Discover top Cornish attractions in our Cornwall edition of the ‘Ultimate summer bucket list’.
If you're planning a trip to Kernow, we've collated some of the best things to do and places to go. Attractions you’ll find in this bucket list include the Minack Theatre, St Michael’s Mount and the Eden Project, not forgetting historical treasures from this country's rich heritage such as The Count House and Tintagel Castle. Alongside the attractions, traditional Cornish cuisine features heavily in our things to do including eating a cream tea, sampling stargazy pie and of course, devouring a humble Cornish pasty also making the list.
Visit this immensely popular UK county and begin ticking off the items on our ultimate Cornwall bucket list.
North Cornwall bucket list
1. Go surfing in Newquay
North Cornwall is renowned for its incredible surf. Head to Newquay for some of the most epic waves in the UK; there are plenty of surf shops, stores to hire wetsuits and places to get a surfing lesson in this coastal town, and the chill surfer vibe of the town makes for a relaxed holiday by the sea.
2. Or go shark diving off the coast of Newquay
More species of sharks live in UK waters than in the Red Sea – we have over 40 species so why not go and meet them! Several companies in Newquay offer shark cage diving experiences including Newquay Sea Safaris, Oyster Diving and Jeff’s Diving World.
3. Visit the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor
Made famous by Daphne du Maurier's book of the same name, published back in 1939, and more recently a drama series, this ancient pub once welcomed smugglers and wreckers. Today, it’s a piece of history and a brilliant place to get a bite to eat while surrounded by the wild and beautiful landscape of Bodmin Moor.
4. Find King Arthur at Tintagel Castle
Another legendary Cornish haunt; go exploring the ruins of Tintagel Castel, a medieval fortification sat atop a cliff on the coast. You can venture down to the beach and visit Merlin’s Cave, believed to have once been home to the great wizard himself.
5. Get your hands dirty by exploring the Cornish mining heritage
Cornwall’s remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site has been granted its status due to the centuries of mining heritage. From Hayle to St Agnes, there are tonnes of old mining sites set in beautiful locations along this coast, making for an intriguing and scenic adventure in Cornwall’s past.
6. Pop in to see Doc Martin in Port Isaac
The team behind Doc Martin chose Port Isaac for a reason – because it is astoundingly beautiful of course! A stunning location for TV, this quaint and characterful coastal town makes for a wonderful day out, weekend break or full week holiday. Take a trip to Port Isaac for beaches, attractions and a true taste of Kernow.
7. Try a portion of Rick Stein's Fish and Chips in Padstow
Nothing says summer holiday like the taste of a salty bag of fish and chips and Rick Stein is widely known as a leading chef when it comes to this classic UK staple dish. Book a table at his stylish fish restaurant and dine on curry, mushy peas and battered haddock.
South Cornwall bucket list
8. Explore the Lost Gardens of Heligan
The sister attraction to the famous Eden Project, this stunning gardens should be visited during the summer for fantastic foliage, perfect perennials, and fragrant flowers. Over 200 acres await your exploration including the productive gardens, the jungle, and the famous face of The Lost Gardens of Heligan, the mud maid.
9. Spend an entertaining and educational day at the Eden Project
Of course, you can’t visit Cornwall without taking a trip to the renowned Eden Project. Take a look at the exotic plant life that grows in those iconic domes, look down on a rainforest from the canopy walkway and fly over the grounds on the zipline.
10. See the sunrise from Cornwall’s most talked-about secret beach
Sink your feet into the sand and shingle at Hemmick Beach down on the beautiful southern coast. If you’re an early bird, then get up and head down to this magical beach for a quiet few moments of peace during a busy holiday.
11. Sample some cyder while on a tour at Healey’s Cyder Farm
Sip sweet fresh-pressed cider at this farm near Truro. Ride a tractor through the orchards to see the fruit used, see the production in process and taste test a variety of their produce. Finish your tour with a stop in the restaurant or tearoom where you can dine while enjoying a final drink of your favourite flavoured cider.
12. Take a walk along South West Coast Path from Kynance Cove to Lizard Point
This path runs around the entire South West but the stretch between Kynance Cove and Lizard Point is particularly breathtaking. Wander past scenic beaches, the old lighthouse and the peculiar Lion’s Den hole in the ground.
13. Go and see The Count House at Botallack
Another chance to explore Cornwall’s prestigious mining heritage, take a trip to The Count House in Botallack for coastal views and intriguing old ruins. Once a stables for mine horses, a workshop for a carpenter and then a classroom, it’s now a great place to grab a coffee and cake while hearing about the history of the area.
14. Watch the traditional Flora Day festivities in Helston
For hundreds of years, locals have celebrated this festival which marks the end of winter and welcomes the spring. Take this chance to see the flora dance and join in. Eat food, dance and enjoy this brilliant Cornish festival.
15. Sit and enjoy a coffee in beachfront Gylly Beach Café, Falmouth
A quiet white-sand beach, gently rolling waves and a hot summer sun make for a perfect morning. Sit outside in their glass-fronted terrace of Gylly Beach Café where you’ll be only metres from the sea and can soak up Falmouth’s chilled out atmosphere. They also offer regular live music so keep an eye on their events page to see what’s coming up.
West Cornwall bucket list
16. Visit St Michael's Mount
The best view of this magnificent island castle is from the beach in Marazion so take a few snaps then strike out across the causeway, the popular on-foot way to reach the island during low tide. At high tide, the causeway is submerged but a boat can take visitors back and forth. Explore the castle, the garden and the harbour of this scenic attraction.
17. Have a photo taken at the Land's End signpost showing the distance to your hometown
Stand on the most westerly point of mainland Great Britain on an adventure out to famous Land’s End. Get your photo taken in this unforgettable natural setting beneath the popular sign made famous by celebs making their way from Land’s End to its Scottish counterpart, John-O-Groats.
18. Explore the art world at Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum
Step beneath the unique architecture of the Tate St Ives and marvel at the work of Van Gogh, L. S. Lowry and, Claudette Johnson in the Tate Gallery. Discover Barbara Hepworth’s magnificent sculptures and learn about her life in what was once her home and now an art museum and garden sat above St Ives.
19. Watch a play at the Minack Theatre
With the appearance of an ancient Roman amphitheatre but carved from rock less than a century ago, this 'living theatre' provides a one-of-a-kind venue where you can watch a play taking place in front of the breathtaking backdrop of the ocean.
20. Squeeze through the Men-an-Tol stone at Morvah
Trying for a baby? This Bronze Age formation consists of four rocks, the most famous of which is the circular stone in the centre, said to increase the fertility of anyone who steps through it. Even if that isn’t your goal, it’s a pretty spectacular place to visit with over 3,500 years of history behind it.
21. Step foot on Cornwall’s own Caribbean beach
Porthcurno Beach is yet another gem along the beautiful coast; with white sand, high cliffs and turquoise waters, this is a truly spectacular spot for a trip to the seaside. The South West coastline is known for incredible beauty spots and seaside haunts, but this small beach is arguably among the best.
The Cornwall foodie bucket list – yes, the food’s that good
22. Eat a Cornish pasty with your hands
There really is nothing more Cornish than the pasty. Invented for miners who needed a ready-to-eat lunch, the humble pasty was once regularly consumed by workers due to the crust which acts as a handle, perfect is you have dirty hands from working the mines. They even used to include a savoury meal and sweet pudding in the same pasty.
23. Have a cream tea the Cornish way
It’s the perfect way – just don’t tell those Devonians over the border! When in Cornwall, spread your scone with the jam first then a dollop of cream on top for a delicious midday meal or indulgent afternoon tea. You can get a huge variety of scones throughout the county from fruit, caramel to cheese scones for a savoury cream tea.
24. Try stargazy pie
The legend and the look of stargazy pie are equally crazy. The story goes that a brave fisherman, Tom Bawcock, sailed out into a storm when the town of Mousehole were facing starvation. He returned with seven types of fish which were baked into a pie and the town was saved. The pie itself traditionally uses pilchards and has the fish heads poking out of the top crust creating the effect that the fish are ‘gazing up at the stars’.
What will you get up to during your trip? Tick as many activities off this list as you can during your holiday in Cornwall. This sought-after holiday destination is a perfect choice for a trip with fantastic attractions, beautiful coastline and unique local traditions like the flora dance and the unusual stargazy pie. To book your escape, take a look at our fantastic range of holiday cottages in Cornwall.