Filled with striking coastal views, vast expanses of unspoilt countryside and an assortment of landmarks, the great Cornish outdoors has something for everyone. It’s all here, waiting to be discovered by you – one monument, one cove, one adventure and one landscape at a time. We’ve picked the top points of interest as well as green spaces and walks for you to enjoy on your visit to this breathtaking part of the world.
Points of Interest and Landmarks
Arguably the most famous visitor attraction in Cornwall, The Eden Project has pride of place at the top of the list. Dubbed as the Eighth Wonder of the World, this impressive global garden is famous for its massive biomes that nestle in a crater the size of 30 football pitches. It’s an exciting and inspiring playground that explores our relationship with nature, and isn’t one to miss. For another cultural endeavour try the Minack Theatre – Cornwall’s theatre under the stars. Visit by day and explore this unique open-air theatre created from the Cliffside at Porthcurno. Entrance includes access to the theatre, gardens, café, exhibition, shop and daytime storytelling events. There’s something for everyone – from musicals to Shakespeare to comedy.
Further afield you can visit the famous Isles of Scilly – an archipelago off the coast of Cornwall that can be reached by boat or helicopter from Penzance, or plane from Newquay or Exeter. For those in need of a healthy dose of escapism, spend the day on beautiful beaches, eating local produce for lunch, walking, bike riding, boating, exploring the gardens or venturing to uninhabited islands. If you don’t fancy a boat or plane trip, head to Land’s End – England’s most westerly point. Enjoy the tranquillity of the natural landscape along with family-friendly paths above cliffs carved out by the waves. Browse the West Country Shopping Village or enjoy a bite to eat in the restaurants and cafes. If visual spectacles are what you’re after – try St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island in Mount’s Bay. Cross the causeway where a legendary giant once walked, follow in the footsteps of pilgrims or boat hop to the island where modern life meets layers of history. An evocative castle, a foliage paradise and a close-knit island community are just some of the things St Michael’s Mount has to offer.
Green Spaces and Walks
For keen hikers, the South West Coastal Path is the longest of the country’s National Trails, with a length of 630 miles. It follows the coastline of England’s South West Peninsula, starting on Somerset’s coast and running along the Bristol Channel covering Exmoor, Land’s End and North Cornwall, before curving around the Devon and Dorset coastline and ending at Poole Harbour. Another trail to consider is North Cornwall’s Camel Trail, which winds its way through some of England’s most beautiful and unknown coastal scenery and countryside. There are 11 miles of disused railway that have been converted from the rail track bed, linking the charming towns of Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin. For walking tour enthusiasts, try Pixie Tours who provide guided tours of Cornwall and the West Country. Guaranteed to reach those local attractions that most tourists fail to find, Pixie Tours focus on off the beaten track routes and provide luxury transport linking Cornwall with cities and airports throughout the UK.
On a list of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the South West, the famous Bodmin Moor may well claim pride of place as first and foremost. A remote heather-covered land still grazed by moorland ponies, Bodmin remains one of the greatest unspoilt areas in the South West, with much of its prehistoric and medieval past remaining untouched by the passing of the centuries. The Moor is dominated by dramatic granite tors that tower over the sweeping expanses of deep river valleys and moorland, providing shelter for rich damp oak woodland. Inhabited from as long ago as the Stone Age (20,000 years) the ancient Cornish were particularly adept when it came to building monuments, and much of Cornish countryside is home to stone circles, wells, forts and quoits. The Merry Maidens Stone Circle is one of the best known ancient structures; its mysterious stones form a convincingly perfect circle, and the regularity of spacing between the stones earn it its fame and attraction. Another is the Nine Maidens Stone Row, where granite megaliths span 80m with varying heights and splendour. Burial rites, astronomy or perhaps something else – these ancient mounds have puzzled historians for years. Tregeseal East Stone Circle, also known as the ‘Dancing Stones’, is no exception – consisting of 19 granite blocks and reminiscent of Stone Henge.
Cornwall is plentiful in expansive fertile ground, and for those who like a drink – has its fair share of vineyards. Polgoon Vineyard, situated on south facing slopes, overlooks Penzance and St. Michaels Mount. You can visit the vineyard, take a tour of the orchard and production facilities, and even get to sample the different drinks on offer. Polgoon also has its own shop where you can buy many of the products along with other Cornish gifts. There’s also Camel Valley Vineyard, where you can take guided tours of the vineyard and winery that includes a glass of wine or soft drink – or simply sit on the terrace sipping Camel Valley wine on a summer’s afternoon. Just remember to nominate a designated driver!
Beaches and Coves
One of Cornwall’s major selling points is the plethora of coves that litter the South West coastline. Typically used for smuggling, they consist of small, sheltered bays usually homed within a stunning beach. Piskey’s Cove is said to be one of the places where John Carter ‘The King of Prussia’ landed his smuggled goods. The whole area was a hot spot for smugglers in the late 18th century and its accompanying beach is perfect for admiring some of nature’s amazing details… keep an eye out for clusters of limpets hugging the rock formations! Another cove on our must-see list is Prussia Cove, formerly known as the King’s Cove. Famed for being known as the home of the infamous Carter family, Prussia Cove is secluded and intimate – with beautiful walking routes, amazing views and narrow dips that offer the best protection from billowy wind and sea. With wild swimming opportunities, the cove is wonderful to explore in the water – and you can still find grooves in rocks and old cart tracks where the Carters brought their stolen goods to shore. One of Cornwall’s most photographed and painted locations, the National Trust managed Kynance Cove is awash with towering rock stacks, caves and incredible turquoise sea views. The juxtaposition between the cool white sands and the rich red and green rock makes for a magnificent sight. It’s also the starting point for a brilliant 2-mile scenic route around the coast to Lizard Point, which is the mainland UK’s most southerly point.
Of all of Cornwall’s spectacular beaches and coves, Sennen Cove ranks up there with the best. As one of the farthest-flung parts of the county, Sennen has a satisfying end-of-the-line energy, with its sapphire waves yielding excellent surfing opportunities. There’s also Perranporth Beach, which is named after Cornwall’s patron saint and stretches for over three miles at low tide. Be sure to check out the interesting rock formations including an arch, caves and the unmissable Chapel Rock – complete with a little bathing pool on its far side. Backed by sand dunes tufted with wild grass, Gwithian Beach is wonderful at low tide with a vast amount of sand to enjoy and large areas of rock pools uncovered. Seals are a common sight near the beach and the area is a breeding ground for colonies of seabirds. For a more family friendly option, try Longrock Beach. Swimming here is safe as the water is shallow for a long way out, making it a popular spot for windsurfing. And for an adrenaline rush, Harlyn Bay has been voted as one of the top 5 family beaches in the UK and is a great location to experience a variety of exciting water activities.