If you’re arriving at Torquay by train it’s worth mentioning that the town has two railway stations - Torre and Torquay - and where to get off will depend on where you’re staying.
Most probably Torquay station will be your best choice, particularly if you’re staying near the Sea Front or Harbour, but there are a fair number of smaller Hotels and Guesthouses that are better served by Torre station.
It would be advisable therefore to check beforehand which is the best stop to use. Having said that if you’re not sure it would be best to get off at Torquay station as it’s better served by taxis and public transport, especially if you arrive late.
Whilst it is obscenely expensive and notoriously lacking in punctuality (every single franchise faile to meet punctuality targets last year) there is no doubt that train travel in the UK is getting considerably more comfortable. This proved to be the case when I recently travelled from London to Torquay. Generally, a change at Exeter St. Davids is required but there is a direct train departing at 1000 on weekdays and this is the service I opted for.
A general word of advice about UK train services here. Readers are strongly advised to book in advance as "walk-up" prices are ridiculous. I advise using the website below which is a national booking tool. i would also, however, urge readers to cross check with the website of the franchise involved, in this case First Great Western, as there are occasionally better prices to be had there. In this case I paid £41:50 (July 2013).
To the journey itself which thankfully departed on time. I was seated, as requested on my booking, back to direction of travelat a table in one of the two quiet coaches. This is another advantage to booking in advance as you can specify what type of seat you want. Had I wished to work on my netbook there was a powerpoint available but I settled down to watch London give way to pleasant countryside as we headed ever West. I did allow myself a little smile at one point when the train guard welcomed newly boarded passengers on the "Riviera Express". I had not heard the term before and not seen it advertised as such but it did seem like a small hint of a bygone age when no doubt there was such a thing.
If time is an issue for you, don't bother with the "Express". The train which leaves Paddington six minutes later than it will actually get you into Torquay 48 minutes earlier but hey, it's not the Riviera Express, is it? I should mention that if you like scenery you should get a seat on the left side of the train (looking forward) as there are some stunning views along the North Devon coast in the latter part of the journey.
Obviously, I headed straight out of the station but should the reader require to spend some time there facilities are as follows.
The ticket office is open Monday - Friday 07:10 - 17:00, Saturday 07:00 - 17:00 and Sunday 09:40 - 17:00 and a lost property office open Monday - Sunday 07:00 - 22:00. There are refreshemtn and baby changing facilities. Regrettably, the station is not fully accessible for mobility impaired travellers although a wheelchair and wheelchair train ramp are available. The Northbound platform is only accessible via a stepped footbridge.
So, as the title says, if time is not an issue and you want a pleasant relaxing start to your break in Torquay, catch the Riviera Express!
Although Torquay is easily walkable, everything being pretty much on the level, a fun alternative is this little land train. This runs year round following a route between the Derwent Hotel on Belgrave Road through the town centre down to Living Coasts at the harbour, then along the seafront to the Grand Hotel, up to the historic Torre Abbey and its gardens and back to Belgrave Road.
The frequency of the train is seasonal, with obviously more trips during the summer, and each stop has a clockface with the timings of the next service. Single tickets allow one journey between any two stops whilst a return ticket can be used to hop-on, hop-off if you speak nicely to the driver.
Website has details of fares and route as well as a video and pics.
Torquay is on the branch railway line, known as the Riviera Line, between Newton Abbot and Paignton and has two stations. The original station, now called Torre, was opened in 1848 by the South Devon Railway company and linked to Brunel's Great Western Line at Newton. This station is located, appropriately enough, on Newton Road at the top end of the town centre. The other station, simply called Torquay, is on Rathmore Road, overlooking the seafront at Abbey Sands, about a mile to the east of the town centre. This was opened in 1859 by the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway company.
The stations are both run by First Great Western who operate the roughly hourly service between Paignton and Exmouth via Exeter which is approximately 40 minutes away. As well as the local trains there are less frequent services to London Paddington and Cross Country trains to the North of England which once again pass through Exeter from where other mainline services can be accessed.
Torre is an unmanned station with an automatic ticket machine whilst Torbay has a manned ticket office, open seven days a week, automatic ticket machines, a small cafe and toilet facilities. At both there are bus stops just outside the main entrances allowing easy onward travel within the immediate area and Torquay usually has a couple of taxis meeting trains at the rank on the forecourt.
As with most of Devon Torbay is very well covered by local bus services. Both the National companies, First and Stagecoach, compete for routes and a couple of smaller local companies complement the big two.
The Torbay Council website below has a set of excellent, up-to-date, links to all the timetables and maps of stops whilst the "other" website, Traveline's, has a good journey planner which once again is kept up to date.
The main services I use here are the Stagecoach #12's which operate around the bay. The #12 itself runs between Newton Abbot and Brixham, taking in Torquay and Paignton, from about 6 am until midnight with a peak day-time frequency of every ten minutes. The 12A and 12C services cover shorter sections witht he exact route depending on times and whether it's a school/college day.
Some of the further flung services are run by First and whilst both First and Stagecoach offer various ticketing options including day returns, day explorers and weekly tickets these are not interchangeable between the two company's buses.
Local services run by independents include the "Local Link" minibus #62 which shuttles between Torquay and Cockington Village - see relevant tip for details.
The main bus stops are clustered around the top end of the harbour, in front of Debenhams whilst the #62 leaves from and returns to the stops in front of the Pavilion.
Torquay has its own train station very close to Corbyn's Head Beach.
If you are visiting for the day then a trip into Torquay is ideal by train. Buses can be found nearby on the main road on the Sea Front.
For more transport options see the web link below.
Having free train travel at the time, I obviously travelled to Torquay by rail. Having said that, I could not have chosen better anyway, as the hotel (The Lindens), was just along the road, (Bampfylde Road), from the railway station.
Also, a trip to Paignton can be made by train for a modest fare. Paignton station is right in the centre of town and is also the start for the Torbay Steam Railway, a steam preservation line that runs to Kingswear.
Devon General bubses are cheap and punctual.
If you decide to walk to Paignton, then you probably will not fancy walking back as well, so the bus makes a sensible choice to return you to Torquay.
From Torquay seafront, next to the Livermead Hotel you can pick up a horse & carriage to the beautiful medieval village of Cockington. Clopping through the country lanes in a wooded valley is a must to get you ready for the Olde Worlde thatched atmosphere of Cockington.
Alternatively you can get a horse & carriage from the village square to Cockington Court, through the gorgeous park land.
I can not remember the exact prices, but it is cheap & well worth the money.
Babbacombe Cliff Railway is a 730 foot long funicular railway, which takes you from the top of the Babbacombe Downs to Oddicombe Beach 240 feet below. The railway was opened on April 1st 1926, and apart from the war years (for security reasons?) it has run every year from Easter to September.
Now owned by Torbay council, these two small compartments carry over 250,000 passengers each season.
fast bus’s have fast links connecting Exeter, Torquay & Plymouth and Easyrider services with kneeling suspension have easy access for disabled customers with wheelchairs or mums with buggies.
A normal ferry service runs from Torquay to Brixham & back, taking 30 minutes. It is surely is a grand way to get across the Bay, leaving you to enjoy some of the best sea views in the country. Riverlink run local ferry trips on the River Dart as well as a tour to Greenway Gardens, the home of the late Agatha Christie, now open as a National Trust Garden.
Make use of the vibrantly coloured Road Train, which runs a rounded route along Torquay seafront & back down through the town centre - enabling you to give your feet a well-deserved rest!
National Express Booking Line - 08750 80 80 80
South West Trains - Assistance Line 0845 6050440
All local bus services - Traveline 0870 608 2 608
From the seafront in Torquay you can go on a horse and cart to Cockington village,it seats up to five people and costs about ?1.60 each per person.