Cornwall is known for a lot of things from Cornish pasties to having the best surfing spots in the UK but it is also considered one of the best UK holiday destinations. With everything from sea, sand and fish and chips it is a dream destination for many. With that said it might be hard to know how long you need to spend there, what there is to do and where the best place to stay is.
With so much to do in Cornwall and so many places to visit it is good to go in with a plan so you can make sure you see and do everything you want without having to miss out on anything crucial. Here is a breakdown of our 3 days in Cornwall:
- Day 1 – Newquay & Fistral Beach
- Day 2 – St Ives & Lands End
- Day 3 – Padstow & The Camel Trail
In this post, we’ll be breaking down the complete itinerary including hints and tips of how long to spend at each location and not-to-miss attractions so you can make the most of your trip to Cornwall.
Table of Contents
- Where To Stay In Cornwall
- How To Get Around Cornwall
- How Many Days Do You Need In Cornwall?
- What Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Cornwall?
- Day One – Newquay & The Eden Project
- Day Two – St Ives & Lands End
- Day Three – Padstow & The Camel Trail
Where To Stay In Cornwall
Personally, you can stay in a number of places during your visit to Cornwall and hop from town to town if you prefer. We however found it easier to have a base while we explored the neighbouring towns and areas, we personally chose Newquay as we wouldn’t be driving out every day of our trip.
Check out the booking box below for great deals across Cornwall so you can find the best price and best location for you.
How To Get Around Cornwall
There are a number of ways in which you can get around Cornwall by train, bus and by car. We personally chose to drive as we wanted to have the freedom of being able to get in the car and go at a moments notice. We also liked knowing the car could have some extra things such as coats and spare shoes in case the weather turned on us at a moments notice.
While we were based in Newquay there were bus services to neighbouring towns and places such as St Ives and Padstow which we saw many choosing to take. This is a great option if you haven’t got a car or you want to save yourself moving the car and finding parking again when you return.
If you plan to drive check out our handy guides on where to park in Newquay, St Ives and Padstow so you can check out where you want to park in advance and save yourself some stress along the way.
How Many Days Do You Need In Cornwall?
Cornwall is an expansive area to cover and can often take you much longer than you realise to visit all the small seaside towns, the bigger attractions such as The Eden Project or even doing the coastal walk from St Ives to Lands End.
The amount of days you need in Cornwall really depends on what you plan to do. I personally would look at anything from 3-5 days in Cornwall depending on what you plan to do. If you are visiting with younger children you may want to spend more days in Cornwall so you can have a day off in between visiting attractions and going to other seaside towns.
Cornwall is also a great place to spend the weekend, especially if you live within 1-2 hour drive as you can do many of these activities within that time frame.
What Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Cornwall?
The best time of year to visit Cornwall is definitely summer for many as the weather is at its best and many of the beaches in Cornwall replicate those of France and Spain when the sun is shining. Unfortunately, this is also the busiest time as it is the UK school holidays.
If you don’t mind missing out on sunbathing on the beach then a great time to visit would be spring, preferably late spring-early summer just before the school holidays as you can capture the nice weather along with the quieter time before the peak season starts.
Months such as July through to August are the best times to visit for the weather but can also be the worst as that is the peak season. Alternatively, the months of May, June and September are also worth visiting as the weather is pleasant and warm but the crowds are fewer.
Day One – Newquay & The Eden Project
The Eden Project
Now you have all the essentials ready it is time to get up early and get out exploring. The best way to make the most of the day is to start by heading to the Eden Project. Roughly a 45-minute drive from Newquay it is the perfect place to start your day.
We booked our tickets in advance to save us having to wait in any long queues on the day. Parking was included in the price of your ticket so even if you chose to drive this is one less thing to worry about.
The Eden Project is an iconic experience and something that is on most bucket lists when visiting Cornwall. It is great for everyone from couples like myself and Cora, families and even groups looking to enjoy a day out.
If you get there for opening times you can get a great parking space and even enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes.
Head To Fistral Beach
Fistral beach is the most popular of beaches in Cornwall and is the best place to surf. Even if you are not a surfer or want to go swimming in the sea you can still find plenty to enjoy while there.
Head to the beach by either driving and parking up, though we recommend leaving the car and walking from the town centre to the beach. It is a short walk roughly 15-20 minutes at pace and can be found easily with signposts.
Once at the beach, head to one of the cafes to the right-hand side and grab a drink and some snacks. There is a bar/restaurant, a cafe on the upper level and a little kiosk cafe nearer the beach.
Whether you are a keen surfer or just looking to relax and enjoy the view there is definitely something for you. I also found some great spots for rock pooling and little tidal pools which were perfect for children to play in further down the beach.
Watch The Sunset From Towan Beach
Towan Beach is the main beach within Newquay centre and is one of the easiest to access especially if you are staying in Newquay centre. There are a number of places to eat nearby and on the cliff edges that provide a beautiful view over the beach.
There are also plenty of great food trucks near the beach and on the promenade, so you can find doughnuts, fish and chips and more to enjoy on a little bench. Settle in with a meal or just an ice cream and watch the sunset.
If you find the beach too busy or you want to sit somewhere else, head up the hill to Killacourt park. The park is a large grassy area with benches, a place to buy drinks and sandwiches and provides a beautiful view over the sea.
Day Two – St Ives & Lands End
A trip to Cornwall isn’t complete without a visit to the picturesque seaside town of St Ives. As it can get busy (especially in the summer months) we suggest getting there early to get a good parking space.
Once you are all parked up and ready to explore, head down either using one of the shuttle buses provided or take the scenic route and walk down to the main centre of St Ives. You can find parking closer to the front if you get there super early or if you looking for disabled parking.
St Ives is full of boutique shops, unique businesses and adorable little cafes so there is plenty to feast your eyes on while walking down the streets. We found plenty of places to stop and have a drink, grab food on the go or even little boutique shops to stop and buy gifts.
Depending on what you like to do, who you are with may depend on how you spend your day in St Ives.
If you have children there are some wonderful beaches you can explore from Harbour Sand beach, Bamaluz Beach and Porthminster Beach. Our favourite was the Bamaluz Beach as though it was very small it was very unique, head there to look at the magnificent displays of stones stacked high.
If hitting the beach and shopping isn’t your thing then head to the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum to explore the art and local culture of Cornwall and St Ives specifically.
Personally, we spent the day in St Ives and it is easily done, especially if you head to the beaches to relax and take in the scenery. But if you are looking to see more of what Cornwall has to offer, hop in the car and drive 40 minutes to Lands End.
Lands End is famous for being of course the most south-westerly point in the UK. It is also said to be one of Englands most famous landmarks to date. Lands End is made up of 200ft-high granite cliffs that look over the English Channel and to the west the Celtic Sea.
While you might think Lands End is just that the end of land it actually has much more to offer from places to stay, restaurants and cafes and shops. The land at Lands End is actually privately owned and has been since 1066 and has been cared for and preserved for visitors to enjoy.
There are a lot of myths and legends that surround Lands End and you can often see local residents, homes and clothing with a crest on of 3 horseshoes or a white horse which claims that those families were relatives to a man who escaped the flood many many years ago.
Day Three – Padstow & The Camel Trail
On your final day take a drive to Padstow where you can do everything from shopping, heading to the beach and even heading out of a nice coastal walk.
Padstow is smaller than St Ives but still has all the charm of a small seaside town. First you want to get parked and walk down to the town from there head to the harbour as that is where you can find the most action.
There we spotted many people sat in deckchairs enjoying a well earned rest by the harbour and families catching crabs off the parade. If you have children, look at bringing a bucket or pick up a set from the local stores to have a go at catching some crabs yourself.
As there is no beach within the direct centre of Padstow we opted for exploring the adorable boutique shops and enjoying a drink from one of the many cafes. Alternatively, if you are looking for something more to do we definitely suggest heading further out onto the Camel Trail.
The Camel Trail is Even if you don’t plan to do the whole trail it offers up some great views over Padstow and the River Camel. We also enjoyed walking out further from the town as it got quieter and we found some great bench areas to sit on and soak up the sun and views.
The Camel Trail is a cycle trail within Cornwall, it is 18 miles long in total though you can do the shorter version while visiting Padstow which would be 5.5 miles. The 5.5-mile walk would take you from Wadebridge to Padstow or vice versa depending on where you start.
If neither the Camel Trail nor fishing for crabs sounds like your thing you can take a boat from the harbour over to Rock where you can enjoy the beach and another seaside town. The boat trips are extremely popular and can be a nice way of seeing both Padstow and Rock in one day.