Cornwall, a peninsula on the southwest coast of England makes for some dramatic scenery with its charming seaside villages, magnificent sheer cliff faces and quaint beaches. The Cornish heritage is steeped in centuries-old Celtic traditions as well. Between the landscape and the heritage, there are so many places to visit Cornwall vacation choices abound. Having visited the region many times, we found narrowing places to visit in Cornwall down to our 10 top places to visit in Cornwall very difficult. So rest assured, each place to visit in Cornwall on this list has been debated and vetted by our entire family!
Best Places To Visit in Cornwall
Our pick of best places to visit in Cornwall is dotted throughout the peninsula. Check the map below to see their location. Distances may be long between these places to visit – Cornwall is a long thin peninsula with no motorway.
Yacht enthusiasts head to Fowey in their thousands over the summer seasons. It is a beautiful town that lies on the mouth of the Fowey river and is still a busy commercial port today. Stroll the narrow streets with its restaurants and boutiques. Check out the river with a boat tour.
We have stayed at beautiful family-friendly Fowey Hall which is located above the town. Across from Fowey, is the charming town of Mevagissey which is also worth a visit. There are plenty of hikes you can do from Fowey including past the Cornish home of novelist, Daphne du Maurier.
Penzance was synonymous with pirates and debauchery a few centuries ago. The town is now restored to its former reputable standing as a trading port and resort town. Take a stroll down Chapel street in the centre of town to see a string of interesting landmarks and the Georgian architecture that is popular in these parts. The Jubilee Pool on the promenade is another jewel that visitors flock to in the summer months.
One of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall, St Ives has become a coveted seaside resort. The heavenly beaches and blue waters attract folks longing for a break from city life. The town still has traces of its fishing heritage with colourful boats mooring just off the coast. It has been a haven for artists for nearly 100 years and this vibrant aspect of the town can be seen throughout, especially in the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden and Tate St Ives museum.
This is where you will find the highest point in Cornwall, Brown Willy, that overlooks the magnificent rolling green hills of the moor. The area has plenty of medieval ruins and remains have been found from the bronze and even the Neolithic age. Stop by the real life Jamaica Inn which was immortalised in the novel by Daphne du Maurier.
What would a coastal region be without a surfing town? Newquay is a popular destination for wave enthusiasts with 7 delightful beaches that test the talents of surfers of all levels.
The Lappa Valley Steam Railway offers fun for the younger crowd and families can enjoy a day out at Newquay Zoo. History buffs also love to visit the Elizabethan Trerice manor house owned and operated by the National Trust.
Truro is the only city in the county of Cornwall and also serves as the administrative headquarters for the area. It is a must-see when heading to this area.
The Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary dominates the skyline with its gothic spires and the surrounding streets are filled with Georgian and Victorian building styles. Albeit not a coastal city, Truro is a hotbed for countryside leisure with cider presses, country parks and breweries down every windy farm road.
St Michael’s Mount
This famous island is accessible by foot during low tide but it is well worth planning your trip accordingly. It is the sibling to the more famous Mont St Michel across the English Channel in France.
Less than 50 people call the island home and the walk across the cobbled road looks like a scene from a fairy tale. The castle on the hill is accompanied by a church, a café and a shop.
Padstow is home to a long list of some of the most fabulous restaurants in England primarily because of its biggest proponent, famed chef Rick Stein. Local fishermen deliver their fresh catch to the charming eateries along the harbour daily and have helped this town become one of the foremost culinary destinations in the UK.
Polperro is another picture-perfect fishing village where modest houses cling to the hillsides surrounding the famous harbour. The village has been occupied for more than 700 years and the charismatic cottages date back centuries. The English Channel forms the coast of this eastern village and visitors flock from far and wide to stroll through these unassuming cobbled streets.
At the most western edge of Cornwall (and England), as the name suggests, is Land’s End. The cliffs have been battered by ages of rough seas smashing against them. We are left with stunning and dramatic scenery as Cornwall comes to an end here.
Port Isaac is another quintessential delightful fishing village, with classic white stone homes, cobbled streets leading into the harbour, and a true sense of community at its heart.
The village is also famed for being a popular film and TV show location, including the Poldark series and Doc Martin. Many visitors flock to this lovely cove to step into a real-life film set.
One of the best things to do in the Cornwall area is to indulge in the fishing culture that is still prevalent in towns along the coast. Looe has a stunning fleet of colourful fishing boats that are docked in the harbour and make for a postcard-perfect scene. Amateurs can also enjoy crab fishing off the harbour walls which can be fun for the whole family.
Polzeath is a holiday maker’s dream and one of the best places to visit in Cornwall if you enjoy surfing. The wide beach is great for sunbathing but watch out for high tide as the beach gets swallowed in the waves! The strip of shops and pubs in town is perfectly convenient and has a lovely atmosphere.
Falmouth has a long and treasured maritime history. During the second world war, the American Fleet was based in this famed harbour and the Fal River estuary still has plenty to offer for boat lovers.
Falmouth Harbour is said to be the 3rd deepest natural harbour in the world and has been the starting/finishing point for many voyages around the world. There are many splendid hikes in the area and visitors love travelling by boat between all the small ports on this stretch of coast.
The Eden Project
Cornwall is loved for its little villages, lush countryside, and indoor rainforest?! That’s right, the Eden Project is a mammoth undertaking located in a crater in the East of Cornwall. The artificial biomes bring exotic plants from all over the world to this unique outskirt of England and visitors can experience the largest rainforest in captivity
Places To Visit Near Cornwall
Our favourite places to visit near Cornwall are undoubtedly in the county of Devon. Peter grew up in Devon with family on both sides of the Devon and Cornwall border.
Both Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon Area of Outstanding Beauty are right over the Cornwall border with Devon. Also nearby is the port town of Plymouth – notable to Americans as the place where the Mayflower ship departed with the Pilgrims to New England 400 years ago.
Top Places to Visit in Cornwall Map
We have mapped out the best places to visit in Cornwall in our opinion as well as several great places to visit near Cornwall.
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