11 fun and exciting things to see in Cornwall
Last Updated on 24th July 2020
I’d been to Cornwall a handful of times growing up but it took a recent visit to realise how much I’d missed. From stunning beaches and scenic landmarks through to a stunning theatre set into a cliff! Here are just some of the things to see in Cornwall.
1. Tintagel Castle
Tintagel Castle from the 13th century lies adjacent to the village of Tintagel. Built by Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall it later fell into disrepair and ruin.
We were won over by the wooden footbridge linking the mainland to the island, the “Insta” worthy shots looking out through wooden gates to the cliffs in the background (below) plus the legends related to King Arthur.
On the rear side of the island you’ll find an 8-foot tall Bronze sculpture of King Arthur overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
If you like taking part in more organised excursions then check out the three related trips below. Some of which include Tintagel Castle and Port Isaac. Others will show you the many beautiful spots nearby.
2. Port Isaac – ‘Doc Martin’ and Buttermilk Fudge
Port Isaac is a delightful little harbour village in itself … but also served as the location for TV series ‘Doc Martin’ starring Martin Clunes. Ever since 2004 this medical comedy helped put Port Isaac on the map. Walk up Rosscarrock Hill and you’ll find Doc Martin’s fictional house.
As a reward for the short climb be sure to check out Buttermilk confectionery nestled in the small village at the base of Rosscarrock Hill. We loaded up on an array of fudge treats. You might recognise it as the “chemists” from the TV show!
3. The Camel Trail
While you’re down in Cornwall make sure you cycle along The Camel Trail. A well-kept, 18 mile mostly traffic-free cycle path in-between Padstow and Wenford Bridge/Bodmin.
We hired bikes from Camel Trail Cycle Hire in Wadebridge and enjoyed a 6 mile cycle ride east to Bodmin, headed back 12 miles west to Padstow, before a final 6 mile leg returning to Wadebridge. The route is as flat as a pancake and was a joy to cycle along.
Check out no 4, Rick Stein’s fish and chips in Padstow, That would definitely make a great lunch option!
4. Padstow – Rick Stein’s chips
Rick Stein owns a LOT of restaurants in Padstow but we only had time to visit his fish & chip shop. They were the tastiest I can ever remember eating. Helped by our chosen location, sat on the quayside a bit further around, listening to a brass band. Next time we’ll book a table at one of his restaurants.
5. Cream tea – jam or cream first?
You’re heading to south west England so you must try some cream tea scones when you get there! But jam or cream first? The Cornish or the Devonian way?
We tried some scones at Tintagel (no. 1 above), at Land’s End (no. 9) and some homemade ones (in “Devon” nextdoor) too. Homemade was definitely best but we always had them the “Cornwall” way with jam first and cream second!
6. Body boarding in St Ives
Cornwall is literally awash with beautiful beaches. Everyone’s heard of Fistral Beach in Newquay but as “newbies” we quite liked Porthmeor Beach in St Ives.
We donned our wetsuits, picked up a bodyboard and headed into the surf for an hour’s entertainment. Sufficient waves for us bodyboarders as the surfers sat on their boards waiting for a wave.
7. St Ives Fore Street and Bunkers Hill
The village of St Ives on the far west tip of Cornwall was a little gem of a find for our 3 night Airbnb stay. It provided the perfect base for us to explore the far west of the country, allowing us to tick off numbers 6-11.
Fore Street is a narrow little shopping street linking the centre part of town to the harbour. It’s full of quaint little ice cream and pasty shops as well as the usual selection of clothing and tourist souvenir stores. The perfect place to pick up some bit and bobs before our long drive back to the north of London.
The Mên-an-Tol are a formation of three granite stones that look like the number “101” when viewed from the side. You can find them near Morvah and is a quick spot to have a rest if you’re on your way to Land’s End in number 9 below.
We’d heard the legend that a woman would soon become pregnant if she passed through the hole stone seven times backwards during a full moon. When we visited it was daylight, I went through forwards, only twice … and I’m a man so I felt fairly safe in this respect.
9. Land’s End
Not the most southern point of Cornwall (that’s Lizard Point) but the most well-known end location of the British coastline, and the start or end point for those cycling to or from John O’Groats in Scotland. We headed straight to the iconic signpost and ‘The First and Last House’ (in the distance in the image below).
To earn your view park up at Sennen Cove to the north and walk the 1.3 miles along the coastal path to get there. Together with it being a delightful walk you’ll pay less for parking compared to Land’s End.
10. The Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is an outdoor amphitheatre nestled into the spectacular Cornish coastline. It’s regularly voted one of the top 10 theatres in the world. Out of my list of 11 items this was certainly my favourite, and the most unexpected of all the things to see in Cornwall.
You don’t have to attend a show to visit. The theatre is open during ther day too and they have a cafe (top middle in the image below) which gives great views out to sea. We went before and during a show with our’s being at sunset so the background slowly became a “black curtain” as the show progressed.
11. St Michael’s Mount
Experience the wonder of seeing the sea part to reveal the Causeway underneath. Then walk across dry land to see St Michael’s Mount itself. Although for us witnessing the magic of the island rejoining the mainland was enough for us.
Time it right like we did in the image below and you can see the last few feet of water parting to reveal the full length of the causeway. Arrive at least 15 minutes before the official causeway opening times to see this wonderful sight.
So … my things to see in Cornwall
… it’s just a start! There are so many more things to see in Cornwall! This isn’t an “ultimate” guide – it’s just what we planned and saw on our visit. What would you recommend? 🙂 I’ve already been recommended a trip to the Eden Project and a helicopter trip to the Isles of Scilly.
Looking for even more Cornwall ideas? Then check out Vicky Flip Flop’s 27 unmissable stops on a Cornwall road trip.