With beautiful golden coasts, a welcoming sea breeze and stunning scenic walks, it’s no wonder that many people go on holiday to Cornwall instead of travelling abroad. The natural beauty of the region and excellent weather makes Cornwall the perfect place to buy a holiday home.
Cornwall is the most southern county in Great Britain and is one of the most popular ‘staycation’ destinations for Brits.
There is no surprise that Cornwall is a popular holiday hotspot; with some of the best beaches in Britain and picturesque fishing villages, it is easy to forget that you are not abroad. Some of the best places to stay in Cornwall to enjoy the beautiful coast include St Ives, Looe, Newquay, Fowey, Bude and Port Isaac.
Things to do in Cornwall
If you are thinking of buying a holiday home in Cornwall, there are lots of things to do to keep busy and make your holidays memorable. Visit some of Cornwall’s top attractions, try some Cornish delicacies, go for a walk or explore the beautiful golden beaches.
The most southern point of Great Britain, Land’s End, is a must-see spot in Cornwall. Take a photograph at the iconic Land’s End signpost whilst taking in the stunning rocky scenery of the southern coast. There is also a visitors centre where you can explore the End to End Story Exhibition for free. It celebrates those who have made the 800-mile journey from John O’Groats, the most northern point in Scotland. Take the kids to the 4D cinema or Greeb Farm to see small farm animals and craftsmen at work. Enjoy a beautiful coastal walk at Lands End in Cornwall with unparalleled views, making it the perfect place to watch the sunset over the sea.
Accessible by car, bus & train
Minack Cliffside Amphitheatre
Whether you are coming to watch a show or simply want to admire the scenery, there is nothing quite like the Minack Theatre. Situated on the edge of a rocky granite cliff in Porthcurno, this atmospheric theatre offers stunning scenic views and exceptional performances. Conceptualised by Rowena Cade in the 1930’s, the Minack theatre was carved into the cliff, with seats cascading downwards and looking out at sea for a unique theatre experience. Enjoy a drama, comedy, musical, opera or simply walk around the theatre prior to performances. Walk through the beautiful gardens down towards the theatre and you may even see dolphins or seals out at sea.
Accessible by bus, car
St Michaels Mount
Visit St Michael’s Mount from Marazion in southern Cornwall. You can reach the island by taking a return boat trip from as little as £2 or if the tide is out during your visit, you can travel by foot and walk across the cobbled causeway. You will find a beautiful little village and harbour on St Michael’s Mount, which is home to just 30 people, as well as stunning gardens and exciting legends to uncover. Explore St Michael’s Mount from Sunday - Friday between 10:30am and 5:00pm and discover the castle, shops and cafes when you reach the mount. Attractions on the island are closed on a Saturday and trips to the island are dependent on daily weather conditions.
Accessible by car, train & bus - access the mount by foot or boat
The Eden Project
Connect with the living world at The Eden Project in northern Cornwall. Just a 10-minute drive from St Austell, The Eden project is a tourist attraction and social enterprise dedicated to sustainability. Nestled in a disused quarry since the early 2000’s, The Eden Project is home to the world’s largest indoor rainforest inside giant tropical biomes. At this family-friendly attraction in Cornwall, you will find a rainforest canopy walk, seasonal plants from around the world, a rainforest canopy walkway, skywire, play areas, restaurants and outdoor gardens where dogs are also welcome. Throughout the summer months, you can also attend The Eden Sessions to enjoy live music from artists from all over the world.
Accessible by car or receive a discount if you arrive by bus or train
Newquay Activity Centre
Famous as one of Great Britain’s best surfing spots, Newquay is the perfect place to try new watersports in Cornwall. At Newquay Activity Centre on Towan Beach, people of all ages and abilities can take part in a variety of watersport, regardless of age or experience. Take bodyboarding or surfing lessons or hire equipment for up to a week if you want to brave the waves alone. You can also try sea kayaking, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) on a single or large group board or combine mountaineering, orienteering and cliff jumping on a coasteering tour. Tours vary in length and change depending on ability, but no matter which one you choose, you could discover secret caves, beaches and caverns as well as seeing the local wildlife in their natural habitat.
Accessible by car, bus or train
Walking Routes in Cornwall
It would be a shame to venture all the way to Cornwall without discovering the beautiful scenery in the south-west. Take a walk along the seafront, discover the south west coastal path, enjoy a peaceful stroll along the canal or take on a challenging coastal climb. There are lots of walking routes which are pushchair and wheelchair accessible or dog-friendly. Discover some of our top picks below.
Penzance to Marazion Seafront Walk
Length: 2-3 miles each way
Time: 2- 3 hours
Rating: Suitable for all
The walk from Penzance to Marazion seafront is relaxing and easily accessible. There is a flat, wide path along the seafront which is suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs and dogs. You will pass plenty of dog-friendly pubs and shops along the way if you want to stop and grab a drink or an ice cream to cool you down. It is a gentle walk, offering stunning views across Mount Bay to St Michaels the Lizard peninsula and Mousehole.
The Lizard Peninsula
Time: 3-4 hours
Length: 7 miles
Park at the National Trust’s Kynance Cove and begin your hike from here. This is a challenging walk with some slopes and steps which will involve uphill walking. The walk will take you along stony paths and sandy beaches, past the Lizard lighthouse and a 12m hole in the cliff, known as the Lion’s Den. Stop off for a picnic along the way and take in the stunning scenery and dramatic cliffs.
St Ives to Zennor
Time: 5-6 hours
Length: 12 miles circular
Rating: Challenging, steep and difficult in parts
The hike from St Ives to Zennor involves some climbing and scrambling in places, so it is probably more suited to experienced walkers without young children. The path can be rocky and rugged with some steep paths both up and downhill. Despite the treacherous nature of the walk, the views are breathtaking and you will discover some beautiful hidden beaches and coves along the way. Park at Trenwith car park and wear a good pair of walking boots to complete the walk on a dry day.
Sennen Cove to Lands End Circular
Length:3 mile circular walk
Time: 1-2 hours
Rating: Easy-moderate & suitable for most
Walk from Sennen Cove to Lands end with your 4 legged friend along the Cornish coastal path. There is a car park at Sennen Harbor which is often cheaper than Land’s end, with a short uphill walk to join the path. The circular route is dog-friendly but it is close to the cliff edge so you will need to keep your dog on a lead. Along the route, you will encounter beautiful views of the sea and surrounding scenery as you make your way to Lands End.
The Bude Canal
Length: 3.5 -5.9 mile circular route
Time: 1.5 - 4 hours
Rating: Relaxing & suitable for all
The Bude Canal circular walk is almost completely flat and takes you along the canal and coastal path. It is a peaceful walk that is wheelchair friendly and you can shorten the route to suit you if you only want to walk along the canal. You will find lots of places along the route where you can stop for a bite to eat or grab a drink during your leisurely stroll, and take the time to enjoy the local wildlife and boats passing by on the canal.
Food and drink to try in Cornwall
There are plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants around Cornwall where you can enjoy an elegant dinner, or grab a quick lunch in your muddy walking boots. For a light lunch in a cosy cafe, try the Little Bay Cafe in St Austell for a cream tea, homemade scones and a lovely view across the bay. Try the Tintagel Brewery & Visitor Centre Cafe in Tintagel for delicious pub food with beer tasting and a kids playground. Or, if you are looking for fine dining, visit the Driftwood Hotel’s Michelin Star restaurant in Truro for cream tea or a 3-course meal in an award-winning restaurant.
For those looking to try Cornish delicacies, we’ve listed some of the best food from Cornwall that you must try at least once.
Affectionately known as an ‘oggy’ or ‘tiddly’, the Cornish pasty has been tickling taste buds for centuries. The hearty pasty was invented to feed hungry workers with dirty hands so it has a thick crust which was used as a handle. The thick pastry kept the filling hot and it can only be called a genuine Cornish pasty if it is D shaped and only contains beef, potatoes, onion and swede.
With so many traditional cider farms in the south west of England, you’d be a fool not to visit and try some ‘scrumpy’. Originating from the west of England, scrumpy contains local ‘withered’ apples and is often stronger than regular cider. Whilst you’re in Cornwall, head to a cider farm to see how it is traditionally pressed and brewed, try a few samples and take home some delicious scrumpy to cool you down on a hot day.
Although the scone originates from Scotland, cream tea has been a favourite amongst us Brits since the 11th century. Whether you pronounce it ‘scon’ or ‘sc-own’, or put the jam before the cream, you absolutely must try a clotted cream scone whilst you’re in Cornwall. They are deliciously sweet and soft, with strawberry jam and helpings of Cornish cream and are best served with a Cornish cream tea.
Cornish ice cream
There's nothing quite as delicious as Cornish ice cream. It has a creamy, buttery taste and is like vanilla ice creams movie star sister. Cornish ice cream is much more than an alternative to vanilla; made from Cornish clotted cream and often topped with more clotted cream, it is a sweet treat you will want to enjoy whatever the weather. You'll find plenty of ice cream to indulge in most towns and seaside shops.
With a large coastline around almost the entire area of Cornwall, it would be a shame to miss out on speciality seafood for lunch or a tasty evening meal. There are a number of fishing villages in Cornwall serving up the great British favourite - fish and chips! Or, you can try a regional delicacy. Snack on a fresh crab sandwich for lunch or feast on stargazy pie for tea, which is traditionally filled with pilchards or sardines with their heads looking out of the pie.
5 Facts About Cornwall
1. The Cornish coastline is the longest in Great Britain
As Cornwall protrudes from the south west of England into the sea, it is surrounded almost entirely by the coast. This gives the county the longest coastline in Great Britain at 1086km, depending on the tide.
2. The Cornish pasty didn’t originate from Cornwall
Although the humble Cornish pasty is regarded as Cornwall’s ‘regional dish’, 15th-century recipes discovered in Devon suggest that the hearty snack may have originated further east from the Cornish coast.
3. Cornwall only has one city
Despite Truro being the only city in Cornwall, it has a smaller population than coastal towns such as St Austell and Falmouth.
4. Myths and legends
Popular amongst leaders and fishermen, Cornwall is home to many famous myths and legends. King Arthur is said to have been born in Tintagel Castle whilst the Mermaid of Zennor was known to entice men with her beauty and singing and they were never seen again.
5. Popular filming location since the 1800’s
The beautiful scenery in Cornwall has made it a popular filming location since the 1800’s. Famous productions filmed here include Disney’s Treasure Island, Poldark, Pirates of the Caribbean: Of Stranger Tides and Die Another Day.
Best Beaches in Cornwall
Famous for its breathtaking beaches and stunning coastline, Cornwall is a popular destination for Brits looking for a holiday staycation. Cornwall’s beaches are stunning all year round, but if you get a chance to head to the beach on a hot day, you would swear you were abroad. Depending on what you are looking for, some beaches may be better suited to you than others, so we’ve recommended some of our favourites.
Where: Talland Bay
Best for: Family and rock pooling
For a family-friendly beach, head to Talland bay between Polperro and Looe. This is a great place to discover rock pools and collect beautifully delicate shells. The water is calm, making it a great place to swim in the sea with little ones, and there are plenty of facilities such as car parking and toilets. You could also head to Looe and take the ferry to Looe Island, or discover the small fishing village of Polperro which was once a famous smuggler's haunt with its quaint streets and small port.
Bestfor: Stunning scenery
Kynance Cove is a well-known gem in the most southern part of the English coast. Head to the cove beach before 11am during low tide to secure a parking space, descend down to the cove and grab a spot on the beach. You will be blown away by the stunning scenic views, white sands, turquoise waters and hidden caves, so it is well worth the adventure. If the beach is busy, as it often is on sunny days, head to Lizard Point for a different view of the cove. From the top of the cliffs, you might even spot seals or dolphins at sea.
Where: St Ives
Bestfor: Beautiful sandy beach and safe swimming
The view from Porthminster beach in St Ives is stunning, and you can look out across the bay towards Godrevy Lighthouse from your sunbathing spot. With golden sands, palm trees and a crystal blue sea, there is no wonder that St Ives is so popular amongst holidaymakers, as the tropical setting makes you feel like you are abroad. Porthminster Beach has been awarded a blue flag for safe swimming and the sand is so clean, it is almost white. The beach is easy to access by train, or you can park in the large car park, and St Ives town centre is only a 5 minute walk away if you want to stroll through the shops, bars and restaurants.
Where: St Just (near Lands End)
Bestfor: Peaceful hidden gem
Nanjizal beach is a true hidden gem of Cornwall. This picturesque beauty is usually quiet as there is nowhere to park nearby and the narrow, rocky pathways make it difficult to reach. It may not be suitable for young children or anybody who is unsteady on their feet but it is well worth the trek for those who are feeling up to it. If you are brave enough to uncover this secret spectacle when the tide is low, you will find beautiful golden sands, azure waters, caves, coves and an astonishing rock arch known as the ‘Song of the Sea’. Don’t miss out on this secret beach in Cornwall looking out across Mill Bay if you are up for the hike.
Holywell Bay Beach
Where: Near Newquay
Bestfor: Dog owners
When you want to stretch your legs and let your dog run free, head to Holywell Bay Beach in Newquay. This dog-friendly beach is vast, open and sandy with sand dunes on one side and a beautiful blue sea on the other. You can swim in the stream leading to the sea, inspect the rock pools or if you are feeling really adventurous, (and the tide is out), you could try to find the Holy Well Cave, buried under the southern cliffs at Kalkey head. The National Trust car park is free for members and there is a small shop with beach supplies and reasonably priced snacks. The best thing about the beach is your four-legged friend can roam around free as there are no dog restrictions throughout the year.
Cornwall is situated in the most southwestern point of England and is the furthest south you can travel in the UK. The closest big city to Cornwall is Plymouth in Devon, and you can reach Cornwall by car, train or plane.
The closest motorway to Cornwall is the M5, which runs to Exeter in Devon. From here, you can take the A30 towards Lands End or fork off to take other A roads towards larger towns or country roads to reach your destination.
As Cornwall is in a secluded corner of England, it can take a long time to reach by train and you will probably have to make a few changes on the way.
Cornwall is served by Great Western Railway service and Cross Country, and there is a mainline service between Penzance and Plymouth in Devon, with different branch services throughout Cornwall.
If you are travelling from London, or need to change at London during your journey, it takes around 5 hours to travel from London Paddington to Penzance.
The Main airport in Cornwall is Newquay, which is easy to reach from a number of cities in the UK and some European countries.
Getting around Cornwall
The easiest way to travel around Cornwall is by car due to the vast countryside which may be more difficult to access by public transport, but journeys can take longer during peak season to reach popular destinations.
The mainline train service throughout Cornwall makes it easy to access popular tourist destinations as it branches off towards Looe, Falmouth, Newquay and St Ives.
Travel around Cornwall by bus with First Devon and Cornwall and Western Greyhound bus services. There is also a summer timetable in operation which makes it easier to travel around during peak season.
It is lovely to explore Cornwall by bike as the scenery is beautiful and you can really be at one with nature. Either bring your own bike along or you can hire a bike at a number of locations.