Do you need to find things to do in Cornwall in the rain? It happens – the popular holiday destination is famous for its glorious beaches and coastline, but it certainly is not immune to bad weather. My last trip to Cornwall was in October 2020 – a birthday present to my boyfriend who had never been to Cornwall before – and there were storms all week.
Rather than be upset about our lack of weather fortune, I decided to seek out as many things to do in Cornwall in the rain as possible, and make the most of our bad luck! When life hands you lemons and all…
So, I’ve put together this list of activities for rainy days in Cornwall. While the beaches are epic – and I hope that you’ll have a few days where you can enjoy them – there are so many indoor activities that you can experience in Cornwall too.
Cornwall has a distinct Celtic culture and lots of unique history – and if the weather’s not too kind when you’re here, why not use the opportunity to learn all about it? Here are just some of the best rainy day activities Cornwall has to offer.
I’ve split this post up into North Cornwall, South Cornwall, Central Cornwall and West Cornwall. If you’re on a road trip around Cornwall, you might be visiting all of these areas. However, if you’re on a holiday or staycation in one area only, there’s no reason why you can’t check out attractions in other areas as well!
It takes around two hours to drive from one side of Cornwall to the other, so there are plenty of attractions in different parts of the county that are actually only a short drive from each other.
What is the weather like in Cornwall?
If you’ve stumbled upon this page while planning a trip to Cornwall, you might be panicking. Is Cornwall really that rainy? Well, yes and no.
Cornwall has a milder climate than much of the UK, although it doesn’t have the huge heatwaves that London often experiences (temperatures over 30 degrees are rare, but it probably has more days of 25+ degrees than London).
In the late spring and summer months, you’ll probably see more good weather than bad. We can’t guarantee anything though! However, Cornwall is not immune to rain, and it does rain fairly often throought the summer. And if you visit Cornwall in the early spring or autumn, and certainly in the winter, rain is common.
Cornwall can get very stormy in these off-peak months – but of course, most tourists don’t see this! But, if you’re visiting during this time, you may well experience one of these storms. We did last October!
So, while most tourists do get to enjoy Cornwall’s beautiful beaches and outdoor attractions, it’s prudent to know that you might need to enjoy its rainy day activities too! But hopefully, this list will show you that there are so many places to visit in Cornwall in rain or shine.
Here’s my post on the best time to visit Cornwall.
Things to do in North Cornwall in the rain
Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
This first one is outdoors – but it’s still worth visiting if it’s just drizzling and you have raincoats or umbrellas!
The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre is located at Newquay Airport – so it’s one of the best things to do in Newquay if you’re there on holiday and aren’t lucky with the weather!
You’ll see all sorts of types of aircraft here, including military vehicles and planes from the 40s – 80s. You can even climb in the cockpits!
It costs £10.50 for adults and £6.00 for children, with cheaper deals for families.
I can highly recommend the tour of Trevibban Mill Winery – some of it is outside, but we did it in the rain and it wasn’t too bad. After browsing the vineyards, you’ll go into the wine-making room, and then go upstairs to the bar and restaurant to sample some drinks.
They’ve also got an impressive food menu, so you can shelter here for a while waiting for the rain to stop!
The tours only run on specific days – at the time of writing, this is 4pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday for guided tours around Trevibban Mill and 10:30am on Sunday for the Grand Walking Tour of the whole estate. Click here to see more details about these tours.
Alternatively, you can book any time for tasting only. Booking is not always essential, but it is advised.
Cream Tea at the Headland Hotel
There’s no experience quite so quintessentially Cornish as an afternoon tea. Just remember – here, you put the jam on first and then the cream! It’s the other way round in neighbouring county Devon – and this topic has been much debated over the years!
The Headland Hotel offers a decadent afternoon tea package serving up scones, sandwiches, cakes, and (of course) tea. Enjoy this delicious spread while watching the Cornish coastline – as long as you’re not out walking in the wet, it can be quite pleasant to watch the crashing waves and rain lashing down!
The Castle Bude is one of the best things to do in Bude when it’s raining. The castle was home to Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who is often known as ‘Cornwall’s Forgotten Inventor’. He had a crucial part in inventing different ways to heat and light spaces, and he constructed the first steam vehicle that could travel at a steady speed over a long distance.
You can learn about him and the entire town at The Castle, which now acts as Bude’s town museum. There are also art galleries. It is in a beautiful location – so hopefully, when the rain stops, you’ll be able to take a walk around the grounds!
It is free to enter and explore The Castle Heritage Centre, and it is open from 10am – 4pm every day.
Another tip – if you’re doing some research into things to do in Bude in the rain, you might see Bude Tunnel pop up as the #1 attraction on TripAdvisor, with some absolutely glowing reviews calling it ‘life-changing’ and ‘Cornwall’s Taj Mahal’.
The truth is, it’s nowhere near as interesting as it sounds. In fact, it’s just a tunnel connecting Bude Sainsburys to the car park. It’s useful in the rain – as you won’t get wet while walking to and from Sainsbury’s – but it’s certainly not worth making a detour for!
It’s actually just a local joke that shows the power of TripAdvisor and good reviews – so if you take anything from the story of Bude Tunnel, review local Cornwall businesses that you’ve used and help them get seen!
Things to do in Central Cornwall in the rain
Bodmin Jail is perhaps the best attraction in Cornwall when it’s raining. The Victorian goal has recently been revamped and reopened as a premier tourist attraction.
I was one of the first tourists through the door in October 2020 and can confidently say that they’ve done a fantastic job – you’re taken on an immersive 3D video tour through Bodmin Moor, mines and Cornish houses, and eventually to the courtroom. You’ll learn about the crimes that people committed in Victorian Cornwall and how it was such a challenging period for many people.
After the 3D part, you’ll see some particular parts of the jail, including cells, and learn about both sides of it. On the one hand, Bodmin Gaol was awful – prisoners, some who committed crimes as minor as stealing food because they were starving – were subject to sadistic punishments and hopeless prospects.
However, Bodmin Jail was a modern institution (for the time!), and they did a lot to improve the lives of prisoners too. For example, they installed heating and stopped public executions, and other prisons in the country followed suit.
You can visit Bodmin Jail independently, but I’d advise doing one of their tours to learn all about it thoroughly. Even if you are not doing a tour, it’s highly recommended to book tickets in advance. The jail is open daily from 9:30 am to 6pm, and you can book tickets here.
Jamaica Inn is a historic coaching inn on Bodmin Moor. This is potentially my favourite rainy day activity in Cornwall because the eerieness of the inn really suits atmospheric weather!
Jamaica Inn was built in 1750 and used as a coaching inn on the side of what is now the A30. It was used as a stopping point between Bodmin and Launceston, a drive that nowadays takes 25 minutes but used to take much longer – and was very dangerous.
Due to its position on the wild Bodmin Moor, Jamaica Inn earned a reputation as a smuggler’s hideout – smugglers would take contraband from the coastline and hide it here. This made it a wild and lawless place, with the rugged moorland as the backdrop.
It’s not as foreboding nowadays – the staff are very friendly and you’ll get a warm welcome. Inside, you’ll find a museum devoted to smuggling and Daphne Du Maurier (who wrote her bestselling book Jamaica Inn after visiting the inn!), as well as a restaurant serving Cornish ales and hearty pub grub. It’s also a hotel if you’d like to complete the experience by staying there! You can book rooms at Jamaica Inn here.
DON’T hike on Bodmin Moor
One thing that I need to advise NOT to do in Cornwall when it’s raining and visibility is poor is to hike on Bodmin Moor. This wild moorland is excellent for hiking when the weather is good – but when it’s raining, it will also likely be foggy, and it’s very easy to lose your way. If you want to hike on Bodmin Moor, please wait until the conditions are good – and if it stays rainy on your trip, then it’s a good reason to return to Cornwall!
Lanhydrock is a large National Trust Victorian country house and estate. It has expansive gardens, but don’t worry if it is raining – you can shelter indoors!
The original house was Jacobean (early 17th century), but it was largely destroyed in a fire in 1881. The house today is in late High Victorian style, and the inside offers a fascinating glimpse into the running of a large Victorian household. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you’ll love it here!
As well as the elegance of the beautiful rooms ‘upstairs’, you’ll also be able to see the servant’s quarters ‘downstairs’ – getting a real glimpse of both sides of Victorian life.
If it stops raining, the gardens are well worth visiting too. There are lots of colourful flowers as well as other interesting features from the Victorian period.
Lanhydrock costs around £15.00 per adult visitor. If you visit a lot of National Trust properties, you could save money by getting a National Trust membership.
Royal Cornwall Museum
A must visit for culture fans; this is probably the most extensive museum in Cornwall and is certainly one of the best things to do in Truro. It’s got exhibitions about Cornish history, culture and life, including exhibits about mining history and Cornwall’s strong identity. It costs £5 per adult visitor, with free entry for under 18s.
Bodmin Keep (Regimental Museum)
Bodmin Keep is now the Cornwall Regimental Museum, and it details everything you need to know about Cornwall’s military. You’ll learn about conflicts from the 17th century up to the present day, with a strong focus on World War’s One and Two. I found the exhibition about PTSD in soldiers particularly valuable. There’s also a brick from the Berlin Wall here!
It costs £7.00 for adults and £3.00 for children to enter Bodmin Keep and see the exhibition.
Truro Cathedral is the only Cathedral in the county. It’s not as striking as Exeter’s or Salisbury’s, but it does have a certain charm. The Cathedral was built between 1880 and 1910 in a Gothic Revival design and has many compelling features like stained glass windows, statues, and a brass eagle lectern.
It is free to enter and is open for visitors 10am – 3pm Monday – Saturday and 1pm – 3pm on Sundays.
See a performance at the Hall for Cornwall
The Hall for Cornwall is the biggest theatre in the county. There are plenty of events on here, so if you’re looking for something to do in Truro when the weather isn’t great, why not visit them? Here’s their website, where you can see what shows are currently on.
Wenford Railway Bodmin
Bodmin seems to be quite the place for things to do on a rainy day in Cornwall. The Wenford Railway is one of the best family attractions in Cornwall, and it’s also a fantastic way to shelter on a rainy day!
It leaves from Bodmin General Station and then travels through Boscarne Junction and Coeslogget Hall before arriving at Bodmin Parkway. From Bodmin Parkway, you can connect to the main rail line.
If you’re interested in steam trains, are looking for activities in Cornwall in the rain with kids, or just want to try something different, the Wenford Railway is worth a visit!
Things to do in South Cornwall in the rain
Pendennis Castle is one of the most interesting places to visit in Cornwall – even if it’s raining! The castle was constructed by Henry VIII in the 1540s, and was supposed to protect Cornwall – and subsequently, England – from French and Spanish invasion.
From 1642-6, during the English Civil War, around 1000 men were trapped in Pendennis Castle for a siege that lasted three whole months. They ended up surrendering when they ran out of food!
It was garrisoned during the American and Napoleonic Wars, but post-1815 its use declined as the country enjoyed a period of relative peace. However, it was also used in both world wars – as an artillery defence command centre in WW1, and a site of defence and naval attack in WW2.
The castle was opened to the public in 1957. There are loads of areas where you can learn about its fascinating history, many of which are indoors. If the rain isn’t too bad, it’s worth checking out the grounds as well!
Pendennis Castle is open from 10am to 5pm every day. It costs £12.20 for adults to visit and £7.30 for children. If you visit a few English Heritage attractions per year, it might be worth becoming an English Heritage member.
National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum is based in Falmouth and covers everything sea related – which, you may have guessed, is vital in Cornwall! The museum describes Cornwall’s historic reliance to the sea and how this has evolved over time, as well as explores some maritime issues.
It’s a really interesting museum that’s great to visit when you can’t actually enjoy the Cornish sea – when the rain clears up, you should have much more of an understanding toward it!
It costs £14.95 for adults and £7.50 for children to explore the museum. It is open every day from 10am – 5pm.
St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle sits just over the other side of the estuary to Pendennis Castle. Like Pendennis, it was constructed to defend the coast of Cornwall – and subsequently the rest of England – from European invasion.
The castle was constructed in the early 1540s, and it is known for its beautiful decoration. To this day, you can still see Latin inscriptions praising Henry VIII and Edward VI. If you can make it to the top of the castle, it’s worth checking out the epic sea views, and there’s also an interesting room called the ‘oubliette’ – this is where prisoners were held!
It costs £6.90 for adults and £4.10 for children to visit the castle. It is open from 10am – 5pm daily.
The Eden Project is one of the best attractions in Cornwall, for very good reason. It’s essentially a sustainability enterprise – featuring two hue biomes in a giant disused china clay pit. The two biomes house plants from two different environments – the rainforest and a Mediterranean climate.
The idea behind the Eden Project is to educate people who visit about these alternative climates and detail why it’s so vital that we protect them. It can be difficult to comprehend how our actions in the UK affect climates thousands of miles away – and the Eden Project does a great job at explaining it.
It’s a fantastic attraction to visit with kids and is perfect for a family day out, but groups of adults will love it as well. My favourite bit was the rainforest canopy walkway where you can quite literally walk through the jungle!
As well as the two biomes, there’s a selection of Cornish plants and an indoor exhibit about space. You’ll be inside most of the time, although you will need to walk from the car park and between the biomes.
You should book your ticket to visit, especially in busy times. You can book it here.
Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing will teach you all you need to know about how people in Cornwall used its coastline over the years.
Fishing has always been one of the main industries in Cornwall (although not so much nowadays as tourism is so popular). Polperro Museum will educate you about how Cornish people fished over the years and detail just how dangerous the waters could be.
Because fishing could be dangerous and would typically earn people little money, many turned to smuggling. Although this was illegal, it was often easy to get away within Cornwall due to its naturally rugged landscape – plenty of places to hide things, especially before the advancement of modern technology!
You’ll learn all about this at Polperro Museum. There’s a specific focus on what happened around Polperro, but much of what they say is relevant for elsewhere.
The museum is open from 10am – 5pm in high season and 10:30am – 4:30 pm in low season. It costs £2.00 for adults and children over 12 and 50p for children under 12.
Things to do in West Cornwall in the rain
Tate St Ives
St Ives is probably the most popular town in West Cornwall – it’s most famous for its beautiful beaches. However, it’s not immune to rain! The good news is that there’s still plenty to do here if the weather isn’t so kind. St Ives’ Tate gallery is probably the best example of this.
The Tate St Ives is a very special branch of the Tate London. It has works from artists in Cornwall, elsewhere in Britain, and further afield. You’ll see some fantastic artwork here – some of which will help you look at St Ives in a new light!
The TATE is open from 10:00am to 4:30 pm. It costs £10.50 for adults to enter the gallery. It is highly recommended that you book online to avoid disappointment – you can do that here.
Helston Museum of Cornish Life
The Helston Museum of Cornish Life is a great place to learn about the social history behind Cornwall. There are exhibits here about Cornish industries, Cornish homes, and schools through the ages. It has a particular focus on the 19th century, but plenty of information about other centuries too.
It’s free to enter and explore the museum, and it’s open from 10 am – 4 pm.
Geevor Tin Mine
Cornwall and tin mining go hand in hand – at one point, 50% of the world’s tin came from this region. Nowadays there are a few tin mines that you can visit, such as the Geevor Tin Mine Museum. I’m especially interested in these mines because my great grandad – and many ancestors before him – worked as miners. However, I can guarantee they’ll be fascinating whether you have Cornish heritage or not. It’s a great place to visit as a family, as you’ll get to learn about the history of mining together.
This is another theatre in Cornwall – this one is located in Redruth. The theatre has performances of music, stand-up comedy, dance, and drama, and there’s also a cinema on the same site Here’s the website where you can see if there are any shows that take your fancy!
Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
Porthcurno is usually associated with the Minack Theatre, which is definitely one of the best places to visit in Cornwall. However, it is an outdoor theatre, meaning that it might not be enjoyable in the rain!
If the weather isn’t kind to you while you’re in Porthcurno, we’ve got just the solution – the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. Trust me – this is a really cool rainy day activity in West Cornwall.
Porthcurno actually used to be the most important cable station in the world, with it being the terminus of 14 different cables from all over the world. Due to this, there were lots of tunnels and defences built to make sure that they weren’t invaded!
The Telegraph Museum details this often forgotten part of Cornish history and has lots of interactive activities for the kids.
Top rainy day activities in Cornwall
I hope this blog post has given you some holiday inspiration if you need to find things to do in Cornwall in the rain! Cornwall is a beautiful county and there are so many things to do here. Hopefully, you will manage to enjoy the beaches, moorland, and gardens while you’re here.
However, there are so many museums and historic sites that will help you learn so much about fascinating Cornish culture.
Don’t despair if you have bad weather in Cornwall – make the most of it by referring to this blog post, and revisit the beautiful county another time!