When traveling around England, generally people want to see the big cities; London, Manchester, Liverpool. Yet, England is famous for its beautiful, untainted countryside and Cornwall is one of the most popular parts of England for tourism, where you can see the natural beauty of this country at its finest. Surprisingly, many people have never even heard of Cornwall. This tiny county sits on the Southern most point of England and it only takes 2-3 hours to travel from one end to the other by car. Surrounded by beaches and coastal walks, Cornwall is the perfect summer getaway. I grew up in Cornwall and have enjoyed the serenity and beauty of my home all my life. Whilst studying in London, I would often make the long train journey back to Cornwall to breath the sea air and escape from the pressure of city life. As the train travels through miles and miles of open countryside, you can feel the stresses and strains of everyday life melting away. Finally, you reach a destination completely detached from the rest of the world. Here are some of my favorite and most recommended things to do, see and eat in Cornwall.
Best Things to Eat in Cornwall
All over England, Cornwall is famous for the Cornish pasty which is made of a thick pastry exterior and traditionally stuffed with seasoned meat and potato. This filling meal was used by miners to give them energy to keep working deep underground for several hours a day and has become a part of Cornwall’s heritage. Nowadays, you can find many gourmet variations of the traditional dish including chicken and chorizo or bacon and cheese. Another favorite for both travelers and locals alike, is the classic British meal: fish and chips. The fish is traditionally cod fillet deep fried in beer batter with crispy chips to accompany it. Often served with tartar sauce and mushy peas (peas crushed into a sweet paste), this is a beach-side must have and can be picked up from local takeaways in many beach-side towns. Finally, you can’t visit Cornwall without an afternoon tea. Traditional Cornish afternoon tea features your choice of different teas or coffees, scones with jam and cream and often champagne depending on how luxurious the venue is.
Top Seaside Villages and Towns in Cornwall
A big part of Cornwall’s charm is the many tiny seaside villages and towns which were once prosperous fishing ports. Although fishing is still a major part of Cornish economy, these smaller countryside towns and villages now rely more heavily on tourism and are filled with local food and ice cream shops as well as souvenirs and art galleries that display art and photography inspired by the stunning location.
Penzance is a well-known fishing port. This town is the last stop on the train ride from London to Cornwall and the complete journey takes over 3 hours. Once a profitable fishing village, Penzance has had to make a lot of adjustments in the last several years to keep up with the modern world. Transport is still few and far between as there is only one main train line that takes you from London to Penzance. Once you arrive, you can head straight to the tourist centre, just outside the station, where they will give you information on local bus routes to places such as Land’s End and Marazion, another small village with large and popular beach. If you want to know more about the mining history of the County, take the bus from here to Land’s End or one of the many stops along the coast path such as Zennor. From here you can walk for hours around the coast and stop at sites like Geevor Tin Mine to read about the ruins left here when the mines closed down. Geevor also has its own museum where you can learn more about the industry. This visit is great for kids as the interactive activities will be sure to keep them amused.
Accommodation wise you can find small BnB’s around the town but make sure you book in advance. If you’re looking for a more luxurious option try Hotel Penzance, a beautiful converted town house with its own pool and restaurant called The Bay. With an outdoor terrace overlooking the pool and ocean in the distance, this restaurant is a great place for afternoon tea and gourmet dining.
Just a short bus ride away from Penzance is the beautiful seaside village of Perranuthnoe. Here you can really get a sense of idyllic English countryside and enjoy the peace and quiet of an uncrowded beach. The village also has a small pub called The Victoria Inn which has been commended for its menu. If you are looking for smaller meals or ice cream, head to The Cabin which is on the way to the beach. This simple wooden lodge has both an indoor and outdoor seating area where you can enjoy the view over the beach and coast. You can also take the coastal path to the right before you reach the beach and walk all the way to Prussia Cove, a reasonably long coastal walk of about 2 hours with stunning views of the ocean and coast.
A very popular town for tourists, St Ives is a must-see destination when visiting Cornwall. The cobbled streets and small shops are timeless and unique. Here you can find some great gifts and souvenirs as well as the Tate St Ives, a large art gallery. Personally, I think you can find many smaller galleries around the town which are just as interesting and you can even buy some of the beautiful art inspired by Cornwall. You can reach St Ives by train by changing at St Erth before you get to Penzance. From here, a smaller train will take you along the coast to St Ives. The train ride itself is worth doing for the beautiful views of the ocean and coast. St Ives is a popular destination for Spa getaways and I would recommend St Ives Harbour Hotel and Spa for its serene views of the beach from the spa terrace, where you can read and relax after a swim in the pool or a massage at the spa. You can also enjoy a luxurious lunch as part of your spa day or afternoon tea in the traditionally inspired lounge within the hotel.
Recommended Day Trip- The Eden Project
Once you’ve exhausted the numerous coast walks and beaches around the southern part of Cornwall, you can head up to St Austell and take the bus from this station to The Eden Project. This is a collection of bio-domes that house tropical and Mediterranean plant life. You can walk around the domes and experience the different climates as you appreciate the biodiversity. The Eden Project also often hosts lectures and live concerts called Eden Sessions so check out the website to see what’s coming up during your visit.
Must Sea Sunset Destination- Godrevy beach
From Godrevy beach you will be able to see the famous Godrevy Lighthouse which sits on its own island just out from the coast. This lighthouse is iconic and often depicted by painters and photographers from Cornwall. Camborne is the nearest town and train station and from here you can take a bus to the beach. Visit the beach during the day for a cold dip in the ocean or relax in the coast side car park where locales often park up their camper-vans and enjoy picnics and BBQ’s. You can sit here comfortably in the summer heat until sunset when the sun goes down over the lighthouse providing spectacular views.