The best places to visit in Cornwall
Updated: Jan 13
On the edge of our island, before you hit the Atlantic ocean, lies an expanse of land so rugged and carefree, so wild yet peaceful, so different and all at once a slice of everything that is so glorious about Britain. Sitting on the southwestern tip of England, some may not want to traverse so far - but this is truly a trip worth taking and a place I will keep returning to. Towering cliffs dominate the coastline, whilst turquoise waters sweep across the white sandy beaches below. There is greenery to be found aplenty, as well as pockets of fishing villages and quaint little towns. I didn't picture myself ever narrowing down an all-time favourite place in the UK - but upon some reflection, Cornwall definitely is this for me. So, with much fanfare and multiple drumrolls, I bring you... the best places to visit in Cornwall. I only hope I've done it justice 💚 Cornwall, you absolutely have my heart.
Newquay was the first place I ever stayed in Cornwall and therefore deserves a mention first and foremost 🤩 It is well-known as the surf capital of the UK - the waves from the Atlantic Ocean make for rough waters and thus a surfers paradise. This super popular coastal resort town draws millions of visitors each year - Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay Beach are among the top visited. When you've finished surfing and/or sunbathing, why not take to the cliffs and see Newquay from above. The walk from the esplanade (which can be started just past Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa) to Pentire Headland is only about 25 minutes and affords beautiful views of the coastline. And you can continue your walk to Crantock Beach and beyond!
Whilst you're on this side of Cornwall, and if you have a car, I recommend driving the 25 minutes from Newquay to St Agnes Head - a most glorious stretch of cliff which is one of my favourite and best places to visit in Cornwall. Particularly in summer when the wildflowers are out and blooming! You can walk from the car park at St Agnes Head to Chapel Porth Beach (about 25 minutes), passing by the famous Wheal Coates mine. This is an easy route and doesn't require too much effort, and you can continue on another 30 minutes to Porthtowan Beach. Just bear in mind that it's then about an hour walking back to St Agnes Head. Alternatively, there are other loop trails you can do from Trevaunance Cove or Chapel Porth but these go more inland and you lose the sea view. Whichever route you choose, you're guaranteed magnificent sights!
If you frequent Instagram, you may have come across this very famous door (above). It's just one part of the spectacular Tintagel ruins, which sit on the edge of a cliff in North Cornwall. The views are fantastic and it's easy to imagine what it might have been like standing in the castle, looking out to sea, in the year 1233. Tintagel is easily one of the most breathtaking historic sites in Britain and as such, is one of the most epic places to visit in Cornwall. Its link to the legend of King Arthur adds to the atmosphere - and the famous sculpture on the promontory amplifies the eeriness and drama! Booking ahead is recommended, as tickets sell out - particularly in the summer months. Allow yourself about 3 hours at Tintagel (bearing in mind that the walk to get from the road to the castle itself is about 20 minutes). Tickets are timed but once you're in, you can stay as long as you like. Heads up: access is tricky, with steep ascents and a lot of steps. There isn't onsite parking but there are a bunch of carparks nearby for a couple of pounds.
St Michael's Mount
Possibly one of the more unique things to see in Cornwall, this tiny tidal island in Mount's Bay (about half a mile from the shore) is accessible on foot at low tide, via a cobbled causeway. Once the tide comes in though, the sea covers the path and you'll have to get the passenger boat back to mainland. There is a medieval church and castle on St Michael's Mount, as well as a terraced garden with views over Mount's Bay - and this little island really is one of the loveliest places to visit in Cornwall. Entry to the island used to be free but there is now a charge when visiting between April - October. You can book tickets and find more details here. Once you've hitched your boat ride back, why not explore Marazion - the oldest town in Cornwall. It's full of art galleries and beautiful pottery.
Yes, this is England! When wandering around Cornwall, you'll chance upon many places that you can't quite believe exist in the UK - but nowhere more, I feel, than the small cove of Treen Beach, more widely known as Pedn Vounder. This magnificent secluded beach has grown in popularity in recent years. The pure turquoise water and the little island of sand (visible at low tide) make this beach a tropical paradise and thus a bucket list item for many! The view from the top is beautiful and you can also climb down to the beach itself; you'll need to wear trainers or walking shoes for this, as it's extremely steep and very rocky. People were doing it with young kids but I wouldn't recommend this as they really struggled. Alternatively, you don't need to bother with the steep scramble down and can just stay at the top and see it from above. The easiest way to get to Pedn Vounder is to drive to Treen Car Park and walk the 10 minutes to the cliffs. Alternatively, you can park at the Porthcurno Long Stay Car Park and walk 15 minutes to get to Pedn Vounder. Do bear in mind it's a nudist beach ✌️ You can also reach Pedn Vounder as part of this epic best coastal walk in Cornwall - which takes in some of the most spectacular coastal views in the UK!
Within walking distance from Pedn Vounder is the simply magical Porthcurno Beach. It's a great place for a swim, and an equally nice cliff-walk to see it from above. The water is so crystal clear and blue, and you can carry on along the cliff path to the Minack Theatre nearby - just be aware that the walk is a little steep with some daunting steps involved. If you want to have a nosey around the theatre (rather than seeing a performance), you can do so but bear in mind tickets sell out in the busier months, so you'll need to book in advance. This beach can also be reached along the route of this best coastal walk in Cornwall.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Cornwall is the Lizard Peninsula - an area on the southern tip of Cornwall, famed for its magnificent views and clear water. I'd recommend heading to Kynance Cove first - a hidden gem, with ample parking and a lovely path down to the coast. There is an accessible path for wheelchairs and buggies but do bear in mind that it will be a bumpy ride down. Low tide is the best time for a visit - you'll be able to walk on the sand and go for a dip in the sea. After you've taken in the scenery (and had a drink at the cafe), head to Lizard Point - the most southerly point of Britain. Here you'll find crashing waves and dramatic views. There's also a great cafe here, so why not grab a bite to eat as the sun sets over this spectacular coastline. If you have more time, be sure to check out nearby Church Cove and Polurrian Cove.
See the sunset at Sennen Cove
Oh Sennen Cove! This is one of my favourite beaches in Cornwall, especially timed at sunset - and therefore makes my list of best places to visit in Cornwall. It's a gem of a location and feels especially calm and peaceful. The water is perfect for a swim and it's also a popular surf spot. You may even see dolphins swimming in the distance! There's a carpark conveniently just off Cove Road, at the top of a hill, and this offers beautiful views of the beach below - so if you'd rather not walk down, you can stay at the top and watch the sun setting from above.
Welcome to the most westerly point in the UK, on the edge of mainland Cornwall! This signpost draws over 500,000 tourists each year - mind-blowing! 🤯 It is one of the most famous sights in Cornwall, and therefore on many people's Cornwall bucket lists. It's free to enter the area but you do have to pay for parking. There's also the Land's End Landmark Attraction - a mini theme park, with some free attractions (and some you have to pay for). If you want to take a photo at the sign without paying, make sure to turn up before 8am or after 5pm. And what many people don't know is that the point by the First and Last Cafe is the official furthest southwesterly point of the UK - so although you might stand by the Land's End sign, go to the cafe to hit the actual end of the land 😉
Well, that's a wrap! I will definitely be adding more spots to this list of the best places to visit in Cornwall, as and when I reach them! I hope this has given you some inspo for your Cornwall adventures. Questions/suggestions always welcome in the comments 🙂
If you have more time...
Consider walking a section of the South West Coast Path. The official route starts at Minehead in Somerset and ends 630 miles later at Poole in Dorset. This includes the whole of the Cornwall coastline and would take a couple of months to complete - but whilst you're in Cornwall, why not hike a small section of it! You'll pass picture-postcard views, crashing waves and some of the most spectacular coastline in the whole of the UK. Popular routes include:
Porthcurno to Land's End (7.2 miles) (mentioned above, this is my favourite walk in Cornwall).
Kynance Cove and Lizard Point (5.9 miles), starting and ending at Kynance Cove.
Godrevy to Hell's Mouth (5 miles)