Cornwall is one of the most popular staycation destinations for Brits and here are some of the best things to do in Cornwall.
The coast has sandy beaches, lovely harbour villages, woodlands and valleys, cliffs and castles – in short, everything you could want!
The main things to do in Cornwall involve lying on the beach, mooching the coast and chilling in one of the many pub beer gardens of an evening. But, as you’ll find in this post on things to do in Cornwall, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Cornwall really is one of the prettiest regions in the UK. The Gulf Stream brings the sunniest UK climate here and nature is beautifully generous.
If you’re planning on some days out in Cornwall, then here’s the best of the wealth of things to do.
1. Visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Lost Gardens of Heligan are wonderful 19th-century botanical gardens designed by the Cornish Tremayne family.
Visit here on your day out in Cornwall, and you’ll spend it among rhododendrons, camellias, subtropical tree ferns and in various lush gardens spotted with lovely lakes.
There are some amazing statues here – in among the greenery – and they run special events throughout the year too.
2. See what’s on at The Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is an open-air theatre in Porthcurno. From May to September it’s one of the best things to do in Cornwall.
The seats and the stage carved into the cliff overlooking the turquoise water of the Atlantic.
Watching a performance at the Minack Theatre is probably the most magic theatre moment you will ever have.
Past productions include Sister Act, Secret Garden and Macbeth.
3. Wander around Tintagel Castle
Cornwall days out can’t be complete without visiting the Tintagel Castle.
The clifftop castle – a hypothetical birthplace of King Arthur – also served as Cornwall’s Celtic kings’ residence.
At this fairytale place on a granite cliff, you can still trace the Great Hall and some other chambers.
This medieval fortification has sparked the imaginations of writers and artists for years – who knows what it’ll do for you?!
4. Drive to Lizard Point
Visitors to Cornwall should head to the southernmost point of Great Britain, Lizard Point.
The area is known as a snorkelling paradise thanks to being a threat to ships for the last ever.
There’s a nature reserve here, and stunning views you can enjoy from your car in the car park on blustery days – or by heading down to the beach.
5. Explore Pendennis Castle
Henry VIII constructed Pendennis Castle to protect the country from the French and the Roman Empire.
You can have a great day out in Cornwall with your family there, with the scenic castle to inspire your kids’ imagination.
Enjoy the wildlife, birds and as is standard for Cornwall – awesome vistas.
Have a read of the 15 best castles in Cornwall to visit.
6. Chill at Trebah Garden
Trebah Garden will be an unexpected marvel on a trip to Cornwall.
Visitors can walk along four miles of footpaths in this valley garden, admiring the fauna as they go.
Lush canopies shelter exotic flowers all the way to the beach on the Helford River.
Visitors can sit and relax among rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias.
7. Walk the Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps
Walking along the stretch of coastline called Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps we can enjoy great views of the ocean.
The steep Bedruthan Steps lead to numerous rocky beaches, but swimming is not allowed there.
Visiting the steps is one of the most iconic things to do in Cornwall, but be careful and check the weather before you commit!
8. Trelissick Garden
Trelissick Garden near Truro is yet another delightful Cornwall attraction for any of the green-fingered among us.
Magnolias and hydrangeas, vast green fields, and a 19th-century neo-Palladian house complete with an exhibition of the estate’s history are awaiting visitors.
9. Mooch around St Ives
Visitors to Cornwall will love the narrow cobbled streets of St Ives.
The iconic Tate Gallery, Barbara Hepworth Museum, restaurants, and various events in the area attract numerous visitors to this charming fishing harbour.
Cornwall, as well as the beaches in Devon, has some of the best beaches in England and St Ives beach is one of them and is perfect for strolling on.
You’ll find some great restaurants in St Ives – including Fish for Thought, and the Idle Rocks Restaurant.
St Ives is one of the best places to pick up the energy for all the watersports and hiking possibilities in Cornwall!
10. Explore Cotehele House and Gardens
Cotehele, a medieval house with some Tudor features, is a lovely place for a family day out in Cornwall.
Five centuries haven’t changed the manor house on the River Tamar.
It’s a fabulous place with great walks around the impressive gardens. Visit for blossom season for the best and most colourful pictures.
11. St Nectan’s Glen in North Cornwall
St Nectan’s Glen in North Cornwall stretches along the banks of the Trevillet River.
The impressive sixty-foot waterfall and the woodland attract visitors as the UK spiritual heart.
It’s a sacred site, but you can walk through and follow the river to where it meets the sea.
The area has been appointed a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to rare specimens of plants. Save time for coffee and afternoon tea at the onsite tea rooms.
12. Glendurgan Garden
Glendurgan Garden above the hamlet of Durgan is another popular thing to do in Cornwall.
After a wonderful time in the incredible cherry laurel maze and among the giant rhubarb plants, tulip-trees and other unusual pieces of flora, you can take a walk along the coastal paths and across valleys.
13. Visit the Eden Project
Ok, probably the thing to do in Cornwall, is to visit the Eden Project. Here you’ll find the world’s largest greenhouses.
The peculiar bubble-shaped biomes shelter various unusual and breathtaking plants.
Keep an eye on the events schedule for the Eden Project as they have some really cool events in among the flora and fauna.
14. Visit the National Maritime Museum Cornwall
A visit to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall at Falmouth will enrich your Cornwall days out with an interesting experience.
This relatively new museum exhibits the maritime heritage of Cornwall and explains the role of boats in the world.
Visiting the National Maritime Museum Cornwall is a great way to get a bit of background on this fascinating county.
15. Venture out to St Michael’s Mount
And, let’s save the best till last, St Michael’s Mount – you can’t go to Cornwall without visiting this island.
A cobbled path connects St Michael’s Mount to the mainland, but visitors can also take the ferry. The abbey on the top is surrounded by stunning clifftop gardens. Visitors can also see the rococo drawing room in the main house, the armoury and an old church.
The best part of the trip is the walk across – just make sure you know how to get back again!
Note: Get the Lonely Planet Great Britain guide to help plan your trip better.
Guest post by Victoria Philpott, from DayOutinEngland.com. The essential resource for guides and itineraries to England’s best days out. Searchable by interests, counties, cities and areas – they’re definitely not just for kids!
For more reading on the area check out the sub-tropical Isles of Scilly just a few hour’s boat ride from Penzance in Cornwall.
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