Things To Do In Cornwall

When you think of a UK staycation, chances are a trip to the beautiful Cornish coast is somewhere near the top of the list. Known for its Blue Flag Beaches, traditional pasties, and jam first on your scone, Cornwall remains a top UK holiday destination each summer for visitors of all ages. Not sure where to start? We named seven Cornish towns in our list of the best seaside towns in the UK for families, so you know there are some real gems to uncover. 

Want to jump to the exciting parts? Here’s what you’ll find in this Cornwall staycation guide, just click to jump straight to it:

Sandy beach, sea and blue skies over Cornish coast

How to get to Cornwall

Cornwall is right at the tip of the South-West, so can be a long journey depending on where you’re starting from. Packing up the car for a classic summer road trip is definitely a good option, and having a car will make it easier to get around and allow you to visit multiple towns in one trip, or head to attractions that are more in-land.

The train to Cornwall is one of the most scenic trips you’ll find in the UK, and with trains daily from London Paddington, it’s easy too. Main stations in Cornwall include Newquay, Penzance, Truro, Falmouth and St Ives, so if you are planning to travel by train, these towns would make a good base for your trip.

If you’re travelling from further afield, you may want to explore arriving by plane, landing into Newquay. There would normally be routes from most regional airports throughout the summer months, but air travel has been massively affected by the coronavirus outbreak this year so you’ll need to check in advance.

Harbour, beach huts and coastline in Cornwall

Where to stay in Cornwall

You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to where to stay in Cornwall, and the good news is that all of the top Cornish towns are packed with accommodation options – from campsites and caravan parks, to cosy cottages, lodges and hotels.

St Ives
If you’re looking for that classic bucket and spade break with the kids, then you won’t go far wrong with a trip to St Ives. Postcard-pretty and popular with all ages, it also has a vibrant art scene, making it great for soaking up some Cornish culture too. With no less than five beaches to explore, it’s perfect for a trip with sand and sea – we just can’t guarantee the sun!

Known as a surfer’s paradise, Newquay is a lively beach resort that’s great for adventure-seeking families. Don your wetsuits and try and family surfing lesson, or sit back and watch others attempt to ride the waves. The famous Fistral Beach will be on your doorstep here, and as a traditional fishing village, it also promises to serve up some delicious fish and chips too.

Located on the border of Devon and Cornwall, Bude is a great choice if you’re torn between the two or fancy a slightly shorter drive. Found in North Cornwall, it’s perfect for families, with everything you need close by. It also has impressive beaches and great waves for surfing too.

Padstow is known for its foodie scene (thanks Rick Stein!), but it’s also home to the Camel Cycle Trail, making it an excellent spot for active families. Bring your bikes (or hire them) to explore on two-wheels, and be sure to stop by the beautiful harbour.

Famous for its pirates, Penzance boasts some of the best sea views in Cornwall. Packed full of history and heritage, you’ll find loads to do together here, from brilliant beaches to St Michael’s Mount – just be sure to check our tips for visiting St Michael’s Mount with kids before you go! 

Eden Project, Lost Gardens of Heligan and Pirates Quest in Cornwall

Days out in Cornwall

The region is packed full of great family days out, so if you’re looking for things to do in Cornwall, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of our favourites:

The Eden Project
Arguably one of the most famous attractions in Cornwall and located just 2 miles from the centre of St Austell, The Eden Project is home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world and is an absolute must-visit! Find out why in our guide to visiting Eden Project with kids.

Lost Gardens of Heligan
With over 200 acres of ancient land to discover, the Lost Gardens of Heligan (also in St Austell) is packed full of mystery and intrigue. If you’re planning to visit, don’t miss the Jungle, home to one of the longest Burmese Rope Bridges in Britain!

Treasure Trails
Treasure Trails are a great way to explore a new area, and with a total of 64 trails across Cornwall alone, there’s sure to be one near where you’re staying. Low cost, and available for instant download, you’ll work as a family to crack the clues, whilst getting out and about in the local area. Our favourites in Cornwall include the Newquay Mystery Treasure Trail, the St Ives Cornwall Mystery Treasure Trail and the Padstow Mystery Treasure Trail.

Pirate’s Quest
Ahoy there! You’ll already remember Cornwall’s pirate past, but Pirate’s Quest in Newquay is a great way to really delve into all it’s secrets! This immersive walk-through experience is great for all ages, with actors around every corner to bring the story to life.

Newquay Zoo
If you have any animal lovers in your family, then a trip to Newquay Zoo should definitely make the list of places to visit! Home to over 130 different species, there’s everything from African lions and red pandas, to penguins, meerkats, zebras and more!

National Maritime Museum Cornwall
We’ve already touched on the maritime history of Cornwall, but a trip to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth is the best place to soak it all up. There are 15 galleries to explore, covering everything from boat building and the RNLI to tales from Cornish fishermen – it really is a voyage of discovery!

Flambards, the family-friendly theme park in Halston, is packed full of rides for all ages, including SkyRaker, Space Shuttle and the Rocking Tug! You can even follow in the footsteps of dinosaur hunters in Jurassic Journey – a must for any little dino fans.

Cornwall Swimming Horses
If you’re looking for a magical day out like no other, then look no further than Cornwall Swimming Horses. Ride off into the sea on the back of a horse and experience swimming with horses – it’s definitely a memorable day out that you’ll never forget!

Surf boards and a cornish cream tea

Top tips for visiting Cornwall

Book your accommodation early – it can be really busy, especially in the peak summer months, so try to book where you’ll be staying as early as you can! Don’t forget, our members save on everything from campsites and caravans, to cottages and hotels too so be sure to check out the latest deals.

Make note of tide times – the sea can sometimes come in very quickly, so make sure you’re not caught out.

Jam first – you wouldn’t want to upset the locals! If you’re having a traditional Cornish cream tea, it’s jam first, then clotted cream.


Looking for even more staycation ideas? Check out some of our ideas below:

Things to do in AugustBest beaches in the UK | UK’s Best Seaside Towns & Resorts

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