Ilfracombe on the North Devon Coast is a stunning holiday destination within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounded by magnificent coastal scenery and offering a host of seaside fun attractions. Famed for its striking Victorian buildings and pretty harbour, Ilfracombe is popular with families and for relaxing coastal breaks with easy access onto the South West Coast Path. Popular local walks include the 20 minute stroll up to the top of Hillsborough, known locally as the sleeping elephant, from which there are wonderful views of the town and harbour.
The seaside town is a real centre in North Devon containing the acclaimed Landmark Theatre on the seafront, Merlin Embassy Cinema on the High Street and many shops, restaurants and galleries. It is the major departure point for sailings out to off shore Lundy Island on the MS Oldenburg. Popular attractions include Ilfracombe Aquarium and the beautiful man-made Tunnels Beaches with original Victorian salt water bathing pool and cafe. There are many fine beaches and secluded coves along the Ilfracombe coast including Hele Bay just east of the town. Visit quirky fun family attraction Watermouth Castle (around a 10 minute drive from Ilfracombe) with a Victorian museum, dungeon labyrinths, a light and water show, organ music and the unforgettable Gnome Land. A family theme park, a maze, crazy golf, play areas, cafes and a gift shop are also here.
Things to Do & See
Award-winning Ilfracombe Aquarium sits alongside the pretty harbour in the Old Lifeboat House and offers a fascinating insight into sealife found locally around the North Devon Coast. Over 75 species of fish are housed in recreated natural habitats. Ilfracombe is where to get active, with the variety of activities available from outdoor activity centres in the area including off-road driving, quad biking and horse trekking. The free entry award-winning Walkers Chocolate Emporium is not to be missed and you’ll find children’s play areas, a boating lake and tea rooms in pretty Bicclescombe Park just one mile south of the town.
The Ilfracombe Museum, housed in the former laundry of the great Ilfracombe Hotel, is a real treasure trove of quirky exhibits, and under 16s enter free! More family fun is on offer at Larkstone Leisure Park, a 5 minute walk from Ilfracombe Harbour, with play areas, tennis, a restaurant, lawned greens ideal for family games and lots of seating areas with sea views. For lovers of the great outdoors, the Ilfracombe coast and nearby Exmoor National Park to the east offer a huge choice of activities from walking on the South West Coast Path to cycling, fishing, golf, surfing and diving.
Where to Stay
Affordable and brimming with seaside character, Ilfracombe’s varied choice of accommodation caters for all tastes. In the town centre you will find a great choice of boutique and family run bed and breakfast accommodation and stylish small independent hotels just minutes from the Tunnels Beaches, the coast path and boat trips out to Lundy Island. Around the seaside town sit many luxury lodge parks, beautiful dog friendly country cottages within private estates, rural holiday parks and historic farm B&Bs serving up award-winning Devon breakfasts – perfect for walkers and cyclists.