There are so many amazing places to visit in Cornwall; it makes planning a trip there quite challenging! However, I’ve put together this list to help you with your trip.
Cornwall is most famous for its beaches, and it certainly has some spectacular ones. Visit Fistral Beach in Newquay, Kynance Cove on the Lizard and Sennen Cove near Land’s End to see what I mean – we are talking miles of golden sand and turquoise waters that wouldn’t seem out of place in the Mediterranean.
Lots of tourist towns have built up around the beach and remain some of the best spots to visit on a Cornwall staycation. However, there are plenty of places to visit inland too. The capital, Truro, isn’t by the sea, but it’s well worth a trip. Moreover, the vast Bodmin Moor is an excellent place for hiking and will give you another edge to the city.
There are also plenty of world-famous attractions to visit in Cornwall, both by the sea and inland. Don’t miss the Eden Project, Geevor Tin Mine, Minack Theatre, St Micheals Mount, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and countless historic castles and National Trust stately homes.
Read on, and I’ll detail the best places to visit in Cornwall! You can base in one of the areas mentioned and do day trips to surrounding spots, or you could do a road trip around Cornwall and see a few different areas.
Places to visit in Cornwall for surfing and dramatic walks: North Coast Cornwall
Cornwall’s North Coast is a haven for surfing and is home to dramatic landscapes with epic beaches. You’ll feel on top of the world as you explore the cliffs on a clear day – the panoramic views are some of the best in the country, if not the world. Parts of Cornwall’s north coast are remote, but there are a few popular tourist towns here, including Bude, Newquay and St Ives.
Hartland Heritage Coast
The Hartland Heritage Coast borders Devon, and it’s a wild place that is usually only visited by the most adventurous travellers to Cornwall! You can hike here from Bude – it is thought to be the most challenging section of the South West Coastal Path, but it is undoubtedly rewarding.
Bude is a popular tourist town not too far from the border with Devon, and is one of the best places to go in Cornwall. It is famed for its surfing – Summerleaze Beach is one of the best surfing spots in the country. You can also visit Bude Castle, a historic property which now acts as the town’s history museum, and Bude Canal, which venutres into the hinterland. See all of the things to do in Bude here!
Widemouth Bay is a popular surfing spot just south of Bude. It mainly consists of one beach, but there is also a popular caravan park here as well as some other accommodations.
Crackington Haven is a small community with a beautiful beach. This is one of the best places in Cornwall for rock pooling, and there is also the Coombe Barton Inn, which is a popular pub with rooms.
Boscastle is one of the most charming villages in North Cornwall. Run by the National Trust, it consists of a rural street that leads up to the epic Boscastle Harbour. It’s also home to the somewhat spooky Museum of Witchcraft.
Tintagel is a small village, but it is most famous by far for Tintagel Castle – definitely one of the most historic places to visit in Cornwall. This English Heritage owned castle is said to be the home of King Arthur, and it is also the site of a spectacular natural waterfall.
Ruins have been found in the castle from Spain and France, nodding to prehistoric trade between Cornwall and European countries. You can stay in Tintagel and use it as a base to see the castle and explore the North Cornwall region.
Port Isaac is a seaside village that found fame by being the filming location for the popular TV series Doc Martin. You can even do a Doc Martin themed walking tour! However, there’s lots to do here if you aren’t a fan of the show – it is one of the most traditional fishing villages in the county, and you can hike this part of the South West Coast Path to see some stunning viewpoints.
The village itself is well preserved, with authentic cobbled streets and historic architecture and is a great place to learn about traditional Cornish fishing culture. Here are all of the best things to do in Port Isaac.
Padstow is perhaps most famous for being Rick Stein’s favourite Cornish town – it has actually been named ‘Padstein’ due to how many of his restaurants there are in town.
Stein aside, Padstow is an attractive spot, with a lovely harbour. Nearby is Prideaux Place, which is an Elizabethan manor. It’s also worth popping into Trevibban Mill Vineyard to try some Cornish wine.
Newquay is one of the most popular tourist towns in Cornwall and if you’re wondering where to visit in Cornwall for a fun, holiday atmosphere, here is your place!
It is home to a host of stunning beaches, including the popular surfing spot Fistral Beach, Lusty Glaze which is a private beach, Towan Beach with its distinctive rocky outcrop with a house on top, and Watergate Bay – this is a little way from the town, but you can hike here. Here are some of the best things to do in Newquay.
Perranporth is a small settlement not too far from Newquay – in fact, many people visit it on a day trip from Newquay. However, it’s lovely in its own right and its relaxed atmosphere means that it is one of the best places to go on holiday in Cornwall! It’s also worth visiting the nearby Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm.
Where to go in Cornwall for epic scenery and unique culture: West Cornwall
West Cornwall is isolated and charming. Here, you’ll find Land’s End, stunning beaches that look like they should be in a tropical landscape, and small villages with authentic Celtic culture. Indeed, West Cornwall was the last outpost for the Cornish language and it remains somewhere with its own very distinct identity.
St Ives is another popular tourist town in Cornwall. It is famous for its arty culture – artists came to the town from all over the UK and Europe because of its natural beauty. Nowadays, you can visit the TATE art gallery and the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Gardens to learn about this!
Of course, you can also enjoy the epic beaches, like Porthminster Beach and Porthmeor Beach, yourself. Another must-do in St Ives is to enjoy the food scene – visit Blas Burgerwords for delectable burgers, the Moomaid of Zennor for traditional ice cream, and any pasty shop for traditional Cornish pasties! If you’re wondering where to go on holiday in Cornwall, St Ives is a great option! Click here for all of the things to do in St Ives.
Land’s End is the most southwesterly point in the UK and is a must-visit while you’re in the area. The area is a bit gimmicky, but if you walk away from all the attractions, you’ll be able to find some solitude in the cliffs!
Zennor is a small village sitting on rocky cliffs. The surrounding area has ancient monuments, including the Zennor Quoit. Zennor was also one of the last areas where locals spoke the Cornish language in the late 18th century – until it was revitalized in the 20th century, that is!
Zennor is a great place to take in epic scenery, and the St Ives to Zennor walk is one of the most popular ones of the South West Coast Path.
St Just is the closest settlement to Land’s End, and it was the centre of the tin mining industry in the area. Granite cottages line the village and there is a historic theatre in the middle of town. The Geevor Tin Mine is also close by, which is a wonderful place to learn about Cornish mining heritage.
Sennen is a beautiful place to stay in Cornwall. It has epic cliff-top views and stunning beaches, some of which are epic for surfing and others with safe swimming areas.
Porthcurno is famous for the Minack, an open air theatre that was made by Rowena Cade in 1932. While in the village, don’t miss the beautiful Porthcurno Beach and the fascinating Telegraph Museum, one of the best things to do in Cornwall in the rain.
Mousehole is a charming fishing village and a favourite spot among tourists and locals; it’s without a doubt one of the most quintessential places to visit in Cornwall. The village looks like it belongs on a postcard – it’s a stunning place to stroll around, enjoy authentic Cornish life, and relax by the historic harbour.
Penzance is a seaside town that was a popular holiday resort in the 19th century. However, it is no longer a tourist hub – but it’s still well worth popping in. The high street is charismatic, with independent stores, and there are a few art galleries in town.
Places to go in Cornwall for family-friendly holidays and lots of attractions: South Coast Cornwall
Cornwall’s south coast has a tropical feel, with beaches lined with palm trees and beautiful weather. There is plenty of dramatic scenery here too, and it has a stunning coastline, although it is much more sheltered than the north, meaning that the beaches are typically more family-friendly. There are plenty of popular holiday destinations dotted around the South Coast!
Falmouth is perhaps most famous for being the site of Pendennis Castle. Henry VIII constructed this historic castle to protect the River Fal and Cornwall from foreign invasion, and it was also crucial in the Civil War. You can also visit the National Maritime Museum, which depicts Cornwall’s unique link to the sea.
The Lizard is one of the most spectacular areas of the country. You’ve got Lizard Point, which is the most southerly point of the country, and epic coastline – this is one of the best stretches of the South West Coast Path. It’s quite isolated, but don’t miss The Lizard if you want to visit somewhere with outstanding beauty and unforgettable views.
It’s also worth venturing to the nearby Gweek Seal Sanctuary where rescued seals are rehabilitated and rehomed, to the Museum of Cornish Life at Helston and the Trebah Subtropical Gardens.
Marazion is most famous for being the home of St Micheal’s Mount, which makes it onto most people’s best places to visit in Cornwall lists! This is a tidal island with a church and castle on top – from the mainland, the view is spectacular. St Micheal’s Mount is run by the National Trust and is only accessible on certain days of the month.
Porthleven is one of the most attractive harbour towns in Cornwall. It is the furthest south working port in the UK. The historic harbour dates back to 1811, and there are some lovely holiday cottages in town.
Mevagissey is a traditional fishing village that was the centre of Cornwall’s pilchard trade. It also has a long history of boat-making. Like many Cornish harbour towns, it does get busy in the summer, but it’s not quite as busy as other Cornish holiday towns.
St Austell is a historic market town located slightly inland, although there are some beautiful beaches nearby. It is most famous, perhaps, for St Austell brewery, which exports beer around the UK, and it’s also worth popping into Knightor Winery (yes, that is wine made in the UK!).
Par is home to the Eden Project, which is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Cornwall, if not the whole UK. The project consists of two large biomes, one with fauna from a rainforest climate and one replicating a Mediterranean environment. You can quite literally walk through a rainforest in Cornwall here!
Fowey is home to beautiful beaches and the peaceful Fowey River, and is one of the best places to go to in Cornwall for a relaxing holiday. There’s also a lot of history to explore here, including St Catherine’s Castle, which Henry VIII built, Place House, which dates back to the 13th century, and the home of Daphne Du Maurier.
Polperro is a beautiful port town with dramatic beaches that many people deem to be their favourite in Cornwall. The entire area is located in an AONB. It’s also a great place to learn about smuggling in Cornwall – visit the Polperro Museum for more information about this illicit trade!
Looe is a charming, laid back beach town, with a beautiful beach and friendly atmosphere. It’s one of the best places to go on holiday in Cornwall if you’re travelling as a family. It’s also worth visiting Looe Island. You can take a boat from the mainland – a few leave every day and take 20 minutes. Once you arrive at Looe Island, you’ll experience beautiful nature and unique flora!
Where to visit in Cornwall for authentic Cornish life: Central Cornwall
Don’t just stick to the beaches when you visit Cornwall! There are plenty of inland places to enjoy as well, and it is here where you’ll find truly authentic Cornish culture. Bodmin, Launceston and Truro are all past and present county towns – and Truro is its only city. This means that there is so much to learn about Cornish culture in this region!
Bodmin is most famous for its wild moorlands – Bodmin Moor is one of the best places to enjoy a different nature to the coast. It’s also worth popping into Jamaica Inn to learn about the moor’s smuggling history and venturing to Bodmin Jail, located in Bodmin town, to learn about the historic penal system of Cornwall and the UK. See all of the things to do in Bodmin here.
Launceston is the old county town of Cornwall, and even though it’s only just over the Tamar from Devon, it has a very strong Cornish spirit and is a great place to learn about the Duchy’s Celtic origins. Launceston Castle is a Norman edifice that marks the border of Cornwall. There are also lots of independent shops in Launceston high street and a historic church to visit – as well as the spectacular scenery around the Tamar.
Truro is the only city in Cornwall. It’s home to the only Cathedral in the county, as well as the Hall for Cornwall and the Royal Museum of Cornwall. It’s a wonderful place to visit to learn all about Cornish culture. You can see all of the things to do in Truro here.
Amazing places to go on holiday in Cornwall!
There’s no denying that Cornwall is somewhere really special. These places to visit in Cornwall include the best towns and villages in the Duchy, as well as many of the intriguing local attractions. If you’re interested in any of these areas, take a look at my other Cornwall blog posts for more information!