Culture Trip's Guide to Cornwall, England

Cornwall is a magical place full of stunning landscapes, sweeping beaches and Arthurian legends
Cornwall is a magical place full of stunning landscapes, sweeping beaches and Arthurian legends | © James Osmond / Alamy Stock Photo
Mischa Smith

A ready collection of bookable travel ideas inspired by what you love. Discover things to do, where to stay, and the best spots to eat and drink.

Characterised by majestic landscapes, marshy heaths and sprawling stretches of beach, Cornwall, at the southwestern tip of England, offers an otherworldly experience. This county’s craggy outline reaches right down to the end of the isle with the aptly named Land’s End, which along with the moorland monoliths, Celtic Sea and mythical Arthurian tale creates an ethereal feel.

Where to stay

1. Breakers

Budget Hotel

Courtesy of Breakers / Expedia

Newquay is a well-known haven for booze-fuelled celebrations, and it’s likely that many of those start the night at Breakers. Conveniently near the beaches, bars and restaurants, Breakers is made for socialising, whether that’s in your own no-frills dorm, or over smoked sausages by the BBQ pit where surfers swap stories of being barrelled at Fistral Beach.

2. Artist Residence Penzance


Cosy apartment with log-burning stove, wood floors and large blue sliding farm door to bedroom at Artist Residence in Penzance
Courtesy of Artist Residence / Expedia
Eclecticism is the artistic force behind the Instagram favourite Artist Residence. Offering plenty of Pinterest fodder in the form of claw foot bathtubs, hodgepodge upholstery and enough foliage to please the most discerning Millennial, the Penzance pad is designed to house everything an aesthetically conscious traveller might want. This means in-house art collections, a fairy light-strewn terrace and cosy clubhouse. Though tempting to batten down the hatches, Penzance has plenty to lure you outside – the sleek Art Deco Jubilee Pool is a reprieve from the visual overload of Artist Residence.

3. Carbis Bay

Luxury, Hotel, Resort

Beachfront exterior of the Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate
Courtesy of Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate / Expedia

Cornwall flourished in the late 19th century as Victorians flocked to coastal towns to soak up the sea’s restorative properties, and the physical remnants of this boost in tourism can be seen in the abandoned hotels scattered across the county. Fortunately, the rambling Carbis Bay Hotel has undergone extensive renovation and today caters to a new generation of sea-seekers eager to enjoy nature’s bounty. Sitting on 125 acres (50ha) of lush green land, the luxury hotel laps at the edge of the sandy bay, and with picture windows aplenty, you won’t even need to leave the grounds to get that vitamin sea hit.

What to do

4. Sunset tour


Cape Cornwall; Headland; Cornwall; UK
© David Chapman / Alamy Stock Photo

Few can resist the allure of a sunset – and as the sky cracks open into apricot across Cornwall’s dramatic coastline, you’ll see why “the sun’s fiery kiss to the night,” as Crystal Woods wrote, has inspired everyone from Paulo Coelho to the Beatles. From Perranporth Beach, you’ll see the sun slip towards the sea, then when hot pink begins to burn through the sky you’ll move to rugged Cape Cornwall, while Fistral Beach is your final stop and chance to catch a glimpse of Neptune’s Wink – that illusive, mystical flash of green.

5. Quoits, stone circles and monoliths on Bodmin Moor


Evening at The Hurlers Stone Cirlce at Minions near Liskeard on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall
© Helen Hotson / Alamy Stock Photo

Megalithic monuments are scattered across Cornwall stretching as far back as the 3rd or 4th millennium BCE, making this tour ripe for history buffs and budding archaeologists. There are also plenty of artistic references to learn along the way, and the local legends of men being frozen to stone will have even the most stubborn children wanting to brush up on their history. Colloquially known as “quoits”, the heaving stone monuments are undeniably impressive in their sheer scale and bulk, inciting mystery and intrigue in visitors, especially when paired with your guide’s ghostly storytelling.

6. Zero 2 Hero: A two-hour session to teach you the basics of stand-up paddleboarding


“If you don’t fall in, you’re not trying hard enough,” is instructor Clair’s mantra. Gliding across the glassy water of River Fowey, you’ll be gently guided through the basics and on to the trickier manoeuvres – but only if you’re ready. The session is designed to boost your confidence, so those fearful of water shouldn’t be deterred – there’s always the promise of a post-SUPB pint in the Lugger Inn to keep you paddling.

Where to eat and drink

7. Coffee/brunch – Cherry Trees Coffee House

Cafe, Tea Room, Tea , Coffee

UK, Cornwall, Padstow, The Strand, Cherry Trees cafe
© travelib europe / Alamy Stock Photo

With a menu that spans bubble and squeak, banana pancakes and Cajun chicken baguettes, it can be difficult to know what to get – opt for something baked, it’s what this harbourside café does best. The focus is on feel-good food, which for Cherry Trees looks like full plates and fluffy pancakes ravished with berry compote and enough maple syrup to still be mopping it up at the last bite.

8. Restaurant – The Fish House

Restaurant, Seafood, European, British

Fish house restaurant Newquay,Fish house restaurant Fistral Beach,Fish house restaurant Cornwall,
© Robert Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo
Trained under Rick Stein, Paul Harwood’s new outpost, the Fish House, is a truly Cornish endeavour as well as a personal one. On the arc of Fistral Beach, the restaurant draws inspiration and dishes directly from the harbour. An avid surfer and traveller, Harwood’s friendly presence is felt everywhere, from the low-key shipping container-like exterior, to the Asian-inspired cod tempura, likely picked up from a surfing trip – in Bali, perhaps – and the Fish House’s neighbours: a surf shop and Rick Stein’s restaurant.

9. Bar – The Front

Pub, Beer

The saying “proper job” is a typically Cornish colloquialism applying to anything from a bumper crop to a well-poured pint, and is used with such frequency that St Austell Brewery even named one of their IPAs after it. Consider this low-slung pub the epitome of the motto. Aptly named the Front, it sits, quite literally, on the harbour – and believe us, there’s no front to this down-to-earth, locals’ favourite boozer.

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