Cornwall holidays

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Experience Cornwall

Best Places to Visit

Cornwall – just the mere thought of it conjures up images of sprawling coastlines and cliff-top castles (along with Cornish pasties, of course). But that’s not all. On a Cornwall holiday there are white-knuckle amusement rides and open-air theatres to get stuck into, too. So, where will you go first?

To make the most of the sunshine on a holiday in Cornwall, you’ll want to visit St. Ives, a pretty seaside town which sits on the tip of the peninsula. Gorgeous golden stretches of coastline are the main draw for visitors and, if you’re a water baby, you can even learn to surf at St. Ives Surf School on Porthmeor Beach.

For more amazing Cornish beaches, follow the coast past Perranporth until you reach Newquay, a gorgeous seaside town which attracts a mixture of surfers and families. Mawgan Porth Beach is probably the prettiest beach in the area and, at 20-minutes’ drive away from the town centre, is rarely over-crowded – ideal for children to run around.

If getting sand between your toes doesn’t sound appealing, don’t worry – Newquay Zoo is just a short drive away. Here, families are introduced to more than 1,000 rare and exotic animals, with ring-tailed lemurs and smiley red pandas just some of the zoo’s highlights.

If you plan to head further south on your family holiday to Cornwall, you should pay a visit to Pendennis Castle. Built by the infamous Henry VIII in the mid-16th century, this fortress is a must-see for children who have a hankering for history. Plus, with exhibitions from the Victorian and First World War periods, this fantastic fortress treats families to more than 500 years’ worth of English history.

For something a little different, set sail across the Celtic Sea to the Isles of Scilly. This pretty archipelago is home to more than 50 islets, with St. Mary’s the largest and most popular. With landmarks such as the Giant’s Castle (a fortress from the Iron Age) and Watermill Cove (a bedazzling blue-and-green beach which is recognised as an ‘Area of Outstanding Beauty’), you’ll soon see why St. Mary’s is often considered Cornwall’s best-kept secret.

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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 on your package holidays to Cornwall, 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 Porthcurno 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.

Entertainment

A holiday to Cornwall is much more than wild nature reserves and botanical gardens. Indeed, you can also find everything from amusement parks to museums to zoos.

Do you have a love for the theatrical? If you are, there’s only one place to visit: the Minack Theatre. Etched into the cliffs over Porthcurno Bay, this vertiginous open-air theatre is the perfect stop-off for those travelling to Land’s End. Family-friendly performances are popular, including renditions of famous musicals, but here you will also find performances of classics such as Alice in Wonderland.

Want adventure on your family holiday to Cornwall? Then there’s nowhere quite like Flambards Theme Park in Helston. Around an hour’s drive away from Land’s End, this amusement park is ideal if you’re eager to please all ages. Small rides, such as the Dino Express are ideal for toddlers, whilst the scariest rides, such as the Thunderbolt, are a great challenge for the adrenaline junkies in the family.

If you’re staying on the northern edge of the county, you won’t want to miss Pirate’s Quest. Just a short walk from Newquay town centre, this immersive experience sends visitors back to the 18th century, a time when Caribbean pirates ruled the seas. With shipwrecks, imposing caves and unknown territories to tackle, will you find your way back to safety before time runs out?

Dining Out

With fresh grub from celebrity chefs such as Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it’s time to eat out on your package holiday to Cornwall.

The North Cornwall coast is replete with delicious beachfront eateries. Family-owned restaurants, such as the Beach Hut along Watergate Bay, are the perfect tonic after a long day of building sandcastles. Here you will find crowdpleasers like fish and chips and macaroni and cheese (a speciality of theirs).

Along with seaside grub, visitors to Cornwall shouldn’t leave without trying the region’s most famous delicacy: the Cornish pasty. Served fresh across the county, this veg or meat-stuffed pastry is ideal if you’re wandering coast-side and need a quick hearty snack.

Of course, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you will want to round off your lunch with Cornwall’s other famous export: ice-cream. It doesn’t get any better than in Cornwall, where local farms and high-street stores churn their own sumptuous flavours on-site.

Beach

Surrounded by water on three sides, Cornwall has some of the best beaches in the UK. With more than 400 beaches on offer, there is bound to be a stretch of sand to suit every traveller's need. Kynance Cove is one of the region's most photographed beaches, 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 Tintagel Castle. The site of these dramatic ruins, right next to the Celtic Sea, 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 Camel Creek 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 Market World. The complex is home to Kidzworld, which has a great selection of activities on offer.

Adventure

With England'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 Silver Steps in Falmouth for beginners and at the Manacles for more advanced divers.

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Need to know

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 an average of around 16 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 Cornwall Airport Newquay, 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

Travellers will find year-round services flying to Cornwall Airport Newquay from London-Gatwick and Manchester, as well as seasonal flights from Belfast, Newcastle and Edinburgh. During the summer, there are even flights from Dusseldorf. The average flight time between London and Newquay is around one hour and 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 12 trains daily, on a weekday, 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, with some offering travellers a 24 hour ticket for unlimited travel.

Car

Car rental agencies are accessible at Cornwall Airport Newquay. 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 Ride Cornwall Ranger card, which entitles passengers a full day's travel on any day of the week.

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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.

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