Visitors to Torbay will be amazed at the number of attractions packed into this modest-sized coastal town and the surrounding area. Boat trips, aquariums, zoos and wildlife centres, shopping, dining out, theatres and cinemas, thrilling rides, National Trust homes and gardens, walking paths, caves, castles and museums all complement the beautiful sandy beaches that this area is known for. Here are some not-to-be-missed attractions for you to consider.

Many holiday homes and apartments are within easy walking distance of Torquay town centre. It has three excellent shopping centres: Fleet Walk in the centre of town; the Pavilion, a converted theatre housing specialty shops, and The Willows out of town shopping centre. Cultural attractions in the area include the Palace Theatre at Paignton, Babbacombe Theatre and the Princess Theatre in Torquay as well as several museums and art galleries.

Torquay marina is where fishing trips and sightseeing cruises can be booked along the coast to the neighbouring resorts of Dartmouth and Paignton. Another great way to visit these two lovely destinations is on the Dartmouth Steam Railway which runs through the scenic Dart Valley from Paignton to Kingswear. Finish the trip by crossing the river on the ferry and you are right in the heart of Dartmouth, famous for its naval college, black-and-white timbered architecture, castles and shops.

History lovers will enjoy a trip to other historic sites in Torbay, the oldest of which is Kent's Cavern in Torquay. Archaeologists have found various important fossils which are now on display in Torquay Museum. Guided tours take visitors through the labyrinth of caves which were once inhabited by early man.

Overlooking Torre Abbey Beach is the historic house, art gallery and formal gardens of Torre Abbey, founded in 1196 as a monastery and later extended with mediaeval and Georgian buildings. The ruined church, cloisters, gatehouse and tithe barn have an interesting history with connections to the Spanish Armada. The house is used for permanent art exhibitions and a collection of sculptures from the studio of Frederick Thrupp. The mild climate of the English Riviera allows exotic and tropical plants to thrive in the famous gardens and Palm House.

Another garden worth visiting is at nearby Greenway, the former home of Agatha Christie. The National Trust-owned properties of Overbeck's, Coleton Fishacre and A La Ronde are all within easy reach of Torbay holiday rentals and can be reached from the South West Coast Path. The delightful village of Cockington includes a cluster of historic thatched cottages, a Norman church, 17th century manor house and 460 acres of parkland in the country park. The courtyard and stables are used by local artisans to demonstrate local crafts and skills.

The Living Coasts attraction at Torquay is a coastal zoo and conservation centre full of interest for families, with a Penguin Beach and Octopus Odyssey. Youngsters will also enjoy the Model Village at Babbacombe and the neighbouring reconstructed Victorian street at Bygones which has a model railway and a new World War 1 display. Paignton Zoo remains a top attraction with 2000 animals, six animal habitats and a jungle train.

Visitors to Brixham harbour should not miss the chance to explore the replica Golden Hind on which Drake made his incredible world voyage in 1577. Re-enactments and exhibitions are frequently staged to depict life for 16th century sailors. Finish the visit with a walk at Berry Head Country Park which boasts wildlife, stunning sea views, the shortest lighthouse in England (which is also the highest light due to its clifftop position), and a Napoleonic fort.

Have fun!