Are you coming down to Cornwall on holiday? If it’s your first time visiting Cornwall, read our essential guide before heading off down the A30.
From packing to parking, here are The Cornwall’s top tips.
Booking ahead became the norm during Covid restrictions, and many places have kept an online booking system. It’s a good idea, because you know you’re guaranteed your ticket, even on a busy holiday day.
Popular spots like the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Tintagel Castle all have advanced booking. St Michael’s Mount does too, and they will change your ticket if the island is suddenly closed due to the sea conditions and weather.
If you want to catch a show at the Minack Theatre or the Hall for Cornwall, tickets sell out fast. Book your seats long before you set off for Cornwall, and the same goes for tables at popular restaurants.
The climate in Cornwall is generally milder than the rest of the UK. We get a lot of sunshine, and our winters are warmer. However… we won’t lie, we do get a fair amount of rainfall down here, and the sou-westerlies can be a bit breezy.
The answer is: pack for all occasions. Head out for a summertime walk with sunblock, shades, a sunhat, a packable waterproof and a spare pair of socks, and you’ll have everything covered. If you have space in your case, back a good pair of boots or trainers for walking, and flip flops for the beach.
Locals’ tips: layering is the way forward as the weather can change quickly. Umbrellas are generally pointless.
The food in Cornwall is amazing. Think freshly landed fish, mackerel on the barbecue, just-picked greens served with creamy Cornish potatoes, meat from animals raised on the lush (thank you, rain) grass, jam thick with berries, clotted cream ice cream…
Accompany this with a Cornish ale or cider, or even a cup of Tregothnan tea. Elevate your afternoon cream tea with a glass of fizz by award-winning Camel Valley. Honestly, the food and drink down here is (chef’s kiss); and we’re also lucky to have so many excellent restaurants, bars and independent food shops.
Notes: yes, the jam definitely goes on before the cream, and the gulls will steal your pasty.
The idea of a spontaneous trip to the beach is wonderfully evocative-sounding. In real life, a bit of planning will make your day far more enjoyable.
Here are a few things to think about:
Parking. If there are empty spaces near a slipway, there’s a reason for this (see above). Car parks in seaside towns like Newquay and St Ives can be busy, so look into park and ride alternatives or try the local bus/rail service.
Pick the best time. Tide permitting, early morning and evening are the best times during the summer. These are also lovely times to go. An early morning dip followed by a beach cafe brunch is the perfect way to start the day, and you can end it with a sundown barbecue.
Is the beach family friendly and dog friendly? Are there facilities for kids? Loos and a place to get food and drink make a day trip easier. Dog rules vary between beaches, so check Cornwall Council website when you’re planning.
What to pack for the beach? Check the weather, and make sure you have both sun proofing and waterproofing kit in your bag.
Until sat navs start having an option called “least scary route”, don’t use them in Cornwall. You’re pretty much guaranteed to end up whimpering your way down a lane that’s no wider than your wing mirrors.
Old fashioned navigation is the key to finding your destination in Cornwall. Check out the route before you leave, then sign posts and a passenger with a map. It’s quite nostalgic.
Having said that, there are still a lot of “normal” roads in Cornwall, and you can avoid the little lanes if you plan ahead (see below).
One of the many lovely things about Cornwall is that once you get here, you can leave your car at your hotel or holiday let.
Public transport can vary across the year, but in the main season, you can always find a bus or a branch line that takes you to the beach. The summer “topless” buses are a great way to see the countryside, and our branch line routes are among the prettiest in the country.
If you like walking, Cornwall is criss-crossed with footpaths and bridleways. Those lucky enough to be staying near the coast can hop between beaches and harbours using the South West Coast Path. Alternatively, hire a bike (or even an ebike) and explore Cornall by pedal power.
There are also plenty of passenger ferries dotted around the county, which has to be one of the best ways to travel between villages and beaches.
(Practical note: shop local where you can, and most villages have or are close to at least one fabulous farm shop. Failing that, the big supermarkets all deliver to most places in Cornwall.)
We can give you lots of locals’ tips about the best places to visit in Cornwall, and we honestly love sharing them. However, the best and most rewarding way to enjoy Cornwall is to make it your own. Once you’ve got your bearings, you can start to explore properly.
What’s your favourite little cove? Where’s the best place to enjoy a pasty (away from the gulls)? Which pub serves the best fish and chips? Which walk does your dog enjoy the most? A pint of Korev or Atlantic?
Our best tip for visiting Cornwall? Explore, discover, enjoy.
The Cornwall is a fantastic base for exploring the county. Contact us to book your Cornish short break or holiday.