If you're the type of traveler who loves to absorb every ounce of history in an area, Cornwall is the destination for you. Charming Celtic culture is visible in every humble fishing town and winding coastline in this mythical region of England. Cornwall is a land where mystery, magic, and charm meet delicious food, kind people, and unforgettable landscapes. Discover hidden coves, journey across mossy glens, or dive into calm, natural-fed swimming holes.
This region has some of the finest gardens in all of England, thanks to its climate, creating the perfect environment for a massive variety of plants. The most famous examples of this are the biomes of the Eden Project. However, if you want to truly experience the majesty of nature, your target destination should be the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This 200-acre jungle contains everything from colorful blooms and giant rhubarb plants to looming bamboo and lush Italian gardens. Plus, if you need a break while exploring this verdant playground, there are several cafes around the greens.
The Cornish Coast is not what most people envision when they imagine a scenic ocean vista. However, its dramatic and rugged features make it one of the most incredible sights in the world, and nowhere is this more clear than Kynance Cove. Brave the colorful outcrops, discover hidden saves, take a dive in the waters, or trek across the promontories. The best time to visit Kynance Cove is at low tide.
If you've ever watched something like Lord of the Rings or The Witcher and wondered what it would be like to get lost in the fantastical wilds on your screen, visiting Cornwall is your best chance. Bodmin Moor, a moorland in northeastern Cornwall, is one of the most remote locations in England. Massive forests spread across the region, occasionally giving way to abandoned tin mines and towering rocks. Bodmin Moor is home to the highest point in Cornwall, Brown Willy, and is the source of many of the region's rivers. Pack some sandwiches and take off on a secluded hike through these tranquil wilds.
Nestled between two Cornish beaches lies the town of St. Ives. This humble area has some of the most beautiful coastlines in Cornwall and was once one of England's most prominent fishing areas. However, as the fishing industry declined, the town's future was unclear. Over time, artists began transforming the old fishing shacks into studios, drawing inspiration from the scenic vistas surrounding the beaches. As a result, St. Ives has steadily become a bohemian hub of the finest art, wine, and coffee you can find outside of London.
When it comes to premier surfing locations, it's hard to beat the swells of Watergate Bay. The picturesque coast has areas for all levels of surfers, from the first-timers to the professionals. Watergate Bay has more to offer than just great surfing opportunities. Over the years, it has become a key spot for everything from kayaking to coasteering. Even if you don't plan to hit the water, Watergate Bay is one of the best choices for a scenic drive or hike.
Though it requires more traveling than some of the other locations, Tintagel Castle will easily become the highlight of any trip to Cornwall. In the 12th century, Geoffrey of Monmouth named Tintagel Castle the location where King Arthur was conceived. Over the next 900 years, poets, artists, historians, and performers have visited this Dark Age settlement, drawing endless inspiration from its magical vistas. If you see this mystical realm, try to find hidden treasures like Merlin's face. On your way out, stop by St. Nectan's glen for even more wonder.
On the far west side of Cornwall lies Porthcurno Beach. On its own, this beach is a paradise of soft, white sand and turquoise waters. However, its true selling point is the incredible Minack Theater, carved into the cliff face. Over the last 90 years, live musicians and actors have given unforgettable performances in this incredibly unique stone theater. You can stop at a small bar for food and drinks, or you can take your own snacks. Make sure to bring a blanket and cushion for maximum comfort.
If you drive a short distance west of St. Ives, you'll enter a region with some of Cornwall's most iconic landmarks. A short trek begins with the standing stone rings of Mên-an-Tol, which are said to be home to a fairy guardian. You can head to other standing stone formations like Lanyon Quoit and Mulfra Quoit. Also in the same area are Mên Scryfa and the Boskednan stone circle. Whether you love hiking, fantasy, or history, these are must-sees.
Over the last several years, the BBC production of Poldark has become a smash hit. The show gives viewers a taste of what it was like to live in Cornwall during the 18th and 19th centuries— along with some saucier plotlines. Regardless of why fans love the show, many have journeyed to Cornwall to experience the setting of their favorite show for themselves. You can take one of many Poldark tours or visit key areas at your own pace. Some of the most popular spots from the show include Caerhays Castle, Charlestown harbor, and the local mines.
Jokes about British food aside, Padstow has rapidly become Cornwall's food capital and a premium foodie destination. However, this popularity comes with the cost of long lines, larger crowds, and higher prices. If you're searching for great food without all the downsides, visit the humble village of Porthleven. This working fishing harbor offers everything from Michelin-quality Asian dining to local seafood delicacies. Explore the streets to find some hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurants with delicious offerings.