Best things to do in Cornwall, England

If you’ve been toying with the idea of visiting Cornwall recently, I’m here to tell you to stop what you’re doing and book a trip immediately (after you’ve finished reading this post of course).

Located in the South-West of England, Cornwall is one of the most popular holiday destinations within the UK. After spending a long weekend down here myself it’s hard not to see why.

Cornwall really does have it all: rugged coastline, beautiful pristine beaches, cute fishing villages and luscious green woodlands, but to name a few! So, whether you want to surf, hike, laze on the beach, try all the local cuisine or just have fun with the family there is something that will cater for your needs.

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When is the best time to visit Cornwall?

Temperatures in Cornwall vary from place to place. Certain parts of Cornwall have their own microclimates. Locals report places such as St Ives and the Roseland Peninsula having warmer temperatures. You will even see palm trees growing in some places.

The hottest temperatures reported in Cornwall are during July and August, so these are the best times to visit. This is to be able to fully embrace and enjoy the plethora of beautiful beaches that can be found down here.

The best way to explore Cornwall

The best way to travel around Cornwall is by car or campervan. Although Cornwall is home to a few train stations and has local bus route options, car or campervan is the best way to get access to the beaches and gives you more freedom to change your mind and make some unplanned stops along the way.

You will drive past so many beautiful places so It’s highly likely you will want to make some detours.

Where is the best place to stay in Cornwall?

With hotels, campsites, hostels, BnB’s, and holiday homes to rent there is a variety of accommodation to choose from in Cornwall. If you are looking at staying at a hostel, prices start from £30 per night. For a nice hotel/BnB and/or holiday home rental, prices will start from around £150 per night.

There are so many beautiful locations in Cornwall that I don’t think you can go wrong wherever you decide to stay. I’ve stayed in Tintagel, St Ives, Carbis Bay, and Fowey and I can’t recommend these locations enough.

Click below to view my accommodation in each of these areas:

How much spending money will I need?

Prices of food, drink and activities are what you might expect for a popular tourist destination. The average cost of a dish is between £10-£15, a pint £5 and a cocktail £10. The cost of activities varies. Renting a surfboard and wetsuit will cost you about £15, whereas a surfing lesson will set you back £35.

The best things to do in Cornwall

Visit Tintagel Castle and walk the coastal path

Tintagel Castle is a mythical and magical wonder believed to be the home of King Arthur. A ticket to get on to the island will cost you around £15 (must pre-book). If you are happy to admire from afar and for free you can see parts of the castle on the coastal path walk to Trebarwith beach.

The coastal path walks to Trebarwith and Bossiney Cove beaches is highly recommended. Try to visit at low tide to get the full experience.

See the waterfalls at St Nectan’s Glen

You’ll see a lot of beaches during your trip to Cornwall. So if you want to experience something a little different, head to St Nectan’s Glen in Tintagel and enjoy the tranquil woodlands and waterfalls.

Visit Padstow Harbour for a Cornish Pasty and walk up to the war memorial

Padstow is a cute little fishing village best known for its wonderful restaurants and cafes. Grab an award-winning Cornish pasty (the size of your head) from Chough Bakery. If you’re still feeling peckish pick up some coffee and homemade cakes from Cherry Trees.

Once you are full to the brim, walk up to the War Memorial for some stunning views of the beach.

Try a Padstow Cider from the Padstow Brewing Company

Some of the best cider I have tried so this had to go onto the list. We only managed to find this at The Olde Malthouse Inn, in Tintagel. However, I am sure there are a few more pubs around Cornwall where you can get this.

Have fish and chips on Fistral beach in Newquay

Fistral beach is one of the most popular beaches in Cornwall, best known for it’s great surf. Here, you can head up to Rick Stein’s fish and chip shop. Not only will you get great food, but also great views of Fistral Beach.

If you have the time whilst you are in Newquay, I would also recommend taking a visit to Crantock, Lusty Glaze and Porth Joke beaches.

Try tea and scones

Cornwall is famous for Its tea and scones served with jam and Cornish clotted cream. Just like having a Cornish pasty and fish and chips, this is a must-eat. The real question is jam or cream first?

Visit the cute villages of Mousehole and Polperro

Two of my favourite have to be Polperro and Mousehole, they are both as cute as their names sound. Wander around the villages and grab a Cornish pasty. If you fancy, you can even go for a swim. Polperro has its own small-town beach and Mousehole has a cool tidal rock pool.

Take part in water-based activities

Water sports in Cornwall is extremely popular. Try your hand at surfing, paddleboarding or even coasteering.

Newquay is one of the most popular places to try your hand at this stuff, however, there are plenty of other spots along the coast where you can take part.

Do the coastal walk from Carbis Bay to St Ives

A short, easy 40-minute walk with stunning beach views along the way.

Have homemade Cornish Ice Cream at St Ives Harbour

Homemade Cornish ice cream is served in abundance all over the county. It’s criminal to come to Cornwall and not get a cone! My favourite ice cream was from Moomaid of Zennor at St Ives Harbour – delicious ice cream paired with a wonderful harbour view.

Hike down to Lantic Bay

Lantic Bay is a stunning beach with bright turquoise waters. To enjoy this beach there is a short 20 minute downhill hike. It is part of the national trust so there is a dedicated car park which is free for national trust members. There are no local amenities nearby so make sure you go adequately prepared with water and food.

Visit the town of Fowey

Fowey is a port town at the mouth of the River Fowey in South East Cornwall, and one of my favourite places in the county. The views of the port are unrivalled and there are some incredible eateries to try here, including a few Michelin starred restaurants.

Have drinks in Falmouth town

Falmouth is a buzzing harbour town on the eastern side of Cornwall. Falmouth is home to Falmouth University which means there are bars and restaurants galore, so great if you are after a fun night out. Also located just outside the town are the beautiful Swanpool and Gyllyngvase Beach.

Watch the Sunset on Porthmeor Beach in St Ives

One of the most stunning sunsets I have seen. Book a table at Porthmeor Beach Cafe and ask for seats on the terrace to get the best views in the house.

Other beaches to visit in St Ives include Porthminster and Porthgwidden (great for kids).

Visit St Michaels Mount in Marazion during low tide

St Michaels Mount is a small castle island off Marazion beach. You can only get close to the island during low tide. If you want to take a peek around the castle or the garden terrace prices start from £11.50 (must pre-book). Alternatively, you can admire from the beach for free.

Take a trip to Lands’ End

The most westerly point in mainland England. It’s one of most popular tourist spots in Cornwall, if not England so definitely something to tick off the bucket list.

Run free on Carne Beach

Carne Beach is a large but quiet beach located on the Roseland Peninsula. It is the perfect place to come for a peaceful and calming walk by the ocean. It is also the ideal beach to come to if you have dogs as there is lots of room for them to run free and play.

Relax on Porthcurno Beach

The most stunning beach that we saw in Cornwall. It will make you forget that you are actually in England and transport you to Europe. Spend time here sunbathing or paddle-boarding. Also, make sure you take the beach walk up towards the Minack Theatre to admire the beach views from above.

If you have time also take a trip to the smaller, but just as beautiful, Porthchapel beach.

Admire the sand bars at Pedn Vounder

Located just around the corner from Porthcurno is the stunning beach of Pedn Vounder. Come here at low tide to reveal these beautiful sand bars in the middle of the sea. Please ensure you do not walk out onto the sand bars and only admire them from afar – you do not want to get caught out by the changing tides.

Look out for Seals

Seal spotting is a great activity, especially if you’re with kids. There are plenty of places to go seal spotting. You can take a trip to Seal Island, or Mutton Cove. If you’re lucky enough, like me, you can even spot a seal in the harbour at St Ives.

Visit Perranporth beach and take a swim in the tidal rock pool

Perranporth is a beautiful sandy beach that stretches on for 3 miles. Perranporth is a great place for horse-riding and Surfing. The waves here are slightly calmer than what you find in Newquay, so ideal for beginners and younger children.

Whilst you are here don’t forgot to take a visit to chapel rock, a natural swimming pool that is filled up by the sea during high tide.

Perranporth Beach, Cornwall

How accessible is Cornwall?

One thing I saw on certain beaches that really impressed me was the ability to rent out a beach wheelchair free of charge. This means that wheelchair users are able to get full access to some of the beaches. You can contact Cornwall Mobility to find out more information on how and where you can rent these out.

Click here to also see a list of the most accessible beaches in Cornwall.

My top 5 tips for Cornwall

  1. Always wear sunscreen – The heat can be deceiving
  2. Beware of the seagulls – They have no issue with attacking you for food
  3. Carry cash – You will have to pay for a lot of the carparks and whilst some you can pay for digitally there are others that accept cash only.
  4. Always carry a jacket – The day might be hot but once that sun goes down It’s FREEEZING
  5. Rent a wetsuit -If you plan on spending a lot of time in the water, it’s a good idea – Although the beaches might look like you’re in the Mediterranean it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Sea temperatures reach a max of 17 °C.
  6. Beware of the roads – A lot of the roads in Cornwall are quite hilly and you will come across many single-lane country roads. Something to be aware of if you are not used to this kind of countryside driving.

My Itinerary

If you are looking for a specific itinerary to follow, I have created a PDF of one of my personal itineraries which you can download below. Use either the file download or the Pinterest link:

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