Explore Cornwall’s charming towns and villages this summer by planning your trip to one of the best destinations in Cornwall, England.
With its combination of lush countryside and rugged coastline, Cornwall is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes and endless adventures. Whether it’s the dazzling coast and dramatic cliffs, sunny beaches, or quaint fishing villages with their vibrant houses, there’s something for everyone.
Relax and soak up the warm and inviting atmosphere of Cornwall as you wander along the harbors, admiring the picturesque cottages and houses. Ideal for families and couples, this county offers endless coves and outdoor activities for a perfect weekend getaway.
Discover the most picturesque towns and villages in Cornwall and experience the beauty of this wonderful county.
Best towns and villages to visit in Cornwall
Polperro is a small and tranquil town, centered around its waterfront. Despite its peaceful demeanor, tourists are drawn to its unique layout during peak seasons. The town is situated in a ravine, with cobbled streets leading to steep inclines, but the breathtaking views make the effort worth it. The absence of vehicular traffic and the charming white-washed fisherman cottages with slate roofs attract artists to this idyllic location.
Most of the dining and cafe options are found in the bustling harbor area. The peaceful atmosphere is complemented by the soothing sound of River Pol as it runs through the town.
Polperro is also known as one of the best places to stay in Cornwall.
2. St. Ives
St. Ives is the epitome of a summer destination and the most sought-after town in Cornwall. The town is renowned for its exceptional light that has captivated artists for decades and this is reflected in the numerous art galleries dotted throughout the town. Three must-visit spots include the Tate Gallery, Barbara Hepworth Museum, and Sculpture Garden.
Walking through the narrow cobbled streets, you’ll find charming craft shops and boutiques. The town is also home to some of the finest restaurants in Cornwall, including the historic Sloop Inn, established in 1312.
For a glimpse of the working harbour, take the scenic coastal train ride. And don’t forget to spend some time on the breathtaking beaches, like Porthmeor Beach. To make the most of your day in St Ives, be sure to check out our guide for tips and recommendations.
3. Port Isaac
Discover the charming seaside village of Port Isaac, located on the northern coast of Cornwall. Known for being the backdrop of the popular TV show, Doc Martin, visitors can take a tour of the filming locations. With its cobbled streets and aged stone walls, Port Isaac offers a picturesque setting for a relaxing day.
Savor a delicious fish finger sandwich at Chapel Café or indulge in a traditional cream tea at Cornish Cove Tearoom. Experience the quaint and timeless atmosphere of this idyllic destination.
Padstow is a charming, quintessential Cornish town known for its picturesque fishing port. With the harbor front always bustling, especially on weekends, and seven gorgeous golden sand beaches just minutes away, Padstow is a popular destination for tourists.
As a hub for all things seafood, Padstow is a food lover’s paradise with a daily fresh supply of seafood. It’s even nicknamed Padstein, after Chef Rick Stein who raised the town’s culinary reputation.
For a casual but delectable dining experience, head to The Seafood Bar. And if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, The Chough Bakery is the place to go.
Padstow is also a top spot for paddleboarding and is considered one of the most beautiful towns in England. So, if you are looking for places to live in Cornwall, Padstow could be a great choice!
Marazion is a truly unique and captivating place to visit in the UK, and one of our favorite weekend escapes. It is the oldest town in Cornwall and boasts a rich history that is reflected in its market town heritage. The quaint streets are lined with lovely merchants’ houses, old cottages, and quaint shops selling ceramics and jewelry, giving visitors a true taste of the past.
Marazion is also the gateway to the National Trust destination St. Michael’s Mount, which is a real-life fairy tale castle that must be seen. Visitors can cross the causeway on foot during low tide for a full experience or take the ferry during high tide. The gardens are simply stunning and not to be missed.
Bocastle, nestled between lush hills, is a picturesque village not to be missed. The National Trust-protected Natural Bocastle Harbour features a cafe and shop, with trails to explore along the coast. A 2004 flood caused damage, but the quaint thatched and white-washed buildings, including medieval homes, pottery workshops, art galleries, and the unique Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, were restored to their original state.
To make the most of your visit, consider combining your trip to Bocastle with a visit to Tintagel, only 10 minutes away. Tintagel Castle and Merlin’s Cave, located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are perfect for fans of Arthurian legends.
Lizard is a peninsula and village located at the southernmost point of the UK, known for its serpentine rock, resembling a snake’s skin, which supports a unique flora. The village is part of Landewednack parish and has connections to Landevennec in Brittany. The 6th-century parish church of St Wynwallow, founded by a monk named Guenole, is believed to be a daughter church of the abbey of Landevennec.
For walkers, Lizard offers a wide range of trails that traverse both the east and west sides of the peninsula and lead to the southernmost point. Birdwatchers can also spot the chough, a bird species that has returned to Cornwall after years of absence, breeding near Lizard Point. During breeding season, a telescope and expert assistance are available to observe the birds from a safe distance, with their distinctive red bill, legs, and wing style making them easy to identify.
Looe, a beautiful Cornish town, is the result of the merging of two separate medieval settlements via a seven-arched bridge. The fishing village is divided by the River Looe into east and west, featuring streets that ascend low hills for picturesque views, such as the 1500s Old Guildhall. With panoramic views extending to Prawle Point in Devon, Looe is a prime destination for photographers.
The east side of Looe houses the bustling harbor and numerous souvenir shops, while the west offers a more relaxed atmosphere with cafes and tea rooms. The town’s charming beach, surrounded by a bay with calm waters ideal for swimming, is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.
Nestled just a short distance from Penzance, Mousehole is a charming village located at the southern tip of Cornwall. With its small harbor and independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, it offers a typical Cornish experience. Take a boat tour and explore the surrounding waters, including the picturesque St Clements Isle, home to a variety of marine life and seabirds.
Visiting during the Christmas period is especially delightful as the harbor is illuminated with beautiful lights, providing a peaceful alternative to the bustling summer months. Truly one of the most beautiful villages in England.
Penzance, with its name meaning “holy headland,” is a town in Cornwall that deserves to be experienced firsthand. Its history is fascinating and its mild climate allows for plenty of exploration in the surrounding areas. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the palm trees and sub-tropical gardens, a rarity in the UK. Don’t just limit yourself to Trengwainton Gardens, seek out the ancient stone circles such as the Lanyon Quoit and Merry Maidens, which possess a magical allure.
Fowey is a historic maritime town, dating back to 1300, with a rich history and stunning views of boats cruising along the estuary. From large cruise ships to sailing enthusiasts, the harbor attracts visitors from all over. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Fowey’s center is also a sight to behold. Characterized by medieval and Georgian architecture, its main street, Fore Street, boasts a lively community of independent shops and restaurants, including fresh Fowey mussels.
Make the most of your holiday and take a ferry ride across River Fowey to nearby destinations such as Polperro or Mevagissey for a truly epic adventure.
12. St Just
St Just-in-Penwith is located near Land’s End and is an ideal destination for those visiting the western part of Cornwall. It is situated on the edge of the moors and close to the stunning north coast, and is only 8 miles away from Penzance. This town was once the hub of the tin mining industry in the area and its history can still be seen in its streets filled with granite cottages.
St Just was the mining center of the peninsula and abandoned engine houses can still be seen in the landscape. At the heart of the town is Plain-an-Gwarry, a theater that was used for miracle plays in the Middle Ages and today is the site of the Lafrowda Festival.
Nestled on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast, Newquay is a highly-regarded seaside town that has received recognition as “One of the Nation’s Favourite Seaside Towns” in the Which Holiday Survey, “Best Family Holiday Destination” by COAST magazine readers, and gold for “Best Seaside Towns for Families” by Days Out with the Kids. With some of the finest beaches in Cornwall, Newquay exudes a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
The town caters to all types of travelers, offering options for accommodation ranging from contemporary self-catering apartments to high-quality holiday parks for camping, caravaning or tenting, budget-friendly bed and breakfasts, and top-notch hotels and spas.
Newquay is accessible year-round via rail, road or air, and offers a host of top-notch attractions and thrilling activities both on land and in water, as well as classic events and some of the best beaches in Cornwall.
Explore the picturesque town of Mevagissey, once a hub of the pilchard fishing industry and now a thriving harbor. Sit by the harbor front and witness the daily comings and goings of fishing boats. Enjoy some delicious fish and chips while watching out for seagulls.
The town also boasts steep alleys, cozy pubs, boutique shops, a museum, and a small aquarium. For outdoor enthusiasts, take a fishing boat out and potentially spot dolphins and seals in the summer. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan, one of England’s most stunning gardens, if you’re driving.
Sennen, a seaside village located on the southwestern tip of Cornwall and the UK, is near the iconic landmark of Land’s End. 8 miles from Penzance and 6 miles from the former mining town of St Just, Sennen is located along the Penwith Heritage Coast and is a great starting point for walking the South West Coast Path.
Surrounded by the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the inland Cornish parishes of St Just, St Buryan and St Levan, Sennen offers a serene and remote escape. Unlike typical picturesque fishing villages or coastal resorts, Sennen is a place for those who appreciate the raw beauty of Cornwall.
Learn more about this coastal village and its offerings with our guide to things to do in Sennen.
Explore Falmouth, one of Cornwall’s largest towns, on foot. Located in a bay on the south coast, Falmouth is all about the water, with a pretty old harbor and docks on one side and sandy beaches on the other, separated by a grassy headland and Tudor castle. This is a working port with large ships, taking advantage of the third largest natural harbor in the world.
With the development of the University, Falmouth has a well-off atmosphere, especially along the south coast where grand hotels and upscale beach cafes overlook the beaches.
Pristine Truro is a must-visit as the only city in Cornwall. Immerse yourself in its charming ambiance as you stroll through its charming cobbled streets, admiring the brightly painted shops and towering apartments. The Old Town is a picturesque collection of Gothic and Georgian homes, some of which have been converted into charming tea rooms like Charlotte’s Teahouse.
After exploring the Royal Cornwall Museum and its rich history of mining and engineering, don’t miss the grand Truro Cathedral, with its magnificent stained-glass windows and the stunning black ebony statue of Madonna and Child. When you’re ready for a break from shopping, be sure to wander through the lush gardens that surround the city.
18. St Mawes
The charming village of St. Mawes overlooks the River Fal and Falmouth. Once a thriving fishing port, the village now features steep and narrow streets leading down to the harbor. With its mix of traditional cob cottages and modern houses, St Mawes has become a sought-after location for both retirement and vacation homes.
As a popular tourist destination, the village offers an array of dining options, boutique shops, and art galleries. Visitors can choose from a variety of accommodations, including caravans, hotels, and luxury lodgings. The village also features two pristine beaches on either side of the harbor, which are safe for swimming and perfect for soaking up the sun. Other recreational activities include a local sailing club and tennis courts that can be rented at the recreation ground.
Portscatho is situated in Gerrans Bay on the Roseland Peninsula and faces east towards the cove. The shelter from the prevailing southwestern winds made it an ideal base for pilchard fleets in the 18th and 19th centuries and it continues to be a small fishing port. Its sheltered location and proximity to several beautiful sandy beaches make it a family-friendly destination.
In the heart of the village, you’ll find a variety of shops, including a butcher, a grocery/off-licence, and gift shops. The Plume of Feathers pub offers St Austell Ales and pub food. A five-minute walk uphill will take you to the village of Gerrans, where you can find another pub, the Royal Standard, and a medieval church that has served as a landmark for local fishermen for generations.
Charlestown is an enchanting town in Cornwall with a rich history. Its strategic harbor once played a vital role in the export of copper and import of coal and is still functional today. Visit the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, which was once village homes, to see relics from over 150 shipwrecks.
Charlestown has also gained popularity as a filming location, featuring in numerous productions such as Poldark, Alice in Wonderland, The Three Musketeers, About Time, and more. This highlights the town’s captivating beauty.
Is it worth visiting pretty villages and towns in Cornwall?
Yes, it is worth visiting the pretty villages and towns in Cornwall. These towns offer a unique and charming atmosphere with their picturesque cottages, colorful houses, and inviting harbors. Whether you’re looking for scenic landscapes, outdoor activities, or just a relaxing getaway, you’ll find it all in Cornwall. With its combination of lush countryside and rugged coastline, it’s a treasure trove of stunning scenery and endless adventures, making it a wonderful destination to visit.
Explore the charming and picturesque villages and towns in Cornwall and make the most of your time there by visiting as many of them as you can. Each town has its own unique character and charm, making it a memorable experience.
Which village in Cornwall is your favorite to explore? Share with us!