Culture Trip's Guide to Falmouth

The coastal town of Falmouth is a lesser-known gem in Cornwall
The coastal town of Falmouth is a lesser-known gem in Cornwall | © Andrew Michael / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Christina Collins
Junior Production Assistant26 October 2020

This coastal town in Cornwall, home to Falmouth University, Pendennis Castle, a maritime museum and more, was voted the best place to live in the UK by readers of The Sunday Times and makes for a delightful seaside escape. Here’s our take on where to stay, what to do and top places to eat.

Where to stay

St Michael’s Resort

Spa Hotel
4.3/5 (418 Reviews)
Courtesy of St Michael’s Hotel and Spa / Expedia

Set on the shores of the gorgeous Gyllyngvase Beach, St Michael’s Resort offers a sanctuary suitable for any retreat. The spa hotel offers a range of room choices, from luxury kings with sundecks to smaller rooms with views of the Cornish coast – which can be reached from the sub-tropical gardens below. From some of the rooms, you can even spot dolphins in Falmouth Bay.

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Greenbank Hotel

4.5/5 (429 Reviews)
Greenbank Hotel
Courtesy of the Greenbank Hotel / Expedia

The oldest hotel in Falmouth, dating back to the 1640s, on the pretty harbour, has a stylish, contemporary feel with bright and spacious rooms and huge rain showers. You can while away the hours observing life at sea, with sailboats, circled by oyster dredgers, entering and leaving the harbour below. The four-star property also offers al fresco breakfast.

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Chelsea House

Bed and Breakfast
4.9/5 (78 Reviews)
Courtesy of Chelsea House / Expedia

This retro-chic B&B, in the heart of Falmouth, will appeal to fans of rock’n’roll. Stay in quirky rooms named after, and inspired by, musical legends, including David Bowie, Amy Winehouse and Prince. The Jimi Hendrix room has great views of the coastline, and the understated Dusty Springfield room provides a pashmina to wrap up in when the sun goes down. Thanks to this B&B’s convenient location, beaches, shops and gardens are just steps away.

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What to do

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  • Take a surf lesson

    Map View
    Gylly Beach, Falmouth. An afternoon when there was some surf in Falmouth Bay
    © Jean-Philippe Offord / Alamy Stock Photo

    If you’ve always wanted to try surfing, Falmouth is the place to do it. The main beaches are Swanpool, Gyllyngvase and Maenporth, all of which suit every level, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or pro. There are plenty of surf schools where you can take a lesson. Open year-round, most offer one-to-one lessons for beginners, but they also provide intermediate and advanced coaching for those who want to take their surfing game to the next level.

    Visit and explore Pendennis Castle

    Historical Landmark
    Map View
    Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom
    © Joana Kruse / Alamy Stock Photo

    Who doesn’t love a seaside castle? Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII in the 16th century, is a great place to explore and let your imagination run wild, with winding stone staircases, gun rooms and turrets. Climb to the top of the keep and take a moment to enjoy 360-degree views across Falmouth. However, be sure to book your tickets in advance.

    Take a Lizard tour

    Natural Feature
    Map View
    White bridge in the hydrangea valley of Trebah Garden, Cornwall, United Kingdom
    © Alexander Jung / Alamy Stock Photo

    Guided Cornwall Lizard tours, which start in Falmouth, are a great way to get outdoors and see attractions such as Pendennis Point, Trebah Garden, Helford Passage Beach and – within an hour’s drive – Lizard Point, the southernmost part of mainland Great Britain. Have your camera at the ready to take some Insta-worthy snaps.

    Where to eat

    The Gylly Beach Café

    Bistro, Cafe, European, $$$
    Map View
    Cafe on Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK
    © Kevin Britland / Alamy Stock Photo

    The Gylly Beach Café, on Gyllyngvase Beach and overlooked by Pendennis Castle, has panoramic views of the Lizard Peninsula and the Helford River. By day, it offers breakfast for early birds, including homemade granola and the full Cornish. Lunch starts at noon, with a range of local dishes such as roasted mackerel and squid burger, or whole grilled Cornish sole with caper salsa. In the evening, things get more substantial, with dishes such as confit chicken leg. And the bread is baked in the glass-fronted bakery next door.

    Restaurant Four

    Restaurant, European, British, Vegan, $$$
    Map View

    A must for seafood lovers, Restaurant Four offers a menu of locally caught fresh seafood and shellfish, plus foraged delicacies and home-grown fruit and vegetables. Order a fillet of fresh fish or a tender cut of locally farmed meat, served with a dedication to detail. Vegetarians are well looked after here, too, and there’s a great selection of drinks including county beers and tantalising cocktails.

    The Star and Garter

    Pub, British, Pub Grub, $$$
    Map View

    If you’re looking for something relaxed and easygoing, this homely pub offers a range of modern European-style dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. Sunday lunch is taken very seriously: think sirloin of beef, leg of lamb or roast pork with all the trimmings, supplied by renowned Cornish butcher Phillip Warren. Things get looser on Dirty Mondays, when the food is American-style barbecue, wings, ribs and brews, all chowed down to live music from local bands.

    This is an updated version of a story originally written by Alex Jordan

    These recommendations were updated on October 26, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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