The pull of this sunny South West spot is understandable, as the rugged county is famous for many things – from surfing and golden sand to timeless fishing villages and TV filming locations.

Here are a few of our best suggestions for things to do in Cornwall, whether you want to tick off iconic landmarks or wander off the beaten track, there’s something for everyone.

You can also have a look at our Cornwall Guide.

1. Hit the best Cornish beaches

The number one thing people come to Cornwall to do is soak up the sun. Blessed with beaches galore, those that love sand and surf will not be disappointed.

However, not all beaches are made equal. The famous Fistral Beach is one of the best seafronts for surfing in Europe, and Watergate Bay with its array of surf schools is also ideal for chasing those Atlantic waves.

For white sand and turquoise waters, Kynance Cove will steal your heart, and Perranporth Beach is the perfect pitstop for a summer picnic on golden sands.

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Sunset over the sea at Fistral Beach
A sunny beach in St Ives, Cornwall

2. Get artistic in St Ives

It’s hard to resist the lure of St Ives and its charming book shops and trinket stores, ice cream parlours and pasty shops. The bohemian feel of the town is complemented by a beautiful bay, although the beach can get very busy during peak season in July and August.

The relaxed character of St Ives makes it a haven for artistic types, too. The Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden are must-sees for any culture vultures. It’s also easy to understand why painters flock here to depict the scenic shoreline.

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3. Gardens galore

The Cornish climate means that not only is the county a brilliant spot for surfing and beach dwelling, it’s also a haven for exploring flora and fauna.

Visitors can pick and choose from a range of stately and botanical gardens. We like the lush, green Lost Gardens of Heligan – which hosts lots of events, including outdoor plays and wildlife walks.

walled garden at the Lost Gardens of Heligan
the domes at the Eden Project

4. The Eden Project

One of Cornwall’s most famous attractions is the Eden Project, an eco-friendly and educational centre with a mix of outdoor gardens, activities, sculptures, a rainforest canopy walkway and the iconic indoor biomes that nurture a huge variety of plants.

There’s enough here to keep the whole family occupied for a full day, with different species blooming across the year. An oasis from the outside world, it also offers a large dining area stocked with local ingredients.

5. The Minack Theatre

Outdoor theatres aren’t usually associated with the UK, but Cornwall’s glorious summer weather means that the Minack Theatre has been able to thrive.

The open-air, clifftop venue is a real treat for both daytime and evening shows. Close to Land’s End, the theatre overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and puts on a show for everyone – whether you want to watch Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, catch a music concert or book a nighttime guided tour.

Minack Theatre overlooking the sea in Cornwall
Poldhu Cove Lizard Peninsula

6. Lovely landmarks

Cornwall is vast. So rather than trying to squeeze everything in during one stay, it’s better to base yourself around what you’d like to see.

We’d recommend booking your luxury Cornish cottage close to one of the most iconic landmarks. Whether that’s England’s westernmost point, Land’s End or The Lizard, the most southerly point of the UK, is up to you. The former has great places for cream teas and the latter for pasties, so there is plenty of traditional treats to try, too.

St Michael’s Mount and its castle and causeway that’s cut off by the tide, or the mythical giant’s Bedruthan Steps across the bay are both magical places to base your holiday around as well.

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7. Cornish Seal Sanctuary

If you’re an animal lover, make sure to stop off at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. Situated on the banks of the Helford River, the charity centre rescues and rehabilitates adorable seal pups from across the Cornwall coastline.

This is perfect for travellers that want to revel in Cornwall’s weather while helping preserve the environment and giving something back. By buying tickets to the seal centre you get the chance to see marine life, such as sea lions, seals and penguins, up close without doing any damage to the local habitat and sea-dwelling residents.

Port Isaac
Padstow Harbour

8. Port Isaac to Padstow

Whether or not you’re a fan of ITVs Doc Martin, the charming fishing village of Port Isaac is a dreamy place to stay. With its winding streets and white-washed cottages, this is quintessential Cornwall at its finest.

Pair windswept coastal walks and idyllic boat trips with a leisurely drive to nearby Padstow. Roughly half an hour away, the Padstow promenade and harbour offer seasonal opportunities to view puffins, dolphins and basking sharks. You can even spot lobsters being reared and prepared for release into the wild at the National Lobster Hatchery.

9. Tintagel Castle

A medieval fort on Tintagel Island, this gorgeous location in northern Cornwall is rumoured to have its roots in the Roman era. Visitors stop for the ruins but stay for the mesmerising views. Cliffs, sea and lots of history: this makes for an imagination-stoking addition to your itinerary.

Foot bridge over a bay on Tintagel Island
The remains of Bodmin Prison in Cornwall

10. Bodmin Jail

One for those who enjoy learning about history that’s a little bit darker, Bodmin Jail provides an atmospheric day out for the brave. A visit here pairs well with a longer trip to the beautiful and haunting Bodmin Moor, which this former prison sits on the edge of. Built in 1779, the ruins are available for guided tours, ghost walks and, of course, afternoon tea.

Ready to explore Cornwall?

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