There’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition, and the Devon vs Cornwall debate is an ongoing one, and something many weigh up when trying to decide on a staycation destination.
Devon is indeed the third biggest county in the country, and almost double the size of Cornwall, although Cornwall does trump on the coastline front as the longest in the UK with over 600 miles, and three coasts to explore. Whereas Devon’s impressive National Parks, Exmoor and Dartmoor, are a large part of its appeal.
Holiday cottages in Cornwall and Devon share many of the same attributes, from stunning sea-view apartments to countryside cottages full of charm – you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to holiday accommodation. But when choosing between these two counties for a holiday, it’s important to consider the style of holiday you’re after.
While we may be somewhat biased, Cornwall comes up top for us (did you know over 25 per cent of Cornwall is designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, impressive hey…), our blog takes a look at the neighbouring county’s credentials, so you can choose where to stay.
The beach at Porthcurno, Cornwall ©National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole
As with any holiday, proximity to beaches and the quality of beaches nearby is a big swaying factor. In Cornwall you’re never more than 16 miles from the sea, with over 400 beaches to explore, with three coastlines offering something unique. If it’s a surfing holiday you’re after, then Cornwall’s water is the champion, with the north coast in particular world-famous for its surfing credentials.
Devon’s beaches – while equally beautiful and often awarded for their picturesque qualities – are fewer in numbers with around 120 beaches. Much like Cornwall, the two coasts – north and south – in Devon offer beachgoers different flavours.
The Seafood Restaurant food Rick Stein - © Sam Harris
The biggest controversy surrounding food often harks back to the cream tea debate, Cornwall being firm believers that it’s jam first, and Devon doing things all wrong and kicking things off with cream. While it’s up to you to decide how you like to enjoy your scone, it is worth remembering that Cornwall is the home to clotted cream, which is integral to a cream tea, therefore probably knowing best.
There’s more to Cornwall’s food scene than the cream tea though, with the top tier delicacy being the humble Cornish pasty, which is recognised across the globe. To be a true Cornish pasty it must be produced to the west of the River Tamar. Cornwall is also famous for its fish, potatoes, cheese and saffron buns!
Cornwall is home to some incredible restaurants, many of which offer the best seafood in the country. Cornwall and Devon are neck and neck when it comes to Michelin starred restaurants, both proud owners to three each.
Sunset at Nanjizal, also known as Mill Bay, a beach and cove near Lands End, Cornwall Cornwall England UK Europe. ©Ian Woolcock Shutterstock
Much like the rest of the UK, both Cornwall and Devon’s weather is changeable. However, due to the effects of the Gulf Stream, Cornwall has the sunniest and mildest climate in the whole of the UK. Cornwall also has some of the longest hours of sunlight, too. On 18 July 2022 Bude, in North Cornwall, experienced a record high for Cornwall of 36°C.
Modern Conversations collection display, installation view at Tate St Ives, 2021. Photo © Kirstin Prisk
Cornwall is known to be rich in history, art and literature. The Cornish landscape has inspired many from Daphne Du Maurier and Barbara Hepworth. During the 18th century, Cornwall was the mining centre of the world, famous for its base metal and tin production. There’s even a Cornish language, which dates back to pre-Roman times.
You could easily fill a week exploring either counties, visiting top attractions, beaches, woodlands and trying your hand at new activities. Surrounded by water, Cornwall’s activities often involve a watersports, which is a huge appeal to families. However, there really is something for everyone, with a plethora of National Trust sites, castles, gardens, as well as family attractions, such as theme parks, zoos and aquariums.
Devon’s wild land is certainly an attraction with both Dartmoor and Exmoor to explore, it’s also home to many historic sites.
We can’t deny that Cornwall is further from almost everywhere than Devon, and as Devon has two cities the public transport is favourable. But we think you’ll agree that while Cornwall may take that little longer to reach, it’s worth the wait.
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