Are you looking for the best day trips from Falmouth?
This article highlights all of the best towns and villages to visit in the area – most of which are around under a half-hour drive from the Cornish coastal town!
Falmouth is, without a doubt, my favourite town in Cornwall.
Although it’s not quite as ancient as some of the Duchy’s other fishing villages, the entire place has a pulsating atmosphere.
It’s always been a place where different cultures have met and merged, and you’ll witness this as you eat at some of the best international restaurants in Cornwall and browse the boutique stores.
Other Falmouth attractions include the fascinating maritime museum, where you’ll learn all about Cornwall’s unique relationship with the water, and Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII to defend the Fal Estuary.
But if you’re spending a holiday in Falmouth, or are based here, and want to see the highlights of this part of Cornwall, where is best to go?
I’ve spent a lot of time in Falmouth and the surrounding area, and I’ve put together my favourite day trips from Falmouth in this blog post.
Some of these are accessible by public transport, whereas, for others, you’ll need your own wheels. I’ve included a mix of history, culture and beaches – so there’s truly something for everyone!
Best day trips from Falmouth
The best day trips from Falmouth include trips over the estuary to villages like St Mawes, Truro which is Cornwall’s only city, Stithians Lake for watersports, the rugged Lizard Peninsula, the mining museums in Camborne and Redruth and the historic town of Helston.
Best accessed by boat from Falmouth harbour
Once you’ve explored Falmouth to its full extent, why not take a boat over and see the village on the other side of the river?
Due to St Mawes’ location, you’ll need to drive around the entire Fal Estuary to reach it (which would take nearly an hour) but regular ferries ply the route, cutting down the journey time to 20 minutes.
Taking the boat is part of the fun, too – you’ll sail on Carrick Roads (one of the deepest natural harbours in the world), past all sorts of sea vessels, from small rowing boats to massive cruise ships, and see both Falmouth and St Mawes from another angle!
St Mawes is perhaps most famous for its castle. It’s a smaller version of Pendennis Castle near Falmouth, but it was built at the same time and offers similar views and is an interesting glance into Tudor history.
St Mawes Castle was constructed for the same reason as Pendennis; to guard the Fal Estuary.
Due to Cornwall’s peninsula location and proximity to the north coast of France, this estuary was deemed to be one of the most vulnerable during Henry VIII’s reign.
Once you’ve seen the castle, St Mawes is a pleasant village to stroll around – and it sees nowhere near as many tourists as Falmouth.
You can also take another ferry to St Anthony, which has a scenic stretch of the South West Coast Path and is home to the 19th century St Anthony Lighthouse which marks the start of the Fal Estuary and is home to the St Anthony Battery; remains of a gun battery from World War Two.
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a tipple and hearty meal in St Mawes, I recommend The Rising Sun, which boasts a selection of meals from locally-sourced mussels to West Country rump steak to tofu laksa!
15 minute drive or boat from Falmouth harbour
Flushing also sits a boat ride from Falmouth Harbour; it sits on the other side of the River Penryn and journey time is much shorter than the boat to St Mawes.
You can actually drive to Flushing in just 15 minutes, but the boat ride is more scenic and means that you don’t need to find parking!
Flushing’s a small village with a rather distinct history; the village was largely constructed by Dutch seafarers in the 17th century; it was actually named after the town of Flushing in The Netherlands.
So, as you stroll around, you’ll witness fewer English fishing cottages and more Dutch-style houses – of course, interspersed with more modern British houses!
Like Falmouth, boating and shipbuilding are popular here; I always love looking at the different features of all the boats.
If you get hungry, The Waterside restaurant offers spectacular food and a range of local seafood dishes.
22 minute drive from Falmouth, not accessible by public transport
One of my favourite places in Cornwall and a true hidden gem, this lake is well worth visiting while you’re in Falmouth, especially if you’re into watersports.
The lake is West Cornwall’s largest, spanning 270 acres, but you’ll want to head to the watersports centre, which also has an attached campsite.
My partner and I found this campsite when we were spending the summer touring Cornwall, and ended up staying here for two weeks!
If you’re just visiting for the day, you won’t need the campsite facilities (although, with hot showers, great signal and roomy pitches, I highly recommend it!), but if you want to try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or even windsurfing (when conditions allow!), then I recommend booking onto a session and heading out on the lake.
We’d only been paddleboarding once before when we arrived here and found the calmness of the lake to be excellent for beginners. Due to its size, there’s plenty to see – but you can stay close to the shore if you’re new to the sport and want to build up your confidence.
For spectators, the Wild Vibes Cafe serves delicious breakfasts and lunches. I ate their incredible vegan breakfast which included avocado, hummus, homemade baked beans, seeds and sourdough bread a lot while we were staying there, but they also have plenty of options for meat eaters.
If you stay around for dinner, I also highly recommend The Golden Lion Inn – especially if you’re visiting on Sunday, as all of their roast dinners come with unlimited potatoes and vegetables! They have a tranquil beer garden and plenty of atmosphere inside.
Run by the South West Lakes Trust, you can also walk around Stithians Lake to see birds like curlew sandpiper and greenshank and enjoy the vistas across the lake.
45 minutes – one hour depending on location, bus routes are quite complicated but you could take a bus to Helston and then the Lizard coaster bus from there
It’s road trip time!
I love a good road trip around Cornwall, but if you don’t have time to do it all, definitely do a mini road trip around the Lizard Peninsula!
This peninsula has some of the best rugged and wild scenery on the whole coast of Cornwall. While it’s becoming increasingly popular, there are still plenty of areas where you’ll experience local life and an incredible sense of tranquillity.
Start your day by visiting some of West Lizard’s best beaches, including Poldhu Cove, Gunwalloe Beach with its famous church and, of course, the iconic Kynance Cove. Kynance Cove is by far the busiest part of the Lizard, so get there early if you’re visiting during the summer holidays.
The Lizard is one of my favourite places for hiking in Cornwall.
From Kynance Cove, you can walk to Lizard Point on the South West Coast Path (45 minutes one way). The path is quite busy around Kynance Cove; if you want a quiter walk, I’d recommend parking at Lizard Point and walking eastwards, bypassing Housel Bay and the Lizard Wireless Station.
If you love a superlative, head into Lizard village to drink at the furthest south pub in the UK, the Witchball (the Top House Inn has also claimed to be furthest south, but from looking at Google Maps, the Witchball swings it by a few metres!).
Don’t miss Cadgwith, a charming fishing village that retains onto a local, historic atmosphere much more than other locations in Cornwall. A Cornish singing group gathers at the Cadgwith Cove Inn every Friday night to sing passionate songs about their home.
Head to Roskilly’s Farm for a tasty ice cream break – their ice cream is sold at destinations all over Cornwall – and see nearby Coverack, a pleasant fishing village with a beautiful harbour.
Lastly, visit Helford, home to one of Cornwall’s most loved rivers, and drive back to Falmouth for the evening!
Helston & Porthleven
30 minute drive from Falmouth, accessible by U4 bus
Helston is one of the most historic towns in the Duchy.
It’s also the site of the FREE Museum of Cornish Life, one of the best things to do in Cornwall in the rain (particularly if you’re on a budget!).
If you’re interested in the town’s history, there’s a heritage trail that’ll detail a little more about local shipwrecks, Methodism in the town and the journeys of pilgrims.
In high season, there are even tours of the town!
Porthleven sits close to Helston; I once walked here through some charming nature trails around the Penrose area.
Porthleven has a bustling harbour and a long beach that gives way to the start of the Lizard Peninsula.
25 minute drive from Falmouth, or accessible by U1 bus or train
Truro isn’t exactly a big, bustling city, but it is the only city in Cornwall, and its charming architecture and excellent museums make it well worth visiting!
One of the main highlights is Truro Cathedral, which is Cornwall’s only cathedral and dates back to the late Victorian era. It’s completely free to visit and boasts some impressive architecture, including three spires.
I also highly recommend visiting the fantastic Royal Cornwall Museum, which is one of my favourite museums in Cornwall (and probably in the whole of Britain!).
It expertly navigates the history of Cornwall and its people. Due to its geography, Cornwall has developed a distinct Celtic identity. It’s fascinating, and the Royal Cornwall Museum is the best place to learn about it.
In the summer, enjoy walking tours of Truro (which can be arranged from the tourism office), or spend time walking around the streets, enjoying the buildings made from Bath stone, independently.
Shoppers will love the range of stores on offer, from independents (don’t miss Lemon Street Market!), to big-name brands.
And while Truro’s dining scene doesn’t quite rival Falmouth’s, restaurants like the Hub Box (for incredible burgers) and Hooked (for delicious seafood) mean that you won’t go hungry while you’re here.
Redruth & Camborne
30 minute drive from Falmouth, or accessible by U2 bus to Redruth and then short train to Camborne
Cornwall has many, many layers, and while most tourists primarily see the beaches, the history is well worth tapping into.
Redruth and Camborne aren’t touristy towns, but they do have an extensive selection of mining museums and monuments dedicated to the industry.
Both towns sit in a mining area that was once the richest mining area in the world, with the oldest and deepest mine and the last working tin mine in Europe.
All are now shut down, but it’s not hard to learn about both town’s past on a visit.
To name but a few, head to East Pool Mine to see a Cornish beam engine, King Edward Mine to learn about how mining was taught and students were re-employed and Heartlands to see mining memorabilia and the Cornish Diaspora Gardens, which represent countries that Cornish people moved to.
Camborne was also put on the map by being the first place where a full-scale steam locomotive was unveiled, which paved the way for modern trains and cars.
Both towns are a little dated nowadays, but they encompass grand 18th-century buildings and new shops and restaurants are popping up all the time.
35 minute drive from Falmouth, public transport routes involve going to Redruth and taking a further bus from there
Portreath sits on the other coast of Cornwall – when you’re done exploring all of Falmouth’s beaches, head to this coastal village for a look at the other coastline!
The south coast of Cornwall is typically more sheltered and calmer (with the exception of The Lizard), whereas the north is wilder and craggier. Portreath is a popular surfing destination, with schools like Portreath Surfing School and Hire Centre tackling the waves every day.
Along with chilling on the beach, you can also do an excellent walk from here to Hayle, which takes in the towering cliffs, passes by one of the best places to see seals in Cornwall (Mutton Cove) and traverses along one of my favourite beaches in Cornwall, Gwithian Beach.
If you want to do the walk, I’d recommend parking your car at Redruth station.
From here, you can take an easy bus to Portreath and then take the train back from Hayle straight to Redruth, before driving back to Falmouth.
These are the best day trips from Falmouth
You’re going to love these Falmouth day trips! They feature some of the best things to do in Cornwall, with plenty of options to taste its gastronomy, learn about its history and take in its nature.
Check out the rest of my Cornwall travel guides for more information about visiting this part of the South West, and feel free to drop me a message on Instagram if you have any questions about visiting!