Be it extreme sports or leisurely walks, sunbathing or caving, there’s an enormous number of things to do in Cornwall.
Activities in Cornwall
As you’d expect from an area blessed with over 400 miles of coastline, plunging cliffs, stunning headlands and vast, open skies, Cornwall is best enjoyed al fresco. So make sure you tick off some of these fantastic outdoor activities in Cornwall from your bucket (and spade) list – from seal and owl sanctuaries to adventure parks and go-kart tracks, you’ll be booking another week’s holiday to get them all in.
Our video guide to Cornwall activities
Despite what residents’ suntans might tell you, the sun doesn’t always shine in Cornwall (although you can expect around 1,500 hours of sunshine each year). Don’t worry though, there are so many great indoor activities in Cornwall to see and do when the grey clouds and storms roll in, including model railways, indoor soft plays, tin mine exploration and the man-made wonder that is the Eden Project.
For the ramblers among you, Boscastle Walking Week takes place in March of each year and consists of five days of walking trails with local, informed tour guides. It’s a lovely way to celebrate the return of spring and to see everything Cornwall has to offer – coasts, woods, streams, cliffs and more. Each walk lasts for about three hours, all for a fiver or less.
More of a mission than a walk, the South West Coast Path is the longest waymarked footpath in England, with the National Trail measuring a blistering 630 miles. It runs along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall all the way through to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The route between Zennor and St. Ives can be quite challenging, but it’s absolutely stunning and worth the effort. A little way up the coast, the trail takes in Godrevy Head as well, with incredible views of the lighthouse and – if you’re lucky – you can spot seals and dolphins in the sea, and guillemots and razorbills nestled on the cliffs.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned cyclist, or you haven’t taken to the pedals in years, the Camel Trail between Wenfordbridge and Padstow is 17 miles of flat, easy-to-cycle Cornish coastline and countryside. It was originally a bridleway, so you don’t have to deal with busy roads or anything like that – the only traffic you’ll come across is other cyclists, walkers and the occasional horse rider, but the trail’s wide enough for everyone to enjoy.
If you don’t have a bike of your own, the best place to hire from is Snail’s Pace Café in Wenfordbridge, close to the start of the trail. Here, bikes for all ages and abilities are available and come along with a helmet and puncture repair kit. Plus, if you’re only going as far as Wadebridge then there’s even the option of one-way hire. The café itself is worthy of the trip on its own, a lot of the meals incorporate homegrown ingredients – and the cakes are a delicious reward for all that cycling.
Top up on your Vitamin D by working your way around some of the beautiful Cornwall beaches littered across the coastline – from secluded bathing spots to expansive swathes of sand and dog friendly beaches to the perfect sunset photo opportunity, you don’t have to get on a plane to find out life’s a beach.
With miles of shoreline, Cornwall is one of the UK’s leading destinations for watersports. Best-known for its surfing thanks to the roiling Atlantic waves that crash into Cornwall, there are dozens of quality surf spots around the region. Newquay is home to several outstanding beaches including Fistral where the surfing world championships are held. It can get super busy at peak times, but with swells of up to eight feet, it’s one of the best in the UK. If you want to get away from the crowds, try Gwithian Beach near Hayle for its consistent waves or the expansive Perranporth beach. Pro tip: try towards the Penhale end where you’ll often find a lot of local surfers, always a good sign. If you want to try your hand at kitesurfing, head to St. Ives. There’s plenty of golden sand for everyone, with great flat-water spots, big swells, and plenty of schools nearby for lessons and kit hire.
Whatever floats your sailing boat, you’ll find it in Cornwall. Most of the big coastal towns will charter you anything from a dinghy for the day to a sleek yacht for the week. The southern coast tends to have calmer waters and is recommended for beginners. Falmouth is an excellent place to start thanks to its extensive marina and deep-water moorings. Alternatively, there are dozens of tour and boat operators in Newquay providing a wide range of trips to suit most budgets, ranging from banana boats to full-day sea life excursions and – if you’re lucky – a few dolphin sightings.
With azure blue seas and warm coastal winds, paddle boarding or kayaking on a summer’s day in Cornwall is about as good as life gets. Most coastal towns will have several companies who’ll guide you around the region or provide rentals, with Newquay, Falmouth and St. Ives popular destinations.