If you’ve never been to Cornwall, here’s a fun fact: there is no shortage of views to witness and things to do in this English county!
Packed with activities both indoors and outdoors, as well as landscapes to gawk at and museums to explore, Cornwall makes for an excellent holiday destination. The sheer variety of places to visit alone means that even if your tastes lay in a niche area, Cornwall likely offers it.
That said, vacation time doesn’t last forever, and you’ll inevitably have to pick which destinations you’ll want to visit during your time in the County. No one likes to miss out on the best attractions during their holiday visits, after all.
So, to help you choose the best Cornwall tourist attractions, we’ve compiled a list of all the top places to see things to do. Read on to gather preliminary knowledge about these Cornish hidden gems so you end your vacation in high spirits, free of any lingering regrets!
19 Best Things To Do In Cornwall
1. Eden Project
The Eden Project is one part an adventure playground for kids and one part a greenhouse complex. Located near St. Austell, the Eden Project is sure to appeal to the horticulturist in you.
This greenhouse complex was built to gain further understanding of the connections between every living thing in the world. If you’re interested in the history and the future of our world, there is plenty to learn in the Eden Project.
And even if you’re not one with an affinity towards horticulture, you can explore the compound and take in the stunning scenery of St. Austell. The biomes built in the complex are filled with tropical and Mediterranean plants, which make for an excellent backdrop for your adventure activities.
2. The Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is a spectacular open-air theatre with a view of the expansive seas before your very eyes. Constructed above a gully, its granite outcrop juts out into the sea, where you can safely witness the panorama of Porthcurno Bay.
Learn about the story of the theatre’s construction and discover how Rowena Cade contributed to it. Witness a theatre experience quite unlike any other, complete with all the drama and beauty that you could ever want.
No matter the time of the year, day or night, the Minack Theatre remains one of the most popular family attractions in Cornwall. And it is one that you must not miss out on!
3. St. Michael’s Mount
St. Michael’s Mount is a small island just off the Marazion coast of Cornwall, accessible only by boat. Described as one of the most magical islands in the British Isles, St. Michael’s Mount inhabits a picturesque view that will leave your jaw hanging.
The highlight of a visit to St. Michael’s Mount is the castle that rests atop the mount, with many shops and cafes to explore. You can learn all about the isle’s rich history, having been inhabited for thousands of years and tales of various kings reigning over the land. The lush tropical gardens tell a story, one that dates back to as early as 4000 BCE!
St. Michael’s Mount is home to many legends and mysteries as well, such as the fable ‘Jack and the Giant Killer’. You will leave the isle with your inner explorer well-sated.
4. Jubilee Pool
A heated pool in a place with a temperate maritime climate is every bit as appealing as you would believe. And that’s what makes the Jubilee Pool in Cornwall’s Penzance so popular among people of all ages.
The Jubilee Pool is one of the finest surviving Art Deco lidos of its type, with a capacity of five million litres and 600 swimmers. Rest assured, there’s plenty of room for everyone!
Even if swimming does not float your boat, the Jubilee Pool has year round special events to witness. Enjoy a coffee at the poolside cafe and bask in the soothing heat by the pool- it’s an experience you’ll most certainly remember.
5. Land’s End
Land’s End is one of those tourist points that take over your memory of the vacation, being one of the most appealing attractions in Cornwall. A world-famous landmark, the Land’s End resort has the views, the activities and all the bells and whistles one needs for a relaxing holiday.
Don’t mistake Land’s End for a simple resort! There’s plenty more to offer, with attractions of all kinds for everyone, from the breathtaking vistas to the restaurant and cafe. Boasting a theme park with 4D Cinema, Arthur’s Quest walk-through and plenty more, Land’s End has remained a legendary tourist attraction since time immemorial.
6. Kynance Cove
If there’s one thing that Cornwall has a wide variety of, it’s beaches, and Kynance Cove stands at the pinnacle of the County’s beaches. The water here is coloured a gorgeous turquoise, while the sand is tinged a pearly white. And the rocks that pepper the landscape have a distinct gleam in the sunlight that you may not find elsewhere.
Unsurprisingly, Kynance Cove stands as a favourite among tourists for a leisurely afternoon, basking in the sun and witnessing the turquoise waves rise and fall. The stunning Cornish coastline can be viewed from a hillside cafe, so you can sip on a cup of tea as the tides subside.
7. St. Ives
St. Ives is the beach town of Cornwall, with plenty of views, great restaurants, shops and art galleries to appeal to tastes of all kinds. The horseshoe-shaped bay offers one of the more beautiful vistas of Cornwall, punctuated by seawater that is crystal-clear and beach sand that is as white as snow.
Consider visiting the town during the summer and take part in its many festivities, or simply enjoy the beaches in all their glory. The town has something for everyone, be it a quiet time at the beach or a walk through the bustling streets.
8. Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
Did you know that there is more to Porthcurno than just surfing beaches? Porthcurno was also home to the largest telegraph station in the world, being the hub of a communications revolution since 1870. The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum depicts the history of the town, along with sub-tropical gardens, tunnels dug during World War II and many exhibitions.
If learning more about the heritage of a town sounds appealing to you, you’ll feel right at home in the Museum. The establishment will prove to be an experience that you won’t find elsewhere, that’s for sure!
The nightlife of Falmouth is one to witness, with many university students occupying the streets and bringing a unique life to them. You’ll have plenty of bars to choose from, with many events to participate in, like live poetry and music nights. If anything, uni students add to the atmosphere of these establishments more so than a typical pub.
Even if you aren’t big on clubs, you can visit one of many great pubs in Falmouth that are quiet and private. Your vacation-going experience should tailor to your needs, after all, and you needn’t compromise in any stretch of the definition!
10. Port Isaac
Port Isaac is a small fishing village tucked away in a neat area of the County. If you’re a history buff, you’ll not want to miss this lovely village and all of its historic buildings, striking imagery and guided tours. You can even stride down the cobblestone roads where many films were shot and retrace the path of your favourite movie stars.
But if you’re not one for depictions of the past and all the gorgeous filming locations, you can travel a little ways to Port Gaverne. For the adventurer in you, there’s kayaking, SUP, coasteering and open water swimming. There’s plenty of adrenalin rush to be found here, and you can enjoy a nice, quiet afternoon at the village afterwards.
11. Tintagel Castle
On Cornwall’s north coast stands the Tintagel Castle, a structure linked inseparably with the legend of King Arthur and his sword, the Excalibur. The vistas tell a dramatic tale about the lengthy history of the castle- one that is sure to fire up your creative engines. Hence, it doesn’t surprise us that many artists have found inspiration within the bounds of this castle.
Cross the spectacular footbridge, witness the 8-metre-tall bronze statue of Gallos and take a gander at the castle’s rich history. Once you’ve gathered enough from the castle, head to the beach for spelunking in Merlin’s Cave. The famed magician’s cave remains an inextricable part of King Arthur’s lore, which is as intriguing as the castle itself.
12. Paradise Park
What’s a trip to Cornwall without visiting wildlife parks and Cornish seal sanctuary? Paradise Park is home to the Hayle wildlife sanctuary, a safe haven for endangered animals and Cornish birds of all kinds. From red pandas to penguins and rare red squirrels, there’s a variety of fauna to witness.
Moreover, there are several events to partake in, including daily Penguin feeding, carrot time, Eagles of Paradise Display and much more.
13. Adrenalin Quarry
For the thrill-seeker in you, Adrenalin Quarry has all the activities to keep your thirst for adrenaline quenched. There’s a gravity park for unparalleled thrill rides, a water park with a gigantic inflatable playground, and a large go-kart racetrack for all ages. But that’s not all!
You can get launched off a 50 m high cliff on a 490m long zipline- one of the most thrilling experiences in the UK. Or, if a free-falling swing strikes your fancy, you can ride the giant swing that’s 150m above the lake. You can experience it all at the Adrenalin Quarry and have the time of your life in one afternoon!
14. The Museum Of Witchcraft And Magic
Fond of magical exhibitions and displays of witchcraft? The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic has the world’s largest collection of artefacts pertaining to, as the name suggests, witchcraft and magic. Situated in the harbourside of a small village known as Boscastle, you can explore the UK’s history with witchcraft and learn all about it.
Magical-themed events and exhibitions are often held at the Museum, offering a unique experience for adults and children alike. October is the best time to visit the Museum, with celebrations of All Hallow’s Eve in full swing during the spooky season and all the witchcraft-related artefacts.
You’ll find an experience like no other in the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft And Magic.
15. Abandoned Tin Mines
Tin mining was once the source of Cornwall’s economic blossom, making it one of the most prosperous counties in the UK. Unfortunately, the mines have now run dry, but you can still visit the ones that once brought immense wealth and prosperity to the County.
These old mines represent the impermanence of life, how all things eventually come to an end. They signify a slowly decaying relic of the past, one that everyone can benefit from visiting. You won’t need a reservation or booking to visit the mines, and they are well-covered as well for safety purposes.
You can visit the Poldark Mine which harbours the history of tin mining in Cornwall, to learn more about the practice.
16. The Lost Gardens Of Heligan
Cornwall has a climate that makes gardens much more pleasant and worth spending time in. The Lost Gardens Of Heligan uses Cornwall’s climate to maximum benefit, frequently staging events for you to take part in and enjoy. These include physical activities like jungle boardwalks and swings, as well as relaxing activities like enjoying a cup of Cornish Cream Tea at Heligan.
Like most places in Cornwall, the Lost Gardens have a history of their own. Once lost to time, the beautiful Gardens were rejuvenated in 1990 and quickly grew to become the largest garden restoration project in Europe. To this day, the Lost Gardens of Heligan maintain that title.
A magical experience awaits you at the Lost Gardens, filled to the brim with experiences unique to the gardens. With over 200 acres of land to explore, you’ll have plenty of things to do and places to explore.
17. Barbara Hepworth Museum And Sculpture Garden
It’s unlikely that you’ll find a place in the UK as untouched by time as Dame Barbara Hepworth’s workshop in the Museum and Sculpture Garden. And that’s saying something!
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden aims to preserve the works of the famed sculptor in the exact condition she left them in. This means that the sculptures haven’t been moved at all from the moment Dame Barbara Hepworth placed them in, making the place truly timeless.
For historical enthusiasts, this place is like a dreamland, frozen in time. You can learn all about the sculptor and how she created casts from wood, bronze and stones in the open air and space of the studio.
18. Retallack Aqua Park
Located near Padstow, the Retallack Aqua Park has many activities to take part in and have fun with. You can jump and bounce on the giant trampoline, catapult yourself into the waters, run across the stepping stones and have fun on the slides.
Day trips to a water resort are not complete without people enjoying these activities, which the Aqua Park facilitates with races and obstacle courses. You can race against your mates, watch them wipe out and try to complete the course before they do.
The Retallack Aqua Park serves as a water-themed dreamland, particularly for children.
19. Royal Cornwall Museum
If you’re curious about Cornwall’s rich past, there’s no place like the Royal Cornwall Museum to explore. Much of Cornwall’s heritage includes mining and engineering, and the Royal Cornwall Museum has extensive records of the same. Its art collection displays an artistic side of the County, and its collection of rare books and manuscripts can teach you plenty about it all.
Something you may not expect to see in this Museum is a genuine Egyptian mummy housed in a dedicated Egyptian exhibition. The variety of exhibits extends beyond that of Cornwall, bringing you historical exhibits from all over the world.
With activities aplenty to take part in, you can spend a good few hours of your day basking in the history and heritage of the County. After all, all days offer opportune moments to learn something new.
To Sum Up
Indoors or outdoors, museums or beaches, Cornwall has everything a vacation-goer could ever want from a holiday destination. Its pleasant climate, varied activities and heritage to take part in and learn may very well have this County steal your heart.
The most convenient way to go about your holiday in Cornwall is to travel by car. That way, you won’t be hamstrung by the timings of public transport, and arrive or leave a destination as you desire.
You can’t rush through your vacation in this County, as there is simply too much to explore in a few days. Take your time with each destination and book ahead of time, especially during summer, to enjoy your time in Cornwall.
Those are just a few of Cornwall’s most picturesque and exciting destinations! Explore to your heart’s content, and happy travelling!
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