Are you wondering what to pack for Cornwall?
Cornwall’s a rugged, surfing-obsessed, pasty-fuelled region in the UK, famous for its range of activities and unique culture.
From the wild cliffs that tumble down to the sea, to the cosy fishing villages, Cornwall’s bursting with charismatic things to do and wonderful places to visit.
But, a trip to Cornwall will be made all the more comfortable by packing the right gear to fully enjoy the coastal breezes, sandy beaches and unpredictable Cornish weather.
This guide will help you fill your suitcase with just the right mix of clothes, toiletries and gadgets for your trip.
I’m a frequent visitor to Cornwall; my family are actually from the region, and I live just over the border in Devon, so I go there a few times a year.
I also spent an entire summer in Cornwall in 2021, so this guide is very much based on the items that I use the most when I’m venturing around Cornwall!
So, without further ado, here’s a full Cornwall packing list!
This blog post may contain affiliate links.
What to pack for Cornwall: top five items
First up, here are five items that you might forget to take to Cornwall, but are absolute godsends!
Whether you’re beach-hopping, hiking or just out and about exploring Cornwall’s many attractions, I’d really recommend packing these.
You can click through on each item name to head to my recommended product on UK Amazon or Go Outdoors.
- Good-quality waterproof jacket: A lightweight, waterproof jacket is crucial for those unexpected showers.
- Reusable water bottle: Staying hydrated during your Cornwall adventures is important. A refillable water bottle is not only practical but also kinder to the environment.
- Power bank: A power bank ensures your mobile device won’t run out of juice during a day of exploring.
- Lightweight beach towel: A compact, quick-drying beach towel is perfect for lounging on sandy beaches or drying off after a dip in the sea.
- A sturdy pair of walking shoes: Cornwall’s landscape is diverse, and a sturdy pair of walking shoes will come in handy whether you’re roaming the cobbled streets of St Ives or exploring the South West Coast Path.
Packing for the weather in Cornwall
The UK’s not well-known for its reliable weather, and unfortunately Cornwall’s no exception!
While Cornwall has a milder year-round temperature than the rest of the UK, the weather in the summer is usually a little cooler than London (lovely sunny days are frequent, but we don’t have the same heatwaves in the west!).
The fact that Cornwall’s a peninsula (and very nearly an island!) also means that the weather can be somewhat wild around these parts!
Let’s take a look at what the weather is like at different times of year.
Spring (March to May)
Springtime in Cornwall can range from gloriously sunny to “Is it winter again?”.
Daytime temperatures usually hover around a mild 11-15°C, perfect for exploring those winding coastal paths without breaking too much of a sweat. In fact, it’s my favourite time of year for hiking in Cornwall.
Layers are your best friend during these months – think light jackets, cardigans, and a waterproof jacket, just in case the heavens decide to open up.
Summer (June to August)
Summertime in Cornwall is typically warm and sunny, with temperatures reaching a toasty (by British standards!) 20-25°C.
It’s the perfect weather for the beach but remember, this isn’t the Caribbean.
Always pack a lightweight jacket or jumper for those cooler evenings or breezy beach days, and bring longer trousers for cool days – temperatures of around 15°C aren’t abnormal.
Check out my guide to Cornwall in August for more information!
Autumn (September to November)
You never know what you’re going to get when you visit Cornwall in Autumn!
I spent a week in Bude one October and faced torrential rain every day, but I’ve also visited in November and have been hiking in a t-shirt!
Plus, I had a lovely holiday in Cornwall in September where it was definitely still beach weather.
So do pack versatile clothing, including a cosy jumper and a good-quality waterproof coat.
Winter (December to February)
Winter in Cornwall can be chilly, with temperatures usually ranging from 4-9°C.
Snow, however, is very rare!
But I personally love Cornwall in winter.
The cooler months offer drama-fuelled seascapes and far fewer tourists, giving you a sense of glorious isolation as you explore (save from the seagulls!).
Pack warm clothing, including a thick winter coat,, gloves, and a hat.
Cornwall packing list: clothes
First up, what clothes should you take to Cornwall? Here’s my full list of essential items that transcend seasons.
Basics for all seasons
First off, the basics – don’t forget underwear, socks, and comfy pyjamas for cosy evenings in your holiday cottage.
Then, pack enough t-shirts, shorts/ trousers, dresses, skirts and layers for your length of trip and season!
Now, think about what activities you’ll do in Cornwall. Here are a few endeavours that you might get up to and the clothes you’ll need for each (click through on each item for my recommended product):
Hiking Gear: If you’re exploring the moors or tackling the South West Coast Path, comfortable, durable clothing is a must. Opt for breathable shirts, sturdy walking trousers (preferably water-resistant), and good-quality fleece.
Swimming: Let’s be honest, it’s not a trip to Cornwall without a dip in the sea. Don’t forget to pack your favourite swimwear for beach days. I love this Amazon swimsuit!
A wetsuit wouldn’t go amiss either, particularly if you’re brave enough for a cold water swim or fancy catching some waves on a board! There are some excellent value wetsuits at Go Outdoors – check them out!
Formal wear: Cornwall may be laid back, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to dress up a bit! If you’re planning on dining in one of Cornwall’s top restaurants, a smart-casual outfit will serve you well.
A pair of comfortable walking shoes or boots is crucial for coastal walks – so if you’re planning on hiking, make sure you don’t forget these.
There’s a vast range of hiking boots on Go Outdoors, with something for every budget – check it out here.
Personally, I love Saloman’s hiking boots, as they’re light and waterproof. I’m eyeing up these for my next hiking boot purchase!
You might want to pack a spare plastic bag that you can put them in if they get muddy!
Planning on basking on the beach all day? Don’t forget your flip-flops.
Dining at Cornwall’s best restaurants? Bring some smart-casual shoes!
What toiletries to pack for Cornwall
First up: you can purchase more or less any toiletries in Cornwall.
While there are fewer big supermarkets than elsewhere in the country, you’ll still find at least one in most large towns.
Plus, many towns have Boots stores.
BUT, if you’re staying in a village like Port Isaac, you might be a little journey from shops selling toiletries at reasonable prices (rates are always hiked up in corner shops and small pharmacies).
Bearing that in mind, this list of what to remember might come in useful.
Forgot any of the below? Click through to my recommended product on Amazon. If you have Prime, it should be with you by tomorrow!
- toothbrush (I’m an electric toothbrush convert!)
- shampoo and conditioner
- Original Source shower gel
- face wash
- nail clippers/ scissors
- make up
- shaving supplies
- feminine hygiene products
If you’re flying to Cornwall, consider investing in reusable bottles to decant your toiletries.
I use these, which come with a funnel to easily squeeze your product into!
Medications and First Aid Kit
Pack any prescribed medications you’ll need, along with copies of your prescriptions just in case.
A basic first aid kit with plasters, bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers is also a good shout, especially if you’re planning on adventuring in the great outdoors.
Sun cream and bug repellent
Despite the rumours, the sun does shine in Cornwall, and when it does, it can be quite strong.
So don’t forget sun cream, especially if you’re visiting in summer.
Bug spray wouldn’t go a miss too!
Gadgets and electronics to add to your Cornwall packing list
There are quite a few gadgets and electronics that you’ll thank yourself for remembering!
Your mobile phone is likely the first thing you’ll think of, which is great as long as you remember the charger too!
There’s nothing worse than your phone dying right as you’re about to take a world-class photo of a Cornish sunset.
Bearing that in mind, it might be prudent to pack an extra charger or lead, just in case you lose one while exploring!
A power bank will be your lifesaver during long days of exploring – provided you keep it charged, you can just plug your phone in to top up the dwindling battery.
Want to listen to music or podcasts? Don’t forget your headphones or portable speakers. I got these wireless headphones from Amazon and they work a treat.
Of course, don’t forget a camera – either one on your smartphone or an external camera.
An e-reader loaded with your favourite novels is far lighter than carrying physical books – I always take my kindle when travelling. Here’s one of the most up to date Kindles, which I’ll be buying when my seven year old Kindle gives up!
Adapters in the UK
If you’re visiting from abroad, remember that UK plugs might not be like those at home – you may need a UK power adapter to charge your devices.
Travel documents and money
If you’re flying in from overseas, it goes without saying to not forget your passport!
Likewise, bring your driving licence if you plan on renting a car to explore those far-reaching corners of Cornwall.
It’s also wise to keep a copy of your travel insurance details on you, as well as any necessary travel tickets or booking confirmations.
Cornwall is predominantly a card society, but some small food trucks, car parks and toilets still only accept cash. Plus, many small villages either don’t have ATMs or they charge extortionate fees.
Outdoor and Beach Gear
It’s no secret that Cornwall’s beaches are some of the best (or day I say the best?) in the UK. So any trip to Cornwall pretty much has to include some time by the coast!
A sturdy beach bag (I love this one!), towels (Dock & Bay are excellent quality) and perhaps a beach umbrella or windbreaker could be handy – check out this beach tent which could be a good option!
Don’t forget the all-important bucket and spade if you have kids.
If you plan on trying your hand at surfing, paddleboarding, or other water sports, you could consider bringing your own equipment.
However, many beach towns in Cornwall have places where you can rent gear, so you needn’t lug a surfboard all the way down the M5!
If you’re planning on hiking the South West Coast Path, consider a durable day pack (I always use Osprey bags), a reusable water bottle (Chilly’s bottles keep your drinks cold for longer), and perhaps some binoculars for a spot of birdwatching.
Kid-Specific things to pack for Cornwall
Venturing to Cornwall with kids in tow? Here are some suggested items to bring.
When it comes to clothes, pack practical and comfortable items. Trust us, the kids will thank you after a day of running around on the beach or exploring the Eden Project.
If you’ve got a little one, you might need a collapsible stroller or a baby carrier – especially if you’re planning on tackling any of those hilly coastal walks. My friend swears by this one when she goes away!
For entertainment during those inevitable “I’m bored” moments, pack their favourite toys or games.
Colouring books or travel games can be a godsend during meals out or quiet evenings in your accommodation.
Cornwall packing list: miscellaneous items
Now, onto a few extra items that could prove quite handy!
Of course, you could continue using this blog as a free guide to Cornwall!
If you want to read something about the region, I recommend the following books:
Finally, don’t forget to pack a reusable bag or two.
They’re not only handy for shopping at local markets but also for carrying beach gear or packing a picnic for your coastal walks.
Luggage to take to Cornwall
Don’t have a bag to put all your items in yet? Don’t worry! Here’s an assessment of the best bag to bring!
The trusty wheely suitcase can be a great option for your Cornwall holiday.
They usually offer a lot of space for all your items, and the built-in wheels make navigating train stations or airports a breeze.
Pros: Ample space for packing, easy to manoeuvre in transit, often includes various compartments for organized packing.
Cons: Depending on the type of accommodation and location, manoeuvring a wheely suitcase around narrow, cobblestone streets or up steep hills can be tricky. Also, if your holiday involves hopping from one place to another, a large suitcase could be inconvenient.
A backpack is another worthy contender, especially for those planning more active or adventure-oriented holidays.
They’re great for packing essentials, and their hands-free nature makes them an excellent option for walking or hiking.
Pros: Mobility and convenience, especially for outdoor activities or day trips. Good for distributing weight evenly across your back, reducing strain.
Cons: They can become uncomfortable if overpacked or for long periods. It might not offer as much space as a suitcase, and it can be challenging to organise belongings neatly.
As I mentioned, I love Osprey backpacks. Here’s the latest version of the Osprey hiking backpack I have.
A holdall or duffle bag can be a fantastic middle-ground option between a suitcase and a backpack. They can be surprisingly spacious and are typically easy to carry.
Pros: Versatile and flexible, often able to carry a lot without becoming too bulky. Can be easier to organise than a backpack and more mobile than a suitcase.
Cons: Depending on the design, carrying a heavy holdall can put a strain on one side of your body. Without wheels, they can be cumbersome to transport over long distances.
My boyfriend swears by RAB duffel bags. Check out the one that I bought him for Christmas!
In the end, the best option depends on the nature of your trip, where you’re staying, and your personal preferences.
Consider how much you’re planning to pack, how mobile you need to be, and what kind of activities you’ll be doing in Cornwall.
FAQs about your Cornwall packing list
What should I pack for Cornwall in October?
For Cornwall in October, pack layers including warm clothing, thermal socks, a hat, and gloves. Include a waterproof jacket, sturdy footwear for walking, and a scarf for chillier days. A waterproof backpack for essentials and an umbrella for sudden downpours are useful. Always be prepared for unpredictable weather.
What to wear on holiday in Cornwall in June?
For June in Cornwall, pack light, breathable clothing, swimwear, and comfortable footwear for the beach and walks. Include a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sun protection. A lightweight beach towel and beach bag are handy. Check the forecast before your trip and pack a few extras as a precaution.
Should I pack a raincoat for my summer trip to Cornwall?
Yes, despite it being summer, Cornwall’s weather can be unpredictable due to its coastal location. It’s always a good idea to pack a lightweight, waterproof jacket or raincoat to be prepared for sudden showers.
Is it necessary to pack hiking boots for Cornwall?
If you plan on exploring the many walking trails and coastal paths in Cornwall, a sturdy pair of hiking boots can be beneficial. They offer support and grip, which can be particularly useful on uneven terrains or in wet weather.
What type of bag is best for day trips in Cornwall?
A small, lightweight backpack is generally the best option for day trips. It can hold essentials like water, snacks, a camera, and a raincoat while leaving your hands free. If you’re planning beach visits, consider a separate beach bag.
Do I need to pack beach towels and umbrellas for Cornwall?
If you’re planning on spending time on the beach, a lightweight beach towel is a good idea. As for umbrellas, while some beach cafés provide them, it might be worth packing a small one for peace of mind, especially if you’re sensitive to the sun.
I’m planning to surf in Cornwall. Should I bring my own wetsuit and board?
Cornwall is known for its surfing, and many beaches have surf rental shops where you can hire wetsuits and boards. However, if you have your own gear and space to transport it, you might prefer to bring your own.
Are you all packed for Cornwall?
Zip up your suitcase and you’re nearly there – before long you’ll be tasting Cornish ice cream and listening to the squawking seagulls in the sky!
I hope that this Cornwall packing list has proved useful.