Guide to Visiting Cornwall in September

Twilight and soft evening light over moored fishing boats in the inner harbour of Porthleven, Cornwall, United Kingdom

Are you visiting Cornwall in September? The most south-westerly region of the UK is impressive any time of year, but especially in September.

While you will still experience some summer crowds, it’s nowhere nearly as busy as late July and August – but the weather can still be great, and there are plenty of things to do here!

Why visit in September

bedruthan steps in North Cornwall

There are many reasons why you might want to go to Cornwall in September – and why it might even be your favourite month to visit the region! 

The weather

We’ll go into the weather a little more below, but you certainly can get lovely warm days.

You’re never guaranteed this, of course – it could also be rainy, windy and downright horrible – but there’s no reason not to assume that you’ll get some lovely days, particularly if you’re visiting early in the month.

Of course, in the UK, you’re never guaranteed nice weather even in the summer anyway! 

Swimming

September is thought of as the best month to go wild swimming in Cornwall.

Why? Well, it’s had all summer to warm up, and while it’s still no Mediterranean, you may find it that little bit more comfortable to swim in! 

Less Crowds

I’m not going to say that Cornwall in September isn’t busy – it certainly is. But if you want a summery break with fewer crowds, you are much better off booking in September than August.

In September, the kids are back to school, making a huge difference for family holiday destinations like Cornwall. 

Lots of festivals and events

We will go into these festivals later on in the post, but Cornwall is an excellent month for festivals.

So whether you want to go to a food or music festival, you’ll probably find one here! 

Visiting Cornwall THIS September – how to stay safe

Covid is at an all-time high in Cornwall. This combined with the fact that so many staff have been pinged means that Cornwall continues to face difficulties surrounding tourism.

However, tourism is the region’s biggest industry and closing Cornwall to tourism isn’t the answer.

Here are some things to consider if you aren’t sure about coming to Cornwall this September.

  • If you are not comfortable visiting Cornwall while Covid rates are so high, I would recommend getting in touch with your accommodation provider. They may be able to offer you a refund.
  • If you have not yet booked your trip, I would recommend postponing it. There isn’t much accommodation left anyway! Cornwall will always be there and will be just as beautiful next year 🙂

If you have already booked your trip and still want to come, here are some tips to keep yourself and those around you safe.

  • Please don’t come to Cornwall if you feel unwell. If you have any symptoms, even if they are mild, book a PCR test and stay at home until you get the results.
  • Take a lateral flow test before you come to Cornwall and every 2-3 times during your stay. You can order a pack of 7 lateral flow tests for free on the government website – follow this link.
  • Wear a mask. We aren’t legally obliged to wear them anymore, but they can help prevent transmission, and I know a lot of locals feel much more comfortable when they are around people who are masked.
  • Do outside activities when possible. This obviously depends on the weather, but in general outside is better!
  • Avoid crowds. I have mentioned a few festivals below – this is because this post is evergreen and they are annual festivals. Some of these smaller festivals may be ok, especially if you’re fully vaccinated, but as we have seen with Boardmasters this year, festivals can mean a huge rise in cases.

Weather in Cornwall in September

Perran Sands near Perranporth, North Cornwall

So, the golden question – what is the weather like in Cornwall in September? 

It can really, really vary. You might see beautiful sunny days of 20+ degrees, or you might experience lashing rain and temperatures barely in the teens. 

Prepare for anything – but you may well get lucky and get a lot of sunshine on your September Cornwall trip! 

Things to do in Cornwall in September

Hike the South West Coast Path

September is the best time to explore the Cornish coastal path!

This stretches around the entire coastline of Cornwall – it is part of the wider 630 mile South West Coast Path, running from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset. 

The South West Coast Path is an incredible trail, but it can be challenging, with lots of hills. This can be even more challenging in the summer heat, which makes hiking in September when the weather is a little cooler ideal.

September is also a better time to hike than October and November, as the daylight hours start getting quite short later in the Autumn! 

You could just hike part of the path, or attempt the whole thing if you have the time! Some awesome sections are: 

  • Bude to Port Isaac (4 days, difficult)
  • Padstow to Newquay (2 days, easy)
  • St Agnes to St Ives (3 days, moderate)
  • St Ives to Penzance (4-5 days, difficult)
  • The Lizard (3-4 days, moderate)
  • Falmouth to Fowey (4 days, moderate)

Attend some of Cornwall’s best festivals! 

Please note: some of these festivals may be cancelled or it might not be advised to visit them this year due to high levels of covid in Cornwall.

Newquay Fish Festival

The Newquay Fish Festival, set on Newquay harbour, celebrates all things fishy!

Cornwall has a very important history of fishing, and this is the ideal place to try some locally caught seafood and enjoy live music and events. It is usually held around the 12th of September. 

Sea Shanty Festival 

Sea Shanties are not unique to Cornwall, but they have developed a lot here over the years.

Sea shanties are a particular type of song sung by fishermen and sailors, and Port Isaac has perhaps the strongest link with them in Cornwall. In September, you can experience these sea shanties for three full days!

St Ives September Festival

The St Ives September Festival runs for a whopping 15 days in September and celebrates music and art – two of the things that St Ives culture has revolved around in the last century or so.

You can attend a day or two, or go to the full thing if you wish! 

Looe Music Festival 

The Looe Music Festival takes place every September (note: it has been cancelled in 2021) and is a celebration of music, arts and community. This is a popular festival for those who live in nearby Plymouth! 

Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival 

If you like cider, this is a must-do! Located at Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, the birthplace of Rattler’s cider, the Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival is a three-day jamboree of good drinks and music, with camping available on site. 

Cornish Gin and Drinks Festival 

The Cornish gin and drinks festival is located in the Alverton in Truro and is a must-do for any gin or other beverage connoisseurs!

In recent years, Cornwall has developed lots of gins, so head down to The Alverton and try them out! 

Go to the beach!

While it may not be classic beach weather in Cornwall in September, the Duchy can still hang onto the dregs of summer.

Every beach you go to will also be so much quieter than the busy summer season, which makes exploring the Cornish coast one of the best things to do in September! 

Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove on the Lizard

Kynance Cove is one of the most popular beaches in Cornwall – it is so popular that it has actually had to close a few times this year due to too many people on the beach. In September, however, you’ll find Kynance Cove to be nowhere near as busy. 

Located on the Lizard Peninsula, Kynance Cove is famous for its beautiful rock formations and coastal walks nearby.

You can park at its own car park – if you fancy a stroll I recommend walking to Lizard Point, the southernmost point on the UK mainland. 

Here’s my full list of things to do in Kynance Cove.

Sennen Cove

Sennen Cove Beach

Sennen Cove is a glorious beach close to Lands End.

With a popular beach bar and fun surfing culture, this is a busy place during the summer and still has a good atmosphere into September and throughout the Autumn. 

Fistral Beach

Fistral Beach, Newquay

Fistral Beach in Newquay is one of the most popular Cornish beaches. Famous for its waves, it’s a great spot to try a surfing lesson – remember, the water is warmest in September – or just relax and enjoy the expansive sands.

It’s an immensely popular beach in the summer (although it’s so big you’ll usually find a patch of sand!), but in September you’ll find it rather unpopulated. Here are all of the best beaches in Newquay.

Readymoney Beach

Readymoney Beach in Fowey

Readymoney Beach is one of my favourite spots on the Cornish coast. A short walk from the bustling harbour of Fowey, Readymoney Beach is a glorious little cove perfect for wild swimming or just enjoying the view.

You can also hike to St Catherine’s Castle, one of Henry VIII’s castles, from here. 

Things to do in Cornwall in the rain

So, what if you visit in September and all it does is rain? 

Don’t worry! I’ve written a full blog post about things to do in Cornwall in the rain to help you! 

Here are the highlights. 

Go to a tin mine

Geevor Tin Mine in Cornwall

Cornwall and tin mining go hand in hand – indeed, most Cornish families (mine included!) will have a history of working in the mines.

You can learn about this fascinating mining history and how it was instrumental to Cornish society and economics in one of the mines.

Some of these mines mainly operate as museums, but with others, you have an opportunity to go underground.

  • Geevor Tin Mine in Pendeen near St Ives
  • Levant Mine also in Pendeen
  • Poldark Mine near Helston
  • Wheal Martyn (this focuses on clay mining which is still an industry in Cornwall today)
  • Carnglaze Caverns – the only slate mine in Cornwall

Visit a National Trust Property

Lanhydrock near Bodmin, Cornwall

There are lots of National Trust properties to enjoy in Cornwall – and if you are a member, you can visit these for free! 

  • St Michael’s Mount is the most famous National Trust attraction in Cornwall. It is a castle sitting on an island and is an incredibly scenic place to visit. If it’s raining, you might not be able to enjoy the gardens, but you can still purchase a house ticket and explore the inside of the property. 
  • Godolphin is an ancient house with Medieval gardens near Helston.
  • Tressilick is an impressive house with beautiful gardens close to Truro. 
  • Lanhydrock is an expansive house with interesting exhibits about upper class and servant life, located near Bodmin. 
  • Trerice is an Elizabethan Manor house near Newquay. 

You can see all of National Trust’s Cornwall properties here

Visit a castle

Henry VIII's Artillery Fort, viewed from the west

Due to Cornwall’s geographic positioning, royalty often feared that it could be a ‘soft spot’ where enemies could enter the UK and attack England – this was proven through multiple invasions of Cornwall throughout the years, such as the Spanish invasion of Mousehole.

Most of these castles are run by the English Heritage, so you get in for free if you are a member. If you’re not a member, you could consider joining the Cornish heritage trust, which will get you into these attractions for free. 

  • Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle to defend the Fal Estuary and was subsequently used in both World Wars. 
  • St Mawes Castle is the sister castle to Pendennis, and also defended the Fal Estuary. There are lots of engravings here about Henry VIII and Edward I. 
  • Tintagel Castle is allegedly where King Arthur was born and is on the scenic Tintagel Island. 
  • Launceston Castle, sitting on the border of Devon and Cornwall, dates all the way back to the Norman Conquest and is a traditional motte and bailey fortification.
  • Restormel Castle was built as a country retreat for rich Medieval owners. 

See all of the castles in Cornwall here.

If you want to purchase an English Heritage membership ahead of your stay, click here.

It’s well worth becoming a member if you go to castles often – you’ll save money after just a few visits, and your membership lasts for a year. 

Cornwall’s museums and art galleries

There are loads of fascinating museums in Cornwall. Some of my favourites include: 

  • The Royal Cornwall Museum tells the story of Cornwall, including its geography and society, and describes its unique identity compared to the rest of England. 
  • The National Maritime Museum explores Cornwall and the UK’s unique relationship to the sea.
  • The Shipwreck Museum discusses some of the amazing treasures that have been found on sunken ships. 
  • The TATE in St Ives is a wonderful contemporary art museum. Also don’t miss the Barabara Hepworth Sculpture Garden which was set up to commemorate one of the town’s most famous residents, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. 
  • The Smuggling Museum in Jamaica Inn near Bodmin. There’s also some smuggling history at the Polperro Museum.
  • Most towns will have a town museum that is often worth visiting. 

Other indoor attractions

Eden Project Orangutan, Cornwall

The Eden Project is one of Cornwall’s most famous places to visit. Set inside two clay china pits, the attraction consists of two large biomes – basically huge, circular greenhouses – one which resembles a rainforest, and one which has Mediterranean flora and fauna.

There are information boards dotted around to help you learn about these climates and what we can do in the UK to protect and preserve them. 

Bodmin Jail cell block near Bodmin in Cornwall

Bodmin Jail is a creepy attraction, but it’s well worth going to – particularly if you are wondering what to do in Cornwall on a cold, rainy day in September!

Bodmin Jail was a Victorian prison that was used as a blueprint for a lot of other jails in the UK.

It has recently had a revamp and nowadays is an immersive experience detailing exactly what crime and punishment were like in Cornwall in the 1800s. You can visit either independently or do a guided tour around the establishment. 

Where to stay in Cornwall in September

Here are some of my favourite places to stay at in Cornwall in September. Make sure to book your accommodation early, as options do sell out! 

Newquay

Towan rock and beach, Newquay

Newquay will have quietened down a little from the peak summer months, but it will still be quite busy! So if you want somewhere with an atmosphere – particularly if you’re keen to go out – then Newquay is a good option for September. Here are all of the best things to do in Newquay.

Where to stay in Newquay

Here’s my full list of where to stay in Newquay

St Ives

st ives

Again, St Ives is crazy in the summertime and I wouldn’t recommend visiting then. It can also be very busy during the St Ives September festival! If you are attending the festival, I recommend booking accommodation early. Outside of the festival dates, it is a little quieter. See all of the things to do in St Ives here.

Where to stay in St Ives

Here is my full list of where to stay in St Ives

Falmouth

Falmouth Market Street in Summer, Cornwall

Falmouth is a fun town with a cool vibe – it’s one of my favourite places in Cornwall for eating and drinking, however, it has a much more local atmosphere than Newquay. It is busy in the summer, but in September it has a more studenty vibe, as it is home to Cornwall’s only university. Here are all the best things to do in Falmouth.

Where to stay in Falmouth 

Fowey

Fowey in South Cornwall

Fowey is a beautiful little town on the south coast of Cornwall. Famous for being the residence of Daphne Du Maurier, there are lots of things to do in this coastal town and on the surrounding Fowey estuary. It can be packed in the summer, but you’ll find lots of places to stay come September! Here are all the best things to do in Fowey.

Where to stay in Fowey

Bodmin

A misty sunrise in over the coastline of Cornwall

I wouldn’t recommend staying in Bodmin centre, but there are lots of rural hotels and cottages around Bodmin. You won’t be right by the beach if you stay here, but you will be in good proximity to both coasts and also be able to enjoy Bodmin Moor and Cornwall’s other rural attractions. See all of the best things to do in Bodmin here.

Where to stay in Bodmin

  • Jamaica Inn is a famous hotel known as one of the most haunted places in Cornwall, and is an awesome place to stay if you like the weird and wonderful. Click here to read more.
  • Waterside Cornwall are lovely lodges close to Lanivet, which can be really cosy if you don’t have the best weather! Here’s some more information.

Visit Cornwall in September!

Visiting Cornwall in September is a great idea! Hopefully, this guide has shown you what to do and where to stay if you’re visiting this season! 

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