Your Cornish Summer To Do List
Planning your Cornwall holidays and not sure what to do when you’re here? We’ve put together a summer holiday bucket list (or should that be “bucket-and-spade list”?) of some fabulous Cornish activities.
The list is quite long (no pressure!), because there is simply so much to do in Cornwall.
Here’s our list of 15 things to do in Cornwall this summer.
Get in the sea
Wild swimming (or open swimming) has become so popular over the last few years, with many of us drawn to the physical and mental boosts it gives us. Here in Cornwall, most wild swimmers naturally head for the sea. Any safe beach will do; however Nanjizal, Prussia Cove, Porthminster Beach and Penzance prom are all good spots.
Try a new watersport
Welcome to the UK’s surfing hub. If you’ve never surfed, now’s the time to try. You’ll find excellent surf and SUP schools scattered around the coast including in St Ives, Marazion and of course, Newquay. You could also try kayaking, kite surfing or coasteering.
Music at Eden
The Eden Project has added “must-play venue” to its list of accolades, with names like Kylie, Elton John and Blondie signing up for recent Eden Sessions. In fact, Lionel Ritchie and Pet Shop Boys are returning this year, so it must be good.
As well as A-list headline acts, there’s always superb support, additional entertainment around the site, and lots of street food and drink on offer. If you can, book tickets for one of these wonderful and atmospheric mini-festivals.
Eat a pasty
It would be rude to come to Cornwall and not partake in our national dish! Every town and village has its share of pasty shops, or you could make a pilgrimage to Ann’s Pasties in Helston or the “Big Philps” in Hayle.
Veggie, vegan, gluten intolerant? Not a problem: there’s a pasty for everyone.
See a show at the Minack
The Minack Theatre is one of Cornwall’s most iconic attractions. To call this coastal theatre “open air” is an understatement, as the auditorium is hewn from the steep granite cliffs above Porthcurno. There’s nowhere like it.
The location adds an extra dimension to every production. The Minack also has a lively community feel, and you’ll really feel part of something special. Pack a picnic, seat cushions and a blanket, as well as sunblock, shades, a warm layer and waterproofs.
Explore the coast path
The South West Coast Path covers 630-miles of beautiful walking, from Minehead to Poole Harbour. Being a long, narrow coastal county, Cornwall bags about 330 of the SWCP’s miles.
Pop onto the SWCP website to find a nice hike near your Cornwall holiday cottage. There are some pleasant and easy stretches around The Lizard, or walk from St Ives to Zennor for a more challenging (but absolutely stunning) walk.
Find your new favourite pub
Whether it’s a cosy corner on a rainy day or a creekside table on a warm evening, you’ll soon find your new favourite pub. Enjoy some delicious Cornish pub grub, washed down with a pint of Rattler, Betty or Korev. Look out for live music nights to really appreciate the friendliness and fun of a Cornish pub.
Tuck into a farmer’s market picnic
From smoked fish to strawberries, our sea and land combine with talented producers to provide us with the richest, most varied local cuisine. Cornwall’s mild climate makes it the perfect place to grow all sorts of crops, and we even have vineyards and tea producers!
With wonderful bakers, brewers and pasty makers making the most of the natural local larder, your Cornwall holiday cottage kitchen and picnic basket will be overflowing during your stay.
Take a boat to St Michael’s Mount
The legendary tidal island off Marazion is one of Cornwall’s must-visit spots. For the most evocative visit, time your ticket for high tide so you arrive on one of the small passenger ferry boats. Once on St Michael’s Mount, you can explore the medieval castle, gardens and village. Order an ice cream and eat it in the pretty historic harbour.
Walk up a hill
If you want a fabulous view of Cornall, you have to earn it! Take a walk up Trencrom Hill (near Hayle) to see Mount’s Bay or through Steeple Woods to Knill’s Monument to gaze over the sweep of St Ives Bay.
Out west, park in the National Trust car park and walk past grazing ponies up to Chapel Carn Brea and the best Atlantic views. There’s another Carn Brea near Camborne, which again, is a wonderful viewing point.
Discover Ancient Cornwall
Walk in the footsteps of our ancestors with a trip to the ancient villages of Carn Euny and Chysaucester, with their clear traces of round houses. Other famous sites include Lanyon Quoit, Men-an-Tol (be careful what you wish for!) and the Merry Maidens, who were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath.
For a whole day of exploring ancient Cornwall, drive up to Bodmin Moor, which has an astonishing amount of ancient sites.
Eat chips on a harbour wall
This is a must-do on any seaside holiday. Ideally, eat your chips drenched in vinegar and using a small wooden fork, perched on a wall or a bench by the sea. If you still have space, Cornish ice cream (in a cone) is the time-honoured pudding. Post a guard to keep the gulls away…
Find a festival or celebration
From ancient festivals to food fairs, there’s always a celebration going on somewhere in Cornwall. If you love classical music, literature or surfing, book in advance to coincide with specific events; otherwise, take pot luck and see what’s on during your holiday in Cornwall.
Take a look at our guide to Cornish summer festivals 2023.
Find a ruined engine house
Having explored Cornwall’s ancient past, search out its more recent industrial history, when Cornwall led the world in innovation and mining technology.
Learn more at the Hayle Heritage Centre or Heartlands in Pool, then strike out to discover the evocative remains of abandoned engine houses for yourself. Try Ding Dong Mine near Penzance, Giew Mine near St Ives or the coast near St Agnes.
Swim in a lido
Our list starts and ends with swimming. Jubilee Pool in Penzance is a beautifully restored art deco lido, which has the huge bonus of a separate geothermically heated area if you prefer warm-water swimming.
There’s a lovely little lido in Hayle (summer only), and for the perfect compromise, try the sea pool in Bude, a semi-natural tidal space that’s been loved for generations.
Then relax in your Cornish holiday cottage
After a busy day working your way through your holiday bucket list, unwind in the comfort of one of our Cornwall holiday cottages. Wetsuit hanging outside, pasties heating in the oven, chilled glass of Camel Valley in hand… Perfect!