Cornwall is a place that has it all. Golden beaches which stretch on for miles, sub-tropical gardens, wild moorland, giant cliffs and more castles than you can shake a stick at. Cornwall is rugged and refined, beautiful, wild and inspirational. Here we list 18 essentials which simply cannot be missed when visiting the Duchy of Cornwall.
Explore an indoor tropical rainforest, visit the Australian desert, and rocket above the biomes via zipline. The Eden Project is one of Cornwall’s greatest attractions, and is not only beautiful but a great education in biodiversity, nature and the world.
Eden Project, St Austell, Cornwall, UK
Lost Gardens of Heligan
A Cornish jungle with giants hiding under carpets of moss, mud-maids swimming in the rain and enormous towers of flowers bursting with colour at every turn in the path. Wonderful, fantastical and full of whimsy, the Lost Gardens are the real life Secret Garden.
Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St Austell, Cornwall, UK
St Michael’s Mount
Only accessible by a man-made causeway when the tide is out, or by boat when it is in, this castle on an island near Penzance has a history of giants, war and heartbreak. Watch out for the heart-stone on your way to the top.
St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall, UK
The Minack Theatre
This theatre, which has been carved out of the cliff and overlooks the sea, has to be seen to be believed. The turquoise seas, dolphins, sunsets and storms all enhance the drama and setting of all theatrical performances at the Minack.
The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall, UK
Tiny, pretty, cutesy Mousehole (pronounced Mow-zel), famous thanks to the children’s book, The Mousehole Cat, is true Cornwall through and through. Wander the little curvy streets, squeeze into pokey art galleries and snack on ice cream with your legs swinging over the harbour wall.
Mousehole, Cornwall, UK
Carn Brea Castle
Carn Brea, which loosely translates to “hill of rocks” in Cornish, is exactly what it says on the tin. At the top is a craggy castle, propped up by the weathered rocks, views to Bodmin Moor and across the North coast, from St Ives to Newquay.
Carn Brea Castle, Carnkie, Cornwall, UK
Wild and barren Bodmin Moor is often wet and windy, but get it on a good day and it is one of Cornwall’s most underrated attractions. Walk for miles, bag tors, climb Brown Willy and wild camp with The Beast and legends.
Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, UK
St Nectan’s Glen
Hidden in a magical valley, through a wooded pathway out the back of Tintagel, is a 60-foot waterfall which powers through a hole in the rock. This pilgrims end and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a journey into Cornwall’s fairy tale heartland.
St Nectan’s Gen, Tintagel, Cornwall, UK
Turquoise waters meet with dramatic cliffs at Kynance Cove. Here, you can lounge in the sun, dip your toes in the sea, eat delicious local ice cream or walk along the coast path to your heart’s content.
Kynance Cove, Helston, Cornwall, UK
It’s a crime to go to Cornwall and not visit St Ives. Amble the cobbled streets, taste the seafood straight from the harbour, take an art class or simply enjoy that wonderful sea air. Watch out for the seagulls, they are known for stealing chips out of people’s hands.
St Ives, Cornwall, UK
If there is ever a place in the world where you can sense witchcraft in the air, this is it. Walk down the river to the harbour and climb onto the cliffs for an attack of the elements, before hitting the Witchcraft museum and then the pub.
Boscastle, Cornwall, UK
Legend has it that a giant once used these enormous stepping stones as a shortcut across the bay. Nowadays, it’s a stunning stretch of sand and steep cliffs with dramatic rock formations scattered across the beach.
Bedruthan Steps, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, UK
Down a steep hill, up some steps and over a bridge, is the remains of what is said to have once been King Arthur’s Cornish retreat. Stuck right out on a cliff, these castle ruins are an epic reminder that nature will always take back what is hers.
Tintagel Castle, Tintagel, Cornwall, UK
If it’s surfing you’re into, go to Fistral in Newquay. Go to Fistral now. The surf is pumping, the views are epic, the sunsets are dreamy, the bars are busy. Seriously. Now.
Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall, UK
Land’s End is, without a doubt, one of the worst tourist attractions in Cornwall. But get through the tacky theme park and head straight to the cliffs for crashing waves, the freedom of the sea, and nothing between you and America but the Isles of Scilly.
Land’s End, Sennen, Cornwall, UK