Sporting a mini-corniche and promenades landscaped with flowerbeds, TORQUAY comes closest to living up to the self-styled “English Riviera” sobriquet. The much-vaunted palm trees and the coloured lights that festoon the harbour by night contribute to the town’s unique flavour, a blend of the mildly exotic with classic English provincialism. Torquay’s transformation from a fishing village began with its establishment as a fashionable haven for invalids, among them the consumptive Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who spent three years here.

The town centres on the small harbour and marina, separated by limestone cliffs from Torquay’s main beach, Abbey Sands, which takes its name from Torre Abbey, sited in ornamental gardens behind the beachside road.