29th March 2023
Beyond Cornwall’s sandy beaches you’ll find exquisite gardens, cultural attractions and a rich history. If you’re planning a trip to Cornwall for the first time and aren’t sure on the best places to visit, we’ve produced a list of the top 10 must-see places in Cornwall, ensuring you won’t miss a thing on your holiday.
A unique and innovative eco project, the Eden Project is an absolute must see on your visit to Cornwall. This stunning global garden consists of tropical biomes the size of 30 football pitches, including the rainforest biome, home to 1000 species of tropical plants, a fully running waterfall and suspended canopy walkway. Adjacent to this you’ll find the Mediterranean biome, filled to the brim with spiky cacti and ancient olive trees. The site also has an impressive stage where the Eden Sessions are held, seeing performances from world famous musicians, an ice rink in winter and a science centre featuring fascinating and educational installations.
Image credit: Matt Jessop via Visit Cornwall
Another unmissable activity is the South West Coast Path. Stretching for 630 miles and wrapping around the Cornish coast, it is an unforgettable trail featuring some of the most spectacular coastal vistas in the country. If you’re staying by the beach, you are bound to be close to a stretch of the path, on which you can set out on a variety of walks past dramatic cliff edges, fields of sea pinks and secret coves. All of our retreats are within walking distance to the coast and in easy reach to the coast path, meaning you can hop on it and head out on an adventure in no time.
Set off Marazion beach is this must-see tiny island, featuring an ancient castle and a cobbled causeway that disappears under the tide twice a day. When the tide is out the causeway is exposed, meaning you can take the 10 minute walk across to the castle. If you’re planning to get back to the mainland on foot, you’ll need to check the tides– the tide floods in faster than you might imagine, so always leave yourself a healthy margin for error. When the island is cut off by the tide, small boats run between the pier at Marazion beach and the harbour on the Mount. These run throughout the day in spring and summer but less frequently at other times.
Cornwall isn’t all just sandy beaches and sparkling oceans. Inland from the shores you’ll come across gardens rich in history and lush vegetation. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are perhaps Cornwall’s most famous gardens, and were rediscovered and reawakened following WW1.
Image credit: Toby Strong
For breathtaking panoramas and untouched history, head to this sleepy Cornish town on the North coast which conceals a dramatic historical castle behind its village streets. You can walk up onto the cliff paths and have access to the castle, where you can uncover the tales of King Arthur.
Image credit: Matt Jessop via Visit Cornwall
Looking to get your fix of art during your stay in Cornwall? Head to the county’s best art gallery, the Tate, for a creative experience. It’s located in St Ives, the heart of the artistic scene in Cornwall which is known for its unique light which casts a soft blue glow off the sea. Here, sculptor Barbara Hepworth made some of her most influential work, much of which is showcased in the Tate and the nearby Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Watch a play before dramatic clifftop panoramas at the Minack Theatre, an impressive open air theatre situated above Porthcurno beach. If the weather is obliging, the Minack feels like a tiny Greek amphitheatre; the sea here seems bluer than elsewhere in Cornwall, the sand of Porthcurno beach below appears whiter. The theatre was carved from the unrelentingly hard granite of the Cornish coast by Rowena Cade; it took many years of hard physical labour through the harsh coastal winters to construct and is a monument to dogged perseverance. The story is told at the Minack’s visitor centre, which is well worth a look even if you don’t see a play.
Cornwall is home to countless National Trust sites, from stretches of coast path to historical houses and gardens. Our particular favourites are Wheal Coates mine in St Agnes, the Roseland peninsula, Lanhydrock country house and Kynance cove in the Lizard. Browse their website to find your nearest National Trust site- they make for a great day out.
Fistral is the nation’s surfing capital and is known for its consistent waves, intense sunsets and lively atmosphere. When visiting Cornwall, it’s highly recommended that you try your hand at surfing – there are plenty of places in the town and on the beach where you can hire equipment and book onto lessons. Or, just sit back on a summer’s evening and watch the surfers rolling in when the swell is rising – it’s truly a must see.
Alongside acres of beautiful woodland, there are a handful of waterfalls dotted around Cornwall, often concealed deep into nature trails. Visit St Nectan’s Glen, near Tintagel and Boscastle, an area of woodland bursting with mystical tales of piskies and fairies. Here, you will find St Nectan’s Kieve, a spectacular sixty foot waterfall seen through a hole in the rocks. Or, visit Golitha Falls near Liskeard, a cascading waterfall set in a wooded valley.