Cornwall is a picturesque county on the most South Westerly tip of the UK. Filled with secret beaches, plenty of ancient fishing villages, and oodles of history, it’s always worth a visit on any British adventure. After all, there’s a reason that many national and international visitors choose to make this there go-to holiday destination year-in, year-out. Here are 10 fabulous reasons to visit Cornwall this year!
When to visit Cornwall and how to get there!
Beautiful to visit all year ’round, while the summer is the most popular time to visit the English county, a weekend getaway in the winter shouldn’t be discounted either. However, if you’re looking for the best prices together with the best weather (as well as a chance to explore the region without the high season crowds), then be sure to visit in the spring or autumn.
Cornwall is located in the South Westernmost part of England and is easy to reach by car, train, or plane. While Cornwall is home to just one international airport (Newquay) which has regular flights to London, if you’re planning on taking public transport once there, then the train takes you to all the major tourist attractions. Truth be told, if you’re looking to explore some of the county’s lesser-known gems, then a car is a must. Check out this website for rental car comparisons.
#1 The coastline
Cornwall is the only county in the UK to be almost entirely surrounded by the coastline, meaning that it has a unique geography that can’t be spotted anywhere else. Strolling along part of the Cornish part of the coastal path makes for the perfect afternoon out. Along the way, you’ll likely see historic fishing ports, as well as plenty of local wildlife. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a seal or two during the summer months!
#2 All the local food
From fresh fish caught straight from the sea to the sumptuous fruit grown throughout the region, Cornwall has some of the best local produce to be found anywhere in the UK. So whether you’re looking for a five-star gourmet experience, or something a little more affordable, this English county really does have it all!
Even if you venture to Cornwall during the winter months, there’s still plenty of great pub food to be enjoyed by roaring log fires. It doesn’t get better than this! While, of course, most of dishes you’ll find in Cornwall are of the fish variety, even those who are non-meat-eaters will soon discover many a culinary delight.
While every pub offers vegetarian dishes (and many even offer vegan upon request), many of the major towns have their own veggie restaurants. I particularly loved visiting Summink different while in Cornwall a summer or two ago. Serving all kinds of veggie fare, the café is close to the beach and in the very heart of the village of Downderry!
#3 Ancient castles, fortresses & historic houses
Medieval fortresses, sea forts dating back to the middle ages, and historic houses that have remained the seat of the same local families right up until now. There’s no shortage of ancient buildings in Cornwall, many of which you can visit for yourself (often for a small fee). If you want an even more unique experience, then it’s even possible to stay in some Cornish castles, such as the magical folly of Doyden Castle!
#4 Quaint Coastal Villages
If you’re looking for small fishing communities that feel as if they’ve not changed for centuries, then Cornwall is the place to go. The North Cornish villages of Port Isaac, Boscastle, Tintagel, and Rock all remain frozen in time and are authentic British at its best.
Likewise, dotted throughout the rolling green hills that the Westcountry is so famous for, small hamlets can be stumbled upon while you’re driving through the meandering country lanes. Along the south coast of Cornwall, Looe, Polperro, and Fowey are all worth a visit!
#5 An azure blue sea
Pretty all-year-round, Cornwall is best seen in late Spring, summer, or early autumn in order to make the most of the sunshine and the azure blue sea that accompanies it. While everything is completely open during the summer months, it’s important to bear in mind that this is also tourist time and so attractions are completely full of people!
As a result, the best time of the year to soak up the sea air during a visit to Cornwall is in early fall when the weather is at its best, places are still open, and the days remain long. Though the sea is almost always chilly, the warmth fo September makes this month the best time to go swimming in Cornwall!
#6 Cornwall has plenty of secret beaches
Wander along any given stretch of the South West coastal path (which loops its way through Dorset, Devon, all of Cornwall, and Somerset) and you’ll be rewarded by at least one or two secret beaches. So whether you’re looking for shingle, sand, or a dog-friendly spot, you’ll definitely find it in Cornwall!
Secluded coves and hidden swimming spots: of all the reasons to visit Cornwall, the fantastic beaches that can be found throughout the region may well top the list. Some of the best secret beaches in Cornwall include those of Port Quin and Penberth, two tiny hamlets along the Cornish coastline.
#7 Cornwall has oodles of history
With a strong maritime past and plenty of seafaring men and women amongst its most notable residents, Cornwall has the kind of past you’d expect from an island nation. Links to the sea remain strong in the area to this day, and so you can’t go wrong by dedicating some of your Cornish adventure to learning about Cornish history in one of Cornwall’s many museums or cultural centres.
#8 There are festivals throughout Cornwall, all year long
Live music gigs, foodie festivals, and literature gatherings: whatever you’re passionate about, you’re sure to find at least one Cornish festival catering to your interests. Some of the best events of the year include an annual literary festival in the quaint fishing town of Fowey, the St Ives Food & Drink Festival serving all manner of local cuisine, and the annual music event of the Rock Oyster Festival in mid-summer.
#9 Surfing & Other Sporting Activities can be found in abundance in Cornwall
Some of the best surfing in the UK can be found right here in the depths of Cornwall. Polzeath, Bude, St Ives, and Perranporth are all renowned for their great waves, surfing shops, and surf schools. A bonus is that even if you’re travelling with those who prefer other outdoor activities such as kayaking, canoeing, or simply hiking, then Cornwall has plenty of opportunities to take part in those activities also!
#10 Cornwall has plenty of stunning accommodation
Whether you enjoy camping under the stars or spending your night sleeping in luxurious boutique hotels, Cornwall has it all. From cosy cabins on wild moorland to a luxury stay just minutes from the beach, there’s accommodation for every travel style to be found in this vibrant county…
Though I’ve visited Cornwall many a time as a day trip from my home county of Devon, I’ve also had the luxury of staying at some pretty unique and boutique places to stay. For example, I particularly loved this four-star hotel (complete with a pretty pool) and this quaint pub overlooking the crashing waves below, not far from Tintagel.
#11 Port Isaac is where Doc Martin is filmed!
The pretty and picturesque village of Port Isaac can be found in the North of Cornwall. Well worth a visit while in the area, especially during the morning or mid-week when the crowds are fewer than at other times, fans of the hit TV show Doc Martin will soon recognise many a street, not to mention the very house where Martin Clunes’ character resides in the show.
Just a little way down the coastline, the imposing Doyden Fortress of Port Quin also features in the TV programme. If you’re in search of the top filming locations for yourself, be sure to check out this guide to Doc Martin filming locations in Port Isaac. Otherwise, book this tour for a guided visit of the fishing community.
#12 Poldark is filmed in Cornwall!
TV fans shouldn’t turn away now! After all, many a famous film and TV drama has been shot in the county over the past few decades, including most notably, the newest series of Poldark, featuring Aiden Turner as Poldark himself. Filmed in plenty of stunning locations across the county, highlights include Levant and Botallack Mine and the quaint town of Charlestown.
#13 Cornwall is home to plenty of Sub-tropical Gardens
Though Cornwall is best-associated with remote fishing communities and the crashing waves of the sea (as well as smugglers, of course!), it’s worth noting that the county has its own fair share of sub-tropical gardens. For example, the ambitious Eden Project is one of the top-visited tourist attractions in this part of England and the Lost Gardens of Heligan are a delight that are sure to put a smile on travellers of all ages.
#14 Cornish Pasties
If you thought that Cornish food sounded tasty enough, then it’s worth noting that Cornish Pasties fall into a category of their own! Since 2011, the South West staple has enjoyed Protected Geographical Indication by the European Commission, meaning that only pasties produced in Cornwall are allowed to be called ‘Cornish pasties!’