Do you want to enjoy a slow summer in a fishing village?
Whether it’s fishing trips or beautiful gardens that you are seeking, Cornwall is an amazing seaside town to enjoy a perfect vacation. From granite cottages to coastal paths, the county has a lot to offer, and truth be told, you cannot explore everything if you are short on time.
From St Ives and tidal island to Kynance cove or taking a walk down the south-west coast path, it’s about time you explore Cornwall. That’s why we have created an elaborate guide outlining the best places to visit and the charming towns of this pristine place.
Keep reading to know more!
What Is Cornwall Famous For?
The primary reason tourists visit this county is because of its beaches. But it isn’t something new, as visiting the seaside is kind of a tradition for English people.
Since the eighteenth century, people have visited the beautiful beaches of Cornwall to get away from the hustle-bustle and pollution of the city. And more than two hundred years on, the tradition still remains strong.
Cornwall is popular for its pleasant weather and long hours of sunshine. While much of the United Kingdom experiences cold and gloomy weather, Cornwall’s unique location gives it a mild climate all year long. The county is the most south-westerly region in the UK, and therefore, it doesn’t experience extreme weather, be it summer or winter.
Also known as the British surfing capital, Cornwall has been a hub for surfers since the 1920s, but the actual boom did not occur before the 1960s. Post that, thousands of people started visiting Cornwall every year just to surf.
Perranporth beach, Fistral beach and Padstow beach offer tall waves to surfers. So, if you have got a knack for adventure, don’t forget to bring your surfboards on the trip.
While Christmas and Thanksgiving are celebrated with enthusiasm in most parts of the UK, Cornwall has its own traditional festivals, which offer a breath of fresh air. Some of the famous ones are St Piran’s Day, Montol Festival, St. Agnes Bolster Festival, etc.
The Cornish calendar is packed with such exhilarating fests, while most weekends usually have some sort of event, so there’s never a dull day in Cornwall.
5. Cornish Pasties
Cornwall has various delicacies to offer, but cream tea and pasties come out on top. A Cornish pasty traditionally consists of chopped beef, onion, potato and the star ingredient, rutabaga. Although the recipe sounds simple, don’t let that fool you, as a Cornish pasty is much more than “just a pie.” It is an integral part of the county’s history and culture.
In Cornish tradition, women used to hail “oggie,” meaning that the pasty was ready, and the miners would reply “oi,” indicating they were coming to have it. So if you hear a woman shout “oggie” in a Cornwall county town, know that a scrumptious delicacy is coming your way!
Areas To Visit In North Cornwall
Cornwall’s north coast is home to ancient woodland, rocky gorges, and the county’s one and only moorland. It also enshrines breathtaking beaches, tranquil rivers, and an enormous sea. This part of the county is a haven for those looking for wild adventures and here’s what makes it unique:
The northern half of Cornwall county borders the Celtic sea and is famous for its drama. Staggering cliffs, which are at least 300 million years old, encompass this part of the county. As the North coast is rich in slate, granite and carboniferous sandstone, geologists from all across the world come to this region.
North Cornwall’s versatile landscapes offer diverse habitats for a large variety of wildlife. From vibrant butterflies to majestic migratory birds and marine mammals, you can see all sorts of species in this part of the county.
Bude Marsh, which is the largest nature reserve of North Cornwall, welcomes bird watchers all through the year. Some areas that are absolutely worth visiting in North Cornwall are:
1. Port Isaac
Are you a fan of the Martin Clunes-starred Doc Martin series? If yes, then you would love to visit Port Isaac, as the show was shot in this picturesque village situated on the north Cornwall coast. The village is centred around a historic harbour with an ancient pier and a contemporary seawall. In fact, the pier was constructed during the reign of King Henry VIII.
Similarly, most of the homes present near the harbour are as old as the 18th century. For those who love vintage European architecture and want to see how ancient harbour villages used to be, we suggest visiting the quaint village of Port Isaac.
2. The Lost Gardens Of Heligan
Only three decades ago, the historic gardens of Heligan were undiscovered and unseen. They were lost to the brambles since the first world war broke out but a chance discovery of the ruins led to the rehabilitation of this stunning estate.
In the Lost Gardens Of Heligan, you can walk through a magical trail surrounded by lush greenery and explore the magnificent woodlands bejewelled with radiant lanterns and installations. If you plan on visiting this mysterious garden, be sure to pre-book your tickets online. We suggest going there at night, as you would be able to enjoy the stunning lanterns in the dark.
Perched on Cornwall’s northern Atlantic coast, Newquay is famous for being voted as “one of the nation’s favourite seaside towns.” This beach town has a laid-back charm that is enjoyed by families and solo travellers alike.
Easy to reach by road, railway, and air all around the year, Newquay offers hosts of classic events alongside exhilarating activities. If you are looking for a sandy beach to relax and sunbathe on, this town houses 12 of them, the most famous one being Watergate Bay.
Furthermore, it has some hidden gems such as the Newquay Harbour, Trenance Gardens, Huers Hut, Boating Lake, etc. You can go boating or enjoy some water sports, but those who aren’t that adventurous can simply dangle their feet off the harbour and relax.
The main town of Newquay is surrounded by a number of smaller villages, which you can visit to explore the culture and heritage of Cornwall. You can enjoy the Donkey Derby in Mawgan Porth or surf on the coast of Perranporth.
4. Bodmin Moor
One of the designated “areas of outstanding natural beauty” in Cornwall, Bodmin Moor is a bleak and remote grassy moorland. Even though it is bisected by the A30 highway, ponies still come to graze at this granite-rich area.
On the northern side of the main road lie the county’s highest mountain ranges: 420-metres high, Brown Willy and 400-metres high Rough Tor. The highest church of the county in the St. Breward village is also situated on this windswept moor.
5. Tintagel Castle
The Tintagel Castle is built half on Cornwall’s mainland and half on the jagged headland that projects into the sea. It is one of the most enigmatic places not only in Cornwall but all across the United Kingdom.
When talking about this castle, we cannot help but bring up its legend and history. From the fifth to seventh century AD, Tintagel was a crucial stronghold and a residence of rulers. Geoffrey of Monmouth, a twelfth-century writer, referred to this castle as the place where King Arthur was conceived.
Times have changed, and the once glorious castle has decayed to ruins, but its legacy still goes strong. And what makes it even more famous is the long Tintagel Castle bridge, which provides a stunning and harmonic view of Cornwall’s coastal landscape.
Areas To Visit In West Cornwall
1. Land’s End
“Pedn-an-Laaz”, which means land’s end in Cornish, is quite literally the land’s end in Cornwall’s west. It is the westernmost peninsula of the county, famous for its stunning scenery, natural beauty and unique location.
Home to the famous land’s end sign, it points to major cities around the globe, such as New York, Bristol, etc. Hordes of tourists visit Cornwall every year simply to click a picture beside this signpost.
2. St Michael’s Mount
Moving on, we have St Michael’s Mount, a tiny island near Mount’s bay off the western coast of Cornwall. Built from granite intrusions into mudstones from Devon, the Mount rises majestically above the waves. And the historic castle atop it is its crowning glory, an integral part of Cornish tales and folklore.
St Michael’s Mount is known as “Carrack Looz en Cooz” in the Cornish language, which literally means “a grey rock inside the woods.” The name is ancient and refers to a time when the castle was surrounded by trees and marshes before flooding.
This island is accessible by a causeway only during the low or medium tide, so keep that in mind while booking your tickets. You can also reach it during high tide through a boat trip, but it’s not advisable. To reach the island, you’ll first have to reach one of the popular tourist towns, Marazion, which is only a 15-minute ride from Penzance.
Areas To Visit In South Cornwall
The South coast of Cornwall is full of surprises. And when viewed from above, it looks like the county has been covered with a thick green carpet as the hills gracefully roll down to the picturesque shoreline.
A. Market Towns
South Cornwall is known for its small and old-school market towns like St. Austell and Falmouth. You can walk through the narrow alleys of the town and find vintage souvenirs to take back home.
B. Water Activities
Being a seaside paradise, Cornwall is home to a whole lot of beaches and fun water activities. You can surf on the high tides or get on fishing boats as the sun goes down. But if that isn’t your cup of tea, you can simply enjoy a walk on the beach.
Some Cornwall attractions in the southern part of the county are:
1. Minack Theatre
Minack is derived from the Cornish word ‘meynek,’ which refers to a rocky place. Although the theatre looks age-old, if you had visited it in 1931, you would have seen nothing but a steep cliff with a 90-foot drop into the sea.
Perched on the craggy cliffs of Cornwall’s south coast, the Minack Theatre is a dream come true for thespians. This theatre is known to have a life of its own, and when the artists perform in this dramatic setting, one cannot help having goosebumps. And the roaring sea in the backdrop only adds to the surreal experience.
2. Roseland Heritage Coast
With St Austell Bay on its east and Fal Estuary on its west, Roseland Heritage Coast is designated as “Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” This is mostly because of its breathtaking scenery and coastal landscape.
While its peninsular waters are a favourite spot for windsurfers, canoeists and yachtsmen, the coast also offers beautiful walking routes. If you want to entwine your hands in your lover’s and go for a long walk at dusk, this place is an ideal choice.
Whether you want to sunbathe in peace or feel like enjoying water sports, the Roseland Heritage peninsula is filled with beaches to experience all of it.
3. St. Austell
Discovered in the mid-eighteenth century, St. Austell is one of the largest towns in Cornwall. However, it has been an important mining site long before it was discovered and put on a map.
A Devonian chemist discovered massive amounts of china clay deposits in the town in the eighteenth century, and since then, the porcelain production industry has become its key economic driver. The industry has fizzled out over time, but its remnants still influence the culture of St. Austell.
There’s the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum with insight into porcelain production through interactive displays. But for those interested in wine and fine dining, St. Austell brewery is open for tours and offers a string of pubs and amazing nightlife.
However, the town is most famous for its proximity to the Eden Project (only 3 kilometres away). Interestingly, the biomes of the Eden Project were constructed in abandoned china clay pits.
Located on the southern coast of Cornwall in a sheltered bay, Falmouth is another prominent town in the county, which is best explored on foot. As you walk, you will find rustic old docks and harbours on one side and beautiful beaches on the other, separated by grassy lands and the Tudor castle.
But don’t let the rustic look of the port fool you, as it is still functional and harbours huge ships. Furthermore, Falmouth has an air of prosperity about it, which is strengthened by a row of grand hotels overlooking a sandy beach on its southern bay.
You might have heard of the famous Pendennis Castle, which was built by King Henry VIII to defend the historic harbour of Falmouth. So, don’t forget to tour this architectural masterpiece while you’re in town.
The National Maritime Museum is also worth visiting if you are a history lover. This swanky building overlooks the dock and houses twelve galleries and a huge library. The exhibitions feature the port’s and its boats’ history, wildlife, weather, and various other interactive displays.
5. Lizard Peninsula
The unique geology of the lizard peninsula makes it a haven of rare flora and fauna. If you take a walk along the coastline of the peninsula, you will find a number of small fishing ports with massive granite sea walls to protect them from gales.
Famous for being the most southerly point of the UK, the peninsula is dotted with beautiful sandy bays. And how can we forget its delicious seafood, which is sourced locally and could very well be the freshest seafood we have ever tasted.
Some Beaches To Visit In Cornwall
Cornwall is especially famous for its stunning beaches and relaxed summers. So, don’t forget to check out these beaches while you are there:
- St. Ives
- Sennen Beach
- Perranporth Beach
- Fistral Beach
- Godrevy Beach
Home to one of the most picturesque regions in the UK, Cornwall is a quaint county overlooking the Atlantic ocean. Cornwall tours are incomplete if you don’t walk down the cobbled streets of a cornish town, enjoy a picnic in east Cornwall or collect souvenirs from independent shops.
Some of the best areas to visit in Cornwall are St Michael’s Mount, The Eden Project and the Lizard Peninsula. You can also take a walk in The Lost Gardens Of Heligan and enjoy the lantern show.
If your trip is a short one, do prioritise visiting Falmouth and Newquay, while among the beaches, we suggest visiting St Ives or Fistral, as they are the cleanest ones. Have a happy vacation!
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