Things to do in Tintagel: castles and legends!

Tintagel Castle

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Tintagel, look no further than this post!

Steeped in myth and legend, this North Cornwall village has plenty to offer tourists.

Explore the world-famous Tintagel Castle (home to the birthplace of King Arthur and a historic medieval dwelling), take in the dramatic coastline, browse interesting 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. 

About Tintagel

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! 

Nowadays, it is a tourist centre that 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! 

Tintagel History

Wall and arch at Tintagel

Think of Tintagel, and the Celtic King Arthur may leap into your mind. This entire settlement and coastline is full of myth and legend. But what is the actual history of Tintagel Castle?

Tintagel village sits high above a beach. Several buildings in the village, like the Olde Malthouse pub and the 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 century when it was probably the seat of Cornish kings.

There is evidence of settlement and trade in the awe-inspiring castle. 

In the 12th century, Geoffery of Monmouth named it as 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! And Richard, Earl of Cornwall, decided on these grounds that it would be a good place to build a castle for himself.

He never lived here, but 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, with hordes of tourists venturing to the village to see where King Arthur was (or wasn’t) born! 

Merlin statue at Tintagel

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. 

Where to park in Tintagel

There are quite a few car parks in Tintagel. It is a really popular place, so if you are visiting the village in peak season I would recommend getting there early in the day, 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 are cash only. 

Things to do in Tintagel

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is one of the most popular historical sites in Cornwall.

It’s an English Heritage property, dating back as far as the 5th century. The current castle ruins were owned by Richard, the 1st Earl of Cornwall, in the 13th century.

Earl Richard never actually lived here, but he visited occasionally.

Tintagel Castle’s history allegedly goes back further than that – it is where the legendary wizard, Celtic King Arthur, was supposedly born. 

Enjoy amazing views over the craggy cliffs – this is a particularly spectacular part of the Cornish coast.

Timed tickets aren’t always needed, but you can book them on the English Heritage website.

It costs £14.50 for a single ticket and £37.70 for a family ticket. 

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 attraction 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! Read more about English Heritage membership here. 

Or, you can purchase a Cornwall Heritage Trust membership for cheaper than one entry into Tintagel Castle. This will also get you into Launceston Castle, Pendennis Castle, St Mawes Castle, Chysauster and Restormel Castle.

You can get a jeep (cost £2) or 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 get some beautiful views of the castle and go down to Merlin’s Cave. The cafe serves light lunches and legendary cream teas! 

Medieval Post Office 

Medieval post office

The Tintagel 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. 

King Arthur’s Great Halls

King Arthur's Great Halls, Tintagel

For more Arthurian-inspired history, I would 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 have become one of the best things to do in Tintagel.

King Arthur’s Great Halls are a place to learn all about the legend of King Arthur, with laser shows and sound effects. It’s a sensory experience and a great rainy-day attraction!

Tintagel Toy Museum

Tintagel Toy Museum

The Tintagel Toy Museum is a fantastic free attraction in Tintagel.

If you’ve got fond memories of toys from your childhood, this is a lovely trip down memory lane! 

You can also buy a range of collector’s items in the toy museum. 

Merlin’s Cave

Merlin's Cave Tintagel

The 100 metre long Merlin’s Cave stretches underneath cliffs and is a spectacle as soon as you walk in. 

However, its mythical connections are even more apparent. 

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! 

St Nectan’s Glen

St Nectan’s Glen is an atmospheric lush green forested area with a beautiful waterfall and brook.

It is a temperate rainforest and site of specific scientific interest and an incredible place for a walk. 

Try Tintagel Honey

Tintagel Honey

Tintagel honey is a purpose-made shop selling locally made honey.

You can visit to try many of the different types, and buy some to take home as a souvenir! 

Eat at Vega Vegan Restaurant

Buddha bowl at vega vegan Tintagel

This is one of the most popular restaurants in northern Cornwall and is a fantastic place to grab a bit of lunch. 

There’s a rotating lunch menu here, and you can buy dishes like a vegan chilli or buddha bowl.

You can also just pop into Vega Vegan for a coffee! 

Have a pint at Olde Malthouse Inn

Olde Malthouse Inn Tintagel

Dating back to the 14th century, the Olde Malthouse Inn is one of the best places in Cornwall to take in the classic Tintagel atmosphere.

Enjoy a Cornish drink or dinner made with locally-made produce. Plus, it’s always fun to check out the historic decor too! 

Rocky Valley

Rocky Valley is a stunning part 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 and there is parking nearby. 

Walk to Port Isaac

View of Port Isaac

There are a few lovely Tintagel walks that you can enjoy in the area.

You can walk from Tintagel to Port Isaac on the South West Coast Path and enjoy awe-inspiring views over the dramatic North Cornish scenery. This is a challenging hike, so it’s advised only to attempt it if you are in good shape! 

Port Isaac is a quintessential Cornish village with a few eateries to enjoy at the end of the hike. I love the halloumi burger at The Slipway by the harbour and the coffee at May Contain Nuts

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

Walk to Boscastle

A misty sunset at Boscastle harbour entrance in Cornwall, South West England

Another wonderful walk on the South West Coast Path is 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 and take the 95 back to Tintagel. 

Other things to do near Tintagel

If you’re contemplating what to do around Tintagel, here are some options!

Boscastle

River in Boscastle, Cornwall, South West England

Boscastle is famous for its stunning natural harbour and National Trust-owned village. It also has the eccentric Museum of Witchcraft, which is one of the best things to do near Tintagel.

Port Isaac

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

Port Isaac is renowned for being the filming location for 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

Beach at Crackington Haven, Cornwall

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! 

Bude

Widemouth Bay near Bude, Cornwall

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. 

Here are all the best things to do in Bude.

Bodmin Moor

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

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

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.

Here are all of Bodmin town’s best attractions.

Where to stay in Tintagel

Camelot Castle Hotel Tintagel
  • Dolphins is a hostel in Tintagel, with dorms and an included breakfast. It’s a great spot for backpackers. Click here for more information.
  • The Cornishman Inn is a cosy B&B with single and double rooms and a breakfast included. Rooms have tea and coffee-making facilities and a flat-screen TV. Click here to read more.
  • King Arthurs Arms has rustic rooms with beams and comfortable beds, with en-suite luxury bathrooms. It is located in the heart of Tintagel. Click here for more information.
  • 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. However, its location is unmatchable and the reception is beautiful! Here’s some more information.

Visiting Tintagel FAQs

Are dogs allowed at Tintagel Castle? 

Yes, dogs are welcome at Tintagel Castle. However, there are lots of steps, rough terrain and steep inclines, so keep them on a lead. 

Does Tintagel have a beach? 

Yes, 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.

Tintagel Beach

What can you see at Tintagel Castle without paying? 

If you have no money, there are a few free things to do in Tintagel. 

  • Tintagel Castle certainly isn’t free, but it is if you have an English Heritage or Cornwall Heritage Trust membership. You can also walk down to the castle and enjoy views from there. 
  • Merlin’s Cave is right by Tintagel Castle and is a beautiful, legendary spot! 
  • Tintagel Toy Museum is also free to explore. 
  • Walk along the South West Coast Path either way. 
  • If you have a National Trust membership, the Tintagel post office is free! 
  • See the beautiful Rocky Valley which is on the coastal path. 

What is there to do in Tintagel in the rain? 

Stained Glass Windows Tintagel

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. 

Here are some other great attractions in Tintagel in the rain: 

  • King Arthur’s Great Halls is a sensory experience based on Merlin and Arthur. 
  • The Medieval Post Office is an excellent example of a medieval hall house and you can explore the interior. 
  • The Tintagel Toy Museum is small, but it’s a beautiful spot! 
  • You could also head to Boscastle to see the supernatural Museum of Witchcraft.

What is better Tintagel Castle or St Michael’s Mount? 

St Micheal's Mount Castle

Tintagel and St Michael’s Mount are two of the busiest tourist attractions in Cornwall.

Despite both being on islands, they are very different. Tintagel consists of mainly ruins, whereas St Michael’s Mount is a preserved castle with lots of authentic decor and manicured gardens. 

You need to walk over a bridge to get to Tintagel and either walk over the causeway or take a boat to St Michael’s Mount. 

Personally, I find St Michael’s Mount to be more interesting and there is more to do there. However, Tintagel is on a more beautiful coastline and has those mythical connections! 

Tintagel travel guide

If you’re interested in folklore, history and scenery, Tintagel’s a must-visit place in Cornwall!

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