Cornwall is bursting with beautiful places whether that’s coves with crystal waters and basking seals, wild woodlands full of bluebells or delightful little villages with charm and character that makes you fall wistfully in love. I’ve visited as many of these villages as I’ve managed to fit in yet there’s still so much more to see and experience. I’ve put together a little list of my favourites so far and I’m sure you’ll agree its not hard to see why I love these locations so much!
Cadgwith Cove, Helston (South)
Come on, how quaint is this place? Cadgwith is so, so charming and it’s delightful for its small size and lack of commercialisation. Found on the Lizard peninsula right on the most Southern point of Cornwall, you’ll find this beautiful little spot. When wandering down to the village, you’ll find local fisherman going about their work, dog walkers enjoying the landscape and a small local shop selling crab, it’s perfect and so homely. I have more photographs and postcards from my visit to Cadgwith in my post, Postcards From Cadgwith.
Coverack, St Keverne (South)
Along the coast from Cadgwith, you’ll find Coverack. Another coastal village based on the East side of the Lizard Peninsula. The sweet little village is tucked into a sheltered bay which is well known for its thatched cottages and beautiful lifestyle but also well known for shipwrecks which occur a few miles from the coast which bring along many myths. Further snaps of the village in the post, Postcards From Coverack.
Port Isaac (North)
Well known as the village where the Cornwall based programme, Doc Martin, is shot, some may be surprised to hear that Port Isaac is completely real and is just as charming in real life as it seems in the series! Nestled on the North coast along from Padstow and Rock, you’ll hit Port Isaac and you’ll want to wander aimlessly along every street, every cobbled lane and even squeeze yourself through Squeezy Belly Alley to see everything this wonderful little village has to offer. Check out my Postcards from Port Isaac for somewhere to eat and tips on where to park.
Much like many of the quaint villages throughout Cornwall, Polperro offers a rich smuggling history and some amazing stories from the past. Once the smuggling ended, the village made its money from fishing and although there are still 12 active fishing boats from Polperro at present, it’s also a popular destination for visitors which brings in some money. Polperro offers a lot to do with shops, pubs and cafes tucked around as well as cliff walks to enjoy the view back across this pretty little village.
One of my all time favourites and one of the quaintest places to stroll. Mousehole, the origin of the name is somewhat unknown with thoughts that it could relate to the old Cornish word ‘Moeshayle’, a nearby sea cave shaped like a mouse hole or a host of other tales. Mousehole is based just along the coast from Penzance and can be easily accessed with a large car park for day trips. Mousehole has a rich smuggling history which peaked in the 18th century, smuggling goods such as brandy, gin and tobacco. Mousehole is now a beautiful harbour offering many holiday cottages, tea rooms and a brilliant Christmas lights display. Find my full post on Mousehole here ‘Postcards from Mousehole, Cornwall’ and be sure to head to the Rockpool Café for lunch.
Padstow is one of my most visited fishing villages in Cornwall and one I love very much. It has a lot of charm, offers plenty to do in terms of eating, drinking and shopping as well as a beautiful beach along the path which makes for a delightful walk whether you just want a gentle ponder or a full circular hike. Now known as ‘Padstein’ it has become a hub for celebrity chefs and offering a few spots to enjoy Rick Steins fine dining, it’s not ruined by commercialisation yet and I’m sure will continue to be a humble little Cornish fishing village. More details in Postcards from Padstow including where to eat the best cake in Cornwall!
Charlestown is delightful, I really love it here. It’s unique for Cornish fishing villages as you won’t find shops selling fishing nets and there’s a real charm based around the old ships in the harbour and a shipwreck museum which is home to the largest private collection in Europe. Charlestown is somewhat up and coming and with new restaurants opening and fun summertime events, it’s certainly a place to keep your eye on. More details in Postcards from Charlestown.
St Ives (West)
Probably one of the best known and most heard of spots in Cornwall, St Ives is very popular in the summertime and despite this making visiting a little hard, it’s not unjustified as it is beautiful and a fantastically pretty village with gorgeous beaches, fine dining and collections of art such as those on offer in the Tate. You could easily base yourself here and not have to leave but do be sure to hop on the train to or from St Erth as it’s one of the most beautiful in Europe. Head to Postcards from St Ives with advise on where to eat.
Portloe is a hidden treasure on the Southern Roseland Peninsula which has a small fishing cove with working fishing boats and a lovely hotel with restaurant to enjoy. Whilst in Portloe, you can enjoy a cliff walk to take in the beauty from above and be sure to check out what else the Roseland Peninsula has to offer, find all the spots in this post The Villages of the Roseland Peninsula.
Looe is a popular holiday destination and is one of the more quintessential coastal villages that you’ll find. This is the place to go if you want to go crabbing with your children, build a sandcastle or enjoy some fish and chips to the chirping of the gulls above. Looe offers a lot and you can have a really good time here, there’s a little beach to enjoy, boat rides out to see some wildlife and plenty of villages to explore along the coastline.
Bude is not to be forgotten, as a small seaside offering on the South coast and on the cusp of where Cornwall becomes Devon, Bude offers a whole lot more than the infamous tunnel to the Sainsbury’s! This lovely little spot has a beach, a sea pool and some beautiful walks to take in the landscape. Although it’s not an ideal place to base yourself if you want to explore further down into Cornwall, it’s still very much worth a visit and you’ll fall in love.
Another lovely old fishing port and village with beautifully coloured working fishing boats, charming streets and more cliff walks. Mevagissey is based a few miles out from St Austell and is easily approached and explored. With pubs, quaint shops offering handmade and local goods and some great places to eat such as Sharksfin and She Sells, you can also visit an aquarium which is donations only to enter and features some rehabilitating fish!
Helford Village (South)
Helford is a beautifully quaint village in Cornwall and for once, it’s not coastal! It is however water fronted but this perfect place is based on the Helford River and is based down West from Falmouth. The Helford River is a large estuary between Falmouth and The Lizard and the South bank is home to the village of Helford which comes complete with darling thatched cottages, a local pub, small cafe, local shop and a sailing club. Find a whole host of photos and info on Helford in this post.
Another village on the Roseland Peninsula, Portscatho is a quaint and calm coastal village with beautiful views, friendly pubs and pretty little streets. When visiting, be sure to check out The Hidden Hut on Porthcurnick beach and enjoy the calm waters with a paddle board.
Last but not least, Marazion. A pretty village along the coast from Penzance which offers one of the most unique views Cornwall has to offer. You can walk along the beachfront from Penzance or hop in your car and park up and explore this lovely little spot. Be sure to time it right to get the boat across to St Michaels Mount and if you’re lucky enough to reserve a seat in the Godolphin to watch the sun set behind it.
What’s your favourite spot in Cornwall?