While the maritime town of Falmouth on the West Devon coast is perhaps best known for its strong connection to the sea, it is also now one of the leading foodie destinations in the South West. Situated on the Fal Estuary, one of the largest and most beautiful natural working harbours in the world, it is the ideal place to spend some relaxing days away on the Cornish coast. Wonderful beaches, an award-winning maritime museum and the impressive Pendennis Castle only add to this vibrant market town's allure.
Have a read of our local's guide to see why Falmouth is really gaining its place on the holiday map.
About the town:
The streets of Falmouth are packed with an interesting selection of independent shops, galleries and cafés, which spill down to the delightful harbour below. The third largest natural port in the world, it's a buzzy and colourful area, where fishing boats and cruise ships dock happily side by side, waiting for their passengers to alight. In the town centre itself, you'll find lots of friendly pubs and many different types of restaurants, so you'll always have a new place to refuel.
To get a taste of the town's fascinating past, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall overlooking the harbour is a must-see, as is the impressive fortress of Pendennis Castle. An important Battery Observation Post during the Second World War, it provided a round-the-clock watch to help keep the residents of Falmouth safe from attack. Having done its duty since Tudor times, it is now quietly in retirement and managed by English Heritage who bring the past alive to new generations via their excellent exhibitions and re-enactments.
A selection of beaches and gardens, as well as the South West Coast Path, are on offer for those visitors who like to spend much of their time outside. With various activities for all ages available including walking, golf, fishing and water sports, you will never be stuck for something to do when you want to explore.
The food and drink:
The emergence of a vast array of restaurants, bistros and cafes has added to the foodie ambience of the town in recent years. A selection of niche cuisine eateries, including Japanese and South African, sit alongside Italian and British modern as well as award-winning vegan. With many offering mouthwatering locally-sourced produce, especially the famous Falmouth oyster, the town’s restaurants will leave tummies full and pockets happy.
Down at the harbour, drink in waterfront vistas as you sample the local's favourite ale at The Working Boat, a good old-fashioned Cornish pub. Support local producers at the gorgeous Hunkydory where even the spring water is Cornish! Try some fine cider at The Stable and if you are passionate about healthy food, head to The Greenhouse which has vegan, veggie and gluten-free down to a T.
As Falmouth is situated in an impressive natural deepwater harbour, why not enjoy some of the famous local fish and chips alfresco as you watch the comings and goings of harbour life? If the chill leads you inside, book a table instead at Rick Stein's Fish on Discovery Quay which is a must-do on any visit to the South West.
With its excellent location on the west coast of Cornwall, Falmouth has access to some lovely beaches, offering a wide range of water sports and beach activities suitable for all levels and ages. Paddle-boarding on the Blue Flag Gyllyngvase Beach is a tranquil and fun way to take in the surroundings and when the tide is out, there's no better place to spend some family time rock pooling than Castle Beach. The soft sands of Swanpool were made for unwinding under the warm Cornish sun or enjoying a scenic winter stroll, sloping chalky cliffs providing a picturesque backdrop.
Being on the picturesque South West coastline, you’ll find lots of fun things to do on the water. The Falmouth School of Sailing is an established school, offering sailboats for a tranquil day on the water and powerboats for a bit more excitement.
If you prefer to sit back and let somebody else do the hard work, why not take a wildlife cruise at Falmouth Docks. AK Wildlife Cruises will take you on a bespoke journey of discovery amongst the stunning marine wildlife of the Fal and Helford rivers. Offering trips from two hours up to all-day seven-hour trips, you’ll have plenty of time to search for Common Dolphins and giant Fin Whales as well as discovering the beautiful Cornish coast to boot.
Those whose sea legs are a little wobbly can discover the beauty of the coastline from dry land. Serious walkers will have already studied their routes along the South West Coast Path, where an interesting part of the trail winds its way around the peninsula, to then be picked up slightly further south, taking you down to Sunny Cove, Falmouth Bay and the beautiful sandy cove of Maenporth. Across the river from the town, there is a marvellous walk from Flushing up to Mylor which is definitely worth considering if you have come to see the real Cornwall by foot.
Uncover the local history at Pendennis Castle where 450 years of history await at this superb fortress. Once one of Henry VIII’s coastal strongholds, it was last used as a secret Second World War base. Children will love the Discovery Centre which has lots of interactive activities to keep little brains engaged and the restored underground Victorian and WWII defences with the sounds and smells of the time are fascinating for older teenagers and adults.
Watch the garrison at Pendennis come to life in the War Shelter and experience the recreation of Pendennis at War. There’s so much to see there and better still, you can end the day with a traditional Cornish cream tea in the castle tea room.
For a touch of Maritime history, head over to the award-winning National Maritime Museum Cornwall which has an exciting timetable of events and exhibitions throughout the year. Overlooking the harbour, this imposing building is well placed to enjoy harbour life, with seafood restaurants and interesting shops below.
If art is more your thing, pop in and have a browse of some of Falmouth’s greatest art at Falmouth Art Gallery. Over 2000 artworks including British impressionist paintings, 19th and 20th-century Master painting, contemporary prints and a children’s illustration archive are on display to the public.
You can’t visit Falmouth without a visit to the RNLI Lifeboat Station – discover its impressive Severn Class all-weather lifeboat and Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat with a free tour while also finding out about the important activities of the RNLI. There’s also a souvenir shop if you want to take a little maritime souvenir home.
Evenings are taken care of at the town's cinema where you can catch the latest movie or if you fancy a show, head to the Princess Pavilion where fabulous live music and theatre is on offer all-year-round.
For those who don't want to lift a finger on holiday, we have some lovely hotels here in Falmouth. The Oceanic Hotel is Cornwall's luxury getaway exclusively for grown-ups; views across the harbour, a giant outside hot tub and a selection of luxurious contemporary suites give you the ultimate mixture of hotel facilities and stylish apartment living. If you are coming to Falmouth for a special occasion, book the Morwenna Suite which comes with its own private sauna and blissful double spa bath.
Country lovers should head to the Budock Vean Hotel just outside the town - set in 65 acres of glorious grounds, you can spend peaceful afternoons strolling through its pretty woodlands or enjoying a game of golf on the hotel's own course. The perfect sanctuary for those long lazy weekends away.
Some people prefer to do their own thing on holiday – wake up when they want, eat when they want... and for those free spirits, we have a fabulous selection of properties in and around Falmouth. If you relish the thought of waking up in the morning to the sound of the sea, have a look at our selections of coastal and country properties. But fear not, those who like to be close to the action – we have properties just minutes away from Falmouth’s hub of restaurants, cafes and bars, perfect for a lazy brunch before discovering the town. The idyllic Falmouth Coachmans Loft, is just yards from the water and makes the perfect romantic bolthole.
If we've persuaded you that your next escape should be to the delightful West Cornwall coast, our selection of accommodation in and around Falmouth will be sure to greet you with a traditional Cornish welcome.