Truro, which is affectionately known as ‘Our Great Little City’ by locals, is Cornwall’s only city. Despite it being the only settlement in the county to earn city status (city status can only be achieved in England if a city has a cathedral) it isn’t the biggest settlement at all. Redruth, Falmouth and St Austell all have bigger populations, and Truro is only home to 20,000 people.
Truro isn’t by the coast, which means that it doesn’t get anywhere near as much tourism as most of the rest of Cornwall, and it rarely hits the top of places to visit Cornwall lists.
However, there are plenty of fun things to do in Truro, especially for those who want to learn more about Cornish culture, see a different side of the county, and have a more local experience while holidaying in Cornwall.
Here are the best things to do in Truro, to help you maximise your time there!
What to do in Truro – the top 10
Truro Cathedral is what makes the Great Little City a city – so it’s definitely worth checking out while you’re there! The cathedral was built between 1880 and 1910 in Gothic Revival style, on the site where the old Parish Church of St Mary stood. It was built after the Diocese of Truro was established in 1876 – prior to that, Cornwall was under the Diocese of Exeter.
This makes it the heart of Anglican Christianity in the region, so it’s a must-visit for any tourists to Truro who are interested in religion, or fans of Gothic Revival architecture – Truro is one of the only cathedrals in the UK with three spires.
The cathedral is open to all (including all faiths) outside of service time (services are also open to all, but you can’t walk around at your own leisure obviously). Entry is free of charge.
Walking Tour or Self Guided Tour
If you want to learn a little more about Truro’s history, and how it rose to become possibly the most influential settlement in Cornwall, make sure that you’re in town on Wednesday for a Truro Walking Tour.
You’ll learn about Truro’s history as an important trading port, how it became a diocese, its connections to Poldark and the Titanic, and its contemporary scene.
You’ll also see lots of hidden alleyways and viewpoints in the city – Truro might not be by the sea, but some parts of the city are certainly among the prettiest places in Cornwall.
Tours leave at 11am every Wednesday from May to September from the Truro Vistor Information Centre at 30 Boscawen Street. It costs £7 for adults and is free for children.
If you can’t make the tour, you can purchase a copy of ‘Footsteps around Truro’ from the Visitor centre for £2, and use it to do a self-guided walking tour.
Royal Cornwall Museum
The Royal Cornwall Museum has been dubbed ‘The UK’s best museum for Cornish life and culture’ – so if you want to learn a little more about this southwestern land, here’s your chance!
The museum features exhibitions from both Cornwall and the rest of the world. Exhibitions range from Cornish Images and Cornish History and Archaeology to Classical Civilisations and Fine Art.
Entry to the Royal Cornwall Museum is free; they prefer it if you book online but some walk ins are accepted, as long as it isn’t too busy.
Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm
If you’ve travelled in the West Country at all, you’ll know how drinking cider (or cyder, in Cornwall!) is a regional pastime. Healy’s Cornish Cyder Farm is a 15 minute drive from Turo and is well worth a visit to get an insight of the production methods of this popular beverage.
Enjoy either a guided tour around the premises, or visit the Cyder Museum, the Cellars and the Distillery on a self-guided tour. You can also pull your own pint of Rattler Cyder for just £3 a pint! You can purchase day tickets or an annual pass, which lets you come back for a year free of charge.
If you want to enjoy a few pints and don’t have a car, there are bus links – although it takes around an hour. You can take the 304 bus to the stop called ‘Garage’ and then the 88 to a stop titled ‘Bus Shelter’, which is right by the Cyder Farm (ask the bus driver if you’re confused).
Hall for Cornwall
The Hall for Cornwall is the largest music venue in all of Cornwall. They accommodate both local artists and international superstars – but, if you have a chance to see a Cornish act there, take it! The Fisherman’s Friends (who also often play live in Port Isaac) are amongst some of the artists who frequent the Hall for Cornwall.
Lemon Street Market
Lemon Street Market is a vivacious, contemporary covered market – meets – shopping mall in the heart of the city. There are plenty of independent shops – it’s a great place to pick up some authentic Cornish souvenirs – as well as a fantastic art gallery and cafe on the top floor.
If the weather isn’t kind to you while in the city, Lemon Street Market is definitely one of the best things to do in Truro in the rain! But click here for my when to visit Cornwall guide, so you can hopefully avoid the rain 😉
Cycling Routes Around the City
There are plenty of cycling routes both around Truro and in its surrounding nature; some trails can easily be cycled to from the city centre. Truro is located on national cycle route 3 and national cycle route 32, which are both also part of The Cornish Way. Here is some more information about cycling in Truro, including where to hire bikes!
Boat Trip to Falmouth
From Truro, you can take a scenic boat trip to Falmouth and back, enjoying the beauty of the River Fal. The boat cruises through an AONB, with beautiful scenes on either side and places of historical interest. You can stop at the National Trust Property Trelissick, as well as the fishing village of St Mawes, before arriving at coastal Falmouth. There are lots of things to do in Falmouth, including Pendennis Castle and the National Maritime Museum.
Purchasing a Mussel Card offers hop on, hop off travel and is often the most budget-friendly option.
Note: at the moment ferries are not running all the way to Truro. Instead, you’ll need to drive 12 minutes to Tressilick, a nearby National Trust Property. You can also take the 493 bus, which takes 25 minutes.
Trelissick, which is where the Falmouth cruises are currently terminating, is worth a visit in its own right. With acres of stunning gardens, parkland and river vistas, it’s the perfect place for a walk close to Truro. You can either drive the 12 minutes to reach the property, or take the 493 bus direct from Truro.
Tregothnan is a private estate and is the largest historic garden in the county. It has been owned by the same family since 1334. Nowadays, it is the UK’s largest tea gardens, and Britain’s first homegrown tea was grown here (as recent as 2005!).
You can’t drop by Tregothnan, but you can arrange a private tour of the estate and the tea gardens. Rates start at £65 per person and include a cream tea.
It’s a 19 minute drive from Truro to Tregothnan, or you can take the 491 bus from Truro to The Old Rectory.
The Best Things to do in Truro…
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Truro that will help you get a sense of Cornish identity and see some more of the county away from the tourists! Most of these sites, and Truro itself, are not on the typical Cornish tourist trail (although I do recommend Truro in my Cornwall road trip itinerary), so if you’re looking to escape the crowds, it may be worth spending some time in the laidback Great Little City.