things to do in teignmouth without a car

Things to do in Teignmouth without a car

There are so many things to do in Teignmouth without a car. Teignmouth is a great place for a long weekend or mini break, a beautiful coastal town that is frequently overlooked by travellers who get distracted by its more famous neighbours, Torquay and Paignton. In fact the town is a haven for any nature or architecture lover looking to get off the beaten path. Teignmouth has long sandy beaches dotted with palm trees and is full of original Georgian and Victorian architecture. You won’t find a high street packed with well known chains but plenty of independent retailers, great pubs, restaurants, tea shops, cafes and, of course, the sea. In Teignmouth we are lucky enough to have two beaches with very different characters, in fact, two for the price of one!

Teignmouth Main Beach

The main beach stretches from the mouth of the river Teign all the way to Holcombe. It may come as a surprise to some that the sand in Teignmouth and Shaldon is red, this is because the red cliffs that line the coastline wash on to the sand making it a very distinctive colour. If the tide is out you can walk all the way to Holcombe on the beach but if not there is a path beside the railway line with views as far away as Dorset when the weather is clear. This stretch of railway is part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Paddington to Penzance line and is claimed to be Britain’s most photographed stretch of railway line, it is certainly one of the most beautiful whether you are in a train looking out or walking beside it.

Tourism in Teignmouth started growing at the end of the 18th century, in fact Jane Austen came here twice in the early 1800’s and John Keats too, but incredibly following the opening of the railway in 1846, 10,000 visitors came to Teignmouth a week throughout the summer and the town had to adapt quickly to cope. The sea front was rebuilt in this period and still looks much the same now as it did in its heyday. It has a promenade dotted with cafes and ice-cream sellers and a pier where you can find traditional games such as push the penny and go carts as well as more modern noisy ones. Other traditional favourites found nearby include crazy golf, a recently refurbished playground, tennis courts, a park known as the Den, a lido and a not so traditional skate park.

Teignmouth Coast-watch is based on this beach. Volunteer watch-keepers keep a lookout for persons or vessels in difficulty 365 days a year and, provided of course that no emergency is happening, visitors are welcome to chat to the volunteers and enjoy the spectacular view for miles around that they get in their tower.

Teignmouth Back Beach

Some people visit Teignmouth without even realising there is a second beach, tucked in as it is behind the main one. The back beach is much smaller and has a very different atmosphere, it has views back up the River Teign estuary and it is where locals and visitors alike go to watch the spectacular sunsets. This side was left untouched when the other beach was developed for Victorian visitors and as a fishing village charm to it. It can get very lively at night with two pubs and a restaurant to choose from and there is plenty of space to drink outside when the weather is good enough.

If you like fishing bass, pollock and flounder are found in the estuary and mackerel, dabs and whiting in the bay. Boats are available for hire for the day or it is possible to fish off the fish quay. Courses in jet skiing, power boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, diving and windsurfing are also available with Seasports Southwest on the back beach and they are suitable for either beginners or the more advanced. Teign Boat hire which is also situated here provides self drive motor boats for hire throughout the summer. Voyage out to sea to cruise and fish or journey up the picturesque River Teign and just relax.

things to do in teignmouth when you don't have a car

Eastcliff Park

Just a short walk up from the end of the promenade, Eastcliff Park (sometimes called Mules Park) is one of Teignmouth’s hidden gems sitting on top of the cliffs above the sea and the railway line. It is an area of Great Landscape Value and a haven for wildlife. The park is made up of three distinct parts, The Rowdens, an area of formal gardens overlooked by beautiful Rowdens House, the Dell, a sub-tropical garden with three ponds which thrives in the very mild climate of the English Riviera, and Mules Park, open grassland very popular with dog walkers. The views over the sea are not to be missed and Kestrels, Great spotted and Green woodpeckers and Cirl buntings are some of the birds you may be lucky enough to spot.


The second most obvious thing to do in Teignmouth without a car is leave it! But only to go to Shaldon which is a very short ferry ride over the river in what is possibly the oldest passenger ferry service in England. Shaldon is the quintissential Devon village where you will find charming thatched cottages, a small botanical gardens, a zoo and plenty of places to eat and drink. There is also a ‘smugglers tunnel’ which takes you to Ness Cove which is only accessible by foot. Not for the claustraphobic, but very atmospheric.

Shaldon Zoo

Shaldon Zoo is a tiny zoo set in just an acre of land. No gorillas or lions but a wide variety of smaller animals which, thanks to the zoos’ co-operation with other conservation trusts, change all the time. It may be a small zoo but it still manages to look after and help preserve some of the most endangered animals in the world.

The Botanical Gardens 

Shaldon Botanical Gardens are another little known gem, a beautiful garden built in the 1930’s which includes a castle folly, a pond and rill garden, a witches grotto and an Italiante garden along with amazing views back to Teignmouth, Lyme Bay and Dorset. The castle serves tea and coffee on Tuesday and Friday mornings, weather permitting.

shaldons botanical gardens

Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum

Back to Teignmouth and the Museum is good place to spend a few hours if it rains, or even if it doesn’t. This award winning museum is well worth popping in to if you want to learn more about the place you are visiting and some of its surprising history and culture. It has sections on what happened during WW2, Admiral Pellew who you may remember from Hornblower, Donald Crowhurst and the  Church Rocks wrecks, which are the remains of a 16thC venetian vessel only discovered nearby in 1975, amongst many other things.


St James’ Church is the oldest church in Teignmouth and the most interesting due to its octangular shape and 12thC tower. It is very pretty on the inside too.

st micheals church teignmouth

St Michael’s Church on the sea front looks rather uninspiring on the outside, covered as it is in cladding to protect it from the sea spray but is a lot more beautiful on the inside. There has been a church has been on this site for centuries but this version is in a typically Victorian style.

Teignmouth Old Cemetery 

If you don’t have a car and traditional seaside pursuits aren’t your idea of fun, Teignmouth is also home to a fine Victorian Cemetery. If you like strolling beside ivy covered angels and moss covered fallen statues this is the place for you. A lovely peaceful (of course) place to go when the sun is out and probably the least scary cemetery ever, (unless you have seen the Weeping Angels episode of Dr Who, that is!).

teignmouth cemetary walk

Labrador Bay

For those happy to take a very long walk, or a short car journey, this well-known beauty spot has stunning views over Lyme Bay. It was bought as at nature reserve in 2008 to help secure the future of the cirl bunting, a rare bird whose population is almost entirely restricted to south Devon. It is a excellent place to watch wildlife from the cirl buntings to peregrines and butterflies, the odd herd of cows and others.

labrador bay teignmouth
labrador bay view

About us

Woodlands is a grade II listed Regency house filled with charm and character. The house has an unusual, curved front with many original features still in place including an elegant central staircase, and it is situated in an extensive garden with rolling lawns and ancient trees. We offer extensive secure off-road parking. We have two large en-suite bedrooms on offer, both of which have stunning views of Teignmouth and the sea. Guests are also welcome to enjoy our lounge, conservatory and spacious veranda which also overlook the garden and the sea.