Cornwall holidays

Experience Cornwall

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

Land's End cannot be classified as either a town or a village, but is a rather quaint small holding on the most southern tip of Cornwall. Steeped in history and legend, Land's End has become popular with tourists and as such, the area has established a visitor complex which offers several tourism-related activities.

Just off the southern coast of Cornwall lie the beautiful Isles of Scilly. The archipelago is made up of several islands, all of which are home to fascinating sights and stunning natural beauty. From botanical gardens and ancient castles to interesting museums and galleries, the isles are a wonderful place for a few days away from the mainland.

Those wanting to experience a quintessential charming seaside town should make their way to St. Ives<. The town centre is perfect for an afternoon of exploring and many a traveller has had great fun navigating their way through the tiny alleys, ancient cottages and adorable arts and craft shops here. The town is also home to some of the most famous museums and galleries in the county.

Featuring one of the largest greenhouses in the world, the Eden Project is a landmark that is well worth a visit. Its giant domes are a sight to behold and are home to a range of different environments, including desert, tropical and temperate. Visitors can experience climates from Northern Africa and South America all in one day. Travellers arriving here between November and February can attend a series of concerts called the Eden Sessions.

Famous for being the chosen residence of British celebrity chef Rick Stein, Padstow has a great deal to offer travellers beyond top-notch dining. One of the more beautiful towns in Cornwall, Padstow is full of history and tradition. With great stretches of beach and the famous Camel Trail, a highlight for cyclers, Padstow should definitely be given a chance.

For something a little more low-key, try Mevagissey, a quiet fishing village on the south coast. Not many travellers make it out here but herein lies the town's appeal. Walk through the small streets, eat fresh fish and chips or have a pint with the locals at one of the several pubs. There are a few tourist attractions, but Mevagissey is most commonly visited by those looking to get off the usual Cornish tourist trail.

Top Landmarks

Art lovers will not be disappointed by the fine collection housed at the Tate St Ives. Set within a gorgeous seaside environment, the Tate St Ives is one of four Tates in the UK. Here, visitors can enjoy the work of accomplished local resident artists. The gallery also hosts special exhibitions from time to time. After a long day of taking in culture, visitors can grab a cup of tea at the trendy cafe which is located on the gallery's top floor. From here, breathtaking views of St Ives can be seen.

Apart from the top-notch shows which are put on here, the Minack Theatre is simply a beautiful location to visit. This hand-built outdoor theatre is nestled snuggly against a cliff which overlooks the sea in Prothcurno Bay. One of the most spectacular theatres in the country, the Minack is an absolute must for lovers of theatre and awe-inspiring views. Tours of the theatre and the attached museum are given when there are no shows on.

The National Maritime Museum, situated at Falmouth's dockside, is home to one of the UK's most extensive maritime collections. The highlight for most visitors is the Flotilla Gallery, a massive enclosure in which large boats hang from the ceiling. In this gallery, visitors can walk through the museum's fascinating collection of sea faring vessels. Another focal point is the Set Sail exhibition, which is a tribute to nine boats which broke ground in maritime history.

Entertainment

Those who think that Cornwall's largely rural setting means the county doesn't know how to show its visitors a good time are mistaken. The large towns have several entertainment options. Throughout the year, tourists can enjoy everything from live music and packed nightclubs to thoughtful pieces of theatre and vibrant festivals.

Travellers looking for a good night out should head to the town of Newquay where most of the entertainment is situated. Here, travellers will find a range of clubbing options, from alternative and underground establishments to those pumping out the latest pop hits. The town is known for hosting raucous beach parties during the peak summer season. There are also several bars and pubs for those tourists who are simply looking for a quiet drink.

Cornwall has a vibrant theatre scene and is home to some of the best-known theatres in the region. From independent productions to full scale tours, Cornwall is a location that will not disappoint theatre buffs. Some theatres, like the Minack Theatre, are set within beautiful environments, making for an even more pleasant cultural experience.

There are several cultural festivals in the area which prove to be great fun for those travellers visiting the region at the right time. Golowan, which takes place from the 23rd to 28th June every year, is a fantastic celebration of summer that is comprised of ritual performances, bonfires and parades in the streets of many towns. Held in December, the Montol Festival is an annual community arts festival which is well worth sticking around for.

Dining Out

Cornwall has one of the most distinctive cuisines in the UK and of late has been the site of many famous Michelin-rated establishments. Everyone from Rick Stein to Jamie Oliver is setting up shop in the area, making for a top quality dining experience.

There are a few things that the region has become famous for and which cannot be missed when here. Known the world over, the Cornish pasty makes for a delicious meal and happens to be steeped in years of local history. This traditional, baked dish is made with a filing of potato, steak, onion and swede, and is wrapped in a light, rich homemade pastry. Pasties can be made with sweet fillings as well, which makes for a nice alternative. Filled with jams, stewed apples, blackberries and plums, the sweet pasty is a lovely after-dinner treat.

Cornwall is also known for its wide variety and high standard of seafood. With a coastline as vast, who would expect anything less? Regional seafood specialities include stargazy pie (a baked dish made with pilchards, eggs and potatoes), salmon cake (traditional fried salmon fish cake) and fish cream stew.

Beach

Surrounded by water on three sides, Cornwall has some of the best beaches in the UK. With over 150 beaches on offer, there is bound to be a stretch of sand to suit every traveller's need. Porthemmet Beach in northern Cornwall is regarded as the region's most beautiful beach, and with its deep blue waters and soft sands it's hard not to agree. Lusty Glaze Beach, however, is known as the place to go for adventure and outdoor activity.

Romance

Cornwall is one of the UK's most romantic destinations. With quaint cottage-like guesthouses, scenic beachfront walks and charming candle-lit restaurants, the county is the perfect location for a weekend away. For something extra special, take a trip to Tingtagel Castle. The site of these dramatic ruins, right next to the Atlantic Ocean, is just the place to visit before settling down to a quiet dinner for two.

Family

There is no shortage of activities which can be enjoyed by the entire family in Cornwall. If the kids are getting bored of long days at the beach, why not take them to Crealy Great Adventure Park? This landmark theme park is packed full of fun games and exhilarating rides. If adrenaline-pumping activities are not of interest, try the several children's activity areas at Cornish World. The complex is home to Kidzworld, Charlie's, which is aimed at young adults, and the Kids' Academy, which has a great holiday club programme.

Adventure

With the region's longest stretch of coastline, Cornwall has become a specialist in water sports. Whether it's catching a wave at Fistral Beach in Newquay or learning how to kitesurf on Gwithian, Cornwall will not disappoint. There are also spectacular scuba diving opportunities at Pendennis Steps in Falmouth for beginners and at the Manacles for more advanced divers.

Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

The native language in Cornwall is English, with everyone, including locals and those working in the tourism industry, using it. The local Cornish language, similar to Welsh, is still spoken by a minority and many signs are written in both English and Cornish. Ongoing work aims to preserve the Cornish language for future generations. The Cornish accent is famous worldwide as one of those typically associated with pirates and smugglers in Hollywood productions.

Currency

The official currency in Cornwall is the pound sterling, with £1 divided into 100 pence. ATMs are readily available but it is important to remember that most machines have a daily withdrawal limit of £250. Credit cards are widely accepted in the main tourist centres but of little use in remote areas. Currency can be exchanged at all major banks, hotels and post offices. International currency cards offer an alternative to carrying cash, without the inconvenience of having to exchange travellers' cheques anywhere.

Visas

Citizens of EU and EEA member states are not required to obtain a visa to enter the UK. They are only required to show proof of their EU or EEA citizenship in the form of a national identity card or passport. British citizens are permitted to travel around the region freely. Visas may be required for international visitors from outside of the EU, and for any overseas visitors who plan to study or work during their visit.

Climate

Cornwall's climate is one of the most agreeable in the entire UK. Winter tends to arrive around November but because of Cornwall's proximity to the sea, the area has some of the warmest winters in the region. Winter temperatures tend to drop to no less than 7 degrees Celsius. May marks the arrival of summer, which is not as warm as the summers experienced in other Southern England areas. The mercury during this period rises to a pleasant maximum of 28 degrees Celsius - plenty enough for a sun tan, but typically without the ferocity of the hottest days further east along the coast.

Main Airports

The county’s main air gateway is Newquay Cornwall Airport, situated just to the northeast of the town of Newquay. Flights primarily come in from London and Manchester; however, seasonal flights to other UK destinations and Germany's Dusseldorf are also available. Penzance Heliport, near the Cornish town of the same name, has helicopter links with the Isles of Scilly.

Flight Options

Flybe is the main carrier that flies to Newquay Cornwall Airport, with year-round services from London-Gatwick and Manchester as well as seasonal flights from Belfast-City, Newcastle and Edinburgh. During the summer, Lufthansa offers international services from Dusseldorf, Germany. The average flight time between London and Newquay is 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Travel Advice

During summer periods, and especially during UK school holidays, Cornwall can become congested and prices of accommodation and airfares tend to rise drastically. If visitors are intent on travelling during this period, they should be sure to make bookings well in advance to make a saving.

Other Transport Options

As an alternative to flights, Cornwall can be reached by train. The main rail line from London Paddington sees eight trains daily all the way to Penzance, Cornwall. This journey can also be done at night as there are sleeper trains available. There are useful branch lines which link several Cornish communities, including lines from St. Ives to St. Erth, Truro to Falmouth and Newquay to Par. Additionally, the M5 motorway and A30 can be used to reach Cornwall in 5 hours from London.

Getting Around

Cornwall's bus system is efficient and reliable, offering a range of ticket options for varying traveller needs. There is a large train network which connects most areas in the county, but renting a car is an even more popular way to see the sights. However, drivers should be warned that navigating peak season road congestion in Cornwall can be a challenge.

Bus

The bus system is reliable and makes for a comfortable ride. There are a few bus companies which dominate the routes, including First, which offers travellers a 24 hour ticket for unlimited travel.

Car

Car rental agencies are accessible at Newquay Cornwall Airport. The roads in Cornwall are in a good condition but during the peak season, traffic jams, lack of parking and restricted access areas are issues.

Train

England has a comprehensive network of train lines which extend all the way to Cornwall. Travellers intending to stay for a short period of time should look into the Cornish Day Ranger card, which entitles passengers a full day's travel on any day of the week, while those planning to stay for longer could invest in a Branch Rover card, which saves up to 30% off train fares.

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FACTS

  1. Cornwall - and in particular Land's End - marks mainland Britain's most south-westerly point, at the tip of Britain's longest county coastline of more than 400 miles.
  2. The biggest Cornish pasty ever baked was made by a team from Bodmin, and contained 1.75 million calories - it tipped the scales at 1,900 pounds, nearly 870 kg.
  3. Cornwall is famous for 'cream teas', but while elsewhere in the UK this often includes a scone, in Cornwall you're more likely to receive a Cornish split, which is more like a bread roll served with jam and cream inside it.

FACTS

  1. Cornwall - and in particular Land's End - marks mainland Britain's most south-westerly point, at the tip of Britain's longest county coastline of more than 400 miles.
  2. The biggest Cornish pasty ever baked was made by a team from Bodmin, and contained 1.75 million calories - it tipped the scales at 1,900 pounds, nearly 870 kg.
  3. Cornwall is famous for 'cream teas', but while elsewhere in the UK this often includes a scone, in Cornwall you're more likely to receive a Cornish split, which is more like a bread roll served with jam and cream inside it.

Holiday Types