Essential Guide of Cornwall, England: Best Things to Do and to Eat

Best things to do in Cornwall. Visit Kynance Cove.

Charming seaside villages, stunning coastline and palm trees?? yes, you read that correctly, palm trees in England. Cornwall is the most southerly and westerly location in England. It is the only sub-tropical climate in England hence palm trees. I would argue that Cornwall is one of the most beautiful places in all of England and one of the most crowded. So a clear plan is essential! Use this essential guide of Cornwall, England to plan out the very best trip to the area. You will not be disappointed is is absolutely beautiful. So keep reading to learn important information about Cornwall and the best things to do in Cornwall and best things to eat.

As always, Pragmatic Travelers only recommend what I have experienced and ate. All pictures are taken with my cell phone. This page contains affiliate links of products/hotels that I trust. This means I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase/book a hotel through my links, at no cost to you.

Best things to do in Cornwall. Visit Porthcurno Beach.
Porthcurno Beach: One of the best things to do in Cornwall.

Thinking of spending additional time in England? Check out the quant villages of Sussex and the bustling city of London

Important Travel Information on Cornwall

  • Cornwall is massive. Narrow down what you want to see to help you pick a place to stay. OR stay in two different locations. Remember crowds are intense in the summer so picking a popular place like St. Ives might lead to insane traffic. Do some research on the town you are thinking of staying at.
    • Look into parking as well. You don’t want to have spend half your trip trying to find parking at your vacation rental/hotel.
  • Airports are not close to Cornwall. You will have to rent a car or figure out the trains.
  • Renting a car will be the best way to get the most out of your experience. Driving can be a bit daunting with the small roads and large hedgerows. Just take it slow. You got this!
  • As I said, the roads are very small and your GPS will definetly take you down the small roads (B Roads) as it says it will be faster. This can be quite intense if you are not used to windy, tiny roads with giant hedgerows. If you plan out your route and stick to the A roads, driving will be much easier.
  • Check the tides. They come in and out quickly so pay close attention.
  • This place is very busy in the summer. If you can, go during the shoulder seasons. If you can’t, get to your destinations early or later in the afternoon. For example, Saint Ives during midday, the crowds are brutal. We got there early and was able to explore more comfortably.
  • Get to the beaches in the morning. So much more space and beauty to enjoy.
  • Consider becoming a member of the National Trust. The parking fees do start adding up so depending on how many National Trust sites you plan to visit, it might be worth purchasing a membership. (Membership will pay for entrances into cool sites and parking for the outdoor ones.)
  • Get a cream tea. If you don’t, you did Cornwall wrong. See below.

Where to stay in Cornwall?

As I mentioned, Cornwall is very large so you need to narrow down where you want to stay. See the above section for more details. The Airbnb I stayed in, is no longer available. So check out this Cornwall hotel search. It includes the usual deal such as reviews, descriptions and pictures.

Best things to do in Cornwall: Visit Gwithian Beach.
Gwithian Beach, Cornwall: One of the best things to do in Cornwall.

Best Things to Eat in Cornwall

  • Cream tea: Holy food gods, thank you for this. A cream tea is a scone that you slather clotted cream and jam (strawberry, duh) on top with a cup of tea or coffee. You can have it anytime but I reserved it for an afternoon snack. Sighhhh, I miss this on a daily basis. 
  • Favorite Cream Tea Joints:
    • Twisted Currant, Porthleven-Excellent cream tea. They even have a large scone cream tea! 
    • Café Q, St. Agnes-Stumbled upon this place while exploring. Beautiful patio with a great cream tea. The rest of their food looked tasty as well!
  • Cornish Pasties: Handheld. Meat. Pie. It typically contains beef, potato, rutabaga and onion. There is even a Cornish Pasty Association that protects and promotes authentic Cornish pasties. (My people!) It is insanely delicious and filling. 
  • Favorite Cornish Pasty
    • Ann’s Pasties, Lizard-Close to Lizard Point.

For all your other meals

  • The Old Coastguard, Penzance-AMAZING VIEWS. Food is excellent.
  • Seafood Café, St. Ives-For my seafood brethren!  You get to walk up to a case of local fresh seafood and pick what you want and how you want it cooked. It is busy in the summer, so make a reservation or go early. 
  • Godrevy Cafe, Near Gwithian Towans Beach- Chalet snack shack with spectacular views of the coast. Make your way to the second floor for even better views. Food was decent. A better option is to enjoy a coffee or cider/beer on it’s deck/outdoor seating.
  • The Smugglers Restaurant with Rooms, Penzance-Excellent atmosphere (building is from the 1700s) and food. Enjoyed the St. Ives Hake dish!
  • First and Last Inn, Sennen-17th Century pub. Nice outdoor eating area, good pub food. Nice place to grab a pint. 
  • The Driftwood Spars, Saint Agnes-Nice place to stop for a pint.
Charming villages are one of the best things to do in Cornwall.
Charming villages are one of the best things to do in Cornwall.

Best Things to Do in Cornwall

  • Carnewas at Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall- What is there to say about this? Dramatic cliff top views. Clifftop walks that continually surprise you as it keeps getting more and more beautiful. Go early to enjoy the morning weather. It got hot on those clifftops. Paid parking through National Trust. 
  • Kynance Cove, The Lizard-A mindboggling beautiful location. Steep walk down to the beach then you need to cross it. (Watch out for slippery stones.)  This is an absolute stunner! Worth the walk. Get there early because it gets busy!  There is a café near the beach with nice Adirondack seats out front to enjoy your cuppa. Paid parking-National Trust.
  • Trebah Garden, Falmouth-Gorgeous subtropical garden with stunning ocean views. Highly recommend!
  • Visit Padstow, Helford and/or Mullion Cove, Cornwall-Nice small villages to explore.
  • Porthcurno Beach- White sand beach with dramatic cliffs and turquoise water. I went early and enjoyed the morning. Can’t recommend this enough. Go early to stake out both parking (paid) and your ideal beach spot. It got busy fast! 
  • PK Porthcurno-Next to Porthcurno beach-Fascinating museum about global communications. It was the site of the world’s largest submarine telegraph station. Hands on displays and child friendly. 
  • Gwithian Towans Beach-Hayle-Pleasant beach perfect for windsurfing. Really lovely walk in the later afternoon hours.
  • St. Ives, Cornwall-Lovely coastal town to explore. Plenty of shopping and dining options. It got very busy in the summer. Go early or later because midday was rough. Also, this is where I saw the palm trees! There was a beach on the outskirts of town near the train station. Great spot for cocktails and beach views. (We took the train into St. Ives to avoid finding parking.  Quick and cheap.)
  • Tate St. Ives, St. Ives-Interesting artwork. Worth a visit if you are an art fan. 
  • Porthleven, Cornwall-Charming, sweet small fishing harbor. Enjoyable to walk around.
  • Flicka Foundation Donkey Sanctuary, Penryn-I mean who doesn’t want to visit with donkeys!
  • St Agnes, Cornwall-Think sweet rural quaint English town! Lovely to walk through. Nice walk down to Trevaunance Cove.
Small beach at Kynance Cove
One of the best things to do in Cornwall: Bedruthan Steps.
Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

Only a quick trip? Check out this 4 day itinerary

  1. Penzance – explore Kynance Cove – Ann’s Pasty for a Cornish Pasty – explore Porthleven or Trebah Garden or both – cream tea at Twisted Currant- rest until dinner- dinner at The Old CoastGuard
  2. Penzance – Bedruthan Steps – St. Agnes Heritage Coast – lunch or cream tea at Café Q – rest- dinner at Smugglers
  3. Penzance – Porthcurno Beach – PK Porthcurno Museum – First and Last Inn for lunch – visit Sennen – rest- dinner at Airbnb
  4. Penzance – explore St. Ives – lunch at Seafood Café – visit Tate St. Ives – explore Gwithian Towans Beach – snack/dinner/drinks at Godrevy Cafe
One of the best things to do in Cornwall.
One of the best things to do in Cornwall.

Your Thoughts…

This is a travel guide to Cornwall, England with the best to see and the best places to eat. What are you excited about doing/eating? Share your thoughts below.

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