The 10 Best Things To Do In Cornwall
THE COAST OF DREAMS
One of the essential things to remember when visiting Cornwall is that whilst it does have a habit of raining, you just need to get stuck in and explore what this epic part of the country has to offer. Get on those wellies, pull on a raincoat or clamber into a soggy wetsuit, breathe in that addictive salty air and enjoy the adventure that is about to unfold.
1. FOOD • Potager Cafe & Gilmores
I’m going to be sneaky and put two suggestions in here, which will cover any grumbling tummies all the way from breakfast through to dinner.
My all time favourite place to have breakfast ever has to be Potager Garden & Café, located in Constantine (not too far from Falmouth). Whilst it currently only opens Thursday – Sunday from 10AM, it is definitely worth scheduling this into your itinerary. Be sure to check the website over the winter period, as opening times can vary with the seasons.
If you’re as indecisive as I am when presented with a menu, then no worry here because the only two choices are the Potager Breakfast or Toast.
Easy - order both and get ready for one of the most beautifully put together vegetarian breakfasts of your life.
I don’t know if it is the welcoming sound of the friendly chickens who greet you when you walk through the gardens on your way to the tropical climate of the greenhouse café, or the sensational smells wafting from the open kitchen, but you are guaranteed to fall in love with this laid back establishment. The key to the Potager experience is to relax, take your time, drink much coffee and to walk around the gardens and greenhouses to finish your visit off. You might even be lucky enough to purchase yourself a delightful little succulent, normally for sale at the far end of the green house.
Hand crafted, well-priced and wholesome food guaranteed to start your day in the best way possible.
Now, if you thought that was a delicious morning, then just you brace yourself for dinner. With a similarly laid back attitude, Gilmores in Newquay packs a whole lot of punch. Check the Facebook Page for opening times and definitely try and book yourself a table to avoid disappointment.
What can you expect from Gilmores? Beautiful, colourful and seriously epic Mexican delights to tantalise any taste buds in a cosy, friendly and equally vibrant atmosphere. You’ll find that the staff are extremely welcoming and happy to help with any questions you might have regarding both the menu and the town.
I’d highly recommend the veggie tacos - a staple choice on every visit (and perhaps a life necessity). Make sure you also check out the current cocktail choices.
Oh and if that wasn’t enough, you can grab your pals and play a round of mini-golf on their course outside.
2. DAY TRIP • The Lost Gardens Of Heligan
This place is a hidden, tropical paradise guaranteed to keep you entertained for hours with 200 acres of garden to explore. Heligan is my go-to day trip whenever I have visitors because it really is an all round pleaser.
With a relatively easy terrain and a superbly tranquil ambience, you are free to roam the gardens and hunt out all of the wonderful secrets living here – who knew that pineapples could be grown in Cornwall?
For the relatively small entrance fee, you will be sure to leave the Lost Gardens of Heligan feeling enchanted and with many tales of larger-than-life sculptures and rope bridge adventures.
3. DAY TRIP • Scuba Dive with Wavecrest Scuba
This one is for you adrenaline-underwater-adventure-lovers. I have only recently discovered (after living here for 3 years) that there is a scuba diving scene here in Cornwall, and it really is magical.
If you are new to the sport or are keen to learn, Wavecrest Scuba caters to all, with a friendly team and a warm welcome. Similarly, if you are already a diver and want to do a couple of dives whilst in the area, be sure to get in touch to join one of the regular guided dives running throughout the week or perhaps the club dive on Thursday evenings. Wavecrest are a passionate bunch, with an extensive knowledge of the local area.
Ultimately, they are excited to share the wonders of the Cornwall underwater world with you. Be ready to be amazed.
4. DAY TRIP • Paddle Board With WeSup / Gyllyngvase Beach
If you have wanted to give paddle boarding a go, or are looking for a new, spectacularly stunning spot to cruise about, then get on over to WeSup at Gylly Beach in Falmouth.
With a recently renovated clubhouse, WeSup oozes cool, beachy vibes all year round accompanied by the most understanding and encouraging team - most of whom will quickly come to feel like friends. If they are free and not out on the water, be sure to ask for Sean or Sophie who will happily take you through the ropes and have you paddling the bay in no time.
As a Cornwall resident, I love paddle boarding in this spot as it gives you an entirely new perspective of the beach, away from the hustle and bustle. In summer, you can also spot some of the infamous barrel jellyfish (don’t worry, they aren’t dangerous!) that have been gracing the waters in recent years.
Check out the WeSup Facebook page and get in contact to organise rental equipment, lessons, or a group session.
5. MORNING COFFEE & SHOPPING • The Watershed / Box & Barber
By this point of the day, whether you’ve opted for lacing up your walking boots or a dip in the big blue, you’ll be ready for a coffee and a bit of shopping for sure. For me, there is only one place that ties this all in together seamlessly and that is The Watershed and The Box & Barber Café in Newquay.
As naturally as words are found in books, style seems to live in the heart of The Watershed Store in Newquay – a surf shop located on the town’s main street. ‘Surf shop’ might just be the simplest definition of a brand that has come to represent much more over the years however, with their branded t-shirts becoming a local emblem for style and surf culture here in the South West.
And if that wasn’t enough, you can now find the Box & Barber Café located just upstairs, ran by a hospitable two brother duo who will instantly make you feel at home. Serving the best coffee, amazing cakes and a pretty kick-ass brunch style menu, a morning coffee could easily turn into an afternoon cup of tea.
If you want a recommendation, the toasties are heavenly.
TIP: If you thought you couldn’t fit much more under one roof, you can also find Mr. Shilton’s tucked away upstairs – ‘an exclusive 2-chair studio specializing in gentleman’s grooming and women’s haircuts’. When it comes to hair, these lads seriously know what they are doing, so make sure to pop in if you are looking for a spruce up.
6. DAY TRIP • Surf At Gwithian (Or Fistral)
You’ve probably realized by this point that the Cornwall life is all about great food, being outside and relaxing with your buddies and no trip to the Coast of Dreams would be complete without a day in the surf.
It’s not going to be easy, and oh boy, at times, it’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be one heck of a blast. Rally up a group of you, get on over to Gwithian (or Fistral Beach if it’s closer) and rent out some foam boards. There’s usually a rental service running all year round, where there will be somebody to advise you and give pointers about what equipment you need to use.
If you have a bit more time and money, it is 100% worth investing in a lesson – especially if you are a little nervous in the water, or haven’t been in the sea for a long time.
Be sure to surf in the designated lifeguard area if you aren’t sure what you are doing and always make sure that the conditions are safe. Most importantly, smile and give it a go! If you want further surfing advice, see my post here about What You Need To Know About Learning To Surf.
NOTE: In Cornwall, we love the ocean. Please, always treat with respect and never, ever, ever litter. If you want to read a little bit more about a group of awesome people trying to make a difference to our oceans, then check out Surfers Against Sewage.
7. DAY TRIP • Minack Theatre
With its first performance in 1932, The Minack Theatre is an open-air theatre at Porthcurno that offers mind blowing views right out to the ocean.
I went to The Minack Theatre for the first time recently however, and luck not being on my side, we had the heaviest fog that I think I have ever seen in Cornwall, meaning that you could only see about a metre beyond on the stage area. Even so, the atmosphere was sensational and the sound of the waves was enough to give anyone goose bumps.
On the website, you can view the year-round programme of plays and musical happenings, as well as information about day visits to the wonderful grounds, if you simply want to have a look around.
8. DAY TRIP • Coastal Walk / Kynance Cove
I can tell you now that you are going to feel completely knackered by the end of this trip, but don’t worry; you’re not too far away from your first sip of Cornish Rattler this evening.
I strongly believe that you can’t take a trip to the coast without going on a coastal walk. The kind of walk that brushes out all those cobwebs and fills your lungs with the good stuff. The list of suggestions could go on and on, but my top destination that has an otherworldly feel to it has to be Kynance Cove.
As a National Trust spot, the car park is quite pricey (I think about £5 the last time I visited), but the money is going to a good cause and is definitely worth it. Just be sure to keep some cash handy in the car for these occasions.
Importantly, get advice at the car park about current tides to ensure that you take the correct route for the descent. Either way however, it’s a steep walk down to the cove. Luckily, you’ll find Kynance Cove Café nestled at the bottom to reward your efforts with a good ol’ Cornish cream tea.
I’m not going to say too much more about Kynance Cove because it’s beauty really does have to be witnessed, and my photograph doesn’t give it the slight bit of justice.
9. EVENING FUN • Sunset And Picnic On Fistral Beach
We’re going to start winding things down now, because evenings in Cornwall should be full of sunsets, cider and good times.
Weather permitting; I love nothing more than packing a big old hamper of a picnic and finding a comfortable spot in the dunes on Fistral, to witness one of nature’s greatest shows – the sun setting.
I reckon that Fistral Beach has to be one of the best spots for watching the sun bob about in the sky and slowly go down over the ocean.
If it does get a little bit chilly later on, then you can be sure that The Stable, also located on Fistral beach, is serving an array of tasty ciders. Check out their cider tasting board to really get the evening going.
10. SUN DOWNER • Camp At Retorrick Mill / Scott & Babs
This last suggestion for The 10 Best Things To Do In Cornwall was an exciting discovery.
Retorrick Mill is a very special place, located deep in the country at Mawgan Porth, and has to be one of the best spots to camp, park your caravan, or rent a chalet, in my opinion. With picturesque Cornish countryside at every turn in this rural location, you’ll happily stumble upon the happiest pigs and clusters of some of the best looking ducks you might ever see.
One of the highlights of this enchanting place, located in the central stable/barn, is Scott & Babs. Here you can find a small community of people cooking up and serving the tastiest delights to be had here in Cornwall. From wood-fired pizzas and deli-style salads, to daily smoked-meat specials, you certainly won’t leave hungry. And the best bit - you don’t even need to leave the campsite!
Be sure to check out the Facebook page to keep up to date with their latest creations.
I hope that these suggestions help you to have the best trip ever to Cornwall, whether you are living here or simply visiting. Every day is a potential adventure here on the Coast of Dreams and Mother Nature is literally holding her arms out to you, inviting you to come and play.