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Ilfracombe's streets slope gently to a historic harbour, revealing just the kind of seaside town the Victorians would have been expecting: mini-golf greens, coloured lights blinking along the promenade and some excellent bathing pools, with many of the best places to stay in Ilfracombe enjoying views of it all.
Surrounding this peaceful haven are some seriously jagged cliff tops with seriously sheer drops. The coastline around here is dramatic, alternating calm, sandy coves and narrow, wave-buffeted walkways at the base of incredible cliffs. This feels like Famous Five country.
It is not all classic seaside charm in Ilfracombe however. The new star attraction is 'Verity', by Damien Hirst. Pregnant, naked - on the seaward side her skin is peeling back to reveal muscles and foetus, Verity is 20metres tall and holding a spear.
As well as Verity, Damien Hirst has contributed a restaurant, 10 The Quay, to the growing number of new foodie favourites the town is acquiring.
Ilfracombe also has an aquarium, a museum and a ferry in the Summer. You're close enough to take a day trip to Lundy Island to see the puffins.
What not to miss:
- Walk up to St. Nicholas Chapel, known to be the oldest lighthouse in the United Kingdom.
- Take long hikes along the scenic South West Coast Path.
- Spend lazy days on the pretty beaches accessed by unique tunnels.
- Visit Damien Hirst's 66ft tall bronze statue, 'Verity'.
- Day trip to Lundy Island and spot the puffins that live there.
Don't forget to plan early if you want to book one of the best places to stay in Ilfracombe during the peak summer months - it's a very popular spot!
Best places to stay in Ilfracombe
For a boutique stay
The Hamptons Hotel is a stylish, six room boutique hotel converted from an idiosyncratic Victorian villa. Each room has a theme and views of a beautiful swathe of coast. You're also near to the Coast Path.
For an apartment or cottage
- If you've decided that a self catering property would be more suitable for your holiday, then we recommend you visit our online booking partner Booking.com where they have a wide selection for all tastes and budgets.
- The nearest major airport is Exeter International Airport (EXT / EGTE) which has international and domestic flights and is 66 miles from Ilfracombe.
- By train, take the Intercity train to Exeter and change to the Tarka Line for onward travel to Barnstaple which has coach bus or taxi connections to Ilfracombe.
- Best time to visit - Ilfracombe is a year round destination however for the best chance at warm bright days travel in the summer months (May - August).
- If you plan to hire a car, we recommend you visit our online partner Holiday Autos for the best prices.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Ilfracombe
The Hamptons 5 rooms from $378Ilfracombe, Devon
Luxurious self-catered apartments in a Victorian Villa a short walk from the beach. Chic interiors with elegant chandeliers, large windows and soft hues. The shared garden features a large hot tub. Plenty of activities nearby. An excellent base for families or groups.Families - Private accommodation with a garden with plenty of activities in the surrounding area make this the perfect base for families.Country Escape - Set amidst lovely surroundings, overlooking the coastline and with plenty of country pursuits to suit every taste.Surfing - Croyde, Saunton and Woolacombe beaches are nearby and lessons can be easily arranged.Sights nearby - Ilfracombe, and Lundy Island are both within easy reach of the property.