Nestled on the rugged North Devon coast, Ilfracombe is a charming seaside town that boasts an array of exciting attractions and activities. From exploring hand-carved tunnels to catching a show at the unique Landmark Theatre, there’s something for everyone in Ilfracombe. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, this picturesque town has it all. In this blog post, we’ll take you through the top 10 best things to do in Ilfracombe so that you can make the most out of your visit! So grab your sunscreen and let’s dive right in!
Top 10 Best Things to Do in Ilfracombe
1. Visit Tunnels Beaches
Visiting Tunnels Beaches is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Ilfracombe. The tunnels were hand-carved in the 1820s to provide access to two secluded beaches that are surrounded by high cliffs. These best beaches are a perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing, while also allowing visitors to explore fascinating tidal pools.
The tunnels themselves are quite impressive, with twists and turns providing an exciting adventure before reaching the beach. Along the way, there are various alcoves where you can stop and admire stunning views across the bay or take a break from walking.
Once you arrive at the beach, it’s worth taking some time to relax on its golden sands or splash around in its crystal-clear waters. The natural rock formations surrounding this hidden gem make for great photo opportunities too!
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, why not try your hand at kayaking or paddleboarding? Both activities offer a unique perspective of these magnificent tunnels and beaches.
Visiting Tunnels Beaches is an experience like no other – definitely not one to be missed during your visit to Ilfracombe!
2. Discover Verity
Ilfracombe is a town that has its fair share of art and culture. Among the many interesting things to see in Ilfracombe, “Verity” stands out as a unique piece of public art that has attracted thousands of visitors from around the world.
Located on the pier overlooking the harbor, Verity is an impressive bronze statue created by Damien Hirst. At 20 meters tall, it’s impossible to miss this thought-provoking piece of art that depicts a pregnant woman holding a sword while standing on a pile of books.
The statue is divided into two halves; one side shows her skin peeled away to reveal muscles and arteries beneath, whereas the other half shows her fetus inside its womb. The symbolism behind these two aspects raises questions about life, birth, death and morality – all themes which are prevalent throughout much of Hirst’s work.
Despite being controversial among some people in Ilfracombe when it was first introduced in 2012 due to its graphic nature, Verity has since become an iconic part of the town’s identity and continues to be appreciated by locals and visitors alike.
Whether you’re an admirer or critic of modern art, discovering Verity should definitely be included on your list of top things to do when visiting Ilfracombe.
3. Take a Boat Trip
What better way to experience Ilfracombe’s rugged and beautiful coastline than by taking a boat trip? From the harbor, you can embark on a scenic journey that offers breathtaking views of the cliffs, sea, and surrounding countryside.
As you glide along the water, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as dolphins, seals, and seabirds. These creatures are often spotted swimming or flying around the area and provide an exciting glimpse into local marine life.
The boat trip also provides a unique perspective of Ilfracombe’s coastal features. You’ll see towering cliffs rising from emerald waters surrounded by lush greenery that looks like it came straight out of Jurassic Park.
A highlight of this adventure is definitely seeing Rapparee Cove – its unspoiled natural beauty will leave you breathless! The cove is not accessible on foot so witnessing it from sea level means an exclusive view just for those who take part in this excursion.
This activity is perfect for families as well as solo travelers looking to escape into nature while still enjoying some leisure time. It’s also a great opportunity to capture stunning photos with unforgettable backdrops adding more memories to your holiday destination!
4. Explore the South West Coast Path
If you’re a fan of hiking, then walking a section of the South West Coast Path in Ilfracombe should definitely be on your to-do list. The path stretches for over 630 miles along the rugged coastline of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. There are plenty of sections to choose from depending on your level of fitness and how much time you have.
One popular route is from Ilfracombe to Lee Bay which offers stunning views of the cliffs, sea and surrounding countryside. This circular walk takes around 3 hours to complete but is well worth it for the breathtaking scenery alone.
Along the way, you’ll pass by some interesting landmarks like Hillsborough Hill Fort which dates back to prehistoric times. You’ll also come across several charming villages such as Berrynarbor with its thatched cottages and quaint church.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water as some sections can be challenging due to steep inclines or uneven terrain. But trust us when we say it’s all worth it for those panoramic views!
So whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll with incredible scenery, exploring the South West Coast Path in Ilfracombe is an absolute must-try activity during your stay in this lovely town.
5. Visit the Ilfracombe Museum
Nestled in the heart of Ilfracombe is a hidden gem that’s just waiting to be explored: the Ilfracombe Museum. This fascinating museum offers visitors an insight into the town’s rich history, culture, and natural heritage through its impressive collection of artifacts.
From ancient fossils to intricate Victorian lacework, there’s something for everyone at this captivating museum. Learn about the town’s maritime past with exhibits on local fishing industry or discover more about Ilfracombe as a tourist attraction with displays showcasing vintage travel posters and souvenirs.
One particular highlight is the exhibition dedicated to famous resident Lady Margaret Fortescue, featuring her personal belongings such as clothing, jewelry and letters written by her own hand. Visitors can also learn about some of the lesser-known aspects of Ilfracombe’s history including smuggling tales from centuries ago.
The knowledgeable staff are always on hand to answer any questions or provide further information on specific exhibits. The admission fee is very reasonable too so it won’t impact your budget too much either!
Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about this charming coastal town, don’t miss out on visiting this extraordinary museum during your stay in Ilfracombe!
6. Enjoy a Meal at a Seafood Restaurant
Ilfracombe is a seafood lover’s paradise, with an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish caught daily from the surrounding waters. There are numerous restaurants in town that specialize in serving up mouth-watering seafood dishes.
One such restaurant is The Quay, which has been awarded the prestigious AA Rosette for its exceptional food. It boasts a stunning location overlooking Ilfracombe Harbour, making it the perfect spot to enjoy some delicious seafood while taking in the beautiful views.
Another popular choice is The Pier House, situated right on the seafront and offering diners panoramic views of the coast. Their menu features a wide range of freshly caught fish and other locally sourced ingredients, all expertly prepared by their talented chefs.
For those looking for something a little more casual but equally as tasty, there’s also The Fisherman’s Cottage – the best pub that serves up classic British pub fare with an emphasis on fresh seafood.
Whether you’re after traditional fish and chips or something more creative like scallops with black pudding crumb or pan-fried sea bass with fennel puree, Ilfracombe has plenty of options to satisfy your cravings for delicious seafood cuisine.
7. Take a Fishing Trip
If you’re looking for a truly unique and exciting experience in Ilfracombe, then why not join a fishing trip and try your hand at catching some fish? Ilfracombe has a rich fishing heritage, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the local industry.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a complete beginner, there’s something for everyone. You can choose from various types of trips depending on your interests – whether it’s deep sea fishing or fly fishing. The waters around Ilfracombe Beach are home to many different species of fish such as bass, mackerel and pollock.
You’ll be able to spend the day out on the water with knowledgeable guides who will help you find the best spots to catch your prey. They’ll teach you everything you need to know about baiting your hook, casting your line properly and reeling in those big catches.
Not only is this an excellent way to learn more about the local fishing industry firsthand, but it also offers beautiful views of the coastline that cannot be seen from land. Plus, whatever fish you catch can make for an amazing meal if cooked fresh – just ensure that they meet regulations size-wise!
Taking a fishing trip while visiting Ilfracombe is definitely worth considering as it provides both adventure and insight into one of the town’s oldest trades!
8. Visit Chambercombe Manor
Chambercombe Manor is a historic manor house located in Ilfracombe that dates back to the 11th century. The Manor is notable for its stunning architecture, beautiful gardens and intriguing tales of hidden rooms and ghosts.
Visitors to Chambercombe Manor can take a guided tour of the property, which includes visits to both the interior and exterior of the building. Inside, you’ll find a fascinating collection of antiques, furniture, artwork and other artifacts that provide insight into life during different historical periods.
One interesting feature of Chambercombe Manor is its reputation as one of the most haunted buildings in Britain. Visitors have reported sightings of ghostly apparitions throughout various parts of the building. These reports add an element of mystery and intrigue to any visit.
Another highlight is exploring the beautifully maintained gardens surrounding Chambercombe Manor. The garden features terraces with impressive views over Ilfracombe Bay towards Wales.
If you’re interested in history or simply enjoy exploring unique places with intriguing stories behind them, then visiting Chambercombe Manor should be on your list when in Ilfracombe!
9. Admire the Landmark Theatre
The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe is a must-visit for anyone who loves theatre and the performing arts. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, with its unique design standing out against the surrounding landscape. It’s impossible to miss!
Inside, visitors can enjoy a diverse range of entertainment programs throughout the year. From comedy shows and musical performances to drama productions and dance recitals, there’s always something going on at the Landmark.
One of the best things about this venue is that it caters to all audiences – from young children to senior citizens – so everyone can find something they’ll enjoy here.
Not only that but if you’re lucky enough to catch a show during your visit, you’ll be blown away by the quality of performances put on by local artists and touring acts alike. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience!
So whether you’re looking for an evening out with friends or family, or simply want to immerse yourself in some culture while visiting Ilfracombe, make sure you add a trip to the Landmark Theatre onto your itinerary!
10. Enjoy the Beaches
Ilfracombe is a town blessed with some of the most stunning beaches in North Devon. Whether you’re looking for a place to sunbathe, swim, or just take a leisurely stroll, Ilfracombe’s beaches have got you covered.
Wildersmouth Beach is an ideal spot for those who enjoy peace and tranquility. The beach is tucked away in a cove surrounded by towering cliffs that provide shelter from the wind. It boasts clear waters and picturesque views of the neighboring hills.
Hele Bay is another fantastic option for those seeking relaxation. With its calm waters and long stretch of golden sand, it’s perfect for families with young children looking to explore rock pools or build sandcastles.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not try your hand at surfing? There are plenty of surf schools dotted along the coastline where beginners can learn how to ride the waves safely.
For those who prefer quieter pursuits, there are plenty of charming cafes and restaurants nearby where you can grab refreshments while soaking up breathtaking sea views.
All in all, Ilfracombe’s beaches offer something for everyone – whether it’s lounging on soft sands or taking part in exhilarating water sports activities. They are truly one of North Devon’s best attractions!
Ilfracombe is a hidden gem of North Devon, offering visitors an unforgettable experience with its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. From exploring the beaches, taking boat trips to discovering local history at museums and manor houses, there’s never a dull moment in this charming town. Whether you’re travelling solo or with friends or family day out, Ilfracombe has something for everyone.
By following our top 10 things to do in Ilfracombe guide, you’ll be able to make the most out of your visit and create memories that will last a lifetime. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today and get ready to immerse yourself in all that this fantastic destination has to offer!