Cornwall is one of the best British holiday destinations, known for its traditional fishing villages and cream teas. There are also many contemporary attractions that visitors shouldn’t miss, such as Tate St Ives and the Eden Project. Here are 10 of the best places to visit in Cornwall that are fun for all the family.
Best Places to Visit in Cornwall
From beautiful Cornish gardens to striking art galleries and adrenaline fuelled outdoor activities, there are so many things to do in Cornwall.
1. The Eden Project
One of the most famous Cornwall attractions, the Eden Project is the largest indoor rainforest in the world. It’s located close to the towns of Blazey and St Austell, in a former china clay pit.
Visitors can explore the Mediterranean Biome and the Rainforest Biome all year round. Inside the Mediterranean Biome you’ll find over 1,000 varieties of plants while the Rainforest Biome has a waterfall and canopy walkway.
There’s a new Weather Maker area with a cloud bridge, rope bridge and immersive exhibits like the Transpiration Tree. The outdoor gardens are great fun for children, who will love The Nest, a gigantic climbing frame and the Tea Ship.
There are also lots of outdoor activities that can be booked separately, such as SkyTrek, an aerial trekking course. Adrenaline seekers should try SkyWire, the longest zipwire in England, as well as the Vertigo 360 and Gravity swings.
2. Doc Martin Tour
Whether you’re a fan of the TV series Doc Martin, you’re sure to enjoy the Doc Martin Tour of Port Isaac. This charming fishing village on the North coast of Cornwall is immortalized on screen as the fictional Portwenn.
The 90 minute tour is led by a former Doc Martin extra who will tell you facts about Martin Clunes and the rest of the Doc Martin cast. See Doc Martin’s house, Mrs Tishell’s pharmacy and many other filming locations.
Port Isaac is an interesting place in its own right, with two Michelin starred restaurant Nathan Outlaw and picturesque cobbled streets.
3. The Lost Gardens of Heligan
A true secret garden, Heligan lay undiscovered for decades. They were rediscovered by Tim Smit and John Willis, a descendant of the Tremayne family who owned the land and the former Heligan Manor.
Just after World War I broke out, the gardeners of Heligan signed their names under the inscription, “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”. The discovery of this plaque led to the restoration of these magnificent gardens, with the help of a team of volunteers.
Spread over 200 acres, they include the only outdoor jungle garden in Cornwall. Walk on one of the longest Burmese rope bridges in the UK and admire plants brought back by Victorian collectors.
The Productive Gardens and Pleasure Grounds are also fascinating. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are one of the best places to visit in Cornwall and are open throughout the year.
4. Land’s End
The most westerly point in Cornwall and mainland Britain, Land’s End is a famous British landmark. The Land’s End signpost is a popular place to take a photo.
Birdwatchers can spot gannets, razorbills and the rare Cornish Chough. Known as Penn-an-Wlas in Cornish, Land’s End was formed approximately 270 million years ago.
The granite cliffs are up to 122 metres high and there are more than 220 species of plants.
5. St Michael’s Mount, Marazion
One of the most famous Cornwall landmarks, St Michael’s Mount is an unforgettable sight. Once a medieval monastery, the castle has been the home of the St Aubyn family since the 17th century.
You reach the castle on foot at low tide or by boat at high tide, adding to the sense of adventure. The castle and sub tropical gardens have been carefully restored to showcase life on St Michael’s Mount in medieval times.
There are two places to eat, the Sail Loft and Island Cafe, as well as two shops and the Barge House Visitor Centre.
6. Tintagel and King Arthur
Explore the legend of King Arthur in Tintagel, said to be the birthplace of the knight of the round table. This part of the Cornish coast has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
One of the best places to visit in Cornwall, the coastal paths can get quite busy. It’s therefore best to visit early in the morning or in the early evening if you can.
The beach caves are said to be the home of Merlin, while Tintagel Castle is the birthplace of King Arthur according to folklore. The 12th century ruins are certainly atmospheric.
The statue of King Arthur by Rubin Eynon is very impressive. On Fore Street, you can visit Tintagel Old Post Office which dates from medieval times.
7. Sea Kayaking
Cornwall is a popular destination for canoeing and sea kayaking. It’s the perfect way to admire the Cornish beaches up close.
Some of the best Cornish kayaking spots are the Fal-Ruan nature reserve, Cotehele Quay on the river Tamar and Hanover Cove near Cligga Head. Explore Cornwall’s literary connections by kayaking to Pont Pill Creek.
This scenic Cornwall spot is the real life inspiration behind Wind in the Willows. Frenchman’s Creek on the Helford Estuary was immortalized by the author Daphne du Maurier.
The Fowey Estuary is ideal for beginners, as it is so tranquil, while Lizard Peninsula is a good place to spot seals.
8. St Ives
Beloved of painters for its incredible quality of light, St Ives is still a mecca for art lovers. Tate St Ives is the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018 award winner. The gallery overlooks the beach and showcases works by British artists with a connection to the local area.
Close by, you’ll find the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, which offers a fascinating insight into one of Britain’s most famous sculptors. It’s also worth visiting The Leach Pottery and the many other art galleries.
St Ives is also known for its four beaches, Porthgwidden, Porthmeor, Porthminster and Harbour beach. Why not take a boat trip out to nearby Seal Island, home to more than 40 friendly seals.
9. Poldark Tour
If you’re a fan of Poldark, the period drama, don’t miss the private full-day tour of Poldark locations. Departing from Truro, you’ll explore 18th century Charlestown and visit Porthgwarra Beach.
This is where the iconic Ross Poldark skinny dipping scene was filmed. The medieval church of St Wynwaloe is another of the tour highlights, where a shipwreck occurred at night.
You’ll also learn a lot about Cornish history and landscapes on this one day tour. The expert tour guide will pick you up at your accommodation and drop you off there after the tour.
10. Glendurgan Garden
Created by Alfred and Sarah Fox over 180 years ago, Glendurgan is a great day out for the whole family. The Foxes planted a cherry laurel maze in 1833 for their twelve children and cousins, which is still a popular attraction.
Glendurgan is flanked by palm trees and there’s a thatched summerhouse in the middle. In 1915, the Giant’s Stride was installed. Up to 4 people can enjoy this rotating rope swing at the same time.
The sub tropical garden leads down to the fishing village of Durgan and the Helford River. Thanks to its sheltered position in a valley, it has magnificent floral displays in all seasons.
The Spring camellias and magnolias are particularly impressive. This National Trust property is one of the best examples of a Cornish valley garden and well worth a visit.
Where to Stay in Cornwall
There are many great places to stay in Cornwall, but we recommend a luxury Cornish cottage for a truly relaxing stay. Cornish Horizons has a fantastic selection, with almost 1000 cottages spread throughout Cornwall.
Cornish Horizons are part of The Original Cottage Company, the family-run collection founded by Richard and Lesley Ellis. It quickly became the largest family-owned independent holiday cottage company in the UK. There are 20 offices and a nationwide collection of over 3,000 cottages welcoming over 29,000 holidaymakers every year.
In Cornwall, they have 20 team members who pride themselves on their knowledge of the local area. All the properties are regularly inspected to make sure that they meet customer expectations.
Many of their Cornwall cottages overlook the sea and some of them such as Oak Bee have hot tubs. Some of their Cornish cottages have their own moorings and quite a few are dog friendly.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this round up of great days out in Cornwall. Which of these Cornish attractions would you most like to visit? Let us know if you have any other recommendations of the best places in Cornwall in the comments.
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