A friend asked me for Cornwall holiday tips earlier and I got a bit carried away. Figured it might be worth sharing (unexpurgated, because tumblr).
imho the very best town in Cornwall, but I might be biased from all the hours I spent dancing in Shades (RIP)
Beerwolf: amazing pub with a bookshop inside it, lethally cheap books and ales
Picnic: best coffee in town
Dolly’s Tea Room: enjoyably mad place for cocktails/dinner/afternoon tea
The Townhouse: classy, beautifully designed hotel with a great bar
Harbour Lights: best fish and chips in town, go there over Rick Stein’s place even though he’s famous…
Gyllyngvase Beach/Cafe: beautifully clear beach for swimming. warning: these guys
are everywhere in cornwall right now! but they don’t sting (though they are terrifying, I got a foot away from one without realising!). You can walk to Swanpool from Gylly, another lovely beach.
the Chain Locker: brilliant old pub, low ceilings, craggy corridors, generally attracts pirate-like old men
Hand: excellent speciality beer pub at the top of the town (nb check the prices before you order as you might accidentally end up with an £8 beer if you don’t check)
Glendugan Garden is a beautiful, huge National Trust garden with a sweet cafe, a maze, and a beautiful little village/beach at the bottom
the Ferryboat Inn is a slightly pricy but great pub with an incredible view - there you’re out on the Helford River, where lots of slebs have their country piles
Flushing: gorgeous little fishing village across the bay from Falmouth, very chi-chi, great beach and pier for jumping off, if you’re into that kind of thing
Ponsanooth: this is where my parents live, it has great woods, inside which there’s an old gunpowder factory
Penryn is very charming but perhaps a bit limited
you can take a car ferry from near Truro across the river (which in itself is beautiful and worth doing) to St Mawes, which is yet another beautiful fishing town, quite fancy
A properly Cornish mining village. Several great beaches, super pubs, great old houses to perve at, stunning cliffs, etc. worth an afternoon’s roaming.
If you’re not there long I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Truro. It’s the main town but it’s mostly quite dull shops and old ladies walking very slowly. Nice cathedral and lovely cinema (where I worked) though.
If bike riding’s your thing the Bissoe bike trail is good, you can hire bikes there
Godrevy: another huge beautiful beach
Porthtowan: ditto, with a quite good bar on the beach, The Blue Bar
Ridiculously beautiful seaside town, very touristy this time of year, but in a good way (not like Newquay, which is gross, would not recommend). strong art history - there’s the Barbara Hepworth house, the Tate St Ives
If you go there, on the way there’s a great restaurant/deli called Scarlett Wines
I wouldn’t recommend Penzance (the biggest town right down the south) - it has some nice architecture but is otherwise pretty limited. but there’s lots of great places nearby:
Perranuthnoe: a lovely little village with a huge beach. you can take long cliff walks to the left or right of the beach, they run for miles. if you go to the left, you get to Prussia Cove, which is insanely gorgeous and where they filmed Ladies In Lavender, that charming if slightly weird film about Judi Dench falling in love with Daniel Bruhl. In the village there are great places to eat - the Peppercorn, the Beach Cabin
Minack Theatre: this is a theatre carved into the side of a cliff. it is stupidly beautiful:
the productions can be pretty hit and miss so maybe don’t bother with those, but you can go during the day when there’s nothing on and climb all over the stage, get your thespian on. nice cafe
Newlyn and Mousehole (pronounced “mOWzul”) are both beautiful little fishing villages. Warning: parking in them at this time of year is a NIGHTMARE. last time I went to Mousehole, on John’s first trip to Cornwall, I was driving us through the village, we hit a traffic jam, a man came and knocked on the window and told us we had to back up because “a lorry’s driven into an ‘ouse”. actually Newlyn has the art school/gallery, lots of nice works and storied artists
Marazion: very similar to Newlyn and Mousehole but it has St Michael’s Mount, a little island close to shore that you can walk to when the tide’s out and take the water ferry when it comes back in. there’s a big stately home there and it was made by a giant called Cormoran
, just fyi. There’s a rock that’s said to be his heart…
Trengwainton House: fancy stately home with huge beautiful gardens
The Lizard peninsula is beautiful, there’s a lighthouse, it’s where Gram Parsons went to dry out. Didn’t work, but no slight against its charms.
Gwithian is a vast, wonderful beach
The Eden Project: the world’s biggest greenhouse. extremely stunning/fun/educational, it’s situated inside an old clay pit. good food options. it’ll be busy this time of year but I think it’s worth it.
Polzeath/Port Isaac/Fowey (pronounced foy) are all nice northern fishing towns. they are all much of a muchness but if you want to mooch, eat fish and chips (and a cream tea! definitely get a cream tea), you can’t go wrong with any of them
Padstow: very touristy posh fishing village, nicknamed Padstein because Rick Stein has over-colonised it a bit with restaurants and crap gift shops