Want to know how to best spend your days while visiting Cornwall? With plenty to pack in on a holiday in Cornwall, where memories last a lifetime, a trip to this corner of the world can go way beyond days at the beach (although that does come highly recommended).
A Cornwall holiday provides plenty of opportunities to try something new, whether it’s a creative workshop or a new watersport, you’ll never be bored here.
To make sure you maximise your time spent here, we’ve put together a list of the top 15 things to do on your Cornwall holiday.
Wild swimming is no fad, health gurus have long lauded this ‘green exercise’ as spiritual balm and its popularity shows no sign of waning. A wellbeing trend, wild swimming is an immersion in cold-water nature at a beach, lake, river or cove, meaning your Cornwall holiday is the perfect place to try something new.
Depending on which time of year you take the plunge, it can be quite shocking at first, but then so refreshing and revitalising as your body acclimatises. For beginners we suggest heading to Bude Sea Pool is ideal if you are new to wild swimming, refreshed by the sea but also lifeguarded during the summer, plus it’s free to use. Equally, Penzance’s Jubilee Pool is perfect for people new to wild swimming, the Art Deco open-air pool is a work of art, too.
The Duchy is famously surrounded by water, and a reason many choose to holiday in Cornwall. The perfect opportunity to try your hand at a new hobby, why not challenge yourself with a water-based activity?
Whether you want to carve the waves with a surfing lesson, enjoy the peacefulness of paddleboarding or up the adrenaline with wakeboarding, Cornwall’s watersport scene is varied with popular beaches offering a whole host to try.
Minack Theatre, Porthcurno
Cornwall offers something for all ages from historic tin mines to an open-air theatre, or any number of attractions with animals many scooping awards for excellence. While the Eden Project, Minack Theatre and National Maritime Museum are all well-known, Cornwall also has plenty of charming attraction which are less well known, and in turn are a little quieter too.
Holywell beach, North Cornwall. National Trust Images John Gerrish
No holiday in Cornwall is complete without visiting one of our stunning beaches. Did you know there’s said to be over 400 beaches on Cornwall’s coast, from Blue Flag awarded bays to hidden coves only accessible at low tide. Obviously, going to the ones close by is a good start, but we suggest you cast your net a little further and explore as many as you can. A good place to start is looking at our Cornwall Beach Guide, where you’ll find plenty of inspiration.
Put some time aside to wander the charming picturesque Cornish villages and towns. Steeped in history, myth and legend, there’s often a story to hear. You’ll often feel like you’re travelling back in time with quaint fisherman cottages and cobbled streets. Your best bet is to head to the harbour, some of which are still working today, where you can see the imports and exports go by and the boats bob up and down. Take refuge in a traditional Cornish inn once you’ve finished exploring.
Cornwall’s larder is world famous, the most well-known is the Cornish pasty, which has to to be produced to the west of the River Tamar to count. Equally reputable is a Cornish cream tea, traditionally consisting of tea, scones, Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam.
With 80 per cent of Cornwall being surrounded by sea, our fish is wonderfully fresh. Pilchards (sardine’s big brother) is a main ingredient for Stargazy Pie, another Cornish delicacy. We’re also known for our delectable cheeses, Cornish Yarg is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese which is wrapped in nettle. In bakeries you’ll find a saffron bun or cake on display, but save room for a Cornish ice cream which use Cornish clotted cream to create a sensational creamy taste and velvety texture.
Ugly Butterfly ©John Hersey
It’s not every day you get to enjoy Cornish cuisine, so on your Cornwall holiday enhance your experience by opting for a restaurant with a sea view. We have some of the best restaurants here in Cornwall, as culinary greatness graces the county, but something we can’t be rivalled on is our epic sea views.
The Wheal Prosper engine house perched on cliffs at Rinsey Head near Porthleven, Cornwall. ©National Trust Images John Dietz
In Cornwall we’re lucky enough to have over 50 National Trust sites to visit across the county. Given that over half of the Cornish coast is owned by the National Trust, alongside preservation of Cornwall’s industrial heritage sites such as fishing coves and tin mining sites, you’re never far away from a National Trust site in the South West. See our top five National Trust sites in Cornwall, here.
Wooden signpost on the coastal path at Carnewas at Bedruthan, Cornwall
The South West Coast Path is seriously impressive. 640 miles long, and dotted across all three of Cornwall’s coasts, if you like a coastal walk you’re spoilt for choice on your Cornwall holiday.
With atmospheric fishing coves, impressive headlands, engine houses, turquoise waters, and historic remains, there’s so much to discover on foot. The walks can be very strenuous in parts, so plan ahead and you’ll be rewarded with some epic views.
The abandoned beam engine houses of the Crowns section of Botallack Mine near St Just, Cornwall. The steam-driven engines were used for pumping water, and conveying ore and miners up and down, when the St Just area was an important centre for mining tin, copper and other minerals. ©National Trust Images David Sellman
Cornish tin was trading for around 4000 years, and at one time, Cornwall had 2,000 tin mines. Learn about the tin mining heritage then visiting one of the historical sites such as Wheal Martyn, the Tolgus Tin Mill, Heartlands Poldark Mine and Geevor Tin Mine, the largest preserved tin mining site in the country.
Could there be a better souvenir to take home from your Cornwall holiday than one you’ve made yourself? From glass blowing and jewellery making to stone carving and pottery, Cornwall runs a host of creative workshops to get involved in.
St Ives eBikes
If you like to enjoy active getaways, why not embrace life on two wheels through the Cornish countryside by hiring a bike? Cornwall is primed for active breaks, in fact, there are miles of tracks to be explored from wild woodland to sweeping coastal tracks.
Most famous is the Camel Trail, which stretches for almost 18 miles on a discarded railway between Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow. Mainly traffic free, largely flat, select a section depending how many miles you want to cover. If you’re up for something more challenging you’ll certainly feel the burn on coastal routes, but there’s always the option to hire an e-bike to make pedal power a little easier.
AK Wildlife Cruises, Falmouth
Cornwall is teeming with wildlife thanks to its diverse landscape. You won’t have to travel far on your Cornwall holiday to see a plethora of animals, fish and plants. Both on land and at sea, if you are seeking bird watching in Cornwall, with its many miles of coastline and mild climate, it attracts migratory birds and some unusual ones at that. Or perhaps marine wildlife floats your boat, why not embark on a sea safari where you’re likely to spot seals, dolphins and even whales.
Mazey Day, Penzance. ©Mike Newman
While Cornwall has a reputation as a somewhat sleepy county, local events take place all year round, from music events, festivals and Cornish celebrations. BY attending a local event – whether it’s live music in a pub or a food pop-up – it’s a great way to get a taste for true Cornish life.
The St Ives Co © Josh Harkon
On your Cornwall holiday it’s likely you’ll want to bring back a souvenir or Cornish gift to remind you of your trip. Cornwall produces stunning artisanal goods across the county, from coffee to candles. Take time to browse some of Cornwall’s independent boutiques, we’re sure you’ll find a thing or two to take home with you.
Cornwall Holiday Cottages to book now