How to visit St Michael’s Mount: Cornwall’s best island

St Michael's Mount island in Cornwall, South West England

St Michael’s Mount is one of the best places to visit in Cornwall. With a historic castle and terraced gardens located on their own tidal island, this National Trust property draws in crowds every day. 

If you’re planning to visit this castle, here is all the information that you’ll need! 

About St Michael’s Mount

St Micheal's Mount Castle

The National Trust owned St Michael’s Mount is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cornwall, and for a good reason. 

It is a historic castle and walled gardens located on its own tidal island. St Michael’s Mount has been a place of spiritual pilgrimage since ancient times, and its Medieval castle, one of the best in Cornwall, dates back to the 12th century. 

There is nowadays a vibrant island community, and the same family has owned the castle for centuries. 

St Michael’s Mount History

Historical interior of St Michael's Mount

St Michael’s Mount has a fascinating past. The natural island has been steeped in history and legend since prehistoric times, with the Archangel Michael alleged to appear there to warn fishermen of danger. 

This caused it to become a place of religious respect and, eventually, pilgrimage. In the 11th century, the island was in possession of the owners of its sister Abbey, Mont St Michel, in Normandy. 

St Michael’s Mount castle was built in the 12th century, and it mimics Mont St Michel. During the Medieval period, the Wars of the Roses and in the Civil War, it was a site of conflict. The cannons at St Michael’s Mount also warned London of the approaching Spanish Armada!

John St Aubyn was anointed captain of St Michael’s Mount in the Civil War, and the same family has occupied the castle since. 

Nowadays, the family and National Trust have joint ownership of the island. There is a close-knit island community, but it is open every day except Christmas. The gardens are closed on Sundays.

Where is St Michael’s Mount? 

St Michael’s Mount is located in West Cornwall, off the coast of the small town of Marazion near Penzance (10 minute drive).

It is a half-hour drive from Land’s End, 20 minute drive from St Ives, a 45 minute drive from Falmouth and a 25 minute drive from Redruth.

How to get to St Michael’s Mount

You can access St Michael’s Mount by driving or taking the bus from Penzance (where you can connect to rail services) or Porthleven. 

Church at St Michael's Mount

Who lives in the castle at St Michael’s Mount? 

The St Aubyn family still live in the castle at St Michael’s Mount – of course, their living quarters are closed for tourists! 

St Michael’s Mount Parking

There are a few car parks in Marazion that cater for tourists of St Michael’s Mount. I recommend checking Parkopedia for up to date information.

Where do I buy St Michael’s Mount tickets?

St Michael's Mount Cannon

You can purchase St Michael’s Mount tickets on the National Trust website. If you are a National Trust member, you will also need to reserve your ticket online, and if you cannot walk across the causeway, you will need to pay for the return boat ticket.

You can book tickets for just the castle or garden, or buy combi tickets for both. Ticket prices are:

  • Adults: £14 for the castle only, £10 for the gardens only, and £24 for a combi ticket for both.
  • Children: £7 for the castle only, £6 for the gardens only, and £13 for a combi ticket.

If you cannot walk across the causeway, you will need to pay an additional £2.50 each way for the boat ticket. You can buy the ticket from Marazion to St Michael’s Mount online when you purchase or reserve your ticket online. For the return journey, you can purchase non-timed tickets in the shop or cafe on the island.

If you don’t want to pay for a combi ticket, I recommend buying a castle ticket. This will enable you to see the castle and grounds, but not the gardens. The gardens are lovely, but you can see a lot more just with the castle ticket!

Can you walk around St Michael’s Mount for free? 

Unfortunately, you cannot enter the island without a ticket. You can visit Marazion beach and admire the view of St Michael’s Mount standing out to sea, but you cannot actually go to the island for free.

St Michael's Mount by the sea

How to get to St Michael’s Mount

Depending on tide times, you will need to either walk along the causeway to St Michael’s Mount or take a boat from Marazion to the island. 

How long does it take to walk to St Michael’s Mount? 

The causeway to St Michael’s Mount is about a half-mile long, and it takes 10-15 minutes to walk. 

Things to see at St Michael’s Mount

St Michael's Mount Gardens
  • Tour the castle, which dates back to the Medieval period. There are lots of historical artefacts here, as well as interesting paintings depicting Cornwall. 
  • Visit the castle garden. You will need a separate ticket to visit the walled gardens – or you can buy a combi ticket that combines the two of them. 
  • Take in extensive views of the Cornish coast. From the top of the circular wall, you can see Penzance, Newlyn and all the way to Mousehole. 
  • If you’re visiting Cornwall in winter, check out St Michael’s Mount’s Christmas pop up shop! The Sail Loft also offers festive lunch menus. 
  • Take in the views back to Marazion from the dock. 
  • Laze on the grass by the castle with a Roskilly’s ice cream
  • Dine at the Sail Loft island cafe and take a look in the gift shop.

How long do I need at St Michael’s Mount? 

If you want to see the entire island, including the castle, gardens, and taking the time to get there, I would allow 3-4 hours. 

Other things to do in Marazion

St Michael's Mount beach
  • Mount’s Bay is a famous beach in Marazion. It’s great for stand up paddle boarding or just enjoying the beach view. 
  • RSPB Marazion Marsh is an excellent place for birdwatching and walking. 
  • Trenmenheere Sculpture Gardens are a lovely place to enjoy some contemporary art. 
  • Here are all the best things to do in Penzance and some things to do in nearby Mousehole.

Visiting St Michael’s Mount

With a remarkable legacy and beautiful scenery, it’s no surprise that St Michael’s Mount is one of the best places to visit in Cornwall. Whatever your travel style, you’ll find something to love at this historic National Trust attraction! 

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