your rental:
- A valid UK or EU driving license or International Driving Permit
- A second form of photo ID
- The credit card used with the online booking
- A printed copy of your confirmation
There are more than two dozen city-run car parks around Torquay to ensure that the huge influx of annual visitors is catered to. They fall into three time limit categories: shopper’s car park (80 minutes maximum), short stay (three hours maximum) and long stay (24 hours maximum). The rates are the same for every car park, starting at £1 for up to 40 minutes and £8 for up to 24 hours. These are all Pay and Display car parks, so be sure and put your ticket on the dashboard. Street parking with pay meters is also available in Torquay, although harder to find and promptly monitored by parking police.
The centre of Torquay is congested during peak holiday periods, but fairly tame the rest of the year. The city is connected to the main English motorway network by the A380 trunk road, which runs to the M5 and as far north at Exeter.
Buses and taxis are the only forms of transport in Torquay. Most of the city centre can be explored by foot, and taxis handle the bulk of visitor’s transportation needs within the city. A car rental is very convenient for getting out to different beaches or driving around the countryside.
There are two train stations in Torquay, but most trains stop at Torquay Rail Station. This main station is located along the coast in the centre of town near Torre Abbey Sands. There are frequent daily services from London’s Paddington Station via National Rail. The journey takes about 2.5 hours. A couple of rental car agencies can be found at the train station.
Torquay taxis do a brisk business, especially during the bustling summer season when you might actually have to wait for a pick-up. There are several companies to choose from, such as Torquay Taxis, one of the largest firms in town.
Several bus companies, including Stagecoach, First Group and National Express, maintain routes to and within Torquay. The bus routes vary by company, but are generally useful for visitors who need to move between major parts of the city and greater area. Fares are based on the distance travelled.
The section of the English Riviera where Torquay is located is one of the nicest in the region, with nine popular award-winning beaches and many others farther out. With a car, it’s possible to spend days cruising up and down the coast enjoying the different beaches and resorts. For historical fun, check out the prehistoric Kents Cavern or the popular Babbacombe Model Village for a step back into England’s rural past.
The English Riviera - This is easily one of England’s top sections of coastline, and Torquay is right at the heart of the action. Drive in either direction and take your pick of the award-winning beaches like Maidencombe, Anstey’s Cove and Meadfoot Beach. The possibilities for coastal daytrips are limitless.
Dartmoor National Park - This is one of England’s largest and most inspiring natural areas, with dozens of granite tors, rivers, waterfalls and hiking trails to make access to this wonderland a breeze. The options for getting out and walking around Dartmoor are extensive from this side of the park, and Torquay is just a quick scenic drive to the south.
Kents Cavern - One of England’s most important prehistoric sites, just a short drive from Torquay. An extensive network of caverns and passages encouraged humans to live here 700,000 years ago. There is a nice combination of archaeological and geological highlights within the caverns, which make it one of the area’s top tourist attractions.