TATB Destination of the month!
A-Z of reasons to visit Cornwall (plus free Cornwall road trip itinerary)
Every other month I offer a free travel guide and itinerary for my ‘Travel Freedom Club‘ as well as an A-Z of reasons to visit. Sign up below to join the Travel Freedom Club and get your copy of the latest travel guide delivered to your inbox for free!
Future guides will be sent out on the 1st of the month, every other month.
If you want to check out previous itineraries you can find them all in my itinerary shop by clicking here.
The October 2021 Travel across the borderline destination of the month is….
Located in England’s Southwest corner, Cornwall, in my opinion, is the most beautiful part of the UK.
Ok, so I may be a little biased, my family’s roots are in Cornwall and I’ve been visiting the region several times a year ever since I was a baby.
Whenever I post pics from this beautiful region on social, those posts outperform my others by far! It seems like you guys can’t get enough of Cornwall’s beauty and charm. So that’s why I decided it’s about time I wrote a comprehensive travel guide to my favourite little corner of the UK.
Cornwall has a ton of interesting history, a gorgeous coastline and its own distinct culture that sets it apart from the rest of England. It even has its own language and flag, despite not officially being classed as a separate country to England (although this is a hot topic of debate!)
Each month I make an A-Z list of reasons to visit my chosen destination of the month.
Check out Cornwall’s list below and don’t forget to grab your copy of the Cornwall itinerary, free for this month only (Oct ‘21) if you sign up for the destination of the month club!
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Best Places to visit in Cornwall
- Newquay – Cornwall’s surf capital!
- St Ives – Iconic town and a haven for artists
- Mousehole – The quintessential little fishing village
- St Michael’s Mount – Historic castle set on an island
- Lands End – One of Britain’s most famous landmarks and the starting point for the legendary Lands End to John o’ Groats trail.
- Sennen Cove – View the live Sennen Cove webcam here
You can view all these places on Cornwall’s live webcams, to help you plan your trip.
For more of the best places to visit in Cornwall, check out this post.
Best tours in Cornwall
A-Z of reasons to visit Cornwall
Why visit Cornwall? Well, check out the A-Z list below for 26 reasons to visit Cornwall, although honestly, I could think of about 100 more!
A – Art
Cornwall has an amazing art scene. Many famous artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Terry Frost, John Miller and Alfred Wallis all made Cornwall their home and used it as inspiration for their works. You can find independent art galleries in pretty much every town in Cornwall and the Tate Gallery even has a location in St Ives. My favourite art spot is the Barbara Hepworth museum and sculpture garden where you can see Hepworth’s studio just as she left it, along with an extensive collection of her sculptures.
B – Bodmin moor
If you are a fan of the paranormal then you can’t miss Bodmin moor. The creepy moor is associated with many myths and urban legends, the most famous of which is the beast of Bodmin.
The beast has been spotted ever since the ‘70s. Personally, I vividly remember spending many car journeys through the moor as a child, practically glued to the window and desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the beast. Unfortunately, I have never managed to actually spot it!
As well as looking out for the beast you can also visit the historic Jamaica Inn. The inn was built in 1750 and used by pirates and smugglers. Today there are many reports of strange paranormal activity at the inn and it was featured in a very creepy episode of most haunted.
And if you still haven’t had your fill of creepy goings-on, You can even spend a night at the haunted Bodmin jail!
If you are not into the paranormal, Bodmin is still well worth a visit. The area is stunning and there are several well-maintained hiking trails.
C – Coast path
The South West Coast Path is the UK’s longest hiking trail at 630 miles long. It takes 52 days to complete the entire trail. I’ve walked several sections of the trail and would love to complete the whole trail one day. My favourite section of the hike is between St Ives and Godrevy lighthouse, which is a stunningly beautiful section of the trail that passes through several ‘towans’, which is Cornish for sand dunes.
D – Doc Martin
The popular TV show Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes, was filmed in the historic fishing village of Port Isaac. If you are a fan of the show you can take a fun Doc Martin walking tour of Port Isaac and visit all the filming locations from the show. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, Port Isaac has plenty to offer as it has been named an area of outstanding natural beauty.
E – Eden project
The Eden Project is a former clay mine that was transformed into several large biodomes which now house the worlds largest indoor rainforest. The Eden Project’s mission is to “create a movement that builds relationships between people and the natural world to demonstrate the power of working together for the benefit of all living things.” Inside you will find many interactive displays which aim to educate on the importance of nature and sustainable development. There is so much to do and see at the Eden Project and you will be guaranteed to have an amazing time. You can even go ziplining over the top of the biomes!
F – Farms
Cornwall has several farms which are open to the public. My favourite to visit is Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm. There’s so much to do here from touring the cider factory to sampling gins straight from the distillery, vintage tractor rides and lots of friendly farm animals to meet. You can also get a fantastic traditional cornish cream tea here. I particularly enjoyed visiting the farm as a child, mainly because I was obsessed with making friends with the farm’s pigs!
G – Godrevy Lighthouse
This picturesque lighthouse was built in 1858 and made famous by Virginia Woolfe in the novel ‘To the lighthouse’. The lighthouse is no longer manned and has been fuelled by solar power since 1995 and there’s no way to get over to the island itself. To get the best experience of the lighthouse I suggest grabbing some traditional fish&chips (or just chips if you’re vegan like me!) from one of the local chip shops and driving up to the National Trust car park at sunset to enjoy your meal with a stunning view of the sun setting behind the lighthouse. But don’t forget to look down too as you are likely to spot a few seals playing in the surf around the rocks at the base of the lighthouse.
H – Hayle
Hayle is my family’s second home so it’s inevitable that it would end up on this list! Despite being a small formal industrial town, it is full of charm and plenty of things to do. There are 3 miles of beaches and at low tide, it is possible to walk the beach from Hayle estuary all the way to Godrevy Point. Some of my favourite things to do in Hayle include:
Watersports – surfing, paddleboarding, sea kayaking, and windsurfing are all popular activities that you can do here
Bird watching – The estuary is a haven for birds and is even protected by the RSPB. In cold winters, as many as 18,000 birds have been seen here, because this most south-westerly estuary in the UK never freezes!
Ride the UK’s most scenic railway – The railway between Hayle and St Ives boasts some incredible views of St Ives bay and has been described as one of the most scenic rail rides in Britain.
Visit Paradise Park – Home to the World Parrot Trust, this bird sanctuary and charity runs various conservation projects around the world to protect many species of endangered birds. Visit in the summer and you’ll be able to catch the daily free-flying bird show where the rescued parrots are let out of their enclosures and spread their wings by flying low over the audience.
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I – St Ives
St Ives is probably one of the most famous and most visited towns in Cornwall and for good reason! Some of my fave things to do in St Ives are:
Take a boat trip to seal island – There are so many friendly seals in St Ives bay and the best way to see them is during a boat ride. The curious sea-puppers are quite tame and like to come very close to the boats. Just remember to be a responsible tourist and never touch any wild animals! Book your boat trip with the boat ‘Dolly P’ as they are the only accredited wildlife safe operator and their crew includes a qualified marine mammal medic.
Spend time on Porthgwidden Beach – This secluded beach is a bit of a secret and many tourists miss it. So if you fancy beating the crowds for a while, you can grab a cider at the beach cafe and relax in the sun outside of the colourful beach huts.
Waste time (and money!) in one of the traditional seaside arcades – The harbour is lined with many traditional British seaside activities including amusements and arcades. I always have fun wasting some time playing on the 2p coin machines.
St Ives webcam – You can get an idea of what St. Ives is like by viewing the live St Ives webcam here
J – Jam first!
Traditional cream teas originated in the South West of England. They consist of scones, jam, clotted cream and of course tea! However, there has been a decades-long debate about the proper way to construct a cream tea. In Devon, the custom is to put the cream onto the scone first and then add a dollop of jam. However, in Cornwall, the tradition is jam first!
You absolutely must try a traditional Cornish cream tea whilst in Cornwall. They are available in pretty much any cafe you can find. Vegan travellers can find vegan creme teas at The Cornish Vegan in Truro, Cafe Cloud in Newquay and The Twisted Currant in Helston. Just remember it’s jam first!
K – Kynance cove
Kynance Cove is a beautiful secluded cove that has been credited as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Get there early as the small car park often fills up fast! For an adventurous day out try walking the section of the South West Coast path from Kynance Cove to The Lizard, Britains most Southerly point.
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L – Language
Cornwall used to be its own country, separate from England, and it still has its own flag and language. The language is Celtic based and is most related to the Welsh language. Not many people still speak the language but you can find Cornish written on signs and place names all around the region. Recently there has been a push to keep the Cornish language alive. There are now options to take Cornish language classes both in Cornwall and online. Below are a few words and phrases that I’ve picked up over the years:
- Hello – Dydh da
- Cove – Porth
- Castle – Kastell
- Sand dune – Towan
- House – Chy
- Hill – Bronn
- Mine/place of work – Wheal
- Seagull – Goelann
- Fish – Pysk
- Wine – Gwin
As you can see, I don’t know enough to string a sentence together but it is quite enjoyable to be able to recognise the occasional word as I’m travelling around!
M – Minack theatre
The Minack Theatre is a stunning amphitheatre built into the cliffs at Porthcurno. The dramatic theatre may look ancient but it was actually hand-built in the 1930s in order to stage a production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. Today the theatre hosts over 200 performances each year. Including plays, operas, musicals and more. You can visit the Minak theatre even if you arent there for a performance and just take in the incredible views and atmosphere of this unique place. Advanced booking is required.
N – Newquay
When I was a teenager Newquay had a reputation for being a haven for underage drinking and general teenage debauchery. We would all head there for a weekend of partying after our final exams. Luckily for everyone, Newquay’s town council has massively cracked down on this behaviour after a few deaths and now the town is a fun place for everyone, not just drunken teens. Some of the best things to do in Newquay are:
Surf! – Newquay is the UK’s surf capital! There are numerous surf shops around the town that offer board rental and lessons. And there is a range of beaches and swells that range from beginner-friendly to pros-only.
Boardmasters festival – The international surf competition and music festival is held in August every year.
Take a day trip to Padstow – The cute town of Padstow is only 30mins from Newquay. Here you can eat at celebrity chef Rick Stein’s restaurant, visit the national lobster hatchery and learn about the vital conservation work they are doing or hire a bike and cycle the camel estuary trail.
O – St Pirans Oratory
St Pirans oratory is said to be the oldest church in Britain. Originally built in the 6th century, It was abandoned and buried by the sand dunes in 1804. In 2015 St Piran’s Trust re-excavated the building. Now you can view the half-buried ruins amongst the sand dunes just outside of Perranporth. There are occasional open days when you can wander inside to explore, but most of the time the gate is locked and you can only view the church from the outside.
P – Pasties
A pasty is a D shaped pastry containing minced beef, potato, swede, onion and seasoning. Although these are the traditional ingredients there are now many different options for fillings available (including vegan options!)
Traditional Cornish pasties have been a staple of the cornish diet since the 1800s. According to the Cornish Pasty Association:
“The wives of Cornish tin miners would lovingly prepare these all-in-one meals to provide sustenance for their spouses during their gruelling days down the dark, damp mines.
Working at such depths it wasn’t possible for them to surface at lunchtime. Pasties were taken down the mines by the adults and children who worked there; the shape and size made them ideal for carrying, and they became the staple for the daily ‘crib’ or ‘croust’ – Cornish dialect for a bite to eat, usually taken mid-morning.
It is thought that the miners gave the pasty its distinctive D shape too – the crust became a handle, which was discarded to prevent contaminating the food with grubby, possibly arsenic-ridden hands.”
Today pasties can be enjoyed by anyone! The best place in Cornwall to sample an authentic traditional pasty is from Philp’s famous pasties. Be warned there is usually a long queue out the door but I promise you it’s worth the wait!
Q – Quaint
Quaint is the perfect word to describe Cornwall. It has an old-fashioned charm about it and often feels behind the times compared to the rest of the country (but in a really nice way!). From the ancient castles to the historic fishing villages and rugged coasts there are so many old fashioned but beautifully picturesque places to explore.
R – Restaurants and bars
Cornwall has a great restaurant and bar scene. Some of my favourites are:
Salt, Hayle – delicious food & great cocktails
HubBox, St Ives – Awesome burgers
The Bluff, Hayle – The best place for a sundowner with a view
The watering hole, Perranporth – Voted the 7th best beach bar in the world
Porthgwidden beach cafe – An excellent spot for breakfast/brunch
S – Surfing
Cornwall is one of the best places for surfing in the whole of Europe. Proven by the fact that it hosts the biggest international surf competition in Europe every year! The best beaches to catch a wave are:
- Chapel Porth – The waves here can get pretty intense and there are a lot of hidden rocks under the water. So I would only recommend attempting to surf here if you are advanced. However, if the waves are too intimidating for you it’s still great fun to spend an afternoon chilling on the beach and watching the pros!
- Fistral Beach – The most famous surf beach, this is where Boardmasters is hosted. The waves here are pretty consistent and beginners and pros alike can all find something to ride.
- Godrevy Beach – This is a good beach for intermediate surfers although it can get a little brutal when the winds pick up.
T – Tintagel Castle
This dramatic castle is located half on the mainland and half on a jagged rocky outcrop. It is now connected by a new 70m footbridge. The castle is strongly associated with the legend of King Arthur and Merlin the wizard. This makes it a great place to explore for lovers of history and legends alike.
U – Unicorn on the beach
Unicorn on the beach is an awesome little pub and surf camp located on Porthtowan beach. Porthtowan itself is an excellent place to spend a day or two and is one of my fave beaches in the area. The unicorn has a great garden/patio to enjoy cocktails in the sunshine and sometimes hosts live music events too.
V – Villages
I can’t talk about Cornwall without mentioning the many historic fishing villages in the region. Whether you are looking for a postcard-perfect view, a relaxing slow pace of life or a taste of Cornwall’s history and traditions, spending a day in one of the many traditional fishing villages is a must-do! Some of the best fishing villages to visit are Boscastle, Mevagissey, Port Isaac, Polperro and my personal favourite Mousehole.
W – Wildlife
Cornwall is a haven for wildlife and wildlife lovers alike. If you are a fan of marine life you will be spoiled here! You will commonly find many different species including seals, jellyfish, dolphins, seabirds, basking sharks and even the occasional whale! There are many different wildlife conservation programmes based in the region too. So if you fancy doing a bit of volunteer work there are plenty of options.
X – extreme sports
If you are seeking some adrenaline then there are plenty of extreme sports on offer all around the Cornish coast. Hayle is a popular spot for paragliding and hang gliding. And the shoreline extreme sports centre in Bude offers a range of activities such as abseiling, mountaineering and white water kayaking.
Y – Yurts
Glamping has become increasingly popular over the last few years! Glamping yurts have been popping up all over the Cornish countryside. If you fancy surrounding yourself with nature then I recommend booking a stay in one of the yurts at Tremeer farm. Located out in the countryside, not far from the beautiful fishing village of Polperro, each yurt comes with a wood-burning stove, solar-powered fairy lights and access to a wood-fired hot tub.
Z – Zennor
Zennor is a tiny village and parish located not far from St Ives. The drive to Zennor will give take you through some absolutely jaw-dropping views of the surrounding moors and coastal cliffs. You can hike up to Zennor head for the most jaw-dropping views, spot wild ponies grazing on the moors and pop into the Norman church of St Senara to learn about the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor and then later reward yourself with some delicious ice cream from the Moomaid of Zennor!
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Cornwall road trip itinerary
So hopefully by now I have convinced you to visit the beautiful Cornwall. It really is an amazing place and even after visiting for 30 years I’m still constantly finding new things to love about Cornwall.
Below you can grab a copy of my perfect Cornwall road trip itinerary. The itinerary includes everything you need to have a great vacation and road trip to Cornwall.
The Cornwall travel guide includes:
- Where to stay
- Restaurant recommendations
- Hidden gems
- How to get around
- Day by day fully planned itinerary
- And much more!
Have you ever been to Cornwall? Let me know in the comments.
Happy travels xo
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