If you’re searching for the best things to do in Tintagel, look no further than this post!
Home of Tintagel Castle, nestled in some of Cornwall’s best coastline and brimming with charming restaurants and cafes, there’s so much to love about Tintagel.
It was put on the map way back in the 13th century when Geoffery of Monmouth claimed that King Arthur was born at the castle.
Since then, it’s grown to become one of the South West’s premier tourism destinations, with visitors coming from far and wide to see the legendary castle, take in the dramatic coastline, browse fascinating museums and get some retail therapy at various quirky shops.
Tintagel is also in a prime position to enjoy other spots on the North Cornwall coast, such as Port Isaac, Boscastle and Bude.
I’ve spent a lot of my life in Cornwall as my family lives here, and I’ve made countless trips to Tintagel.
So, here are all of the best things to do in the beautiful Cornish village!
Things to do in Tintagel
The best thing to do in Tintagel is undoubtedly to visit the castle, but many tourists stay in town to see the National Trust Tintagel Post Office, the (free) Tintagel Toy Museum and the immersive experience of King Arthur’s Great Halls.
Tintagel Castle is one of the most popular historical sites in Cornwall.
It’s an English Heritage property, dating back at least as far as the 5th century. The current castle ruins were owned by Richard, First Earl of Cornwall, in the 13th century.
Although he owned the property, Richard never actually lived here, but he visited occasionally.
While Tintagel Castle definitely dates back to the 5th century, its history Tintagel Castle’s history allegedly goes back even further – it is where the legendary wizard, Celtic King Arthur, was supposedly born.
This was a story spread by Geoffery of Monmouth in the 13th Century, and while many Cornish history experts doubt its legitimacy, he certainly wove a pretty good tale, as it has drawn in tourists for around 800 years!
Even if the King Arthur connections aren’t true, Tintagel was certainly once a seat for Cornish royalty, and it’s real history is just as fascinating as its folklore.
Take a stroll around the enigmatic ruins and enjoy amazing views over the craggy cliffs – this is a particularly spectacular part of the Cornish coast.
The castle is run by the English Heritage – tickets aren’t always needed, but you can book them on the English Heritage website.
But read below for tips on seeing the castle for cheaper!
How to see Tintagel Castle for cheap
Tintagel Castle is not a cheap attraction – however, there are a few ways to see the 13th-century castle for a lower cost.
You can become an English Heritage member for around £60 per year. This gets you free entry into Tintagel Castle and 400 other attractions across England!
Cornwall Heritage Trust hack (cheaper than ONE entry to Tintagel Castle)
If you don’t want to become an English Heritage member but do want to visit Tintagel Castle, I strongly advise that you purchase a Cornwall Heritage Trust membership.
The price of an annual membership is CHEAPER than one entry into Tintagel Castle!
A Cornwall Heritage Trust membership is one flat fare (cheaper than Tintagel Castle entry) and also permits you entry into these other English Heritage sites in Cornwall:
- Launceston Castle
- Pendennis Castle
- St Mawes Castle
- Restormel Castle
See the outside of the castle for free
If you don’t want to become a member or pay for entry, you can still see part of the castle for free.
Walk from the top of the hill to the castle entrance or the shop, cafe and museum.
These are all free to get into and you can see some beautiful views of the castle and go down to Merlin’s Cave.
The cafe serves light lunches and legendary cream teas!
If you don’t want to walk up and down the hill, there’s a jeep that connects the ticket office with the castle entrance. It’s £2 and you don’t need a ticket for the castle itself to jump in.
Medieval Post Office
Along with one of the UK’s most iconic castles, there’s a National Trust site in Tintagel too.
The Tintagel Old Post Office is an example of a historic medieval hall house. It is a snapshot of British history and is one of the only hall houses of the time in Cornwall.
You may need to book tickets to visit the Tintagel post office, especially at busy times. You can see up-to-date information and reserve your tickets on the National Trust website.
If you’re a National Trust member, you can enter Tintagel Old Post Office as part of your membership. Click here to read more about joining the National Trust.
Are you interested in joining either the National Trust or English Heritage, but can’t decide which one?Check out my English Heritage vs. National Trust post to work out which one is best for you.
King Arthur’s Great Halls
For more Arthurian-inspired history, I recommend visiting King Arthur’s Great Halls.
The halls date back to the 1930s when they operated as the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table.
They then reopened in 1993 as a tourist attraction and wedding venue, and have become one of the best things to do in Tintagel, especially if it’s raining!
King Arthur’s Great Halls is a place to learn all about the legend of King Arthur, with laser shows and sound effects. You’ll learn lots about this Cornish legend and come away with all sorts of interesting facts!
Tintagel Toy Museum
The Tintagel Toy Museum is a fantastic free attraction in Tintagel.
Take a trip down memory lane by browsing some of the best historic games, seeing stuffed toys through the ages and admiring a selection of nostalgic posters.
You can also buy a range of collector’s items in the toy museum.
A spectacle as soon as you walk in, the 100-metre-long Merlin’s Cave extends under the cliffs of Tintagel Island.
However, its mythical connections make it even more significant.
As a baby, King Arthur reportedly washed ashore at Merlin’s feet, somewhere around this cave.
When this mythology was made famous, somebody carved an image of Merlin’s face into this cave.
It was a controversial work of art, with some people calling it vandalism. But you can still see it today!
The cave is completely free to visit – you’ll need to walk down the hill from the Tintagel Castle ticket office toward the cafe and gift shop. You can take in views of the castle and relax on the beach as you step back into thousands of years of history.
St Nectan’s Glen
St Nectan’s Glen is an atmospheric forested area with a beautiful waterfall called St Nectan’s Kieve – it’s one of the best in Cornwall – and a brook.
It is a temperate rainforest and site of specific scientific interest and an incredible place for a walk.
It’s around a 10-minute drive from Tintagel village and there’s a car park on-site.
Try Tintagel Honey
Tintagel honey is a purpose-made shop selling locally-made honey and a range of skin and healthcare products.
You can visit to try many of the different types, and buy some to take home as a souvenir!
Eat at Vega Vegan Restaurant
This is one of the most popular restaurants in northern Cornwall and is a fantastic place to grab some lunch!
It’s a completely vegan restaurant; I visited here with my mum on one of my trips to Tintagel and we had a Buddha Bowl (pictured) and vegan chilli.
They have a variety of drinks (with plant-based milk), so you can pop in just for a coffee if you don’t want lunch!
Have a pint at Olde Malthouse Inn
Dating back to the 14th century, the Olde Malthouse Inn is one of the best places in Cornwall to take in Tintagel’s historic atmosphere, with bright white walls on the outside and low beams on the inside.
Enjoy a Cornish drink (Rattlers, anyone?) or dinner made with locally-made produce as you toast to a successful day exploring Tintagel’s best attractions!
Rocky Valley is a stunning section of the South West Coast Path between Tintagel and Boscastle.
With water crashing through a natural rock formation, Rocky Valley is a spectacle.
You can walk here from Tintagel or make it part of a Tintagel to Boscastle walk.
Or, it’s a six-minute drive from Tintagel village and there is parking nearby.
Walk to Port Isaac
One of the best walks around Tintagel leads to Port Isaac via the South West Coast Path. Enjoy awe-inspiring views over the dramatic North Cornish scenery as you traverse up and down the challenging terrain.
This is a difficult hike, so it’s advised only to attempt it if you are in good shape!
Port Isaac is a quintessential Cornish village (where Doc Martin was filmed!) with a few eateries to enjoy at the end of the hike.
Walk to Boscastle
Another wonderful walk on the South West Coast Path leads to Boscastle.
With breathtaking views from the clifftop over the crashing waves against the coastline, this hike is one of the best on the South West Coast Path!
It’s quite a short one, so you can have lunch in Boscastle (I usually grab fish and chips at Sharon’s Plaice) and take the 95 back to Tintagel.
Other things to do near Tintagel
There are a variety of things to do around Tintagel, including visiting the charming villages of Tintagel and Port Isaac, heading inland to the foreboding Bodmin Moor, enjoying the food scene of Padstow or tackling the surf waves on the beaches of Bude.
Boscastle is famous for its stunning natural harbour and National Trust-owned village.
It’s also home to the eccentric Museum of Witchcraft, which is one of the best things to do near Tintagel.
Port Isaac is renowned for being the filming location for the popular TV show Doc Martin.
It’s a beautiful Cornish fishing village, so it’s worth visiting even if you don’t watch the show!
Stroll around the harbour and take in the atmosphere, hike to the top of the cliffs and take to the seas on a boat trip with Wavehunters.
Crackington Haven is a small community and beach halfway between Bude and Boscastle.
There are spectacular views around the coastline here – it’s a fantastic spot for a hike!
If you fancy a beach day, the surf town of Bude is a wonderful spot.
Visit beaches like Crooklets Beach, Summerleaze, Sandymouth Bay and Widemouth Bay, which are all renowned for surfing and have stunning vistas.
Bodmin Moor is a great place for a day trip if you are staying in or near Tintagel.
You can do a day-long Bodmin Moor tour to see all of the best attractions, including Rough Tor, Brown Willy, Golitha Falls and The Hurlers.
Don’t forget to pop into Jamaica Inn for dinner and drinks too!
Bodmin town is located on the western side of Bodmin Moor and is also quite easy to reach from Tintagel.
Its best attraction is Bodmin Jail, a Victorian jail that was the blueprint for many others in the country. You can also visit Bodmin Keep and Bodmin Town Museum.
Where to stay in Tintagel
Although Tintagel is only a small village, it still has a variety of accommodation options, including a backpacker’s hostel (perfect for budget travellers), some pubs with rooms and even a couple of hotels. Staying in Tintagel not only means you’ll see more of the village, but these hotels are also great bases for the rest of Cornwall!
Dolphins Backpackers is a hostel in Tintagel, with dorms and an included breakfast.
With a choice of bunk dorm rooms or private rooms (single and double rooms are available), it’s a great spot for backpackers.
The Cornishman Inn is a cosy local B&B with single and double rooms and breakfast included.
Rooms have tea and coffee-making facilities and a flat-screen TV.
Sitting right in the heart of the village, you’re close to all of Tintagel’s main attractions when you stay here; it’s just a three-minute walk to Tintagel Castle.
King Arthur’s Arms has rustic rooms with beams and comfortable beds, with en-suite luxury bathrooms.
It is located in the heart of Tintagel.
Camelot Castle Hotel is a famous hotel with a grand exterior and interior.
The rooms are more basic and simple, and the hotel does have mixed reviews.
Its location is unmatchable and the reception is beautiful!
My mum does guided tours around Cornwall and her groups sometimes check into Camelot Castle Hotel; they have always found it a bit of an eccentric place, but if you’re just looking for a place to rest your head in Tintagel, then it’ll probably do the trick.
Tintagel is a popular Atlantic Ocean-facing village sitting high above the beach.
It’s a small place, with a population of just 1,782 – but it is usually heaving with tourists during summertime – I’d recommend avoiding it in July and August, as the main street can be completely overrun!
However, it is a lovely village with lots of restaurants and, of course, the epic North Cornwall coastline.
The Cornish village is most famous for being the alleged birthplace of King Arthur. Read on for some more information about Tintagel’s history!
Think of Tintagel, and the Celtic King Arthur may leap into your mind. This entire settlement and its coastline is full of myth and legend.
But what is the actual history of Tintagel and its castle?
Tintagel village sits high above a beach. Several buildings in the village, like the Olde Malthouse Pub and the Old Post Office, date back to the medieval era.
However, the origins of Tintagel village actually date back to when the castle was founded.
Tintagel Castle was first built between the 5th and 7th centuries when it was probably the seat of Cornish kings.
There is evidence of settlement and trade spanning back to the Dark Ages in the awe-inspiring castle. For example, Mediterranean pottery has been dug up around the castle premises, indicating that the site was a popular trading hub.
The beginning of a legend
In the 12th century, Geoffery of Monmouth named it the place where King Arthur was born.
This caused even more myths to build up around the castle – although there is no proof that the claims are true!
Due to the sudden fascination with Tintagel and its myths and legends, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, decided that it would be a good place to establish a castle for himself – thinking that living here would intrinsically link him with the legendary King Arthur. It kind of worked…?
The Earl of Cornwall never actually lived here (he had plenty of other properties throughout the region!), but it’s thought that visited a few times.
After Richard, Earl of Cornwall’s death, the castle passed from person to person and gradually fell into ruin.
The Victorian era saw a massive surge in tourism to coastal destinations throughout the UK (they were the original staycationers and have inspired millions of people to visit the West Country since!).
This meant that hordes of tourists ventured to Tintagel Village to see where King Arthur was (or wasn’t) born!
Since the Victorian era, tourism to Tintagel has continued to prosper, with the castle remaining one of the top things to do in Cornwall and new restaurants and attractions frequently opening.
Where is Tintagel?
Tintagel is located in North Cornwall, not too far from the border with Devon.
It is close to other north coast settlements like Bude, Boscastle and Port Isaac.
How to get to Tintagel village
Tintagel is a popular spot on a Cornwall road trip – for a good reason, it’s much easier to drive to the village than get public transport!
The nearest train station is Bodmin Parkway, which has trains to other stations in Cornwall, Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton, Reading and London.
From Bodmin Parkway, you can take the 11A bus to The Platt in Wadebridge.
Then you can take the 95 bus to Tintagel. The 95 bus also connects to Boscastle and Bude.
However, the buses in this part of Cornwall ain’t great. The buses run once every one to two hours, and for the total journey you’re looking at at least a one hour 45-minute journey, and that’s if you make your connection and the buses are all running on time.
It’s a lot quicker to take a taxi from Bodmin Parkway to Tintagel, and this could be a good option if there’s a group of you travelling. I’ve used Carbis Cars before – contact them on 01208 622099 for rates.
Where to park in Tintagel
There are quite a few car parks in Tintagel.
As it’s such a popular village I would recommend getting there early in the day (particularly if you’re visiting in peak season) as the car parks can get very busy.
I parked in King Arthur’s Car Park (Google maps location).
Take some change – this car park and others in the village are cash only.
How to plan a Tintagel itinerary
Here’s a suggested one and two-day Tintagel itinerary:
One day in Tintagel itienrary
Head into town and visit Tintagel Castle. Then, walk down to Merlin’s Beach and check out the cave and waterfall.
Head back into town – either visit the Vega Vegan Cafe for lunch or if you’re not a fan of veggie food, try The Cornishman Inn.
Head to King Arthur’s Great Halls for an experience all about the life of King Arthur, and then visit the Tintagel Post Office to learn about the Medieval history in the village.
Check out the Tintagel Toy Museum, and if you have time, head to St Nectan’s Glen to see the beautiful waterfall.
Two days in Tintagel itinerary
Follow the itinerary above.
On the second day, walk to Boscastle, taking in Rocky Valley on the way. Spend some time in Boscastle, checking out the harbour, visiting the Museum of Witchcraft and enjoying fish and chips at Sharon’s Plaice.
Head back to Tintagel and enjoy dinner at the Olde Malthouse Inn.
One week in Tintagel itinerary
Complete days one and two of the itinerary above.
Then, do the following day trips:
- Crackington Haven and Bude: for surfing and a beach day
- Bodmin Moor: for hiking, waterfalls and tors
- Bodmin town: for the prison and other museums
- Port Isaac: for a Doc Martin tour and you can walk to Polzeath
- Padstow: for food, the Tarquin’s Gin Distillery and boat tours
Visiting Tintagel FAQs
Are dogs allowed at Tintagel Castle?
Yes, dogs are welcome at Tintagel Castle; but they must be kept on a lead at all times, because the cliff edges are very steep (and there are nesting birds!). The walk to the castle is quite long, so only take dogs with enough energy for a more challenging hike!
Does Tintagel have a beach?
Tintagel has a wonderful beach basking in the shadow of the castle, which has the beautiful Merlin’s Cave and is one of the best things to do in Tintagel! If you’re visiting the cave, make sure that you are aware of the tide times, as there is always a risk of being cut off.
What can you see at Tintagel Castle without paying?
There are a few free things to do in Tintagel.
- Merlin’s Cave
- Tintagel Toy Museum
- Walk along the South West Coast Path either way.
- Rocky Valley which is on the coastal path.
Can I visit Tintagel Castle in the rain?
I wouldn’t recommend visiting Tintagel Castle in the rain – it’s completely outside, the castle headland is exposed, and the castle bridge sometimes shuts if the weather is too stormy! If you do visit when it’s raining, take your waterproof jacket – there really is no respite from the weather here.
What is there to do in Tintagel in the rain?
Here are some other great attractions in Tintagel in the rain:
- King Arthur’s Great Halls
- The Medieval Post Office
- Tintagel Toy Museum
- The supernatural Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle
- The many pubs in Tintagel, including the Olde Malthouse and the Cornishman Inn
What is better Tintagel Castle or St Michael’s Mount?
Tintagel and St Michael’s Mount are two of the busiest tourist attractions in Cornwall. Tintagel consists of mainly ruins, whereas St Michael’s Mount is a preserved castle with lots of authentic decor and manicured gardens. St Michael’s Mount has more to do, but Tintagel has epic mythical connections!
Your conclusive Tintagel travel guide!
With an epic dramatic coastline, impressive mythology from King Arthur and Merlin and plenty of history in the village itself, Tintagel’s a must-visit place in Cornwall.
It doesn’t take too long to see the highlights – you can check them out in a day – but it’ll certainly be a day to remember!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of my Cornwall posts for more information about visiting this gorgeous part of the UK. If you have any questions about visiting Cornwall, feel free to drop me a message on Instagram!