With its white-washed cottages and white-sand beaches, this seaside village is as pretty as a painting and a magnet for artists and artistic happenings.
The town of St. Ives curves around a harbor overlooking the clear waters of its eponymous bay. Beyond the shoreline lie a cluster of fishermen’s cottages and narrow cobbled lanes where galleries, cafés and craft shops proliferate. Splash around in the surf and explore the impressive artistic offerings in town.
Though once just a regular fishing village, St. Ives has attracted many prominent artists since the early 19th century, including J.M.W. Turner and James McNeill Whistler. The town’s reputation as an artistic hub still remains and many renowned galleries are now based here.
Stop by the Tate St. Ives near the popular swimming spot of Porthmeor Beach. See works from modern British artists, including painter Ben Nicholson. Another important figure in the art scene of St. Ives is modernist sculptor Barbara Hepworth. She is honored at the Tate-owned Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Continue your artistic explorations at the Leach Pottery museum, where displays are devoted to the work of the master British potter Bernard Leach.
For relaxation during the warmer months, hit the golden sands of Porthminster Beach. From here, admire views of the Godrevy Lighthouse, the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s famous 1927 novel To the Lighthouse. Adventurers surf, kayak and paddleboard here too.
Explore the labyrinthine streets in the old heart of the town, known locally as Downalong. To learn more about the town’s history, visit the St. Ives Museum. Exhibits focus on its mining, fishing and boatbuilding industries.
When dining, seafood is the obvious choice. Eat beer-battered fish and chips at a cozy gastro pub or try some other delicious Cornish seafood. In between meals, snack on traditional Cornish pasties, savory baked pastries filled with minced meat and vegetables.
There is lots to keep you excited and amused in St. Ives, but consider a boat excursion out to Seal Island, where a colony of seals reside.
St. Ives is located in Cornwall on England’s southwest coast. Make the 3-hour drive from Bristol or use rail or coach services instead. Enjoy simple seaside pleasures and artistic delights at this picturesque harbor town.