Of all the best places to visit in Britain, few destinations are as dynamic as the English county of Cornwall. Characterised by its many quaint fishing villages, rugged coastline, and several millennia worth of history, here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Cornwall!
The pretty fishing village of Polperro can be found in the South of Cornwall, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Home to plenty of cobbled lanes and quirky inns dating back centuries, Polperro is the perfect base from which to explore the nearby area, including the beautiful beaches of Talland Bay.
For those looking to escape the modern world (quite literally- there’s no phone signal here!), Penberth offers the chance to step back in time and the hamlet has been used as a backdrop for filming the hit BBC TV Series, Poldark thanks to its historical feel.
Complete with several stone houses which are typical of the area, as well as nearby coastal walks, you could easily spend several hours here snapping photos or enjoying a picnic beside the crashing waves. Just a short walk away, some of the best sandy and secluded coves in Devon can be reached via foot.
Read more: The secret Cornish cove of Penberth
Tall ships sway in the sea breeze and a sea-inspired menu is never too far from reach. And, in spite of its name, Charlestown is not a bustling metropolis but more of a quaint village. Complete with a pretty port, the village lies on the fringes of the brewery town of St Austell. In more recent years, Charlestown has been used often as a backdrop for the hit BBC Tv Series, Poldark.
Pretty adorable and the kind of place you’d think might no longer exist, Mousehole truly is an off the beaten tourist track gem of Southern Cornwall. Nestled along the coastline somewhere between Porthcurno and Penzance, highlights of this fishing port include countless coffee spots, as well as oodles of history. During the winter months, the Mousehole Harbour Lights light up the village and beyond.
After all, it was here in the 18th-century, where Dolly Pentreath, was alleged to be the last native speaker of the Cornish language. It was also here in the 16th-century that the Spanish, under the direction of a certain Carlos de Amequista nearly burnt the entire town to the ground.
Read more: The best things to do in Mousehole
#5 Port Isaac
The fishing village of Port Isaac is a must-see on any visit to Northern Cornwall. Synonymous with filming locations thanks to the popular TV series Doc Martin being shot here, this sleepy little town dates all the way back to the 14th-century.
Port Isaac is the perfect size; not too large, not too small, making it a great place from which to base yourself for a long weekend. From here, it’s perfectly possible to explore the nearby towns and villages of Port Quin, Tintagel (legendary birthplace of King Arthur), and Boscastle.
#6 Port Quin
While Port Isaac has plenty of attractions, the charm of Port Quin lies in its lack of things to do. Instead, the little fishing hamlet maintains a charm which has been lost in much of the larger settlements. Home to several cottages and a tiny harbour (which doubles as Port Quin’s only access point to the sea for swimming), be sure to keep an eye out for the 19th-century folly, Doyden Castle. And, if you’re visiting the area during a special occasion, it’s even possible to rent the impressive building.
#7 St Enodoc’s
The beautiful church at St Enodoc’s lies in the very heart of what was once rolling sand dunes, but has since been transformed into a world-class golf course, attracting players from all over the world. And once upon a time, the church was even buried under the sand, left to the elements. It’s said that once a year during this period, the priest would be lowered down to bless the church, so as to keep it consecrated.
However, within decades, the church was saved from the golden sands and open once more for regular services, burials, and even marriages. Today, its stunning location overlooking the sea makes for an amazingly quiet place of contemplation. For literature fans, it’s also worth noting that the ecclesiastical building is the final resting place of acclaimed poet, John Betjeman.
Read more: St Enodoc’s Church
Pronounced ‘Foy’, Fowey is a magical destination and is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cornwall. Located on the fringes of the Fowey Estuary, this town offers unbeatable views of the natural harbour in which it lies and dates all the way back to before the 15th-century.
Once in Fowey, which has long been popular among tourists and locals alike, there are plenty of quirky and interesting things to do. So between, swimming in the impossibly turquoise waters of Readymoney Cove and wandering around the 14th-century church dedicated to St Fimbarrus, you certainly won’t be bored!
#9 Carn Brea
The magical and the mythical is never too far away when it comes to Cornwall. And nowhere does this become quite so apparent as at Carn Brea, a raised rock bed which sits above the town of Redruth and is the result of volcanic activity some few million years ago.
Today, Carn Brea is home to several sites of geographic and historical interest. Among these are Carn Brea Castle, which has since been transformed into a fusion restaurant, as well as breathtaking views over the surrounding Cornish countryside and all the way to the sea.
Read more: Hiking Carn Brea in Cornwall
#10 Rock & Porthilly
Birds swoop overhead and the sandy beach of Rock is easily one of the best Cornwall has to offer. The charming villages of Rock and Porthilly can easily be visited together (they quite literally merge into one) and each has its own unique ambience and vibe.
In the area, some of the best things to do include lounging around on one of the many beaches the region has to offer, catching the ferry to Padstow, or dining in one of the lavish eateries (I personally recommend the Mariners Rock). For those who are looking for something a little more adrenaline fuelled, then a hike along the South West Coastal path is rarely a bad idea.
Read more: A brief guide to Rock and Porthilly
#11 St Michael’s Mount
The younger, albeit equally impressive, sibling of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy can be found a little way out to sea from the picturesque village of Marazion in Southern Cornwall. Postcard perfect, the ancient church and castle sit high atop a conical tidal island and was even built by the same order of monks as that of Normandy.
Best seen on a sunny day (particularly around sunrise or sunset), twice a day it’s possible to walk to the tidal island when the tide recedes and a cobbled walkway reveals itself from below the waves. Once on the island, there’s a small fishing port to explore, several eateries, a church, and the castle (the castle is now managed by the National Trust and has a paid entry fee).
Situated in Northern Cornwall, in a natural harbour and somewhere in between where the sea meets, the land, Boscastle is a sheltered town characterised by its stony façades and quirky nature. Once in town, there’s even a Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the only one of its kind in South West England.
#13 Rame Head
Situated on the edge of Whitsand Bay, AKA ‘the forgotten corner of Cornwall,’ this part of the world sees much less tourism than the more popular destinations of Porthcurno or Kynance Cove. And so, if you’re looking for somewhere a little off the beaten track, then this bay is the answer!
Rame Head itself is the ruins of a tiny hermitage dedicated to St Michael, a little abandoned building which provides breathtaking views onto Plymouth Sound, as well as over towards Western Cornwall. Also of note in the area is the pretty fishing port of Portwrinkle.
Pretty and by the sea, the port town of Porthleven is the most Southerly port of Great Britain (for clarification: the mainland part!). Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, highlights of the town include several sandy beaches, plenty of restaurants serving up fresh seafood cuisine, and a number of historic buildings dating back centuries.
#15 St Ives
If you love art, architecture, and the sea, then you’ve come to the right place. St Ives can be found north of Penzance and is probably best-known for its impressive surfing beaches. So whether you’re a lover of adrenaline or simply want to admire modern art in the Tate St Ives, there’s plenty of things to see and do!
Bonus: Port William Inn
If you’re wanting to plan a trip to Cornwall and are looking to escape from it all, then I couldn’t recommend the Port William Inn enough. Located somewhere between the legendary King Arthur’s birthplace of Tintagel and the fishing village of Port Isaac, check in here and there’s no signal, making this the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
When booking a room, I highly recommend checking in to a sea view. When it comes to breakfast, there are often deals on, meaning that a full English comes included in the price (they even have veggie options!) Check prices and availability here.