Cornwall is perhaps most famous for its warm summer climate, many miles of stunning coastal beaches and cliffs, and its diverse Celtic heritage. A perfect summer vacation destination for all types of people from families to young and older couples. This ancient and beautiful maritime region has much to offer when it comes to scenery, sandy beaches and delicious food, but more than that, it also offers a look into the unique Cornish culture that has stood the test of time.
Tintagel Castle is said to be the birthplace of the legendary King Arthur. Rich in history and legends, visitors are able to learn about the stories surrounding this ancient castle. You can explore its fascinating ruins, stop by the café for a bite to eat, or even see some amazing events including Fighting Knights and a storytelling of The Tales of King Arthur. It offers some amazing views of the ocean, so if you’re visiting the south west, Tintagel is a must see.
Lizard Point (pictured below) is the most southerly point of England and with its many beautiful coves and beaches is the perfect place to spend your summer. Known for its rare flora and fauna, Lizard Point is a wonderful spot to see the beautiful coast line. There is also the Lizard Point lighthouse, used in the past to guide vessels passing through the English Channel and is now a Heritage Centre where visitors can take a tour and hear stories of the past keepers and their families.
The Eden Project
The Eden Project is a fantastic enterprise that offers loads of things to see and do while you’re in Cornwall. The first things you’ll probably notice are the large transparent domes housing all different kinds of plant species. Live music, exhibitions, Food and even a zip wire are just some of the events The Eden Project has to offer. As well as a wonderful day out, The Eden Project also has a charity and does a lot of work in conservation, social and environmental projects. Tickets range from £13.50 to £23.50
Land’s End, carved out by centuries of waves lapping against the beautiful cliffs is one of the UK’s most impressive coastal landscapes. As the most south westerly point of mainland Britain, taking a walk up to the cliff tops to see the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean is something to admire. They also do summer events and firework displays making it a great day out for the family.
Cornwall has quite a good reputation for its outstanding pubs, cafes and restaurants. Local Cornish produce features heavily in most restaurants with organic beef and cheeses, charcuterie and of course it’s fresh seafood. Most restaurants in the area use local produce, even serving food with plants, wild flowers and berries foraged from the hedgerows and cliffs. The beloved pasty also originates from Cornwall, spread around the globe by the Cornish miners who worked abroad in the 19th century. You would be hard-pressed not to find a spot that takes your fancy, though here are just a few suggestions on some of the best places to fill your belly after a day of strolling along the magnificent cliffs and beaches.
Gravy Boesti (Cornish for Gravy Restaurant, though thankfully gravy is not the main dish on the menu!) in Truro is situated in a lovely and humble stone terrace house. They serve delicious seasonal dishes all created with the freshest local Cornish produce. We were warmly greeted and seated outside on their gloriously sunny patio. The friendly and knowledgeable waiter served us a home made bread and oil board which was great, especially the focaccia is a real treat. Starters we can recommend are the goats cheese terrine (pictured below) and the squid salad, both absolutely delicious. Main courses feature everything from pan-roasted fillet of cod (pictured below) to fresh herb gnocchi, sticky beef with a cassoulet and peppers and more, all equally mouth watering. For dessert we had a very artistic version of strawberries and cream, the cream infused with basil and meringue thin and broken into shards. A lovely wine selection and outdoor sitting area ensure a wonderful dining experience in the beautiful Cornish weather. They serve lunch and dinner and prices range from £15 to £25.
Fifteen is a renowned restaurant of popular TV chef Jamie Oliver, known for its award-winning Apprentice Program helping unemployed young people. Not only that, it’s also a wonderful restaurant serving delicious Italian dishes with a Cornish twist and providing a beautiful setting to take in the sunshine and views. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with prices that are easy on your wallet. A full review of this restaurant can also be found here.
The Seafood Restaurant
You can’t visit Cornwall and not try the seafood and what better place than famous chef Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant. The menu offers the freshest fish and seafood often fished out of the ocean that very day by local fishermen. Offering fresh oysters, mussels, lobster, sashimi and more. Many of the dishes have been inspired by Mr. Stein’s travels, offering unique Thai, Indian and classic French recipes and also Rick Steins own creations. The Seafood Restaurant serves lunch and dinner and is open every day.
Take a walk along the Portreath heritage coast to the long sandy beach at Godrevy, punctuated by the lighthouse on Godrevy Island, which was featured in the famous book ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolfe. Popular amongst surfers, families and nature enthusiasts, the beach offers many activities and admirable views for all to enjoy.
Summer is also the perfect time to see some sea life. The basking sharks of Cornwall are the second largest fish in the world and are often spotted by their huge sail like dorsal fin. The sharks are tame enough that they even come up to the boat. Resident Dolphins and porpoises are spotted in the area as well along with the grey seals. In the later part of summer whales have also been known to show up. The reason for such rich sea life is due to all the plankton around the coast, attracting a number of different species. AK Wildlife Cruises run daily trips by sail boat all year round exploring the southern coast of Cornwall and all it has to offer. Tickets range from £45 to £80
Take some surfing lesson at Fistral Beach Surf School by a qualified surf instructor. Anyone is welcome from complete beginners to competent surfers. Fistral Surf School is one of the few centres that are open all year round which means you don’t need to worry about only being able to surf in summer. All equipment and wetsuits are included for free in the lesson, starting at as little as £15 for a half-day session.
The Headland Spa
After all that walking and surfing you may want to relax a little. The Headland spa located at the Headland Hotel in Newquay is a great place to relax and unwind. Cornwall’s only ‘five bubble’ spa is decorated with clean whites and beautiful silver birch and offers a beach chic atmosphere. In their lounge area you can enjoy a special spa menu which features healthy smoothies and salads with superfoods The spa offers many different treatments including facials, peels, Swedish massage, intensive muscle massage, couples massage and so much more. Since you’re in Cornwall you might as well go for the signature treatment, The Dreaming, which includes a full body massage and scrub, head massage, facial, and a foot and hand pampering using the 100% organic Spezia products made locally, incorporating local flowers and plants into the ingredients. New for summer 2014: Elemis treatments. Elemis is a leading British cosmetics and therapy brand and these treatments combine unique massage techniques with all natural cosmetics. Be sure to also enjoy the indoor pool, jacuzzi, Swedish sauna, Cornish salt steam room and aromatherapy showers. Prices range from 39 to 129 pounds for Elemis treatments and from 20 to 118 pounds for Headland’s original spa treatments.
The Driftwood Hotel
Perfect for a family holiday or a romantic couple’s getaway, The Driftwood has a Mediterranean vibe with a private beach and stylish Provençal design. The hotel include a couples cabin and private pavilion for lunch or massage, beautiful views, walks and clear blue sea for swimming. For more information and booking visit www.driftwoodhotel.co.uk
Blue Hayes offers private rooms situated above St Ives bay and the lively harbour. It’s a five-room refurbished building dating back to the 1920s and features beautiful terraces to take in the fantastic views. With a wide range of award-winning restaurants directly in the area you’ll never be disappointed with dinner. Because of its location you can take in an almost aerial view of the bay stretching from the harbour and island to Godrevy. For more information and bookings visit www.bluehayes.co.uk
The Old Rectory
The old Rectory is a lovely secluded bed & breakfast, perfect for couples on a romantic escape as this is the very house where Thomas Hardy met and fell in love with his wife Emma Gifford. The Old Rectory featured in Hardy’s ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’. A cosy B&B serves meals all locally sourced either from the own garden or from the market and only 10 minutes from the closest beach. For more information and bookings visit www.stjuliot.com
Botelet is a charming bed & breakfast off the beaten track set in rural Cornish farmland. An Open fireplace, flag stoned kitchen and three big light filled rooms are the main features of this beautiful farm house. There are also several self-catering cottages, meadow camping grounds and even luxury Mongolian yurts for rent. For more information and bookings visit their website at www.botelet.com
What’s a vacation without a little spot of shopping? Truro offers a vast range of independent and specialist shops. Pydar Mews is a wonderful spot to buy some treasured gifts, jewelry and treats. Victoria square leading onto Kenwyn, River and Little Castle streets offer some cute boutiques selling original apparel, home wares and more. Looking for some local grown produce? Every Wednesday and Saturday, Truro Farmer’s Market takes place on Lemon Quay.
The picturesque village of St Ives is also a great place for wandering around the cobbled streets for some retail therapy, with the main shopping district centered around Chapel street, Fore Street and High Street. Unique designer boutiques and well-known brands sit side by side in this delightful shopping area. Around every corner you’ll find something different, gift shops, little art studios, surf shacks, and more. St Ives is well known for its amazing natural light which attracts many artists. Paintings that serve as a wonderful souvenir from your trip to Cornwall can be purchased in galleries that are dotted around the town.
Best Beaches to Visit
Kynance Cove lies just two miles north of Lizard Village and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Kynance is also known to have serpentine rock formations. These green and red rocks have been polished by the sea over thousands of years and are distinctive to the area.
Fistral Beach is situated a half mile west of Newquay and is backed by steep sand dunes overlooked by the headland hotel. Best known for its surfing, the west facing aspect exposes it to Atlantic swells ensuring consistent waves, making it the perfect destination for surfers.
Carnewas & Bedruthan Steps (pictured below) is a beautiful stretch along the north Cornish coast. Steep steps along the coast path allow access to a series of rocky beaches. The area was recently granted Dark Sky status by the Science and Technology Facilities Council meaning that the area must be free from light pollution as it is a prime place to view the stars and Milky Way.
Widemouth Bay is also an excellent spot for surfers and sun bathers located just 3 miles south of Bude. With fantastic conditions to learn surfing or body-boarding, it’s no wonder why many of the local surf schools have their base here. A large car park for visitors and a café are also available.