Things to Do in Cornwall: A Guide for Visiting | Happy Piranha

Things to do in Cornwall: A Guide for Visiting

Cornwall’s not just a place far away with lots of beaches. Nestled away in the South West of England are a whole lot of days out, history, culture, hidden gems, attractions and yes, miles and miles of glorious beaches. So, without any specific order, here are some of the things you might like to do when you come to visit the land of tin, ale, pasties and piskies.

1. Visit a Castle

Believe it or not Cornwall has a fair few castles; from important coastal fortresses, to the legendary, rumoured birth place of King Arthur

Pendennis Castle, Falmouth

Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall.

Built by Henry VIII to defend the country from invasion, Pendennis Castle was one of the final strongholds for the royalists during the English Civil War.

Nowadays it has a bustling programme of events stretching from the medieval, to WWI. One of our old favourites is the medieval jousting festival during the summer.

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall.

The rumoured place of conception of the legendary King Arthur, Tintagel Castle is steeped in storytelling mystery. Visit the castle ruins, learn about its history, explore Merlin’s cave and relax on the beach below.

St Michael’s Mount, Marazion

St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, photo by Benjamin Elliot

Whether you reach it by foot during low tide, or by boat when its historic path has been submerged, St Michael’s Mount, is an iconic Cornish landmark, Castle and family home.

You can visit the Castle, explore the grounds and gardens and get a bite to eat in this tiny, fantastical civil parish of an island, all while feeling like your in your own little fairy tale.

Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel

Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel, Cornwall.

Restormel castle is one of the four chief Normal castles of Cornwall. Memorable for its satisfyingly circular shape, it was once the residence of the Earl of Cornwall before falling to ruin in the 16th century.

It’s a great place for a picnic, wildlife spotting and taking in the 360 degree views of the River Fowey and surrounding countryside as you walk the castle walls.

2. Absorb Some Culture and Magic

Cornwall’s windswept beaches, romantic coastlines and rolling countryside have long inspired artists and writers and are still a place of much creative output (We recommend a Kneehigh theatre play if ever one pops up near you).  Its unique history and culture have also meant that there’s many a museum and to visit too.

Minack Theatre, Porthcurno

Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall

If you’re looking for a truly unique performance, look no further than the Minack Theatre. Perched atop the cliffs of Porthcurno near Lands End, the open air theatre puts on a busy programme of plays, music and drama every summer.

If you’re not there to see a performance, it provides breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline; it also has a sub-tropical gardens, café and plant shop.

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastle

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastle

The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, located in Boscastle is dedicated to the study of European witchcraft and magic. It has a large collection of exhibits on folk magic, ceremonial magic, freemasonry and Wicca.

Founded by Cecil Williamson ( a famous Neopagan Warlock) and assisted Gerald Gardner (an influential Wiccan), it is still going strong after the Boscastle flood of 2004 and is held in high esteem by the occult community.

Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, St Ives

Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, St Ives, Cornwall

If art is your thing then the Tate St Ives may be up your alley. You’ll find exhibits from modern British artists with links to the surrounding area, all housed on this picturesque part of the Atlantic Coast.

Also in St Ives is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gardens – home to an array of work from one of Britain’s most well regarded 20th Century artists.

3. Explore Hidden and Tropical Gardens

Due to its advantageous coastal climate, Cornwall is home to a large variety of gardens with collections of flora that would make you think you’d landed somewhere much more exotic.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey, Cornwall

One of the UK’s most popular botanical gardens, the Lost Gardens of Heligan was formed by the Tremayne family, starting in the mid 18th century. The subject of some popular TV programmes ad books, the garden was neglected during WWI as the house was taken over by the War Department.

Left to its own devices for decades, it’s since been unearthed and restored in the 1990s to feature a variety of areas with different character and style. Fun fact: The Gardens feature Europe’s only remaining pineapple pit.

Trebah Garden, Falmouth

Trebah Garden, Falmouth, Cornwall

Who would of though you could find a sub-tropical paradise on the Cornish coast? Well you can at Trebah Garden. With over 175 years of gardening love and affection behind it, there’s also a beach at its base, which was used for D-DAY embarkation during WWI for the assault on Omaha Beach in Normandy.

Nowadays it provides stunning views, year round floral displays and an array of family friendly events and activities.

The Eden project, St Austell

The Eden project, St Austell

A popular Cornish visitor attraction, the Eden Project comprises of two large biomes built within a reclaimed china clay pit and housing an impressive collection of thousands plants from an array of climates.

The largest biome emulates a rain-forest while the second is a Mediterranean environment. There’s now no need to go to the Amazon, because you can visit Cornwall instead! It’s also home to England’s longest zip wire, among other attractions.

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Penzance

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Cornwall

Mixing sub-tropical gardens and modern art installations, Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens offers amazing views of the local bay and St Michael’s mount. There’s also a café and succulent shop featuring some rare and unusual varieties that you won’t find at the local garden centre, as well as some of their own hybrids.

4. Look at Some Really Old Stones

Merry Maidens, St Buryan

Merry Maidens, St Buryan, Cornwall

The Merry Maidens is a late Neolithic stone circle with a local myth behind it. According to legend the stones are 19 maidens, turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on a Sunday!

Two megaliths (large stones) located to the north east of the circle are said to be the two pipers who, upon hearing the church clock strike midnight (and realising they were breaking the Sabbath) began to run away up the hill. Unfortunately, they didn’t realise quick enough and suffered a similar fate.

The Cheesewring, Bodmin Moor

The Cheeswewring, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

The Cheesewring is a tall granite (not cheese, unfortunately) tor located on Bodmin Moor. A strange, natural geological formation due to weathering, it is named after a device used in cheese making.

Local legend tells of how the Cheesewring was actually formed due to a competition between a giant and a man. The giants - unhappy about Christianity being introduced to the Isles, challenged the saints to a rock throwing contest to settle the matter. If Uther (the giant), bested Saint Tue (a saint), the saints would have to leave. If Saint Tue won, the giants would convert to Christianity.

You might be able to guess what happened next.

Chysauster Ancient Village, Penzance

Chysauster Ancient Village, Penzance, Cornwall

Chysauster is one of the best examples of a Romano-British settlement in the UK, occupied nearly 2,000 years ago. The village is made up of ‘courtyard houses’, the like of which are only found on the Land’s End peninsula and Isles of Scilly.

Boscawen-Un Stone Circle

Boscawen-Un Stone Circle, Cornwall

Another circle with 19 (18 granite and one quartz) stones; Boscowan-Un is from the Bronze Age. It also has a leaning stone in the centre, making it look a bit like a giant’s sundial. One of the stones has a feet or axe petroglyph which is unusual in the UK (though some can be seen at Stonehenge.

The quartz stone may mark the direction of the sun as it moves south after Samhain (a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the start of winter). Near the stone circle a burial mound was discovered.

5. Meet the Wildlife

The Seal Sanctuary, Gweek

A Seal underwater

The Seal Sanctuary at SEA LIFE Gweek is a home for injured seal pups. The founder, Ken Jones, discovered a seal pup washed on the beach of St Agnes (our home village!) back in 1958. By 1975 the single pool for seal rescues at St Agnes had been outgrown and was moved to its current location.

Now there’s an array of pools, a specially designed hospital and many other attractions too. All working to keep our furry, coastal, Cornish friends happy and well.

Screech Owl Sanctuary, St Columb Major

A Barn Owl outside in the daytime

Screech Owl Sanctuary is a respite for the sick and injured owls of Cornwall. Home to hundreds of owls it aims to provide care and rehabilitation for our feathered friends and raise awareness of the conservation needs of owl species.

The sanctuary provides close owl encounters and handling sessions. There’s also Alpacas, Emus, Meerkats and more! The founders of the sanctuary have the surname Screech, which we think is very apt.


Fowey aquarium, Cornwall

A big part of Cornwall’s wildlife comes from the sea, so you’ll probably want to visit an aquarium while you’re here.

The National Marine Aquarium is the UK’s biggest with over 4,000 animals. The Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay features all the underwater creatures you’ll want to see if you’re over that side of town, while there’s some great smaller/local aquariums too, such as those in Fowey and Mevagissey.

The great thing about these little ones is that they feature local and native species, are very reasonably priced (Mevagissey aquarium is free) and make a great little accompaniment to a larger day out.  

6. And the beaches…

Kynance Cove, Cornwall

If you’re coming to Cornwall you’d be hard pressed not to come by a beach or two (there’s over 300), from miles of golden sand to some little hidden gems.

The topic of which is best is probably a mix if local bias, personal opinion and fierce debate. One’s which hold good memories for us are Trevaunance Cove and  Trevellas (our locals growing up), Chapel Porth (if you end up here get the hedgehog ice cream), Godrevy,  Perranporth and Polly Joke to name a few.

Honestly though, it’s all a matter of opinion; they’re all pretty ‘ansum. We suggest you have a look around to see what takes your fancy and visit a few near where you plan to go.

If you were wanting to know which beaches were featured in Poldark, there’s quite a few.

7. Finally, Don’t Forget to Come and Say Hi!

Happy Piranha's shop at 18 Pydar Street, Truro, Cornwall.

Now, since you’ve made the journey to Cornwall, or are at least planning too, don’t forget to come and say hi to us at Happy Piranha!

You can find us at 18 Pydar Street, Truro where alongside our hand poured, original design scented candles (made in store), we sell an array of loot; from local and chic, to fandom and geek.

Truro Cathedral, Truro, Cornwall.

While you’re in the area, here’s some other things you could do around Truro:

  • Visit Truro Cathedral – it’s Gothic Revival design is quite impressive. It’s also one of only three cathedrals in the UK with three spires.
  • If you’re into ale, Skinner’s Brewery may be the place for you. Producers of some of the best known local ales such as Cornish Knocker and Betty Stoggs, you can book tours and tastings too!
  • If Cider is more your thing, Healey’s Cider farm is nearby too.
  • The Heron Inn has a nice view of the estuary.
  • Or if Ice cream floats your boat there’s Callestick Farm, who’ve been making proper Cornish ice cream with their own grass fed herd and family recipe for generations.
  • As we love a good curry, we’d also suggest eating at Katmandu Palace or the Ganges.
  • Trelissik gardens offer great views of the estuary while you walk among the grounds and woods of the estate.
  • You could also catch the nearby King Harry Ferry over to the Roseland Peninsula.

Read about where where we go in Truro


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