Set on the westernmost part of the south-west peninsula of Great Britain, Cornwall, or ‘Kernow’ as it is known in Cornish, is one the most naturally beautiful parts of the UK. With breath-taking, rugged coastlines, wild, lush moorland and quaint villages full of south-west charm, it’s no wonder that Cornwall pulls in millions of visitors each year. My family and I have certainly been enchanted by this magical part of the world! We have been back and forth to Cornwall a fair bit in recent years, so here is my guide to the best things we have found.
When you think of the south coast of Cornwall, many of you will automatically think of Lands’ End, which is fine for families, but I find a little on the tacky side. But if you’re looking for something more stunning, The Lizard Peninsular is well worth a visit for the beautiful views and great coastal walk. The rare geology of the area creates a haven for exceptional plants and flowers. Around the coastline you’ll find little fishing ports with huge granite sea walls to protect from the Atlantic gales, restaurants specialising in freshly caught seafood, and gorgeous sandy bays with jagged black rocks jutting out in to the sea.
Mullion Cove (Porth Mellin)
If walking along the coastline is simply not enough for you, you can explore the Lizard Peninsular in the water. Head to Mullion Cove, which is also known as ‘Porth Mellin’ and hire some kayaks. This stunning cove is also an Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty, so is wort ha visit, even if you don’t fancy taking to the seas!
Mullion is the largest village on the Lizard and has shops, inns, cafes and restaurants, craft shops and art galleries. In the centre of the village, the 15th century church of St. Mellanus is renowned for its richly-carved oak bench-ends depicting biblical scenes, including that of Jonah and the Whale. This lovely village is also home to a chocolate factory, much to the delight of my daughters, and gives you access to Church Cove and Poldu Cove beaches, with a surf school, as well as Mullion Cove.
A tiny fishing village where fishermen still push their boats down the beach to catch shellfish and wet fish, which are available to buy. With a stream winding down the valley and trickling over the sand and shingle beach and whitewashed cottages scattered on both slopes of the valley, this is a place for relaxing, enjoying the peace and quiet, sitting in the sun soaking the atmosphere.
A beautiful beach and bay that is very calm and perfect for kayaking and windsurfing for beginners. A pretty village too. If you go off kayaking be warned, this is a shallow bay and as the tide rises, it comes up very quickly, so don't, as we did, leave your stuff on the beach! Otherwise you many need to rely on some friendly beach residents to move your stuff out of the sea…
Roskilly’s Ice-Cream Farm
For over 60 years, the wonderful people at Roskilly’s have been producing some of the finest ice-cream I’ve ever sampled! So if you have a sweet tooth, I’d highly recommend that you take a tour of the dairy, go for a walk around the ponds, and then head back for some award winning ice cream and, of an evening, pizza.
A lovely beach with surf school, café, rock pools and good surf. This gorgeous stretch of sand is also part of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Beautiful and quiet beach with little café. Stunning walk from here to Prussia Cove along a stunning coastline with glimpses of St Michael’s Mount.
Marazion & St Michaels Mount
A pretty little town where the main attraction is access to St. Michael’s Mount. You can walk across to this island on the causeway for a couple of hours each day, but boats take you back and forth when the causeway is covered. Once over, walk to the top for amazing views and to explore the castle and gardens. The village tour is also well worth enjoying for a brilliant insight into life on St. Michael’s Mount. Eating in ‘Ben’s Cornish Kitchen’ and ‘The Godolphin Hotel’ is well worth it for the food and views respectively.
The Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is Cornwall's world famous open-air theatre, carved into the granite cliff and set in glorious gardens overlooking the spectacular panorama of Porthcurno Bay. From above it looks as though some wandering Greeks, two thousand years ago, had carved a theatre into the granite cliffs of Porthcurno, Cornwall. In fact, it was just under eighty years ago that there was nothing there except a sloping gully of gorse and heather and below that, the sea of the Atlantic Ocean.
This astounding construction was in fact built over many years by a determined lady called Rowena Cade, who crafted this theatre with her own hand. From the age of 38, she fetched the sand from Porthcurno beach and carried huge beams from the shoreline up to the theatre. Even though she looked frail, Rowena Cade continued working on her theatre in all sorts of weather each winter until she was in her mid-eighties!
It is a must to go and see an open air show there; these even include some ones during the daytime.
More of a bay than a cove, the stunning beach of Sennen Cove has become famous for surfing, and boasts a surf school and lovely beachside restaurant by Ben Tunnicliffe. If you do decide to visit Lands’ End, Sennen Cove is just over a mile’s walk away, across the clifftops. In my mind, this walk was far more enjoyable than the experience at Land’s End itself!
Rapidly becoming one of Cornwall’s hottest foodie destinations, this pretty little harbour town is home to excellent restaurants, including Rick Stein and Kota Kai to name but a couple. By day, park at Gunwalloe and walk from here to Porthleven and back for a beautiful walk that includes the beach, the cliffs tops and a lake.
This picturesque medieval harbour is rather like ‘Chelsea on sea’, but it is a stunning little seaside village with some amazing properties and a haven for keen sailors.
Dolphin Spotting from Falmouth
If wildlife is your thing, I’d highly recommend taking a guided trip from Falmouth. We followed a pod of about 20 dolphins for around 15 minutes and absolutely loved the experience. Boats leave throughout the year, providing various trips lasting up to 4 hours. Obviously the wildlife you’ll see can’t be guaranteed, but you could spot sailing dolphins, whales, seals or even basking sharks.
The most spectacular gardens I've seen in the UK, and apparently better than The Lost Gardens of Helegon, near St. Austell. Trebah Gardens boast the most spectacular array of hydrangeas anywhere in the world. It’s a wonderful day out and, if the weather permits, take your lunch with you so you can enjoy it on the private beach at the bottom of the garden. You won't be disappointed.
Gardens A National Trust garden set in a beautiful valley near Falmouth. For the walkers amongst you, I’d suggest that you follow the marked route through 3 small valleys down to a tiny village and sheltered pebble beach- the views are simply out of this world! You’ll find an array of exotic and wild flowers in the jungle-like lower valley. The highlight is the maze that is over 180 years old and great fun for both children and adults.
There are very few places that can be found in the United Kingdom that have retained their original character and charm in the way that the tiny fishing village of Mousehole has.
Mousehole (pronounced "Mowzel") is one of Cornwall's most picturesque hamlets; a stunning collection of yellow-lichened houses, built from the local finely grained Lamorna granite, huddled together around the inner edge of a really pretty harbour that is well worth exploring. For the best seafood here, my vote goes ‘2 Fore Street’.
Our absolute favourite! Beautiful little seaside village with quaint shops, cafés, restaurants art galleries, stunning cliff top walks, a dramatic little cove, and its own brewery! What more could you want? Not enough? Well, for the more adventurous of you, St. Agnes also offers kayaking, a surf school and a bike shop. All of that should keep you busy for some time, but once you’ve had your fill of my favourite part of Cornwall, I recommend also visiting the 2 bays on either side called ‘Chapel Porth’ and ‘Trevellas’ for more stunning bays.
Quite a gem, but a very busy place where you will be bombarded by seagulls who are after your chips! It's a stunning seaside town full of restaurants, shops and the Tate Modern. It has calm beaches (Porthminster) and surf beaches (Porthmeor), and narrow, winding streets full of character and charm. As a result of the roads, if you are visiting for the day, drive to St. Erth and jump on the train. You'll swap a lot of hassle driving and parking and swap it for a train ride with a view. Try the Porthminster Café, Seafood Café, Porthmeor Café and Porthwidden Café, although make sure you book. Go to the Sloop for a drink, but watch your ice creams and pasties for dive bombing seagulls, who will literally pluck your fayre from your hands!
The chef Rick Stein picked the location for his restaurants wisely! Padstow is a wonderful seaside town full of character, shops and lovely food. Cycle the ‘Camel Trail’ to Wadebridge for a lovely day out, and make sure you try Rick’s fish and chips, if not his signature restaurant. The estuary is perfect for wakeboarding, water-skiing and exploring by water.
This is a beautiful beach littered with rock pools and great ice cream. If you’ve got small children in tow, this is great beach for them to see some of the smaller coastal wildlife.
Gwithian Beach and Godrevy Lighthouse
Gwithian beach is one of Cornwall’s best beaches and can be found across the bay from St. Ives. It’s great surfing and has a lovely café and a seafood grill too. My favourite time to visit this beach is in the morning, where you can enjoy an invigorating stroll followed by a hearty breakfast at the café.
A wonderful National Trust house that really gives you the feel of a true Victorian property. With over 50 rooms to explore, lovely grounds and cycle routes and bike hire it is a wonderful day out or stop over to break up a long journey.