For rustic coastlines, turquoise coves, sandy beaches, quaint seaside towns, fish and chips, cream teas, pasties, chic hotels, camping sites galore and its charming West Country twang – visit Cornwall. And all these wonderful things are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cornwall’s finest offerings and why this picturesque corner of our little island is such a hotspot for tourists seeking a laid-back British break.
To give you your next dose of staycation inspiration, we’ve come up with our top 10 reasons to visit Cornwall. Have we missed anything off?
1. Cracking Cream Teas
It’s practically a crime to visit Cornwall without sampling one of their world-famous cream teas – complete with an indulgent serving of Cornish clotted cream, of course. Unlike the Devonshire method, a traditional Cornish cream tea involves splitting a warm scone in two and spreading each side with strawberry jam first, before topping it with a generous dollop of clotted cream.
But if savoury treats are more to your taste, don’t fret – Cornwall’s got you covered. You can’t go wrong with a freshly made Cornish pasty or some top-notch, freshly caught fish and chips. It always tastes better by the seaside!
Jane Duckworth of Jane’s World is a big fan of Cornwall’s food and drink scene, singing praises of the Cornish cheeses and saffron buns:
“For me it’s a privilege to call the beautiful peninsula county of Cornwall my birthplace, because there’s such a variety of things to do here. From visiting historical Cornish sites like Botallack Mine, which is used by the BBC as a filming location for Poldark, or the world famous Eden Project, where a disused clay pit has been cleverly transformed into a plant lovers paradise and where thrill seekers can zip wire across high the biomes!
Visitors to Cornwall are also in for a culinary treat as Cornish people truly do take their food and drink seriously. Apart from the delicious and totally unmissable Cornish pasties and Cornish cream teas, it’s also worth looking out for Yarg and Cornish Blue cheese or traditional saffron buns, which can all be washed down with a refreshing glass of local Camel Valley wine or lashings of Sharps Doombar beer. ‘Ansome!”
If you think Cornwall is beautiful at land level, just wait until you see it from the skies and the big blue – talk about a cream tea afternoon with a twist! Start with an invigorating hike along a stunning, eight-mile coastal route before climbing aboard a chopper for an unforgettable helicopter experience. Once you’re back on solid ground, you’ll be whisked away on a delightful voyage across the Cornish waters on a choice of pleasure cruise or self-drive motorboat to explore the breathtaking coastline. After your big day of adventure, tuck into a delicious traditional Cornish cream tea for two with tea, scones, clotted cream and jams aplenty. Just remember – jam first!
2. Beautiful Boutique Hotels
Cornwall is one of the most popular holiday spots in the UK and for good reason. Not only does it have a spectacular coastline and its very own sub-tropical climate, but there are more beautiful boutique hotels, manor houses and B&Bs than you can shake a stick at! Here’s a few of our favourite getaways.
Treat yourself and a loved one to an overnight stay at The Wellington – a charming Grade-II listed, 16th century coaching inn at Boscastle on the north Cornwall coast. The perfect base for exploring Boscastle’s picturesque harbour, you’ll also have access to the South West Coast Path and lots of scenic National Trust walks to explore. After a sunny day of adventures, head back to The Wellington for a sumptuous three-course evening meal at its award-winning restaurant before resting your weary walking legs in the cosy super king size bed in your luxurious Double Turret room.
For the full Cornish experience, you need look no further than The Lugger, the stylish hotspot hotel perched on the water’s edge of Portloe. Picture the charming character of this stunning 17th-century smuggler’s inn, the wind in your hair as you trek the nearby coastal path and the smile on your face as you indulge in a hearty breakfast at The Lugger’s AA rosette restaurant – delicious.
3. Breathtaking Beaches
Cornwall has a glorious coastline, jam-packed with stunning golden sand beaches, dramatic cliff faces and thousands of hidden coves to explore. With over 400 beaches, the Cornish coast offers a stunning selection of rugged pebbled beaches, windy surfing shores and crystal blue waters to rival those on the Med.
Beaches such as Porthcurno, Kynance Cove and Carbis Bay look as though they’ve been pulled straight from the front of a postcard and are a real treat for sunseekers, sandcastle builders and surfers alike. If you’re after a beach holiday in the UK with some serious character, Cornwall is where it’s at.
Beth Sachs of popular food and family blog Jam and Clotted Cream regularly makes great use of the nearby beaches:
“Apart from the traditional Cornish cream tea (which goes without saying!), you can’t beat an evening beach BBQ (our local beach is Widemouth near Bude) watching the sun setting with a cheeky glass of Camel Valley fizz in your hand. My idea of heaven!”
4. The Eden Project
In the heart of Cornwall’s clay mining country, sits the county’s most iconic attraction – the Eden Project. Nestled in a huge crater, the greenhouse complex is made up of two large biomes, homing an impressive collection of plant species from around the globe. Each biome simulates a distinct biosphere, the first being a humid tropical climate featuring a jungle environment and the other boasting a warm temperate climate, with plant species from the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.
Do you fancy yourself as the next Greta Thunberg or David Attenborough? If so, it’s time to visit The Eden Project. Wonder through rainforests, marvel at wild waterfalls and experience tropical climes at these wondrous domes dedicated to environmental conservation. The garden displays are stunning all year round and the venue includes world-class sculpture and art and an educational centre to inspire all ages. So, what are you waiting for?
5. Water Sport Wonderland
The surf in Cornwall is the best you’ll find in the UK and there are dozens of fantastic surfing hotspots scattered along the North coast especially, such as Trevone Bay in Padstow, Porthleven near Helston and Perranporth Beach in Perranporth. Fistral Beach in Newquay is also famous for hosting the annual Boardmasters Festival and is incredibly popular with both tourists and locals, thanks to its host of bars, restaurants and bustling nightlife.
The fun doesn’t end with just surfing either – there are tonnes of water sports centres offering numerous fun activities, from stand up paddleboarding to kayaking and jet skiing!
For seafaring adrenaline junkies, this coastal powerboating RIB tour in Padstow is a must try. Setting sail from the gorgeous Camel Estuary, explore the rugged beauty of the local coastline and keep an eye out for some sealife on your aquatic adventure. But hold on tight – the skipper is guaranteed to open up the throttle en route!
What could possibly be cooler than a jet ski safari? Start off with some professional jet ski tuition and learn how to handle the powerful Yahama Waverunner before rip curling across the surf at Lusty Glaze in Newquay and heading out to sea. You’ll experience the sea safari of a lifetime, with unique views of secluded beaches, secret coves and a few close ups of a few wild friends, including puffins, seals and dolphins. Gnarly, dude!
6. Marvellous Marine Wildlife
If you’re a big nature lover, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the local marine wildlife including seals, dolphins and whales, which can often be spotted from the shores of Cornwall. The best way to witness the animals in action is by boat, so why not join a dolphin and whale watching trip or a sealife safari for your best chance of catching them in their natural habitat?
RIB boat rides are a fantastic, high-speed way to explore more of the rugged Cornish coast and spot some beautiful marine wildlife. Hop aboard and learn from your professional guide as they share their knowledge of sealife and places of interest as you head out from Padstow into the Atlantic Ocean. Spot local wildlife, from dolphins, seals and a variety of birds and in the summer months, you might even catch a glimpse of a sunfish or basking shark! Cameras at the ready, people.
7. Scenic Coastal Walks
There’s no better way to clear your mind than by embarking a coastal walk – and with 269 miles of coastline, Cornwall is a rambler’s dream! On a sunny day, you’ll feel like you’ve just arrived in paradise, as you glance out over the blue sea and even bluer skies. So pop on some walking shoes and explore the steep wave-carved cliffs, sandy beaches, leafy footpaths, fishing villages and historic remains left behind at the water’s edge. Of course, most walking routes pass by a few pubs, so there are plenty of opportunities for a pit stop pint or two.
Anna Clark, the personality behind The Cornish Life is a huge fan of her home county’s breathtaking coastline:
“My favourite thing about Cornwall is how spoilt for choice we are on our coastline! Every section is different, from the rugged wild cliffs on Penwith, to the jungle-like riverbanks on the Helford river, or the soft sandy dunes around St. Ives Bay or near Newquay. It makes every day trip so unique and it’s basically impossible to get bored of the ocean here.”
Looking for something a little more adventurous? A day out exploring the coastline and hidden sea caves should be just the ticket and will definitely get the adrenaline pumping!
For something a little different, this one-hour RIB boat trip from Padstow harbour is the perfect way to get a unique view of Cornwall’s incredible coastline and hidden coves. On your trip you’ll spot all sorts of wildlife before getting up close and personal with the resident seals at Seals Cave. This is definitely a salty sea cave experience to remember.
8. Glamper’s Paradise
For those who love to immerse themselves in nature, glamping is a fantastic way to enjoy a camping experience by the coast, without being deprived of creature comforts. As the perfect hybrid between traditional camping and hotel accommodation, these specially-designed glamping units are furnished with cosy beds and cooking facilities, while maintaining their authentic countryside setting.
Whether visiting as a family, couple or group of friends, there are various options to decide between, from classic camping pods or yurts, to uniquely designed hobbit huts, complete with comfy futon beds and folding tables. Many venues are dog-friendly too, meaning your four-legged companion needn’t miss out on the fun!
Nestled away in Cornwall’s Luxulyan Valley world heritage site, this cosy hobbit hut awaits your arrival. Escape the stresses of everyday life for a magical escape and spend two nights in this cute little cottage hidden within the natural woodland. Each hut comes with a double futon, fold up tables, a cooling bucket to chill things in hot weather, wooden benches, a lantern, nearby lockable shower rooms and a camping pack which includes handy items such as a gas stove, cooking utensils, mugs and plates. If you’re looking for a beautiful base from where to explore Cornwall, look no further.
9. Brilliant Breweries
If you’re partial to a pint when on holiday, Cornwall’s definitely your place! Boasting more breweries per head than anywhere else in the UK, some would argue that the South West is the beer capital of the nation. Sharp’s, for example, is one of the county’s most thriving beer companies, having become one of the fastest growing breweries in the UK since its founding in 1994. Quirky individually run breweries are cropping up all over the place, putting lesser known beers hot on the heels of the established brands. Plus, you can’t beat a beer on the beach, can you?
The Padstow Brewing Company is an award-winning microbrewery that opens their doors to guests who want to learn all about the art of beer brewing. You can even roll up your sleeves and brew your very own beer while you’re there, so head over for a day of boiling, mashing, adding hops, fermenting, pitching yeast and, of course, tasting!
10. Charming Castles and Ruins
Cornwall is a county steeped in history, so whether you’re a history buff, an explorer or a keen photographer, there are countless old ruins, castles, hill forts, abandoned mines and other relics that are well worth tracking down. One particularly notable site is the medieval ruin located in the village of Tintagel, which is world famous for being the alleged birthplace of King Arthur.
Fans of Poldark will recognise sites such as the abandoned buildings at Botallack, which provided the setting for the Poldark family mines, while the world’s best preserved historic harbour in Charlestown is represented as Poldark’s Truro-Falmouth mining port in the hit show.
Of course, Cornwall has far much more to offer than just these 10 points, but we hope they’re enough to convince you to pay a visit to this beautiful part of the country!
Looking for more travel inspiration in the South West and beyond? Be sure to check out our full selection of travel guides and short break ideas!