Cornwall offers a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. Indeed, there are so many Cornwall attractions that’s it’s quite difficult to create a sensible itinerary.
To help, we’ve put together this guide to 25 of the best things to do in Cornwall in no particular order.
From the amazing Eden Project to the charming Mousehole Harbour, you’ll find a variety of places well-worth visiting.
So let the journey begin.
Table of Contents
1. Visit the Eden Project
A must for anybody visiting Cornwall, The Eden Project, nestled within a reclaimed clay pit in Cornwall, is an ecological marvel.
This unique location houses two massive Biomes simulating Rainforest and Mediterranean climates, cultivating a diverse range of flora.
Amidst the futuristic geodesic domes, you’ll embark on an informative journey, exploring global biodiversity, sustainability, and our relationship with nature.
It’s not merely a garden – it’s a vibrant hub for education and environmental awareness.
With its ethos of regeneration and conservation, the Eden Project is a beacon of hope, exemplifying the harmony between humans and the natural world.
2. Explore the Lost Gardens of Heligan
Ranking as one of the most popular Cornwall tourists spots are the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
You find yourself wandering through an enchanting array of historic gardens, witnessing nature’s resurgence amidst Victorian horticulture.
Amid the leafy surroundings, you’ll discover a jungle garden with exotic plants and a series of mystical sculptures.
As you walk deeper, you’ll also encounter productive gardens, thriving with heritage varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Here, in these gardens untouched for over seven decades, you’ll not only connect with Cornwall’s historic gardening past but also become a part of its revitalizing journey towards the future.
3. Stroll around Tintagel Castle
Journey into Britain’s past at Tintagel Castle, a historic site perched on Cornwall’s rugged coastline.
The site features the 13th-century ruins of a castle thought to have been built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, with older Dark Age settlement remains.
Noticeably, archaeologists have discovered evidence of high-status Saxon buildings indicating a royal site.
Tintagel’s rich history, its connection to Arthurian legends, and the stunning views of the Atlantic, together, weave an unforgettable story, bridging the chasm between past and present.
One of the most memorable places to see in Cornwall and a veritable treasure of the South West.
4. Discover Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is an extraordinary open-air amphitheatre in Cornwall that hugs the edge of a dramatic cliff.
The Atlantic Ocean acts as the backdrop, bringing an unprecedented dimension to every performance.
Built by Rowena Cade and her gardener Billy Rawlings, this theatre stands as a testament to creativity and determination.
As you admire the stage, notice the subtropical plants surrounding the terraces, enhancing the ambiance.
Whether you’re watching a gripping play under the stars or simply enjoying the breathtaking sea views during the day, the Minack Theatre guarantees an unforgettable experience.
5. Explore St. Michael’s Mount
St. Michael’s Mount is a small tidal island located in Mount’s Bay that’s perfect for couples looking for romantic things to do in Cornwall.
Accessible by a man-made causeway at low tide or by boat at high tide, this island is steeped in history and legend.
Its prominent feature, a medieval church and castle, dates back to the 12th century and was once a Benedictine Priory.
As you explore, notice the subtropical terraced gardens, which flourish due to the island’s unique microclimate.
Rich in heritage and surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the sea, St. Michael’s Mount offers a journey unlike any other.
6. Spend a day at St Ives
Immerse yourself in the captivating charm of St Ives, a seaside town that represents the absolute best of Cornwwall.
Recognized for its vibrant art scene, St Ives is home to the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, which honour the town’s rich artistic heritage.
The town also boasts of stunning sandy beaches like Porthmeor and Porthminster, ideal for surfing and sunbathing.
As you wander through its narrow cobbled streets, you’ll find a myriad of quaint shops and seafood restaurants.
With its blend of cultural attractions and natural beauty, St Ives offers an enriching coastal experience.
7. Surf at Fistral Beach
Looking for things to do in Cornwall involving the deep blue sea?
Then how about catching the perfect wave at Fistral Beach, Newquay – a hotspot for surf enthusiasts in Cornwall.
Recognized as one of the best surfing destinations in the UK, Fistral offers consistent waves that cater to both beginners and professionals.
The beach is backed by steep sand dunes and rugged cliffs, providing a spectacular setting. Numerous surf schools and rental shops along the beachfront cater to all your surfing needs.
In summer, it’s the stage for major international surf competitions.
Whether you’re riding the crests or soaking up the vibrant surf culture, Fistral Beach offers an unmatched Cornish beach experience.
8. Walk the South West Coast Path
Embark on an awe-inspiring journey on the South West Coast Path, England’s longest way-marked long-distance footpath and a National Trail.
Stretching 630 miles, it offers diverse landscapes, from the rugged cliffs of Cornwall to the lush greenery of Devon.
You’ll come across expansive beaches, secret coves and numerous historical sites, all of which are set against the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
As you navigate its length, you’ll encounter hidden coves, vast beaches, and historic landmarks, all set against the stunning backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or casual walker, the South West Coast Path invites you to experience the magic of the British coastline – it’s one of the highlights of Cornwall and should be part of any Cornwall itinerary.
9. Explore the Tate, St Ives
Discover a wealth of modern and contemporary art at Tate St Ives.
Perched on the Cornish coast, this gallery celebrates the region’s significant contribution to the development of modern art in Britain.
As you explore, you’ll encounter works by a myriad of artists, including those who lived and worked in the town, making St Ives an artists’ colony from the 1920s to 1960s.
The gallery’s iconic building, inspired by the town’s unique light and landscape, provides a striking setting for the exhibitions.
A visit to Tate St Ives promises an enriching journey through the vibrant world of British modern art.
10. Indulge in a Cornish Pasty
Indulge in a culinary tradition with the Cornish pasty, a beloved icon of Cornwall.
This pastry-encased treat, filled with a hearty combination of beef, potato, swede, and onion, is seasoned to perfection.
What sets it apart is its distinctive ‘D’ shape with a crimped edge, originally designed as a complete meal for Cornish tin miners.
Each bite into the rich, flaky crust unveils the warm, savoury filling, offering a delightful contrast of textures and flavours.
Enjoying a genuine Cornish pasty, protected by Protected Geographical Indication status, lets you savour a piece of Cornwall’s rich culinary heritage.
A visit to Cornwall just wouldn’t be the same!
11. Visit the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth
Journey through Britain’s seafaring legacy at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.
This distinctive museum, overlooking the waterfront, houses an extensive collection reflecting the country’s maritime heritage.
It boasts an array of galleries that take you from the depth of the sea to the vastness of the ocean surface, unravelling stories of exploration, survival, and the human spirit.
Standout exhibits include the National Small Boat collection and a real-life rescue helicopter.
The museum also features a look-out tower offering panoramic harbour views, truly enhancing your maritime journey.
The National Maritime Museum is a must-visit for anyone intrigued by the ocean’s compelling history.
12. Visit the Bodmin Moor
Step into the wild beauty of Bodmin Moor, an expansive granite moorland in north-eastern Cornwall.
This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty boasts a varied landscape of towering tors, vast open spaces, and sparkling waterways.
Here, you’ll find Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall, offering panoramic views that are truly breathtaking.
The moor is also rich in archaeological heritage, with numerous Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments dotting the landscape.
As you explore, you might encounter wild ponies grazing peacefully, embodying the moor’s untamed spirit.
A visit to Bodmin Moor offers a serene escape during your Cornwall adventure.
13. Visit Porthcurno Beach
Discover a slice of paradise at Porthcurno Beach, a stunning corner of Cornwall’s coastline.
This beach is famed for its fine white sand contrasting with the azure blue of the Atlantic.
Surrounded by high cliffs, Porthcurno offers a sheltered spot perfect for a tranquil day by the sea.
As you relax, the gently lapping waves and fresh sea air create a calming atmosphere. During low tide, a walk along the beach reveals an array of rock pools teeming with marine life.
With its breathtaking natural beauty, Porthcurno Beach serves as an idyllic backdrop for an unforgettable seaside retreat that’s fit for anybody looking for the best things to do in Cornwall.
14. Visit Lanhydrock House
Step back in time at Lanhydrock House, a magnificent late Victorian country house in Bodmin, Cornwall.
Managed by the National Trust, the house features fifty rooms that vividly depict life in the high Victorian era.
As you explore, you’ll traverse grand dining rooms, elegant bedrooms and even the servants’ quarters, each space richly furnished and authentically preserved.
Surrounding the house is extensive gardens, showcasing a variety of plants and blooming flowers.
Also don’t miss the ancient woodland in the estate, offering some picturesque walking trails.
15. Explore the Lizard Peninsula
Experience nature’s grandeur at the Lizard Peninsula, the southernmost point of mainland Britain.
Renowned for its exceptional geology, this famed Cornwall landmark showcases a diverse range of rare plants and wildlife, thriving due to the mild maritime climate.
The coastal walks here offer panoramic views of dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and lighthouses, notably the historic Lizard Lighthouse.
Stop by the quaint villages like Lizard Village and explore local craft shops and traditional Cornish pubs.
The Lizard Peninsula, with its wild beauty and rich biodiversity, offers a captivating encounter with Cornwall’s natural and cultural heritage.
16. Visit Tresco Abbey Garden
Uncover a world of exotic flora at Tresco Abbey Garden, a subtropical paradise on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall.
Founded by Augustus Smith in 1834, the garden has thrived, now home to a myriad of plants from across the world’s Mediterranean climate zones.
As you stroll through, you’ll encounter vibrant flower beds, towering palms, and lush ferns, a testament to the island’s mild climate.
Scattered amidst the greenery, you’ll also find a collection of shipwrecked figureheads in the Valhalla Museum.
With its exotic charm and fascinating history, Tresco Abbey Garden offers a unique horticultural Cornwall adventure like no other.
17. Go to Truro
Delve into the heart of Cornwall’s culture in Truro, its only city. Truro boasts a rich history, distinctive architecture, and vibrant culture.
The city’s centre-piece is of course Truro Cathedral, but the cobbled streets are a delight as well.
These days, they’re populated with an assortment of independent shops, art galleries and boutiques.
Truro’s food scene offers everything from gourmet dining to traditional Cornish fare. With an eclectic calendar of festivals and events, Truro’s cultural pulse is always alive.
Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, or shopaholic, Truro promises a delightful experience.
18. Explore Poldark Mine
Venture into the depths of Cornwall’s mining heritage at Poldark Mine, one of the most fascinating historical sites in Cornwall.
Named after the famous ‘Poldark’ series, this mine offers an authentic underground experience, allowing you to explore the old tin workings in a guided tour.
The mine is part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, reflecting the significant impact of mining on the region.
Above ground, explore the museum showcasing mining artefacts, tools, and machinery.
A visit to Poldark Mine offers a fascinating insight into Cornwall’s rich mining history and its influence on the area’s culture and economy.
19. Experience Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, located in the charming village of Gweek, is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating injured or stranded seals from the rugged Cornish coast.
As you tour the sanctuary, you’ll come face-to-face with the resident seals, sea lions, otters and penguins.
Participate in feeding demonstrations to further deepen your understanding of these fascinating creatures and the important conservation efforts undertaken here.
A visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary offers an enriching experience, intertwining fun, education, and the chance to contribute to a significant cause.
20. Visit the fishing port of Padstow
Immerse yourself in coastal charm at Padstow, a bustling fishing port that’s perfect for a Cornwall getaway.
This quaint town, known for its picturesque harbour, is a hub of activity with fishing boats returning with fresh catches and pleasure craft bobbing in the water.
Wander the narrow streets lined with boutique shops, galleries, and renowned seafood restaurants, including those by celebrity chef Rick Stein.
Venture on the nearby Camel Trail for stunning estuary views or take a boat trip for a different perspective on the beautiful coastline.
A visit to Padstow is a delightful fusion of traditional Cornish fishing village life and contemporary culinary innovation.
21. Relax in Trebah Garden
Unveil the enchantment of Trebah Garden, a sub-tropical paradise tucked away in a Cornish valley.
This 26-acre garden offers a sensory feast with its lush foliage, vibrant blooms, and the gentle sounds of flowing water.
Traverse pathways meandering through exotic plant collections, leading to a secluded private beach on the Helford River.
Key sights include the stunning rhododendron canopy, the tranquil Mallard Pond, and the mesmerising Hydrangea Valley with its sea of blue flowers in late summer.
Amidst its natural splendour, Trebah also hosts an amphitheatre with a vibrant arts program. Trebah Garden is a spectacular horticultural haven and a true Cornish gem.
22. Visit the Pendennis Castle
Explore the annals of British military history at Pendennis Castle, a stronghold perched on the headland in Falmouth.
Constructed by Henry VIII, this coastal fortress was built to guard England against French and Spanish invasions.
Over the centuries, it has stood firm, serving in both World Wars. Roam its historic ramparts, take in sweeping sea views, and delve into the fascinating exhibitions within the castle keep.
Don’t miss the World War II observation post and the Tudor gun deck.
A visit to Pendennis Castle is a journey through time and another hugely signficant historical site in Cornwall.
23. Enjoy a Cream Tea
Indulge in a cherished Cornish tradition with a Cream Tea, a delightfully indulgent afternoon treat.
This quintessential experience involves savouring freshly baked scones, generously topped with thick clotted cream and sweet strawberry jam.
Accompanied by a pot of freshly brewed tea, it is the perfect way to relax after a day of sightseeing.
There are numerous establishments around Cornwall, each offering their own personal touch.
Sampling a Cream Tea is not just about tasting delicious local produce, but also partaking in a cultural ritual that exemplifies Cornish hospitality and the art of leisurely enjoyment.
24. Blue Reef Aquarium Newquay
Dive into an aquatic adventure at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, a fascinating journey into the undersea world that awaits both young and old alike.
This popular attraction houses an array of marine and freshwater creatures, from the local species of Cornwall’s coast to the exotic inhabitants of the world’s tropical seas.
Stand in awe as you traverse the underwater tunnel, surrounded by a mesmerizing ballet of colourful fish, graceful rays and sleek reef sharks.
Participate in interactive feeding sessions and informative talks to learn more about these wonderful sea creatures.
A visit to the Blue Reef Aquarium is not only a thrilling experience but an eye-opener into the diverse and vibrant life beneath the waves.
25. Walk around the Mousehole Harbour
Experience the quintessential charm of Cornwall with a stroll around Mousehole Harbour, one of the most picturesque spots in the region.
This quaint fishing village, with its narrow winding streets and compact stone cottages, exudes an old-world charm.
The harbour, dotted with traditional fishing boats, is protected by two sturdy breakwaters.
Take a leisurely walk along the harbour’s edge, watch the boats come and go, and enjoy stunning views of the sea beyond.
During the festive season, Mousehole’s renowned Christmas lights make the harbour even more magical. A walk around Mousehole harbour offers a glimpse into Cornwall’s timeless coastal allure.
For more ideas about what to do in Cornwall, visit the official tourist site.