Are you looking for the most beautiful places in Cornwall?
Landmarked by towering cliffs soaring out of the wild Atlantic Ocean, punctuated with charming fishing villages, the squeal of seagulls in the air and the brisk sea breeze pushing away from the coastline; there’s a reason that tourists keep flocking to Cornwall, time and time again.
Cornwall’s sheer beauty is nationally recognised, often topping the list of the most aesthetic areas of the UK.
But where’s the creme de la creme, the best of the best in Cornwall?
I’m a Cornwall travel expert; my family are from the region (we’ve traced our ancestors back to the 14th century!) and I live just over the River Tamar in Devon, so I’m always popping over to see as much of Cornwall as possible.
I’ve ticked off all of Cornwall’s most beautiful spots on my many trips to the southwestern region, and in this article, I’m going to share them all with you!
What are the most beautiful places in Cornwall?
The most beautiful places in Cornwall include Pedn Vounder Beach, fishing villages like Polperro, Mousehole and Port Isaac, heritage coastlines Hartland and Penwith and hidden gems such as Wheal Coates and the Rame Peninsula. Here’s my full list!
Pedn Vounder Beach
Sitting on the coast of Southern Penwith, around 20 minutes drive from Penzance but a stone’s throw from Porthcurno, is Pedn Vounder Beach; often regarded to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall.
Sandwiched between sky-high cliffs, the white sands of this beach glisten and contrast with the bright blue sea; it’s one of Cornwall’s beaches that doesn’t look like it could possibly be in the UK!
While it’s often in the news due to its sheer beauty, its isolation means that it never gets too busy.
You could also head to Porthcurno Beach on the South West Coast Path, which is nearby and just as beautiful – take in views of Land’s End on the way.
Or hike on the cliff paths to the tiny village of Lamorna.
Quintessential coastal charm meets a peaceful fishing village in Polperro, which is located in South East Cornwall.
The village’s streets hark tales that voyage all the way back to the 13th century when it started to grow as a fishing village.
The cobbled streets peter out to the rocky harbour; here, smugglers used the complex coastline, with many caves and hiding spaces, to hide their contraband from the authorities.
Admire the distinctly different fisher’s cottages, including Shell House and various pubs, or enjoy a pint in Blue Peter Inn, one of South Cornwall’s most charismatic pubs.
When standing above Mousehole’s scenic harbour, where boats bob on effortlessly blue water and lush green hills roll into the sea, you’ll find it easy to understand how this is one of the prettiest places in Cornwall.
In fact, for me, it might win the award for the most scenic village in the region.
Dylan Thomas agreed with me – he described it as “the loveliest village in England”.
Tiny streets, lined with traditional cottages, span back from the cobbled harbour, eventually leading up to viewpoints where you can take in extraordinary panoramas of Mount’s Bay.
However, there’s much more to Mousehole than meets the eye.
There’s been a harbour here since around 400 AD; for a long time, it was one of the most important harbours in Cornwall.
Its history includes attacks by Barbary Pirates and Spanish armies (who burned the village to the ground in 1595).
You’ll also encounter tales of it being the last bastion for the Cornish language, 19th century lockdowns due to cholera and the tragic Penlee lifeboat disaster.
This is a pie made out of fish heads and celebrates a man who ventured out into the rough seas one night to fish and feed the village.
Doc Martin may have made it famous, but Port Isaac constantly exudes a timeless charm that always ensures it’s firmly on the most beautiful places in Cornwall lists.
Seagulls squawk overhead as you explore its idyllic cobblestone streets, lined on either side by terraced cottages.
The narrow streets (Port Isaac’s home to the fantastically-named Squeeze-ee-Belly Alley) peter out to the calm harbour, where boats float on the gently lapping sea.
Of course, one of the main attractions here is to do a Doc Martin tour, which will detail everything you need to know about the popular TV show.
But Port Isaac was one of the most scenic places in Cornwall long before Doc Martin started filming there – and if you’ve never seen an episode, it’s still worth visiting this stunning village.
Grab some fish and chips on the harbour, dine at The Slipway, or hike to the cliffs above to catch an enchanting view of the harbour.
“What’s your favourite beach in Cornwall?” I used to ask my grandma, who was born in the town of Camborne.
“Carbis Bay, no question” she would always reply. “The palm trees, the white sand… who needs Barbados when this is just down the road?”.
It’s a little different to Barbados, but there’s no denying that, if you saw a photo of Carbis Bay Beach on a clear day, you’d think it was somewhere much more tropical than the UK.
Perch on the fine sand and gaze out over St Ives Bay, or step into the gorgeously clear water – unlike other beaches in North Cornwall, Carbis Bay is safe for swimming as it’s sheltered.
The beach boasts a range of amenities, and it’s only a short walk from St Ives, with its other beaches, winding streets and a fantastic range of restaurants.
Enjoy this particularly scenic part of Cornwall by walking from St Ives or Carbis Bay to Lelant along the South West Coast Path, or hop on the St Erth to St Ives branch train, which spans the bay.
Hartland Heritage Coast
Cornwall’s beauty tends to lie in its dramatics, and the Hartland Heritage Coast is no exception.
Sprawling across the northeastern corner of the county, from Bude into Devon, the Hartland Heritage Coast is a rollercoaster series of high cliffs and deep combes, waterfalls gushing through the rocky terrain and hidden beaches that’ll make you feel like you’ve discovered a secret world.
Thanks too Hartland Heritage Coast’s ruggedness, it remains rather isolated, only visited by foolhardy souls hiking from Hartland Quay to Bude (the toughest section of the South West Coast Path in my opinion!) or by travellers happy to drive down country lanes to park in small, quiet car parks.
Visit places like Duckpool Beach, Stanbury Beach or Welcombe (which is, charmingly, actually over the border in Devon), or walk along the expansive Sandymouth Beach, which is one of the best near Bude.
Penwith Heritage Coast
Cornwall’s dotted with these pockets of heritage coastline, and Penwith borders the county far to the west.
Sandwiched between Cape Cornwall (which was believed to be the furthest west part of Cornwall until modern cartography proved otherwise!) and Land’s End (now known to be the southwesterly point of mainland UK), the Penwith Heritage Coast is a series of tall, craggy cliffs and white sand beaches.
From the coastal path on the Penwith Heritage Coast, you’ll encounter a real sense of being at “the end of the world”; indeed, at one point, people believed that they’d fall off the map if they carried on west from here!
Look out for dolphins and seals, and gaze up into the sky to potentially catch a glimpse of Cornish choughs.
Explore this coastline by hiking around Sennen Cove; the path north out of the village leads to the Penwith coastline.
Or, park in St Just and head out to the coastline!
I also love the coastline around nearby Pendeen.
A historic mining area (you can learn all about it at the Geevor Tin Mine), the landscape here peters out to exposed red rock amongst bright blue water.
Jagged rocks thrust into a bright blue ocean, Bedruthan Steps is a National Trust-owned area that attracts tourists from all over.
Created due to gradual sea erosion – this part of the Cornish coastline is powerful – Bedruthan Steps resemble stepping stones.
The main attraction is the viewpoint looking out over the rocks themselves, but this is also on the excellent Portcothan to Newquay hike which encompasses some of Cornwall’s best beaches.
The beach at Bedruthan Steps is currently closed due to the danger of possible cliff slides, with papers stating that “nature has reclaimed it”.
But it’s worth visiting for the views alone, whether you’re hiking around the area or just parking up and seeing the viewpoint!
One of the most exceptional allures to Cornwall is that it delivers from all angles. Virtually every mile of the coastline is scenic, from the Hartland Heritage Coast to Penwith Heritage Coast.
The Rame Peninsula is South East Cornwall’s answer to Hartland and Penwith.
Known as “forgotten Cornwall”, this headland spurs out into the English Channel, marking the end of Plymouth Sound and the beginning of South Cornwall’s coastline.
Rame Head thrusts into the sea, landmarked by a small historic church and with steep cliffs on all sides.
From Rame Head, you can walk to Cawsand and Kingsand, two charming villages that don’t usually get quite as busy as other spots in Cornwall.
Rame Peninsula is frequently known as “forgotten Cornwall” because it’s trickier to reach; after crossing over the Tamar from Plymouth you’ll need to venture south on complicated A roads.
You can also explore the area by taking a ferry from Plymouth over to Cremyll or (in the summer) Cawsand and Kingsand.
Mining culture is centric to Cornish history, with swathes of the region being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its crumbling engine houses which merge gracefully with the rocky coastline.
Wheal Coates is a fantastic example of this.
A historic tin mine, this engine house was where miners used to venture underground.
It’s been abandoned for over a century, but many of the ruins still stand intact today.
Situated near St Agnes (I love this particular stretch of coastline thanks to its mining heritage and excellent views), Wheal Coates is particularly loved when its silhouette stands out amongst the sunset.
You can reach Wheal Coates by walking out onto the South West Coast Path from St Agnes – it’s around a 45-minute walk.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this original collab post!
This was originally a collab post with a few other bloggers – thanks to everyone who originally contributed!
- Lotte from Gezond Week Menu
- Susan from Thrifty after 50
- Ella from Many More Maps – check out her guide to accommodations in Perranporth
- By Lieze from Glitter Rebel – check out her guide to most beautiful beaches in the UK
- Kim from The Adventure To Me
- Suzanne from Meandering Wild – check out her guide to St Michael’s Mount
- Anjali from Cheerful Trails
Most beautiful places in Cornwall unlocked!
I’m a little biased, but I strongly believe that there’s nowhere quite like Cornwall.
It’s unmatched in the UK when it comes to surreal natural beauty, and this article demonstrates the absolute best of the best in the region.
Whether you want to find Cornwall’s most beautiful beaches or are looking for the prettiest fishing villages in the region, hopefully this post has given you some inspiration!