Cornwall, England Travel Guide
By Stevie Benanty.
Located on the westernmost tip of England, Cornwall is home to more than half a million residents. The region is best known for its dramatic coastline, uncrowded beaches and surfing spots, and varied history. The food, especially the fresh fish and seafood, are pretty good, too!
English is spoken by more than 99 percent of the population. However, Cornish, an ancient Celtic language, is spoken by a minority of residents.
The British Pound is the official currency of Cornwall. However, there are some £1 and £5 notes issued in Cornwall by the Cornish Stannary Parliament.
Cornwall has one of the mildest and sunniest climates in all of the UK. Average annual temperatures in Cornwall hover around fifty degrees Fahrenheit.
High-speed rail service to Cornwall is available from London’s Paddington Station to Penzance at the very western tip of Cornwall. In addition, there is regular service to Cornwall from Bristol and Bath. It takes approximately five hours to travel from London to Cornwall by rail.
Via automobile, it takes about five hours to travel from London via the M4 autoroute.
Flights arrive at Cornwall Airport in Newquay from a variety of destinations, both in the UK and abroad. These include year-round service from Manchester and London’s Gatwick airport and seasonal service from points in the UK, Germany, and Ireland.
There is no lack of things to see and do in Cornwall. The dramatic coastline and historic cities offer a host of interesting treks. Cornwall is also known for its miles of uncrowded beaches, its surfing and its dramatic cliffs.
Cornwall is one of the earliest parts of the United Kingdom to be inhabited. Evidence of people living in what is now Cornwall dates back to the Paleolithic era and residents include the early Celtic Briton tribe.
Just a few of the important sights in Cornwall include St. Michael’s Mount, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Land’s End, the furthest western point in Cornwall.
Scarlett Hotel and Spa
Located at the water’s edge in charming Mawgan Porth, The Scarlett Hotel and Spa, an eco-hotel, offers guest rooms with dramatic sea views, an award-winning restaurant, and a full European-style spa. The restaurant serves innovative cuisine created around locally-sourced produce and meats and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Spa facilities include massages, facials, body wraps, couples spa treatments and meditation classes. You can even rent a private hot tub that overlooks the cliffs and sea.
Guest rooms are scattered among five levels for maximum privacy, all of which have modern decor and their own outdoor space, such as a private garden or terrace. Some are equipped with big bathtubs while others have very large rain showers.
Room rates start at £340 per room per night, including breakfast.
Address: Scarlett Hotel and Spa, Tredragon Rd., Mawgan Porth, Cornwall TR8 4DQ
Phone: 01 437 841 800
Catch Seafood Bar and Grill
Located at the beach on Mawgan Porth, just outside of Newquay, Catch Seafood Bar and Grill specializes in freshly caught seafood for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Open seven days a week during the Cornwall tourist season, some of the most popular dishes include Cornish lobster, bouillabaisse and the fresh catch of the day (of course). The decor is nautical and the atmosphere is casual. Entree prices start at around £13. Reservations are recommended.
Mawgan Porth is a popular surfing destination, on the north coast of Cornwall. Activity here centers on the waterfront, as the town commercial district consists of one pub, a general store, and several hotels.
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Address: Catch Seafood Bar and Grill, Mawgan Porth, Newquay TR8 4BA
Phone: 44 143 840372
Porthminster Beach Cafe
Located on the beach in St. Ives, in the shadow of the Godvey lighthouse, the Porthminster Beach Cafe serves Mediterranean and Asian-inspired seafood cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The nautical decor and atmosphere are relaxed, and specialties include halibut with lobster butter and Cornish lobster with Mornay sauce. And while the food is certainly enticing, the dramatic view of the Cornwall cliffs, framed by white sand and deep blue water, competes with the food for your attention!
St. Ives, a former fishing village, is located on the north coast of Cornwall along the Celtic Sea. The city is best known as a seasonal seaside resort and for its annual arts festival.
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Address: Porthminster Beach Cafe, Porthminster Beach, St. Ives, Cornwall TR24 2EB
Phone: 01 734 794 342
The Beach Hut in Newquay
One of Cornwall’s best, and most popular, beachside restaurants, The Beach Hut is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and specializes in burgers and fresh seafood. The vibe is electric and alive, and the decor is minimalist to avoid competing with the food and the spectacular view. Popular menu items include Cornish mussels and crab spaghetti.
The best time to come here is at sunset so you can watch the sun bounce off of the ocean while you enjoy your meal.
Address: The Beach Hut, Watergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall TR8 4AA
Phone: 44 1437 840877
Rojano’s, which has been a Cornwall institution since 1974, serves Italian cuisine seven days a week, from 10:00 a.m. until late evening. Located in the heart of Padstow within walking distance to the marina, the menu here favors seafood, as you would expect in this region. Rojano’s is committed to using locally-sourced foods and wines where they are available. Just a few of the house specialties include their signature thin crust pizzas, a short rib burger, and a hearty shrimp fisherman’s stew. Entree prices start at £11.
Address: Rojano’s, 9 Mill Square, Padstow, Cornwall PL28 8AE
Phone: 44 1841 432 794
Prawn on the Lawn, Padstow
Padstow is a foodie hotspot in Cornwall with several top restaurants making the most of locally sourced seafood. Prawn on the Lawn, a Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurant, has a focus on seafood, with monkfish and chorizo stew to Padstow crab on their menu. Located on Duke Street in the center of town right by the marina, this restaurant is popular with locals and tourists alike. Reservations are recommended.
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Address: 11 Duke St, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AB
Phone: 01841 532223
Stepper Point is a headland and navigation point near Padstow with fabulous views of the Atlantic ocean. From Padstow, this six-mile trail on the South West Coast Footpath has dramatic cliff scenery and views of Doom Bar, where mermaids are reputed to lure sailors to disaster!
Start from Padstow Harbor and follow the coastal path northwards. The path continues past Gun Point towards the Camel Estuary. Listen out for the boom of the sea as it hits the caves below. A shorter 1.5 mile version of this walk starts from Hawkers Bay Car Park and heads to the Daymark Look Out post at Stepper Point. You will walk through farmland with grazing cattle and herbs of sheep until you reach the lighthouse.
Always check weather and tidal conditions before walking on the coastal path, and wear hiking boots. The walk can be done at most times of the year, however, the weather conditions are the critical factor. Walking on the South West Coastal Footpath is free and quite addictive. It has 625 miles of scenic routes, and once you have done one stretch you’ll want to do more.
Artists have been attracted to St Ives for years because of the fabulous light. You’ll find galleries tucked away in back streets and a bustling harbor full of small fishing boats. St Ives is in West Cornwall and has amazing beaches like Carbis Bay, Porthmeor and Porthminster Beach, with views of Godrevy Lighthouse in the bay. Check out the newly refurbished Tate St Ives, which displays many artworks from the St Ives School, including Ben Nicholson.
A tiny fishing village in West Cornwall, Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel) has been described as the “loveliest village in England.” One of the best times to visit is around Christmas when the harbor is filled with illuminations and festive lights. Enjoy the narrow cobbled streets with tiny cottages, walk the coastal path and visit nearby Lamorna Cove. Or take a fishing trip on Mounts Bay and catch your own supper.
As the most southerly point in England, the Lizard is renowned for its coastline. It is also famous for serpentine rock that you’ll see in workshops in the village. The Lizard has one of the best Cornish pasty shops in the county—a local specialty!
A seafaring port, Falmouth is one of Cornwall’s largest towns with 22,000 residents and has a nautical edge. It is home to Cornwall’s only university and is full of things to do like the National Maritime Museum for sea-themed displays. Boat trips up the River Fal to Truro are popular and the town has several beaches including Maenporth and Swanpool.
Renowned for partying, surfing, and a cheap and cheerful holiday, Newquay is on the North Cornish coast and gets busy in the summer months. It’s big attractions are beaches, clubs and bars. The town attracts younger visitors for the party and surf scene, and families for a more traditional beach vacation.
Mawgan Porth Beach
One of the most popular beaches in Cornwall, this is a great place to swim and learn to surf. It is located between Newquay and Padstow.
A working fishing town in Cornwall, Padstow is also known for its fine fish restaurants. Its quaint streets are full of galleries and gift shops, and the harbor is the focal point of town. Kids can go fishing for crabs, there are cycling routes on the nearby Camel Trail, and even cookery lessons in and around town.