When it comes to natural good looks, Cornwall sets the bar for UK holiday destinations. From long stretches of sand to the jaw-dropping scenery, this coastal county makes a fabulous retreat for anyone looking to escape the city scene. But most importantly, you quickly realise that you don’t have to fly around the world to seek adventures. With forests, castles, and beaches for days, Cornwall is the ultimate staycation – perfect for all ages. In recent years, Cornwall has come on leaps and bounds and found a newfound style. That being said, discover our range of beautiful villas in Cornwall to start planning your next holiday!
Cliffs tumble down to white sands; countryside opens out under blue skies and unspoilt Blue Flag beaches curve around the coastline. It’s a stunning backdrop for the likes of hiking, sailing and surfing. And thanks to Cornwall’s seriously long history, the landscape is flecked with historic sites from throughout the centuries. There’s a raft of attractions to be found alongside ancient monuments brought to life by tales of myths and legends. You can’t beat the Cornish coastline for a UK beach break.
When to Visit
With some of the highest year-round temperatures in Britain, you can visit Cornwall any time of year. The water is warmest in July and August when the days are largely blessed with beach weather. Cornwall’s summertime charms are no secret though, so it’s also when crowds are biggest and roads are busiest.
The south coast blooms in spring and the moors put on a show of colour in autumn. In winter, the rain may put brakes on any plans for long coastal walks. But you can have Cornwall’s spectacular scenery virtually to yourself.
- Airports: Flights to Cornwall land at Newquay Airport. With routes from across the UK and Ireland departing from the likes of London, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
- Train: A number of Cornwall’s most popular spots, including St. Austell, Penzance and Truro, can be reached by train from London Paddington, while scenic branch lines can get you to some of the smaller Cornish towns via beautiful countryside.
- Boat: To skip lengthy road trips, you can cross some of Cornwall’s bigger rivers on the ferries, some of which carry cars and bikes as well as people.
- Bus: The 556 bus runs from the airport to the bus station in Newquay, and Cornwall’s bus network is generally pretty handy for getting around the main towns and villages, especially in summer.
- Car: Summertime traffic permitting, driving can be the quickest way to get around Cornwall. But expect some narrow country lanes. Big-name rental companies like Hertz and Avis operate throughout the area.
- Bike: Exploring Cornwall on two wheels is a great way to take in the scenery. Bike paths and quiet country lanes are in good supply, but you’ll need to be prepared for some challenging hills.
- Eden Project – Explore the world’s biggest indoor rainforest.
- Isles of Scilly – Discover the pretty islands of an unspoilt archipelago.
- Minack Theatre – Catch a show at this magical open-air performance space.
- Lost Gardens of Heligan – Be enchanted by some of the UK’s best botanical gardens.
- Newquay – Catch a wave in the surf capital of Blighty.
- Tate St. Ives – Peruse the best of Cornish creativity at this bold art gallery
- North Cornwall’s beaches – Unroll your towel on postcard-perfect Cornish sands.
- For a day trip off the beaten path, arm yourself with a map and compass and hike your way around inland Penwith, where a group of lonely prehistoric remains give a glimpse into Cornwall’s ancient history. Out in open moorland off the Morvah-Madron Road, you’ll find the Men-an-tol rock, nicknamed the ‘Devil’s Eye’.
- Cornwall has a clutch of little-known beaches that remain crowd-less even in the height of summer. We love the secluded spots along the coast towards Looe, where the beaches of Lansallos, Palace Cove and Little Lantic offer peaceful solace away from the rest of the world.
- Out on the barren hills above Roche village, the remains of a tiny chapel atop Roche Rock make for a peculiar sight. Once the home of a hermit, or so the local legend goes, the chapel dates back centuries and you can still wander inside what’s left of it. There are superb views from here too.
- The upmarket seaside resort of Fowey oozes charm, with boutique shops and waterside pubs leading to a yacht-lined harbour. And its café terraces and pub gardens are the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.
- On a scenic stretch of the River Fowey that winds through the ancient oak forest of Draynes Wood, are the cascades and waterfalls of Golitha Falls. An area of outstanding natural beauty, the woodland is awash with bluebells in spring and full of butterflies in summer.
- Speaking of waterfalls, a secret one worth seeking out is St. Nectan’s Glen. The 18-metre tall cascade drops into a natural plunge pool that you can take a dip in. The leafy site is associated with pixies and King Arthur – so it’s much more than just a pretty place to swim.
With legends of giants, fairies and knights; dramatic landscapes studded with ancient castles and mystical ruins; and beach days filled with rock pooling, paddling and building sandcastles, Cornwall is a magical holiday destination for children.The beaches are some of the cleanest in the country and the landscape makes a great backdrop for walks, boat trips and bike rides. Rainy days are taken care of at dozens of kid-friendly indoor attractions, which range from aquariums to world-famous eco sites.
Best Family Activities in Cornwall
- At the Rick Stein Cookery School, under 18s can take a three-hour master class from the legendary chef’s team. They take nurturing an early interest in cooking pretty seriously here, and the classes cover everything from descaling fish to baking chocolate mousse.
- There is ample opportunity to take to the waters of Cornwall and discover what lives beneath the waves. But there is nothing quite like seeing the natives up close. At the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, you can sign your youngsters up for a VIP meet-and-greet with the resident sea lions, during which they will help feed them their lunch.
- Young Instagram addicts can fill their feeds with selfies taken at the iconic Land’s End Landmark and the sweeping seascapes surrounding it. When they’ve had their fill, head out for a walk on cliff’s walking trails and check out the nearby family attractions, which range from a 4D film experience to a petting farm.
Best Heritage Sites for Families
- All-action fairytale settings don’t come much better than St. Michael’s Mount. The tiny offshore island makes for an enchanting day out for youngsters, who’ll love scrambling to the hilltop castle, exploring the fortress and learning about the mount’s myths and legends. Even reaching the island is an adventure, with boat trips doing the honours when the tide is in.
- Famous for its links to King Arthur, the remains of the 13th-century Tintagel Castle boast Dark Age ruins and ancient gardens, all overlooking a dramatic stretch of coastline. Kids love the sense of adventure, the fresh sea air and the rock pooling that come with days out here.
- If you’ve got kids in your party who think all museums are boring, change their minds at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. Packed with skulls, costumes and curiosities, there is plenty to entertain youngsters, who will be intrigued by Britain’s real-life history of witchcraft.
When it comes to family days out in Cornwall, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Check out our Best Family Activities in Cornwall blog post for the full lowdown on all of our top picks.
With some of Britain’s best coastline and miles of scenic countryside, the Cornish landscape lends itself to adventures of the outdoors variety. Hiking, sailing and caving are just a handful of the jaunts you can sign up for. And if it’s water sports that float your boat, Cornwall is famous for surfing, kitesurfing and diving. Not an outdoorsy bunch? No problem. This is a region packed with museums, botanical gardens and National Heritage treasures, all waiting to be explored. And when it’s time to refuel, there are more vineyards, tea rooms and farm shops than you can shake a pasty at.
- Renown for surfing, but also a superb location for the likes of stand-up paddleboarding. Try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding with WeSup. Expert instructors offer one-to-one sessions for all abilities in the pretty bay of Gylly Beach.
- Kayaking is the perfect way to see some of Cornwall’s best and most remote vistas. Sign up for a tour with Koru Kayaking and tick off the scenic landscapes that inspired TV’s Poldark. They’re perfect for groups, with tandem kayaks for four people.
- For a quirky and only mildly terrifying insight into Cornwall’s prison history, check in to historical Bodmin Jail for an overnight stay behind cell bars, complete with three-course dinner and expert insights from a local medium.
More Laid Back Things to Do
- England’s home-grown wines are making waves around the world and Cornwall’s vineyards are among the best. With award-winning vinos and a gorgeous setting, Trevibban Mill Vineyard’s tours and tastings make a great afternoon out for wine buffs and novices alike.
- With dolphins, whales and grey seals all swimming in its waters, Cornwall is a great place to catch a glimpse of Britain’s most diverse marine wildlife. And there are plenty of boat tours offering you exactly that. Catamaran trips run by Marine Discovery Penzance only allow a dozen passengers onboard at a time, guaranteeing you uninterrupted views of the creatures you come across as you sail around the Cornish coast.
- Organic, all-natural products are the perfect souvenirs to take home from Cornwall. And with expert Cornish craftspeople keen to show you how it’s done, you can even make them yourself. The fields of Green Cart Farm are awash with fragrant lavender, chamomile and rosemary, which you can use to create natural candles or perfume at a workshop held in the farm’s old-fashioned apothecary.
Read our Best Group Activities in Cornwall blog post to find out more.
Food and Wine
From Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein to Cornish cream teas and the great Cornish pasty, the most famous names associated with Cornwall’s food scene are all worthy of their notoriety. But celebrity chef-run restaurants and giant pasties aren’t the only reason foodies flock to this region.Local ports ensure there is superb seafood on menus in fine-dining and casual eateries alike, classic pub fare is served with charm in thatched-roofed buildings, and seaside staples such as fish and chips are served up and down Cornwall’s windswept coastline.
The Best Restaurants in Cornwall
- A family owned restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef, Ben Tunnicliffe Sennen Cove serves casual food superbly cooked. And with huge windows overlooking a scenic stretch of beach, the setting is not too shabby either.
- Jamie Oliver fans can dine out at the TV chef’s Cornish outpost at Fifteen Cornwall, where Italian dishes are given a Cornish twist and cooked by young chefs on Jamie’s award-winning apprentice scheme.
- For quality curries served in a fabulous clifftop sea-view dining room, head to Maharajah: Cornwall’s longest running and best-loved Indian restaurant.
- Sam’s Cornwall has branches all over the country, each with their own unique vibe. They all major in seafood, but our favourite is The City in Truro, which is covered from floor to ceiling in movie and music memorabilia and also does a great line in burgers and cocktails.
Dishes and Foods to Try in Cornwall
- For a pasty exactly as it should be, head to Padstow’s waterside Chough Bakery for the perfect mix of pastry-wrapped steak, potatoes, turnips and cream.
- Seafood is the ace in Cornwall’s pack and fish and chips are a British seaside staple, so a battered cod takeaway is a no-brainer dish to try while on holiday here. The Coddy Shack is a Cornish institution, with fish and chips to go, a sit-down seafood restaurant and an epic eating challenge all available under one roof.
- Drinking tea alongside freshly baked scones slathered in homemade jam and thick clotted cream is a Cornish must-do. You won’t have any trouble finding places to serve you a cream tea, but our top pick is the Woods Café, where they bake the scones themselves and you tuck into them in a lovely woodland setting.
The Best Foodie Experiences in Cornwall
- Jam making, whisky ageing and cider pressing go on behind the doors of Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm in Truro. Foodies can happily take tours of the farm with tasting opportunities on the way. And you can also visit the cellars or the sprawling apple orchard.
- Clink flutes of the famous Cornwall Brut while overlooking the scenic Cornish countryside at Camel Valley. Tours of the Bodmin-based vineyard offer wonderful insight into English wine making. Oh, and there’s plenty of chances to taste a glass or three.
Check out our lip-smacking foodie blog post for more of the best foodie experiences in Cornwall.