What Makes Cornwall Special?
- Glorious sandy beaches and rocky coves
- Rolling hills, moors, farmland and woods
- Ancient fishing villages and seaside resorts
- Captivating history of pirates and smugglers
- Seafood fresh from the harbour
- Cosy pubs overlooking the Atlantic
- Unique culture and legends
- Some of Europe’s best surfing conditions
- Ruined clifftop castles and tin mines
- Magnificent gardens and manors
What Can We Do in Cornwall?
- Walk the Southwest Coast Path.
- Learn to surf on the North coast.
- Watch the sunset on the Atlantic.
- Explore fishing villages and harbours, such as Port Isaac and Polperro.
- Spot dolphins, seals and basking sharks from towering clifftops.
- Visit Tintagel Castle, supposed birthplace of King Arthur.
- Shop in the city of Truro, home to a Gothic Revival cathedral.
- Pop into Boscastle’s Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.
- Wander through rainforest biomes at the Eden Project.
- Enjoy international modern art at Tate St Ives.
- Take the family to The Flambard’s Experience.
- Follow the coast to Land’s End, England’s most westerly point.
- Sail and swim on the Cornish Riviera.
- Stop at the clifftop Minack Theatre.
- Have a night out in Newquay.
- Hike through the wilds of Bodmin Moor.
- Call in at Cornwall Seal Sanctuary.
Where Can We Stay in Cornwall?
- Pitch a tent at a lowkey farm campsite or family holiday park.
- Book a room at a hotel in one of Cornwall’s classic coastal resorts.
- Stay at a YHA hostel, many of which are in spectacular locations.
- Find a comfortable bed and breakfast near the beach.
- Book a Cornish holiday cottage in a fishing village, market town or farming community, overlooking moors, rolling hills or Atlantic waves.
All About Cornwall
The rugged Cornish peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean, in the far-west of Great Britain. Cornwall is home to wild moors, rolling hills and woodland, but it’s the seaside which makes it such an irresistible place to visit. With 300 miles of coast wrapping around the entire county, you are never far from the ocean. Medieval fishing villages, vast, sandy bays and secret rocky coves make Cornwall hard to beat for anyone who loves the great outdoors. The Southwest Coast Path covers the whole of the north and south coasts, passing towering cliffs, laid-back surf towns and the ruins of castles and tin mines. Whether you want to surf, hike, explore the county’s proudly independent culture or watch the sunset on the Atlantic with a plate of fresh seafood, Cornwall is a wonderful destination for a break by the sea.
Where you choose for your holiday in Cornwall is likely to depend on the kind of trip you are planning. The county offers a huge range of accommodation, from old, stone fishermen’s cottages and rural farmhouses to sleek, seafront apartments. Visitors who are after sandy beaches, sun and surf often head to the North Cornwall coast, a wild stretch of soaring cliffs, secluded, rocky coves and sweeping, sandy bays, backed by dunes and woodland. The coast is rugged and for the most part undeveloped, and you can walk along the Southwest Coast Path for miles with only the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs for company. This unspoiled environment is dotted with welcoming resorts and charming fishing villages, many of which offer a variety of accommodation.
Near the Devon border, Bude is a lively town with sandy shores, surf shops and brilliant places to eat and drink. To the town’s west are the beaches of Widemouth and Crackington Haven, the pretty village of Boscastle and the clifftop town of Tintagel, home to the ruins of a castle which is famous for its association with the legend of King Arthur. Neighbouring Port Isaac is undoubtedly one of the county’s prettiest fishing villages, with a tangle of steep lanes descending to a harbour overlooked by a pub, restaurants and fish cellar. The seaside town of Polzeath lies near the mouth of the River Camel, home to the treacherous sandbank from which Cornwall’s famous ale, Doom Bar, took its name. On the opposite side of the river, Padstow is a busy fishing port best known for Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant. Harlyn, Constantine and Mawgan Porth are all stunning beaches with loads of space for swimming and sunbathing, while Newquay is a fun-loving resort with exceptional surfing conditions and a lively nightlife. To the west, St Ives is a lovely town where colourfully painted houses overlook the ocean and galleries showcase the work of local painters. The end of the Cornish peninsula is particularly dramatic, and a journey along the coast would be incomplete without a stop at Land’s End, England’s most westerly point.
The south coast or ‘Cornish Riviera’ is equally enticing, with picturesque villages such as Porthleven, the wild Lizard Peninsula and the sweeping estuary of the River Fal, overlooked by dense woodland, sleepy fishing villages and the bustling town of Falmouth. The Heritage Coasts of Polperro and Roseland are wonderfully unspoiled, with desolate, rocky inlets and atmospheric villages such as Polruan, Fowey and Polperro.
Inland Cornwall is often overlooked by visitors but has plenty to offer, from the world-renowned rainforest biomes at the Eden Project to wild and windswept Bodmin Moor, where a mysterious beast is said to roam. The welcoming market towns of Wadebridge, Bodmin and Liskegard all make excellent bases for a holiday in Cornwall, particularly if you are planning on exploring the surrounding countryside and magnificent manors and gardens, such as the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Truro is an easy-going city with plenty of independent shops, excellent restaurants and a graceful Gothic Revival cathedral.
Cornwall, or ‘Kernow’ in Cornish, has a distinctive Celtic heritage and a unique history, sculpted by its wild coastline and isolation from the rest of England. Wherever you go, you will see Saint Piran’s Flag – a white cross on a black background. It is the flag of Cornwall, attributed to the 6th century Cornish abbot, St Piran. One of its oldest depictions is at Westminster Abbey, in a stained-glass window dating back to 1888, dedicated to the Cornish inventor, Richard Trevithick.
Cornwall was first inhabited during the Bronze and Iron ages, when strong trade and cultural connections were forged with Wales and Brittany. Mining began in the Bronze Age, particularly tin mining, which quickly became one of the region’s most important industries. Ruined mines still dot the Cornish countryside and are among the county’s most iconic images. During the Elizabethan era, the coast was terrorized by pirates, smugglers and wreckers, who preyed on ships on the rocky coast. Fishing and agriculture have traditionally been important industries, and in the 20th century, the construction of better railways and roads led to the development of tourism.
Cornwall has a rich heritage of art, music and literature. For centuries, the county’s enchanting light has inspired painters and sculptors such as Ben Nicolson, Barbara Hepworth and Stanhope Forbes. D.H Lawrence and Virginia Woolf both lived and worked in Cornwall between the wars, and the county appears in much of the late poet laureate John Betjeman’s work. He is buried at St Enodoc’s Church, in Trebetherick.
How Do You Get to Cornwall?
Holidays in Cornwall are easily accessible for travellers from the UK and abroad. Coaches from across the UK stop at many of the county’s towns and cities, including Newquay, Truro, Bodmin, Penzance, Falmouth and Bude. London to Cornwall usually takes between four and six hours by coach.
Cornwall is also well connected to the rest of the UK by train with direct routes to London and easy connections to the North and East.
Driving to Cornwall is simple, thanks to the A30, which runs through the middle of the county from east to west, with exits onto smaller roads to the north and south coasts. The A39 or ‘Atlantic Highway’ follows much of the north coast with far-reaching views of the ocean, moors and farmland.
Long-distance cycling is increasingly popular in Cornwall, and with a little preparation, scenic routes can be planned which avoid major roads. Extra care should be taken, as many of the county’s roads are narrow and do not have cycle lanes.
There is a range of options for international travellers considering booking a holiday cottage in Cornwall. Newquay airport offers various routes to Europe, and on the other side of the Devon border, Exeter airport is connected to a greater variety of cities. For holidaymakers travelling from further afield, Bristol and London airports are roughly three and four hours away respectively.