Picture-postcard coves, exotic palm trees, a serene coastline and an iconic replica ship are just some of the things that give Brixham so much character. Situated in the southern corner of Torbay opposite Torquay, this attractive South Devon fishing town offers visitors a wealth of things to do, from riveting historical attractions to laid-back golf courses, a range of arts and culture and excellent local food. The town is a key part of the English Riviera and home to a UNESCO Global Geopark (one of only seven in the UK).
Read on to find out why we think Brixham is so special and discover a few local secrets to help you make the most of your stay.
About the town:
Cobbled streets and pastel-coloured fishermen’s houses cascade down to the bustling harbour where you will find traditional shops showcasing locally made souvenirs, crafts and foods. One of the busiest fishing ports in the UK, life in Brixham is centred around this picturesque harbour. From early in the morning when the fish auctions are held at the famous Brixham Fish Market, until late in the evening when the seafood restaurants are filled with diners, there is a lively buzz here.
Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the waterfront watching children fishing for crabs and from the viewing platform, admire the harbour’s fleet of heritage trawlers coming in with their daily catch, plus a variety of pleasure craft and luxury yachts. Protecting the harbour is the extensive structure of Brixham Breakwater which offers a pleasant walk along its half-mile long length. And on a warm summer’s day, Breakwater Beach is the perfect spot to delight in a refreshing paddle in the sea.
There are several great beaches in the Brixham area with a mixture of pebble, shingle and sand. Breakwater Beach has won a host of awards for its cleanliness and all-round quality. Situated at the mouth of Brixham Harbour, this Blue Flag shingle beach may be small, but it has easy access, close amenities and plenty of parking. It is also a favourite with scuba divers as the water is clear and relatively calm, so if you fancy earning your ‘open water certificate’, you will be rewarded with rare seagrass beds, seahorses, colourful fish and even the odd shipwreck down in the depths.
Just under 200 yards from Brixham’s harbour is Shoalstone Beach, a family-friendly stretch of shingle where you will also find Shoalstone Seawater Pool, an iconic Art Deco Lido built on a natural rock pool. Situated at the edge of the water is a café where you can relax with a Devonshire cream tea and soak up the far-reaching ocean vistas.
Within 1.5 miles of the town centre, you will also find St Mary’s Bay, Churston Cove and Fishcombe Cove, which all enjoy a mixture of shingle and sandy beaches, interesting rock formations, clear waters and are much quieter than Brixham’s main beaches. And just 2.5 miles from the town is Elberry Cove, a small pebble beach characterised by wooded hillsides, and the waterside ruins of Lord Churston’s former bathhouse, a romantic 18th-century ruin. It also features on the local Agatha Christie Literary Trail as it was the author’s favourite spot for a swim.
Whether enjoying a romantic break or a fun family holiday, there are a wealth of attractions in Brixham to keep everyone entertained. Why not spend the day exploring the Golden Hind, a full-sized replica of Sir Francis Drake's iconic exploration ship? This ship has been a feature of Brixham Harbour for over fifty years, entertaining and educating thousands of visitors, as well as being featured on many television programmes and films. Climb aboard the museum, experience five decks of Tudor history and find out what it was like aboard a galleon in Sir Francis’ time.
For nature lovers, Berry Head National Nature Reserve offers plenty of opportunities to spot rare and endangered wildlife species, as well as a chance to explore the Napoleonic forts and look around the Geopark visitors’ centre. This internationally-acclaimed heritage site with its magnificent limestone cliffs marks the entrance to the UNESCO Global Geopark. There are over 600 species of birds to spot, from black and white guillemots to peregrine falcons as well as rare breed Soay sheep and if you’re lucky, harbour porpoise, whales and dolphins in the sea. At the tip of Berry Head is the Berry Head Lighthouse, the UK’s smallest and highest lighthouse at only a few feet high and 191 feet above sea level.
For literary travellers, Agatha Christie's holiday home, Greenway, is a simple boat or steam train ride away - hop on a Greenway Ferry for a magical trip upriver or aboard the Dartmouth Steam Train to Greenway Halt. Now managed by the National Trust, the property offers visitors an extraordinary glimpse into the private life of the Queen of Crime and her family. Set on the banks of the River Dart, the house still retains the author’s personal possessions and collections.
The food and drink:
With its coastal location and rich farming history, the restaurants in Brixham serve up the freshest fish and seafood, hand-reared meat and organic fruit and vegetables. Here, in the heart of England’s Seafood Coast, look at the specials board in any of the restaurants dotted around the harbour such as Rockfish, Beamers or Breakwater Bistro and you’ll most likely see 'catch of the day’.
Alternatively, make a beeline for Brixham’s popular fish and chip shop, Simply Fish, where you can take your catch of the day down to the beach with a pot of mushy peas and chips. And you may be on holiday, but you won’t regret foregoing that lie-in if you book onto one of the early morning Brixham Fish Market Tours that are organised throughout the year.
After a day of exploring the coast, there’s no better place to get cosy and unwind than in one of Brixham’s traditional pubs. Pull up a seat in The New Quay Inn, one of the town’s oldest inns and enjoy award-winning local ales and ciders, or indulge in a mouthwatering menu of fresh fish with your pint at the Blue Anchor, a short step from the harbour. Another popular gastropub in Brixham is The Queens Arms which is a former CAMRA pub of the year and boasts a highly regarded Sunday carvery.
Brixham’s maritime history is filled with tales of pirates and smugglers, and in Napoleonic times, the Royal Navy used the area as anchorage. With so many fascinating stories to discover, the town has created The Brixham Heritage Trail which stretches all the way from Berry Head to St. Marys Square. If you download the Heritage Trail App before you visit, you can listen to memories of local people as you explore the iconic sites of Brixham’s past.
For more local history, you can also browse the interesting exhibits at the free-entry Brixham Heritage Museum with its maritime models and archaeological finds relating to the Napoleonic fort at Berry Head. There’s even a reconstructed Victorian parlour, a vintage shopping arcade, nursery and model of the railway station.
Events and festivals:
Throughout the year there is an abundance of events and festivals in Brixham including the Brixham Trawler Race, the Brixham Heritage Sailing Regatta and Brixfest which celebrates the town’s incredible heritage. A great day out for foodies is Fishstock, an annual seafood and music festival where you can watch live theatre cooking demonstrations featuring some of the English Riviera’s most famous chefs. And for a swashbuckling weekend of pirate fun, the Brixham Pirate Festival celebrates all things nautical with street entertainers, fancy dress, sea shanties and if you’re beside the harbour at the right time, you’ll even see an unfortunate pirate walk the plank.
Perched on the bottom edge of Torbay, Brixham has retained all the charm of a traditional Devon fishing village. Sitting in close proximity to its neighbours, Torquay and Paignton, a holiday rental in Brixham offers an excellent base for exploring South Devon and the whole of the English Riviera. Our Brixham holiday cottages can offer summer holiday family fun, or romantic winter weekends for two - and everything in between. If walking is your hobby, why not rent a dog-friendly cottage in Brixham and explore the delights of the South West Coast Path? Many of our holiday homes even have views across the harbour so you can watch the fishing boats come and go without leaving your sofa.
Need some more inspiration?
If you’d like some more inspiration for your holiday in Devon, why not check out our useful handbook? We’ve created a ‘local’s guide to the English Riviera’, but you may also be interested in ‘Devon’s best cycling trails’ or the ’best places for surfing in Devon’.