September in Cornwall is a joy for many: the air becomes crisper, the leaves on trees turn to shades of red and gold, and the beaches are less crowded with tourists. There’s often a sense of anticipation in the air as September draws near which means it won't be long until Christmas. But don’t look too far into the future just yet because September in Cornwall still brings warm temperatures and hours of sunshine. The county’s outdoor attractions are perfect to explore and eclectic festivals fill up the calendar. Here’s our complete guide to planning a memorable holiday in Cornwall this September.
Here's our complete guide to a simple but special stay in Cornwall this September:
A breath of fresh air - things to do outdoors in Cornwall in September
Cycle the Pentewan Trail
The flat 3-mile-long Pentewan Trail follows the route of an old railway line, so there's no danger of being beaten by steep hill climbs and rapid descents on your gentle bike ride. Follow the babbling St Austell River before diverting into the wooded part of the trail, where the historic trees meet overhead, wild flowers carpet the ground and rambling plants line the hedgerows.
Bring your own bikes or hire from the friendly team at Pentewan Cycle Hire - they even have tandems for adventurous couples or pull-along trailers for younger passengers with little legs.
Catch a wave at Cornwall’s top surf spots
Cornwall is the surfing capital of England and September is a great time to hit the beach now that the summer crowds have dispersed.
Whether you are just starting out or have been riding for years, there’s an endless number of superb surf spots dotted along our coastline. Newquay’s Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay, which are just a 30-minute drive from the hotel, ooze surf culture. Down in West Cornwall, Penzance is a good base for the waves at Praa Sands and Sennan Cove.
Watch the sunset
If you're looking to share a memorable moment with someone special, then a sunset over the sea is hard to beat.
Sunset times vary from around 8pm in early September to 7pm towards the end of the month. There are plenty of spots around the Cornish coastline where you're unlikely to meet another soul, so you can sit on a headland and watch the dramatic skies darken in peace. We recommend St Michael’s Mount, Holywell Bay, just outside Newquay, and the cliffs of Land’s End.
Paddle in the sea and search the rock pools
Cornwall's gentle south coast is lined with miles of sandy beaches, where you can kick off your shoes and wander along the shore as the waves gently lap around your ankles.
You’ll find dozens of beaches, such as Talland Bay (between Polperro and Looe), that reveal treasure troves of rock pools at low tide - young children, closely supervised of course, will delight in uncovering starfish, crabs, prawns, sea anemones and even sea squirts in the shallow waters. (Take care when exploring rock pools and be aware of tide times as it's easy to lose track of time and get cut off by the tide.)
Walk the coast path
We are so lucky to live in a part of the country where 290 miles of the South West Coast Path is never more than 30 minutes away. From the rugged cliffs of the north coast to the more serene south coast, the countryside views and sea vistas are simply breath-taking.
Many stretches of the managed coastal path include picturesque harbours, welcoming tea shops and historic tin mines left over from the region's rich mining history. Channel your inner Demelza or Ross as you stand atop the vast outcrops, many of which provided the backdrop for the BBC's Poldark series.
Take a boat trip
Your Cornwall holiday in September isn't limited just to land - the vast clear blue sea beckons to be explored by boat.
The warm waters are buzzing with marine life all year-round, from dolphins and seals playing in the bays to basking sharks, lobsters and the occasional whale cruising the deeper waters. Most of the local harbours offer sea trips with an experienced skipper, who can open up a whole new world of tales from the deep. Join a mackerel fishing trip in Mevagissey or set sail from Penzance for the easy-going Isles of Scilly.
Some days you have to create your own sunshine - things to do on a rainy day in Cornwall in September
Discover Charlestown's underground tunnels
One of our favourite places, Charlestown is an historic fishing port, home to tall ships moored in its inner harbour. In the 21st Century, a network of tunnels was discovered below the granite quays that were used in the harbour's heyday to move china clay and tin for export.
For the first time in more than a century, the tunnels are open for guided tours - book via the Shipwreck Treasure Museum and prepare yourself for a glimpse into the past of shipwrecks, sailors and lost treasure under the waves.
Take a dip in The Cornwall's infinity pool
Turn a dull day around with an invigorating swim in the award-winning infinity pool at The Cornwall Hotel.
Open daily for residents, the pool overlooks dense woodland and the ancient walled garden, with its brightly coloured flora and fauna, through floor to ceiling windows. Why not combine a swim with a revitalising spa day?
Indulge in a Cornish Cream Tea
You can't visit Cornwall and say that you’ve sampled Cornish food without dining out on a traditional cream tea. For the perfect indulgence, your scone must be freshly baked, smothered in fruity strawberry jam and topped with Rodda's clotted cream.
The Cornwall Hotel serves cream teas and afternoon tea in the Laura Ashley Tea Room daily from 12noon to 5pm - finish the experience off with a pot of freshly brewed Tregothnan Tea, grown and produced locally.
Take a tour of the Carnglaze Caverns
You won't believe your eyes as you step into the dark hole at the foot of this imposing hillside near Bodmin to discover a deep network of caves, underwater lakes and stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
Guided tours are available with the experts if booked in advance, where you will see the vast space for yourself. Carnglaze Caves are often cooler than the temperature outside so bring layers to avoid feeling the chill.
Embrace the water with a kayaking tour
If you wake up one morning of your holiday to grey skies, don't hide under the cover, embrace the water and head to the coast for a day of kayak adventures.
The Porthpean Outdoor Activity Centre at Cornwall Outdoors, just a few minutes drive from The Cornwall Hotel, offers a great choice of water-based activities, from kayaking and paddle-boarding to coasteering and snorkelling.
Festival season is back - enjoy live music and local food around the Cornish coastline
After missing out last year, festival organisers are keen to get back to business and bring us the best in Cornish food, arts and entertainment.
The inaugural St Austell Seafood Fest promises to be a celebration of mouthwatering fresh fish dishes and cookery demonstrations. Head to Perranporth Beach for performances by big-name music acts at Tunes in the Dunes. The St Ives September Festival returns for two weeks of local bands, guided storytelling walks, drawing workshops, theater performances and more in one of West Cornwall’s most beautiful beach towns. Quench your thirst at Penhallow’s Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival.
September breaks in Cornwall
The Cornwall Hotel offers an ideal location for exploring Cornwall, and with a wide range of comfortable, spacious rooms and well-equipped lodges, there's something for everyone.
* Information correct at time of publication - please check individual locations and attractions for the latest opening times and availability.