Of the counties we visited in England this spring, Cornwall was the destination I’d been wishing to see for the longest. To finally experience a place I’d long dreamed of visiting, but never knew if I would actually make it to, was a fantastic feeling. Cornwall is a wonderfully unique part of England with its charming harbor towns, dramatic seaside cliffs, secluded coves of turquoise water, plentiful walking trails, and even the occasional palm tree.
Below are some of the highlights from our time spent on the Roseland Peninsula and throughout South & West Cornwall, as well as a few helpful trip planning links and places we’d like to see if we are ever lucky enough to visit the Cornish coast again in the future. Most of these recommendations are for the southern and western parts of Cornwall, so do keep that in mind. If you think we missed anything, please let us know in the comments – we’d love to read through your suggestions.
An impeccably decorated Relais & Chateaux property, The Idle Rocks seems to serve as the focal point of the darling village – each night there were as many locals dining in the restaurant or meeting each other for drinks as there were guests of the hotel. Read more about our stay at The Idle Rocks at this link.
A recommendation I picked up from Charlotte-Anne Fidler’s Instagram, The Hidden Hut is aptly named, but so worth the hunt. The day we arrived in Cornwall and headed straight for lunch at this cafe on Porthcurnick Beach, the winds were gusting at speeds neither of us had honestly ever experienced, so unfortunately our lunch at The Hidden Hut turned into a picnic in the car, but on a clear, calm day however, I can only imagine how spectacular the setting would be for what is truly a deliciously memorable meal.
We fell in love with the charming seaside town of St. Mawes while staying at The Idle Rocks and from what we’ve heard, we happened upon St. Mawes at just the right time of the year, hitting it on one of the quieter weekends in the spring. If a stay at The Idle Rocks isn’t an option, drinks or dinner along the terrace should be a must for anyone – the view is incredible. We chose to picnic for our second night in St. Mawes, but we had our eyes on meals from Hotel Tresanton & The St. Mawes Hotel.
Sid, the concierge at The Idle Rocks, advised that if we liked art, we needed to make time to visit Tregony Gallery. We had a wonderful visit with the owner and so enjoyed viewing the art – a blend of traditional and contemporary – on display.
The one place that Sid insisted we visit during our time in Cornwall was the St. Just Church in nearby Roseland. The 13th century church is set on the edge of a tidal creek and hidden amongst lush, semitropical plants. Our stroll throughout the church grounds one of the more unique Cornish experiences we had.
A recommendation from this article by Amanda Brooks, the Star & Garter was one of the first dining reservations we made for our trip. With fantastic views of the boat-dotted Falmouth harbor, the restaurant serves a delicious, elevated take on pub food. Our favorites were the shaved pecorino served with honey (from our beekeeping waitress), the radishes, and the duck salt chips.
Located in Falmouth just down the street from the Star & Garter, where we sampled their bread, Stones Bakery lures passersby down High Street with that recognizable scent of freshly baked bread, and right through the doors with its stacks of mouthwatering baked goods in the windows.
I’ll be the first to admit that a stop at Porthgwarra Beach was high on our list of places to visit in Cornwall because of a certain scene in Poldark where the main character, Ross, goes swimming. Nearly any cove in Cornwall seemed to be as picturesque as Porthgwarra promised to be, but the added Poldark filming location was a definite bonus. What I wasn’t prepared for in mapping out the route to Porthgwarra, was how tiny the single track roads would be as we approached the coast. It was a stressful, white knuckled, and tensely quiet drive as we made our way to Porthgwarra, but thankfully we only encountered one other car during the roundtrip, and Michael has assured me that the views and the walk around the remote cove were easily worth the drive.
Exploring this tiny village on the shore of Mounts Bay turned out to be one of our favorite memories in Cornwall. We tried to go to The Old Coast Guard Hotel for lunch, but being Sunday lunch, they were completely booked. Instead, we ended up at the Cafe at the (adorably) family-run Tremayne Bed & Breakfast, where we ate our first jacket potatoes (baked potatoes) and grabbed an ice cream cone for the road. Our exchanges with the owner’s children who help out in the cafe and ice cream parlor left us with the biggest smiles on our faces as we continued on to explore Mousehole. We popped into the Sandpiper Gallery and peeked through the windows at 2 Fore Street, before we meandered back down to the waterfront to watch the families enjoying in the harbor at low tide.
As previously mentioned, a stroll through the charming harbors and fishing towns all along the coast of Cornwall are not to be missed – St. Mawes & Mousehole were two of our favorites. We drove down The Lizard Peninsula, the southernmost point in Britain, and stopped at Kynance Cove on a cold, misty day, but even in those less than ideal weather conditions, the views were stunning. Along the drive back from our walk through Porthgwarra Beach, the view of the medieval castle on St. Michael’s Mount is an impressive sight.
Cornwall, England Trip Planning Resources
We shared a few of our resources for planning our entire trip to Southwest England on this post, but here are the Cornwall-specific links that came in handy while prepping for our Cornish getaway.
A Long Weekend in Cornwall – Pets Included by Amanda Brooks on Conde Nast Traveler
Six Places to Visit in Cornwall on iswaslondon
Poldark: 10 Real Cornwall Locations from the Hit BBC Series on The Telegraph
England’s Next Foodie Destination by Jeff Chu in Travel + Leisure
On our Radar for Next Time
Stay: It’s hard to not imagine staying at The Idle Rocks once more, but Hotel Tresanton – another St. Mawes inn – has been on my list of places to visit for years. Further inland on an 18th century farm, Coombeshead Farm B&B in Lewannick looks like an amazing place to stay and dine.
Eat: The Ferryboat Inn, The Golden Lion, and The St. Tudy Inn.
Do: A visit to The Minack Theatre, a spa treatment at The Scarlet Hotel, a swim at Great Western Beach, gallery hopping in Newlyn, Penzance, & St. Ives, and a walk through Trellisk, thanks to Zoe’s recommendation.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.