When you think of Cornwall, you think of the dramatic coastline and beaches that could easily be mistaken for the Mediterranean, which is perfect for a summer break by the sea. But it's a holiday for any time of the year, with the jaw-dropping countryside and a rich culture that can be explored all year round.
Cornwall is a fantastic place for variety. Whether you’re into watersports, relaxing by the beach, discovering local historical attractions, or a coastal walk there’s something for everyone. With so much to see and do, it’s hard to get it all into one day, and that’s where a getaway comes to play. Here are the best places for a Cornwall Staycation.
St Ives is fantastic if you want picturesque views and unforgettable art experiences. The Harbour Beach is in the heart of St Ives, and the spectacular colourful fishing makes for the perfect photo opportunity or view while eating the local fish and chips. For a beautiful beach walk, head along the coast from St Ives to Zennor, where you can also visit Zennor Church. For water sports, St Ives is also great for surfing; the best surf can be found at Porthmeor Beach. However, if the beach isn’t your style, fear not. The art scene in St Ives is quite something. Head to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden to see amazing sculptures, Tate St Ives, or visit the museum at Leech Pottery, to discover more about ceramics.
Getting to St Ives by Train
St Ives is easily accessible by train, with many popular routes going direct to St Ives train station.
The famous surf capital of the UK! If outdoor activities are your thing, Newquay is the best place for you. With Fristal Beach Surf School right on your doorstop, you can rent boards and wetsuits, or get lessons if you’re a beginner. When you’re surfed out and exhausted, take a break in one of the many cafes and shops along the coastline serving delicious food and drinks. There are also various areas in Newquay where you can try other beach activities, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, or boat trips out. In the evenings, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a vibrant town waiting for you, with a host of options for dinner and drinks – if you’re lucky enough to head there in August too, you’ll be met with the Broadstairs festival, which combines music and surfing!
Getting to Newquay by Train
Newquay is easily accessible by train, with many popular routes going direct to Newquay train station.
Penzance, the land of pirates, is famously mentioned in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Operetta “Pirates of Penzance”, and is known rather unsurprisingly for its maritime history. For its rich history, check out Penzance Harbour and the Penzance Maritime Museum, which is great for the family as it has a pirate’s children’s section called Skull Island! If the pirate’s life isn’t for you, visit St Michael’s Mount, a specular tidal island with a medieval castle and abbey – this island is only accessible by foot at low tide (but don’t worry, there are boat trips if you get stranded!) You can also visit Minack Theatre, an open-air theatre carved into the cliffs near Porthcurno Beach, to experience a show with the Cornish breeze beside you.
Getting to Penzance by Train
Penzance train station is easily accessible by train, with many popular routes going direct to the most southern town in the UK. CrossCountry even runs a route from Aberdeen, the longest train journey in the UK!
Home to one of the world's largest natural harbours, Falmouth Harbour is a perfect place for a beautiful view of sailing boats, yachts and other fishing vessels – from the harbour, you can also make boat trips or try your hand at sailing. If you're after a beach instead, enjoy Gyllngvase Beach for a spot of sunbathing or ocean swimming, and once you get tired, visit Gylly Beach café for some refreshments. You can also check out Pendennis Castle, a 16th-century fortress with towers, underground tunnels and a panoramic coastline view. Or, if you want to dance while discovering history, there's the Sea Shanty Festival in June, with performances by local and visiting maritime groups.
Getting to Falmouth by Train
St Austell is the largest town in Cornwall and has plenty to see and do. One of the most famous attractions must be the Eden Project. This ecological and educational attraction has different biomes featuring different ecosystems from around the world. Check out the Mediterranean biome or the Rainforest biome to experience how different weather and climate can have an impact on plants. There are also outdoor gardens to explore and various activities and events for all age groups. If you like Victorian gardens, head to the Lost Gardens of Heligan just a short drive away, to see the restored grounds, walled gardens, sculptures, and structures. If you're heading to the beach, you can find beautiful beaches here too, such as Porthpean Beach and Pentewan Sands. Both beaches have breath-taking views of the sea. Finish the trip with a tour of St Austell Brewery, where you can learn about brewing and even sample a few beers! Perfect for after a long day of beach and garden activities.
Getting to St Austell by Train
Kick back and relax by getting a train to St Austell. There are directs train routes running direct to St Austell train station.
If you’re planning a Cornwall staycation, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.
The UK is bursting with fun activities. Whether you’re visiting one of the best historical places in the UK, the best forests in the UK, or the best cinemas in the UK, you can always travel by train. CrossCountry has services running up and down the country to ensure you can get to the places you need to be.
Written by Seb