Five must-see towns on your first Cornwall Holiday

Date Posted: 26 Sep 2023

If a Cornish holiday is on the cards and it’s your first time visiting the county, you may be wondering where the best towns are to visit in Cornwall.

Each Cornish town is unique, from quaint seaside town to friendly yet lively beachie hotspots. Remember, the scenery varies depending on which coast you choose, the north more rugged with fabulous surfing conditions, the west wildly beautiful and wonderful, and the south scenic and calming.

Rest assured the towns in Cornwall offer something for everyone, here our top five must-see destinations will help you to create an unforgettable holiday.


Situated on the south coast, Falmouth is a harbour town with a real buzz in the air. Home to Falmouth University, it’s friendly, cultural and utterly shaped by its relationship with the sea.

A harbour town, the port has a deep-water dock, so is always a hive of shipping activity. Together with the Carrick Roads, the estuary of the River Fal, it is known to be the third largest natural harbour in the world, and is the deepest in Western Europe, measuring up to 34 metres in depth! While there’s no shortage of water, because of its sheltered location it’s not known for its surfing credentials. However, the water is quite calm and perfect for an array of alternative watersports.

Falmouth restaurants are some of the best in the county too, with seafood restaurants taking centre stage. For those of on an artistic endeavour they’re well catered for with many art galleries, plus there’s a fair scattering of independent shops, too. With so much to offer it’s no surprise that Falmouth is fast becoming one of the most exciting towns in Cornwall.


If you’ve heard this harbour town referred to as Padstein, that’s a good indication of its foodie credentials. But while Rick Stein may have put Padstow on the food map with his Seafood Restaurant which opened back in 1975, the Cornish town’s fabulous food scene has continued to grow ever since. Seafood restaurants certainly dominate, but there’s plenty of other options too from fine dining to laidback cafes. You’ll also find a Michelin starred restaurant in Padstow thanks to celebrity chef Paul Ainsworth.

With Padstow all roads lead to the harbour, so it’s a great spot to sit back and enjoy this town in Cornwall in all its glory. Picturesque and charming, it’s a popular place to visit. For beaches you’ll need to travel – being on the north coast there’s some breathtakingly beautiful ones just a few miles away – but you’ll get sea views aplenty from the bustling harbour.

St Ives

If there’s one town in Cornwall that you’ve heard of, it’s probably St Ives. Often called the ‘jewel in Cornwall’s crown’, St Ives is a picturesque fishing town on the west coast, which has to be seen to be believed.

And there’s lots to love about this seaside town in Cornwall, which is vibrant with a charming Cornish buzz. Not only has it some beautiful beaches to explore, there are art galleries galore too, with Tate St Ives being world famous.

Your appetites are in for a treat in this fishing town, too, as St Ives restaurants offer such creative variation. The mouth-watering menus showcased in idyllic eateries dotted about St Ives charming streets, many of which come with sea views as standard, serve up delicious Cornish cuisine.

If you can, get out on the water while you’re visiting St Ives, it’s truly beautiful, from boat trips to watersports, visitors are spoilt for choice.


With its family friendly atmosphere and award-winning beaches, if you haven’t got this Cornish town on your radar, be sure to add it.

A compact seaside town in north east Cornwall, we believe it’s one of best towns to visit in Cornwall with something for everyone. Home to the iconic Bude seapool, refreshed twice daily by the tides, it’s free to use, giving visitors a chance to enjoy freshwater swim without the waves. If it’s good surf you’re after fear not, Bude’s beaches are praised for its surfing scene.

Or for something more tranquil head to Bude Canal, where you’ll spot an array of wild birds, there’s also a tow path for those who like to explore on two wheels. If you were hoping for some thigh-burning coastal walks, this stretch of the coast path is truly impressive.


Historically a fishing port, Newquay is a vibrant seaside towns in Cornwall with plenty to see and do. Arguably most famed for its incredible beaches, many of which have scooped prestigious awards. From Fistral Beach to Watergate Bay, they’re best known for the epic waves for Newquay surfers but many are also perfect for building sandcastles and unwinding.

Newquay has a lovely family-friendly feel, with its fabulous attractions. Animal lovers are spoilt for choice with both Newquay Zoo and Newquay Blue Reef Aquarium here.

An independent food haven, including many vegan and vegetarian options, there’s no shortage of good places to eat in Newquay. Newquay restaurants offer such variation, from beachside hangouts and street food style to formal fish restaurants for a fancier affair.


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