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What are the Best Things to Do in Cornwall?

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Things to Do in Cornwall
© Giuseppe Milo / Wiki Commons

Cornwall, located in the southwestern corner of England, is a captivating destination that offers a wide array of attractions and activities for travellers of all tastes and preferences. From its rugged coastline to its charming villages and rich history, Cornwall is a place where natural beauty meets cultural heritage. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the 25 top things to do in Cornwall, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this breath taking region.

A Must-Read Guide: Top Things to Do in Cornwall

We will share with you:

1. Explore the Stunning Beaches

Cornwall is renowned for its beautiful beaches, each offering a unique experience. Fistral Beach in Newquay is a haven for surfers, while Porthcurno Beach, with its white sand and turquoise waters, feels like paradise. These are just a few of the incredible things to do in Cornwall’s coastal paradise. Other must-visit beaches include Perranporth Beach, St. Ives Bay, and the hidden gem, Kynance Cove.

Moreover, the coastal scenery and breath taking sunsets make these beaches perfect for romantic strolls or simply unwinding with loved ones while indulging in some of the finest things to do in Cornwall. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a nature enthusiast, Cornwall’s beaches have something special to offer every visitor, making them an essential part of your list of things to do in Cornwall.

2. Visit the Iconic St. Michael’s Mount

St. Michael’s Mount, a tidal island topped with a medieval castle and beautiful gardens, is a sight to behold. Accessible on foot during low tide and by boat when the tide is in, this iconic landmark is a testament to Cornwall’s rich history.

Exploring the castle interiors provides a glimpse into centuries of history, while the well-maintained gardens offer a tranquil escape with captivating views of the surrounding coastline. Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, St. Michael’s Mount offers a memorable experience for all who visit.

3. Discover the Magic of Tintagel Castle

Legend has it that Tintagel Castle is the birthplace of King Arthur. Explore the ruins perched dramatically on the cliffs, walk across the breath taking footbridge, and soak in the mesmerizing views of the Atlantic Ocean.

As you explore the legendary ruins, you’ll also discover intriguing sculptures and artwork that pay homage to the Arthurian legends, making Tintagel Castle a captivating blend of history and folklore that continues to fascinate visitors from around the world. Don’t miss the chance to uncover the mysteries of this iconic site while enjoying the stunning coastal scenery.

4. Experience the Artistic Charm of St. Ives

St. Ives has long been a haven for artists, drawn to its stunning light and picturesque landscapes. Visit the Tate St. Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden to immerse yourself in the local art scene.

The Tate St. Ives showcases a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art, while the Barbara Hepworth Museum allows you to explore the works of one of the 20th century’s most renowned sculptors. These artistic treasures perfectly complement the natural beauty of St. Ives, making it a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

5. Journey Through Time at the Eden Project

The Eden Project is a remarkable global garden home to a wide variety of plants from around the world. Explore the biomes, which house diverse ecosystems, and learn about environmental sustainability in an engaging and educational way.

In addition to the captivating plant life, the Eden Project hosts interactive exhibits and workshops that delve into the importance of conservation and sustainable practices. It’s an ideal destination for both nature enthusiasts and those looking to gain a deeper understanding of our planet’s ecological challenges and solutions.

6. Take a Scenic Drive Along the Cornish Coastline

Cornwall boasts some of the most scenic drives in the UK, making it an essential addition to your list of things to do in Cornwall. The Atlantic Highway, which gracefully winds along the North Cornish coast, offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline that should not be missed by road trip enthusiasts.

As you embark on your adventure along the Atlantic Highway, you’ll have the opportunity to explore charming seaside villages, discover ancient landmarks, and relish the chance to savour the day’s fresh catch at local seafood restaurants, another delightful aspect of the many things to do in Cornwall. This journey promises not only awe-inspiring vistas but also an authentic taste of Cornwall’s coastal culture along the way, making it one of the must-experience things to do in Cornwall.

7. Savour Delicious Cornish Cuisine

Cornwall is a food lover’s paradise. Don’t miss the opportunity to try a traditional Cornish pasty, indulge in fresh seafood at a coastal restaurant, or sample local cream teas. Cornish ice cream is also a treat you won’t want to pass up.

Exploring Cornwall’s culinary scene is a delightful adventure in itself. Beyond these classics, be sure to explore the region’s farm-to-table offerings, artisanal cheeses, and craft beverages, all of which showcase Cornwall’s commitment to showcasing the finest local flavours. It’s a gastronomic journey that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

8. Explore the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Once neglected and forgotten, the Lost Gardens of Heligan have been lovingly restored to their former glory. Wander through the lush gardens, discover hidden sculptures, and admire the vibrant flora and fauna.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan provide not only a horticultural haven but also a sense of stepping back in time, with historic structures like the Melon Yard and the Italian Garden evoking the grandeur of bygone eras. It’s a captivating journey through both nature and history, making it a must-visit destination for garden enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

9. Immerse Yourself in the Minack Theatre

Perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea, the Minack Theatre is a unique open-air venue carved into the rocks. Attend a performance or simply visit to appreciate the stunning setting and the incredible craftsmanship that went into its creation.

Watching a play at the Minack Theatre, with the backdrop of the ocean and the starry sky above, is an unforgettable experience that combines the arts with nature’s beauty. Even if you can’t catch a performance, a daytime visit allows you to explore this remarkable testament to human creativity and its harmonious integration with the natural world.

10. Discover the Quaint Villages

Cornwall is dotted with charming villages that exude character and history. Explore Port Isaac, the filming location for the TV series “Doc Martin”, or stroll through the streets of Mousehole, known for its picturesque harbour and holiday charm.

Each village in Cornwall has its own unique story to tell, from the artistic community of St. Just to the historic fishing port of Padstow. Whether you’re drawn to the cultural richness or the quaint coastal atmosphere, Cornwall’s villages offer a glimpse into the region’s rich heritage and warm hospitality.

11. Take a Boat Trip to the Isles of Scilly

St Martin's bay from Scilly point
© Richard Knights / Geograph

For those seeking extraordinary things to do in Cornwall, consider embarking on a boat trip to the Isles of Scilly, an enchanting archipelago of stunning islands located just off the coast of Cornwall. Here, you can revel in crystal-clear waters, wander through beautiful gardens, and savour a slower pace of life, an experience that should top your list of things to do in Cornwall.

The Isles of Scilly offer a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, where you can explore white-sand beaches, hike scenic trails, and immerse yourself in the idyllic island lifestyle. These islands are a hidden gem waiting to be discovered and should be a priority on your list of things to do in Cornwall. They offer a genuine taste of paradise just a short boat ride away from Cornwall’s picturesque shores.

12. Hike the South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path is one of the longest and most breath taking hiking trails in the UK. With over 600 miles of coastal path, it offers an array of routes suitable for hikers of all levels, each promising stunning vistas and unique experiences.

Whether you’re a seasoned trekker looking to conquer challenging stretches or a leisurely stroller seeking picturesque seaside views, the South West Coast Path has something to offer every adventurer. It’s a hiking journey that will leave you with memories of dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, and the soothing sounds of the crashing waves.

13. Explore the Maritime History of Falmouth

Falmouth, a historic port town, is a hub for maritime history. Visit the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and delve into the fascinating world of boats, pirates, and exploration.

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall offers an interactive and educational experience that appeals to both young and old, making it an ideal destination for families and history enthusiasts. Explore the rich tapestry of Cornwall’s maritime heritage, from epic voyages to tales of seafaring legends, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful Falmouth harbour.

14. Witness the Stunning Sunset at Land’s End

Journey to Land’s End, the westernmost point of mainland Britain, for an awe-inspiring experience, one of the most captivating things to do in Cornwall. Here, amidst rugged beauty, you can soak in the stunning views of the sunset and relish the sensation of standing on the very edge of the world.

As the sun sets over the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean at Land’s End, prepare to be utterly mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the Cornish coast. This iconic location offers a truly magical experience where the seamless merging of sea and sky evokes a profound sense of wonder. It’s an experience that will deepen your appreciation for the natural wonders of Cornwall and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Cornwall.

15. Unwind in the Luxury Spas

Cornwall is home to several world-class spa resorts. Pamper yourself with a relaxing spa day, complete with treatments that harness the healing properties of the sea.

Indulge in rejuvenating therapies such as seaweed wraps, salt scrubs, and hot stone massages, all designed to enhance your well-being while surrounded by the calming ambiance of Cornwall’s coastal settings. A spa day in Cornwall offers a serene escape where you can unwind and replenish your senses amidst the beauty of the natural world.

16. Discover the Legends of King Arthur at Dozmary Pool

Dozmary Pool, a mystical and serene lake, is said to be where King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, was returned to the Lady of the Lake. Visit this tranquil spot and immerse yourself in the legends of Cornwall.

Surrounded by the quiet beauty of the Cornish countryside, Dozmary Pool invites you to connect with the mythical tales that have woven themselves into the fabric of Cornwall’s history. Stand by the waterside, and let your imagination take flight as you contemplate the enduring legends of King Arthur and the magic of Excalibur.

17. Engage in Water Sports

With its extensive coastline and numerous lakes, Cornwall is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Try your hand at surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, or even coasteering for an adrenaline rush. Whether you’re catching waves along the Cornish shores, exploring hidden coves by paddleboard, or navigating the rugged coastline through coasteering adventures, Cornwall’s waters offer endless opportunities for adventure and excitement. Dive into the thrill of aquatic sports and create lasting memories against the backdrop of Cornwall’s stunning scenery.

18. Attend a Festive Event

Cornwall hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival, St. Piran’s Day celebrations, and the Port Eliot Festival are just a few examples of the vibrant cultural scene.

These festivals provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich traditions, music, and arts of Cornwall, fostering a sense of community and celebration. From the toe-tapping sea shanties to the historical commemorations, Cornwall’s events offer a wonderful way to connect with the local culture and create unforgettable memories.

19. Visit the Lizard Peninsula

Explore the Lizard Peninsula, known for its unique geology and rugged beauty. Don’t miss Kynance Cove, the Lizard Point Lighthouse, and the picturesque village of Cadgwith. The Lizard Peninsula’s dramatic landscapes, from the breath taking cliffs at Kynance Cove to the historic charm of the Lizard Point Lighthouse, offer a journey through geological wonders and coastal vistas.

The idyllic village of Cadgwith, with its thatched cottages and serene fishing harbour, completes the experience, making this region of Cornwall a hidden gem for explorers seeking both natural beauty and authentic village life.

20. Go Wildlife Watching

Cornwall’s diverse landscape is home to a wide range of wildlife. Join a guided tour or simply venture into nature reserves to spot seals, dolphins, seabirds, and even basking sharks. From the rugged cliffs to the sheltered estuaries, Cornwall’s natural habitats provide a sanctuary for a plethora of species.

Whether you’re a seasoned wildlife enthusiast or a casual observer, the opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is an experience that will deepen your appreciation for Cornwall’s ecological diversity.

21. Dive into History at Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle, located in Falmouth, is a well-preserved fortress that played a significant role in defending England from invasion. Explore the castle’s history and enjoy panoramic views from its ramparts. Wandering through the halls and chambers of Pendennis Castle, you’ll step back in time and gain insights into the strategic importance of this coastal stronghold.

As you ascend its ancient ramparts, be prepared to be mesmerized by the stunning vistas of Falmouth’s harbour and the surrounding landscapes, offering a captivating blend of history and scenic beauty.

22. Visit the Unique and Quirky Attractions

Cornwall is filled with unique and quirky attractions that are worth a visit. The Jamaica Inn, known for its smuggler’s history, and the intriguing Museum of Witchcraft and Magic are just a couple of examples.

These offbeat destinations provide a fascinating glimpse into Cornwall’s more enigmatic and mysterious aspects. From the tales of smugglers at the Jamaica Inn to the exploration of the world of the arcane at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Cornwall’s unconventional attractions add an extra layer of intrigue and wonder to your journey through this diverse region.

23. Explore the Mining Heritage

Exploring Cornwall’s rich mining heritage is an essential part of the list of things to do in Cornwall. This heritage has earned recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Start your journey by visiting the Geevor Tin Mine and the Levant Mine and Beam Engine to delve into the depths of Cornwall’s mining history.

These historic sites offer a unique opportunity to step into the underground world of Cornwall’s mining past, a remarkable entry on the list of things to do in Cornwall. Descend into the mines’ depths, examine the mining machinery, and listen to the captivating stories of the miners who toiled beneath the earth. This journey through time sheds light on the pivotal role mining played in shaping Cornwall’s identity and is an unmissable item on your list of things to do in Cornwall.

24. Embrace the Spirit of Poldark

If you’re a fan of the TV series “Poldark,” visit the filming locations and immerse yourself in the world of Ross Poldark and his dramatic adventures against the backdrop of Cornwall’s landscapes.

Exploring these locations, such as the historic Charlestown Harbour and the stunning cliffs of Botallack, allows you to retrace the steps of your favourite characters and relive the romance, drama, and intrigue of the beloved series. It’s a chance to walk in the footsteps of Poldark and experience the magic of Cornwall that captivated viewers worldwide.

25. Stay in Unique Accommodations

Choosing the perfect place to stay is a crucial element on the list of things to do in Cornwall. The region offers a wide spectrum of accommodations, catering to all preferences and budgets. From snug cottages and charming boutique hotels to luxurious treehouses and inviting glamping sites, Cornwall’s lodging options are diverse and abundant.

Whether you’re in search of a romantic retreat with captivating ocean views, a family-friendly cottage tucked away in the serene countryside, or the thrill of spending the night under the stars in a cosy treehouse, Cornwall’s variety of lodging options guarantees that your stay will be just as memorable as the experiences you have while exploring this remarkable region. This choice in accommodations is a vital part of planning your list of things to do in Cornwall.

St Ives Harbour, St Ives, Cornwall
© John Goodall / Wiki Commons

FAQ About Things to Do in Cornwall

Q1: When is the best time to visit Cornwall?
A1: Cornwall is a year-round destination, but the summer months (June to August) are the most popular for outdoor activities and beach visits. The best months to visit Cornwall are typically from May to September when the weather is mild and pleasant, and the region is vibrant with outdoor events and activities. May and September offer fewer crowds and pleasant temperatures, making it an excellent time for a more relaxed experience.

Q2: What are some must-try Cornish foods?
A2: Don’t miss trying a traditional Cornish pasty, fresh seafood, cream teas, and Cornish ice cream. Cornwall is also known for its artisan cheeses and craft beverages.

Q3: Are there family-friendly activities in Cornwall?
A3: Yes, Cornwall offers a range of family-friendly activities, including visits to wildlife parks, interactive museums, and adventure parks. The South West Coast Path also has family-friendly sections for hikes.

Q4: What is the best way to get around Cornwall?
A4: While a car provides flexibility, Cornwall also has an extensive bus and train network. You can also explore by bike or on foot, especially in towns and along the coast.

Q5: What activities are available in Cornwall?
Cornwall offers a wide array of activities ranging from water sports such as surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking to exploring historic castles, hiking the scenic South West Coast Path, enjoying the vibrant arts scene, and indulging in culinary delights. The options are diverse and cater to various interests and preferences.

Q6:Where is the prettiest place in Cornwall?
A6: Determining the “prettiest” place in Cornwall is subjective as the region is abundant in scenic spots. However, some of the most picturesque places include St. Ives with its stunning beaches, Port Isaac with its charming harbour, and Kynance Cove known for its breath taking cliffs and azure waters.

Q7:How do I spend a day in Cornwall?
A7: Spend a day in Cornwall by starting with a visit to a picturesque village like Mousehole or Port Isaac. Explore a historic site like Tintagel Castle, enjoy a leisurely lunch at a local seafood restaurant, embark on a coastal hike, and end the day by watching the sunset at a scenic spot like Land’s End.

Q8:How long should you spend in Cornwall?
A8: The ideal duration for a Cornwall visit varies based on your interests and the depth you wish to explore. A well-rounded trip could last 5-7 days, allowing you to cover major attractions, picturesque landscapes, and engage in various activities. However, shorter trips of 3-4 days can also provide a delightful taste of Cornwall.

Q9: Are there accommodations for all budgets in Cornwall?
A9: Yes, Cornwall caters to various budgets. You can find everything from affordable B&Bs and cottages to luxury resorts and unique glamping experiences.

By considering these questions and planning accordingly, you can make the most of your visit to Cornwall and ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience.

To gain a visual understand of best attractions and thing to do in Cornwall, consider watching the following videos:

For those interested in delving deeper into the world Cornwall, the following external resources are highly recommended:

Final Remarks

Cornwall, with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, offers a diverse range of experiences for travellers. From exploring historic castles and charming villages to indulging in delicious local cuisine and taking part in water sports along the rugged coastline, Cornwall has something for everyone.

As you embark on your journey through this captivating region, be sure to immerse yourself in its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Cornwall’s unique attractions and breath taking scenery are sure to leave you with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for this corner of England. So pack your bags, set your course for Cornwall, and let the magic of this remarkable destination enchant you. With this guide, you’re well-equipped to make the most of your visit and create unforgettable memories in this captivating region.

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