22 best things to do in Boscastle, Cornwall in 2024

Are you looking for incredible things to do in Boscastle? Read on, as I detail a full guide to this magnificent village.

The Cornish village of Boscastle is a magical place to visit on the northern coast.

As you walk down the river and explore the rocky inlet, you’ll be blown away at the dramatic beauty of this part of the Cornish coastline.

One of the most unspoilt harbour villages in the South West, Boscastle is National Trust-owned and is known for its charming cottages with a gentle river flowing through the centre.

Boscastle’s only a small place, but there’s a surprising amount of things to do here – and it’s also near other attractions in North East Cornwall.

My family is from Cornwall, so I spent a large part of my childhood frequenting various towns all over the region.

More recently, I spent an entire summer in Cornwall and now live just over the border in Devon so I can visit whenever I want!

Boscastle has always been a place of mystery and intrigue to me; I love the dramatic coastline around the area, along with the myths and folklore attached to the village (which you can learn all about in the Museum of Witchcraft).

I’ve visited countless times, and every time I head here, I add more to my “what to do in Boscastle” list!

So read on, as I list all of my favourite things to do and see in Boscastle!

Best things to do in Boscastle

The best things to do in Boscastle include:

  • walking to the glorious Boscastle harbour
  • exploring the cobbled cottages of the National Trust-owned village
  • learning about the village’s folklore and intrigue at places like the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

It’s in prime position for North Cornwall’s best day trips too!

1. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

Boscastle, Cornwall, UK - May 13, 2016: The Witchcraft Museum at Boscastle in Cornwall, UK

This museum has the largest collection of witchcraft-related items in the world.

Sounds whacky, right? Well, that’s largely because it is!

Boscastle village has been called the “Salem of the UK” as it’s one of THE spookiest places in the country.

Historically, sea witches used to “bottle the wind” of Boscastle and sell sailors knotted ropes, telling them that if they unknotted the third rope, it would cause a storm.

Boscastle’s Witchcraft Museum documents some of the most spooky happenings in the village and beyond in North Cornwall.

At only £5 for adults and less for concessions, this museum is well worth exploring to learn a little about the witches of Boscastle!

2. Explore Boscastle Harbour

Beautiful dramatic sunset over steep treacheous cliffs at Boscaslte on the north coast of Cornwall

The natural harbour of Boscastle is without a doubt the best attraction in the village.

The stone wall dates back to the 16th century, although the inlet is, of course, completely natural.

With steep paths running on either side, leading the way to idyllic views of the scenic village, this harbour is a phenomenon.

It used to be a popular place for importing and exporting, however, nowadays it doesn’t see much in the way of boat traffic.

I really recommend visiting at sunset, but the vistas are incredible any time of day.

Be careful when exploring – the terrain can be quite uneven!

3. Walk along the River Valency

Boscastle, Cornwall, England - October 04, 2018: bridge in  Boscastle, a small fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall, England

The River Valency runs through the heart of Boscastle Village. In fact, Boscastle is nestled in the Valency Valley, and no trip here would be complete without spending some time soaking it all in!

Most of Boscastle’s main attractions are situated alongside the River Valency, so you can see them just by taking the riverside path from Cobweb Car Park to the harbour. 

However, you can enjoy the Valency Valley a little more by walking further up, past Cobweb Car Park, and following a nature trail.

A lovely alternative to the coastal path, this walk is 4 miles long and traverses to Willapark initially, before turning inland to Forrabury and then through Minster Wood along the valley floor. 

You can see full trail directions here.

4. Find Boscastle’s blow-hole

water crashing

Just under Penally Point, you’ll find a rocky blow hole, where you can witness water gushing out of the rocks! 

To see it, walk to the harbour and stay on the left side, so you’re opposite Penally Point

Keep an eye on the underneath of the cliffs – the blowhole is just here!

The best time to see it is two hours either before or after low tide when it is at its most dramatic!

You’ll hear a loud whooshing noise – it literally sounds like a creature from the sea lives there – before seeing the water gush through. 

It’s an incredible natural phenomenon and isn’t to be missed when you’re in Boscastle!

5. Hike to Willapark Headland and see the Coastwatch house

If you don’t want to hike to Tintagel but are still keen to check out some of the coastal paths, I highly recommend hiking up the steep cliffs to Willapark Headland. 

From here, you can take in views of the quaint harbour and learn about the interesting Coastwatch house. 

Built in the early 19th century for Thomas Avery, this house was intended to be built for “coastguarding” but, like so many other locations in Cornwall, it ended up being used for smuggling.

Avery was actually involved in the even darker side of smuggling – he used to tempt ships onto a nearby rocky gorge, and once the ship was wrecked (with the ship captains often dying in the process), he and his men would go aboard and take whatever they could find.

Then, anything and everything was smuggled on shore!

Of course, these days are long gone – nowadays it’s an incredible lookout that’s used by volunteer coastguards.

6. Go shopping!

Boscastle, Cornwall, England - October 04, 2018: Boscastle a small fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall, England

There aren’t any flashy malls or big chain stores in Boscastle (in fact, there aren’t any malls in all of Cornwall!).

However, Boscastle definitely wins when it comes to fascinating independent shops where you can pick up a souvenir or a present for a friend back home.

Some of these shops include:

  • Boscastle Rocks: This is a wonderful place to go to look at and purchase some glamourous stones.
  • Boho Boscastle: Here, you’ll find local artwork, crafts and beautiful handmade products.
  • Cornish Stores: This is your stop for any Cornish products, like cheeses and ice cream!

7. Enjoy a Cornish cream tea at Boscastle Farm Shop

Devon Cream Tea

Boscastle Farm Shop is situated just a mile from the village.

The perfect place to buy some local farm-made goods and enjoy coastal views, stop here for a coffee or a Cornish cream tea.

This is a quintessential experience to have when you’re in Cornwall!

Cream teas consist of two halves of a scone, spread with jam and cream.

Very importantly: in Cornwall, you put the jam on first, and in Devon, you put the cream on first.

Boscastle is in Cornwall, so make sure that you put the jam on first!

From the garden, you can enjoy some immense views over the coast.

8. Pentargon Waterfall

Cornwall's highest waterfall

Pentargon Waterfall is close to Boscastle Farm Shop.

While it’s not quite as impressive as the other waterfalls around Boscastle (read on for those!), it’s an easy walk from the shop!

You can see the Google location here.

9. St Juliot’s Church

Famous writer Thomas Hardy has a connection to Boscastle; he met his wife Emma here.

Before working as a writer, Hardy had a job as an architect, and he was commissioned to report on the condition of St Juliot’s Church in Boscastle.

Emma was the rector’s sister-in-law, and they met while he was performing the survey!

The medieval church, which was named after St Julitta, is Grade-II* listed and it’s a beautiful building to explore.

As Hardy’s wife sadly passed away in 1912, he returned to the church to install a memorial dedicated to her.

You can also see a stained glass window that commemorates Hardy’s journey from Dorchester to Boscastle and him writing at his desk.

10. Visit the Wellington Hotel

The Wellington Hotel is a 17th-century coaching inn – it was one of Cornwall’s first.

Nowadays, it’s rumoured to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country!

You can either stay here, pop in for a drink or have a full meal – the restaurant has two AA rosettes.

11. Head to St Nectan’s Glen

St Nectans Kieve waterfall in St Nectan's Glen valley in North Cornwall

St Nectan’s Glen is home of one of the best waterfalls in Cornwall, St Nectan’s Kieve.

This whole area is renowned for its mythical connections, with locals and tourists alike reporting a calm, zen-like feeling falling upon them as soon as they enter.

Walk on the woodland nature trail to enjoy some incredible plant life – this area of the South West is particularly lush with mossy ferns – and end up at St Nectan’s Kieve.

The River Trevillet waterfall is an 18-metre drop with ferns on either side, crashing through the rocky banks into a plunge pool.

While it’s fairly popular with those in the know, it’s still one of the best hidden gems in Cornwall – especially if you hike along the nature trail rather than just visiting the fall.

12. Visit Rocky Valley

A Rocky inlet at Rocky Valley, Cornwall in late summer

Rocky Valley is another excellent waterfall close to Boscastle.

In fact, it sits on the coastal path between the village and Tintagel and is also part of the River Trevillet.

This waterfall crashes through two rocky cliffs, which is how it gets its name, before plummeting down into a pool by the ocean.

It’s free to visit, and you can either access it by walking from Boscastle to Tintagel or parking in a layby by the B3263.

13. Hike to Tintagel

Tintagel bay near Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, United Kingdom, UK. British west landscape coastline, shore for summer holidays. Cornish summer destination with green rocky cliffs, Atlantic Ocean.

The South West Coast Path leads from Boscastle to Tintagel, with about six miles connecting the two.

This is one of the prettiest SWCP hikes, with breathtaking views over the incredible coastline and its many Mediterranean-esque beaches.

You’ll bypass Rocky Valley en route, so if you want to see this natural phenomenon anyway, then why not pair it with an adrenaline-boosting walk?

You can see my Boscastle to Tintagel hiking guide here.

14. Hike to Crackington Haven or Bude

Beach at Crackington Haven, Cornwall

The other way, the coastal path leads to Crackington Haven.

This is a popular spot with geologists, as the rocks are very unique. You can either hike here, or go further to Widemouth Bay and then Bude.

This area of coastline is the most difficult one on the coastal path, but the beautiful views kind of make up for the very achy feet!

15. Check out the best beaches near Boscastle

Widemouth Bay near Bude, Cornwall

While Boscastle doesn’t really have a beach per se, there are quite a few around, including:

  • Crackington Haven: Sitting in a cove, this beach is popular with geologists thanks to its unique rock. It’s a wide expanse of sand with plenty of rockpools and is often not as busy as other beaches in the area.
  • Widemouth Bay Beach: One of the best beaches near Bude, Widemouth Bay is the place to go if you want to go surfing!
  • Tintagel Beach: Home to Merlin’s Cave, this small beach sits in the shadow of Tintagel Castle.
  • Polzeath Beach: Another fantastic place for surfing, Polzeath sits at the top of the Camel Estuary. The walk from Polzeath to Rock (from here, you can take a ferry to Padstow), is particularly charming.

16. Tintagel Castle

Ruins at Tintagel Castle

16 minutes by road

Tintagel Castle, with connections to the legendary King Arthur, is close to Boscastle and is well worth visiting while you’re in the area – especially if you’re interested in ancient history or particularly enjoy dramatic, brooding landscapes.

You can read my full article about visiting Tintagel Castle here.

17. Port Isaac Doc Martin walking tour

Epic view of Port Isaac village in Cornwall, South West England

26 minutes by road

Learn all about Doc Martin on this Port Isaac walking tour!

The popular TV show was shot in this location, and a special tour will take you around the different filming locations so you can envisage your favourite scenes of the show.

The tour isn’t just for fans of the doc – you’ll learn about the fascinating history of the village, from the days of Henry VIII to the modern period.

Plus, it’s a stunning village to walk around too!

Here are all the best things to do in Port Isaac.

18. Bodmin Jail

Bodmin Jail cell block near Bodmin in Cornwall

34 minutes by road

Located nearby in Bodmin town, Bodmin Jail is a fascinating place to explore.

Self-guided or guided tours will teach you about the Victorian penal system as you walk through a 4D show that demonstrates exactly how crime and punishment worked in the 19th century.

You’ll also see some of the historic cells and learn about both sides of Bodmin Jail.

On one hand, it was a tough and arduous place for prisoners, but on the other the jail was one of the “more humane” prisons and was thought to inspire a lot of change in the penal system.

It’s the ideal attraction to visit if it’s lashing down with rain, as wet weather only really adds to the sombre mood…

You can book tickets for Bodmin Jail by clicking here.

19. Bodmin Town

Towering above Bodmin is the 144ft Gilbert monument which was erected as a tribute to Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert who was born in Bodmin and went onto serve as a general in the British Army in India.

36 minutes by road

Bodmin Town Centre isn’t the most beautiful of Cornish towns, but it’s one of its most historic.

It was the county town for nearly 160 years, and nowadays there are a few museums that you can take in when exploring the town!

If you want to spend a day museum-hopping and learning more about Cornwall, don’t miss:

  • Bodmin Keep: This is the place to visit if you want to learn about Cornwall’s military history.
  • Bodmin Town Museum: This fascinating museum is all about the history of the old county town.
  • Discovering 42: This is an award-winning science museum in the heart of the town.

Here are some of the other best things to do in Bodmin.

20. Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn Sign, with clouds in the background and the fence of the inn in the foreground

32 minutes by road

Another attraction near Bodmin is Jamaica Inn.

At first glance, this looks just like a pub with rooms, but there’s actually plenty to do here – you could spend a whole afternoon learning about the history and exploring the museums!

The inn is an old coaching house that had smuggling connections. These were immortalised in Daphne Du Maurier’s book, Jamaica Inn.

She was inspired to write the book after staying at the inn one night, following a spooky situation when she was lost on Bodmin Moor.

After making it to the inn, she was enthralled with stories of its smuggling past and was inspired to write her now best-selling novel.

Modern room at Jamaica Inn

The events in the novel are fictional, but they could have easily been fact!

Nowadays, the inn is a much more welcoming place, but you can enjoy the cosy atmosphere of the pub with hearty cuisine, see the many reminders of the Jamaica Inn novel and its smuggling past, visit the smuggling museum and Daphne Du Maurier Museum and peruse the farm shop and gift shop.

Again, it’s incredibly atmospheric on a rainy day!

It’s also worth spending a night in Jamaica Inn – you can read all about my experience here.

21. Explore Tintagel

Tintagel Honey

15 minutes by road

Along with Tintagel Castle, there are a few other attractions in the village to enjoy!

These include:

22. Bude Castle

24 minutes by road

Don’t get too excited – this isn’t an all-weather Tintagel equivalent, but it is a house that an ingenious inventor, William Goldsworth Gurney (who is sometimes called “Cornwall’s forgotten genius!) lived in, right in the heart of nearby Bude.

Nowadays, it’s a museum dedicated to the town and surrounding area.

It’s worth checking out the town of Bude, too – there are beautiful beaches and walks in its vicinity.

Things to do in Boscastle in the rain

Views of Bodmin Moor from Jamaica Inn

If you’re visiting Cornwall and it’s raining, don’t worry – here’s a list of wet weather attractions close to Boscastle.

I personally don’t mind Boscastle in the rain – it’s quite atmospheric – and will happily don a parka and explore the drizzly weather!

But do avoid climbing on the cliffs or the headlands when the weather’s wet – slippery paths can be dangerous, and the surroundings are all very exposed!

Here are the best things to do in and around Boscastle in the rain.

  • Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
  • cream tea at Boscastle Tea Rooms
  • Bodmin Jail
  • Jamaica Inn
  • Other museums in Tintagel

Are you ready to visit Boscastle?

Boscastle River, Cornwall

One of the prettiest villages in Cornwall, Boscastle is a must-add to your Cornish bucket list.

Whether you want to explore the dramatic harbour, take the cliff path up to one of the headlands or explore the enchanting valley with the Valency River snaking through, there’s so much to enjoy here!

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