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The ultimate guide to West Cornwall holiday cottages

The ultimate guide to West Cornwall

Travel as far west as you can until the sky meets the wild Atlantic Ocean and you’ll reach West Cornwall. This former frontier of the ‘known’ world is still very much a untamed land of quiet beauty; this far western region of England is dominated by West Penwith, home to Land’s End, St Ives, Penzance, Sennen, and St Michael’s Bay.

In this guide, we’re also covering West Penwith’s contrasting neighbour, The Lizard. Lush, diverse in its habitats and full of secret spots to discover, it more than bolsters the appeal of West Penwith and stands alone as a holiday destination in its own right.

Also included in this guide is the Isles of Scilly. Bobbing off the western shore of the Cornish coast, its handful of inhabited islands are a superb holiday destination for all the family.

West Cornwall is a magical holiday destination full of understated grace and allure; many visitors return here time after time throughout their lifetimes. 

Things to do in West Cornwall

West Cornwall

There are many things you could get up to in West Cornwall. Jump out of a plane at Skydive Cornwall, surf The Vortex at Portreath, build sandcastles to rival Windsor Castle at Perranporth, fly in a helicopter to the Isles of Scilly, sample authentic world cuisine in the jungle of restaurants in Falmouth, catch a water taxi to St Mawes, ride a rollercoaster at Flambards and eat the world’s best warm salad.

That’s not even counting the seriously interesting tin mining museums at Levant and Geevor, the mysterious Minack Theatre high on the cliffs above Porthcurno, the weird and crazy culinary treat that is stargazy pie, St Michael’s Mount with its giant legends and the tall tales of mermaids at Zennor - you can even climb through a fertility stone at Men-an-Tol. Whatever you choose to do, West Cornwall is a sensationally good British holiday destination.

Fall in love with West Cornwall. Fall in love again if you’ve been here before.

Read on to discover our guide to West Cornwall including West Penwith, The Lizard, The Isles of Scilly and more. 

Where to visit in West Cornwall

Camborne

Camborne

Camborne is a former mining town that acts as a shopping, leisure and entertainment hub for the surrounding villages. Its situation inland means that it’s a great base from which to reach both the south and north coasts of Cornwall, the lovely towns of Redruth, Helston, St Ives and the city of Truro. Did you know that the official Cornish national anthem ‘Going up Camborne Hill, Coming Down…’ is about the town?

We’d recommend staying at:

Tinstream Cottage | Sleeps 2 guests and 2 dogs

Poltair Woodcocks Roost | Sleeps 8 guests and 2 dogs 

Kehelland Farmhouse | Sleeps 8 guests and 2 dogs

Local’s tip: Take a walk up Carn Brea in Redruth on a clear day – you can see the north and south coast of Cornwall.  

Coverack

Coverack

Tucked into the east coast of the Lizard, this seaside village has a wide picturesque harbour and lovely bay to walk around. The village has a popular pub that stands at the end of the promenade called The Paris Hotel for some fine Cornish ale selections. On the slipway, you will find a delicious fish and chip shop, so you can enjoy your takeaway in a real Cornish harbour. Look out for dive-bombing seagulls – they are pros at heisting chips!

We’d recommend staying at:

Trewillis Farm Ebber Cottage | Sleeps 4 guests and 2 dogs

Trewillis Farm Rose Barn | Sleeps 4 guests and 2 dogs

Trewillis Farm the Rest Barn | Sleeps 4 guests

Local’s tip: Head to Fat Apples outside Porthallow just up the coast for a superb lunch! The warm salad is divine.

Falmouth

Falmouth

Falmouth is a vibrant university town with an endless array of interesting shops, superb eateries across the spectrum, sandy beaches and delightful views over the harbour from Pendennis Castle. Falmouth is home to one of the deepest natural harbours in the world and you can see huge cargo ships at anchor out in the bay.

We’d recommend staying at:

Little Roskrow | Sleeps 2 guests

By the Brook | Sleeps 6 guests and 2 dogs

An Dyji | Sleeps 2 guests and 2 dogs

Local’s tip: Cribb’s does the best Jamaican jerk chicken and it’s cheaper to eat there at lunchtime than in the evening.

Hayle

Hayle

Hayle is characterised by its exceptionally sandy beach which is lined with the huge dunes of Hayle Towans. With views across the bay to Godrevy Lighthouse and St Ives, it’s a lovely place to catch the sunshine and makes a fantastic day out at the beach. It’s within easy driving distance of Penzance, St Ives, and Redruth too.  

We’d recommend staying at:

Pippin Cottage | Sleeps 2 guests and 1 dog

Copperhouse – St Erth | Sleeps 3 guests and 1 dog

Villa Surfside | Sleeps 6 guests and 4 dogs

Local’s tip: Head to the top of the cliff at Godrevy and peer over the side to see a huge seal haul out below.

Helston

Helston

Helston is home to the Furry Dance, a form of ritual floral dance that’s been celebrated for a very long time. Helston is the gateway town to the Lizard and is a good base for shops, restaurants and evening entertainment. Kids, big kids (Dad) and nostalgists will love Flambards Theme Park, which is located at the edge of the town.

We’d recommend staying at:

Higher Trenower Primrose | Sleeps 4 guests 

Melody Barton | Sleeps 2 guests 

Boderloggan Barn | Sleeps 2 guests 

Local’s tip: You can also view military aircraft landing and taking off at RNAS Culdrose from a public viewing area.

Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly

Located 28 miles off Land’s End are the beautiful Isles of Scilly. Just five of the archipelago’s 140 islands are inhabited, but you can still visit many of them, whereas others are nature reserves. Visit Tresco, St Mary’s, St Agnes, St Martins and Bryher; all have places to stay and some wonderful walking trails for wayfarers and, of course, the blithe sub-tropical gardens at Tresco Abbey. You can reach the islands via ferry or helicopter from Penzance.

Local’s tip: Watch Joanna Hogg’s film Archipelago starring Tom Hiddleston which is set entirely on Tresco.

Land's End

Land's End

Dominated by the Land’s End Visitor Attraction, there are heaps for young families to discover here including themed attractions like a 4D cinema. On a clear day, you can see the Isles of Scilly - why not mark the occasion with a photograph beneath Land’s End’s famous signpost? How far is your hometown from the most westerly point in England?

We’d recommend staying at:

Duck's Waddle | Sleeps 2 guests and 3 dogs

Tremoor | Sleeps 4 guests 

Munnings Barn | Sleeps 8 guests and 1 dog

Local’s tip: Make time to stop at Cape Cornwall, a few miles up the coast for even better views and some restorative peace and quiet after mingling with the crowds.

The Lizard

The Lizard

The Lizard is a large peninsula at the far west of Cornwall. Lizard Point is the most southerly point on the British mainland and you can even take a stroll down to a former lifeboat station at the base of the cliff. The eastern edge of the Lizard is characterised by lush woodlands and small seaside villages in coves. The west side is home to popular sandy beaches like Kynance, Kennack, and Mullion. Surfers love the quirky Gunwalloe Cove too.

We’d recommend staying at:

Squirrel’s Drey | Sleeps 2 guests

Kennack Heights | Sleeps 4 guests

Nanplough Country House | Sleeps 12 guests

Local’s tip: Porthoustock has some lovely clifftop walks amongst the old quarries and grassy hills. Also seek out the secret beach at Gillan - heavenly.

Marazion

Marazion

For the best views across the bay to St Michael’s Mount, head to Marazion. Arguably the most iconic view in the South West, St Michael’s Mount is one of Cornwall’s best loved tourist attractions and it really is beautiful. Marazion lies a few miles to the west of Penzance and it’s a pretty village with a front row seat to one of the most majestic bay vistas in the world.

We’d recommend staying at:

Riverside | Sleeps 2 guests and 3 dogs

Villa Surfside | Sleeps 6 guests and 4 dogs

Cabin at Trenow | Sleeps 2 guests and 1 dog

Local’s tip: Walk the causeway to and from St Michael’s Mount at low tide if you don’t like boats.

Mullion

Mullion

Mullion is a small village in the east of the Lizard. With a lovely enclosed beach down at Mullion Cove, it’s a wonderful hideaway if you don’t wish to venture beyond the edge of the peninsula. Stroll the South West Coast Path or walk to see the curious church on the beach at Gunwalloe. The harbour is very quaint and a very pretty beauty spot all year round.

We’d recommend staying at:

Woodpeckers Cottage | Sleeps 2 guests 

Greenshank | Sleeps 4 guests 

Cormorant | Sleeps 4 guests and 2 dogs

Local’s tip: On a bright day, take a picnic to the end of the harbour wall and watch the sea birds at play on Mullion Island.

Penryn

Penryn

Penryn is a small town at the edge of Falmouth. With its own high street and pubs, there is access to the gorgeous, deep River Fal where you will encounter working wharves and chandleries. It’s quieter than Falmouth and provides a pleasant holiday backdrop with easy access to the Lizard, Falmouth, and Truro.

We’d recommend staying at:

Waterside | Sleeps 4 guests 

Carew Villa | Sleeps 5 guests and 1 dog

Trengilly Vean | Sleeps guests 4 and 5 dogs

Local’s tip: For a friendly Cornish ale of an evening, try out The Thirsty Scholar.

Penzance

Penzance

West Cornwall’s largest town sits at the far end of St Michael’s Bay. With strong ties to the fishing industry, Penzance is a thriving shopping hub with a reputation for good antiques and bargains. Boasting a wide coastal promenade and a lido, Penzance is a good place to base yourself for discovering the wider sub-region.

We’d recommend staying at:

Boskennal Cottage | Sleeps 6 guests

Burnt Toast Cottage | Sleeps 5 guests and 2 dogs

The Top Shelter | Sleeps 2 guests and 1 dog 

Local’s tip: If you are a book lover, Penzance is home to one of the loveliest independent tome emporiums in The Duchy: Edge of the World Books. 

Perranporth

Perranporth

Perranporth is one of the very best places to hit the beach in Cornwall. Blessed with long flat sands and high cliffs, sand dunes, a beach bar, and dynamic sea views, it's hard to beat at low tide. With a high tidal range, the sea comes in very quickly here but when the tide is out, there are miles of sand to enjoy and make the most of. The village is tiny but has a very good arrangement of handy shops and eateries. It’s also a short drive from the party town of Newquay. You can also go skydiving at Skydive Cornwall just outside Perranporth too.

We’d recommend staying at:

Blue Bay | Sleeps 8 guests and 2 dogs 

Crowji Sorn | Sleeps 2 guests and 2 dogs

Tom’s Cottage | Sleeps 2 guests and 2 dogs

Local’s tip: Walk along the clifftops to St Agnes via some army base ruins and old mine workings. Just beautiful on a sandy day.

Porthleven

Porthleven

As well as being a gorgeous harbour town, Porthleven is a major draw for storm chasers and nature photographers because the town is at the brunt of the ocean’s wrath. Huge waves pummel the coast here and the ocean at full tilt is an awesome spectacle to behold if your timing is right. At other times of the year, there is a lovely Cornish cosiness to the village with its string of cafés and pubs around the harbour.

We’d recommend staying at:

Mullion Seaspray Cottage | Sleeps 4 guests

The Puffin | Sleeps 4 guests

Local’s tip: Walk along the South West Coast Path to the Loe Pool and National Trust Penrose. Gorgeous. You can catch a double-decker back to Porthleven.

Portreath

Portreath is a quaint fishing village on the mining heritage coast of Cornwall. Close to St Agnes and a direct road inland to Redruth, this is a lesser-known escape from the busier resorts. With its lovely beach and impressive section of the South West Coast Path winding along the clifftops, this is the place to go for an authentic Cornish holiday to remember.

We'd recommend staying at:

Little Merrose | Sleeps 2 guests and 2 dogs

Harris Mill Barn | Sleeps 2 guests 

Pennance Farm Cottage | Sleeps 2 guests and 1 dog 

Local’s tip: King surfers head here to take on The Vortex that rolls in along the mole (quay). Also, don’t miss the lovely Shetland ponies up on West Hill above the village (or they might be on the Navox above Godrevy, depending on the time of year you go.)

Praa Sands

Praa Sands

Praa Sands is a beach paradise for surfers and families. Overlooking an expanse of sandy beach, the village is backed by a fantastic sand dune system full of blowouts and marram grass. The beach is perfect for building sandcastles, splashing around in the shallows or paddling out on your board for some serious waves.

We’d recommend staying at:

Praa View | Sleeps 6 guests

Pendarves | Sleeps 4 guests and 1 dog 

Sandy Cove at Praa Sands | Sleeps 4 guests 

Local’s tip: Go rock pooling with the kids after a high tide at Bessy’s Cove.

Sennen

Sennen

Sennen isn’t your typical picturesque Cornish fishing village or trendy coastal resort - this is one for those who love pure Cornwall at its best. The village is also home to Sennen Cove, which boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in Cornwall. The two places are linked, perhaps because it’s less than a mile between the village and coast. Surfers, sun worshippers, and wayfarers love Sennen. Land’s End is just around the corner too!

We’d recommend staying at:

Hen’s Nest | Sleeps 2 guests and 3 dogs 

Rooster’s Roost | Sleeps 6 guests and 2 dogs 

Giddy Up Home | Sleeps 2 guests and 2 dogs 

Local’s tip: Get to know all about the history of Cornish tin mining at the museums of Levant and Geevor. You can even go down into the tunnels.

St Ives

St Ives

St Ives is a major draw for visitors to Cornwall. This delightful town contains every popular element of Cornwall writ large. Its harbour is a focal point for activity and throngs of visitors fill the lovely cafés and galleries across St Ives. Visit Tate Cornwall if you love modern art: there’s always a fab exhibition on inside. The town is home to more than one lovely beach and it also offers easy access to the neighbouring Carbis Bay.

We’d recommend staying at:

Sandy Cove Cottage | Sleeps 4 guests and 1 dog 

St Ives Hideaway | Sleeps 4 guests

Little Riviere | Sleeps 4 guests and 1 dog 

Local’s tip: Take a day trip to the curious little village of Zennor which has more Cornish myth (almost) than the rest of the county put together, as well as a lovely pub, The Tinner’s Arms - a favourite of DH Lawrence.

Ready to book your escape to the rugged coast of West Cornwall? Take a look at our full collection of cottages in the area and find your ultimate retreat!

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