Top attractions and things to do in Cornwall

Cornwall is absolutely packed with exciting places to visit and things to see and do. Whether you enjoy the beauty and elegance of stately homes and public gardens, the peace of the countryside, discovering historic buildings and monuments, sporting activities or amusement parks Cornwall has and abundance of entertainment for all. Here are just a few of the top attractions and things to do in Cornwall.

Public Gardens

Cornwall boasts some of the UK’s best public gardens; perfect places to escape and wander amongst the beauty and tranquillity of well-tended lawns, flowers shrubs and woodlands. Situated in a Cornish valley near Falmouth, Trebah Garden is a sub-tropical paradise and considered one of the eighty finest gardens in the world. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St. Ives showcases, in the natural environment for which they were intended, the stunning sculptures of the contemporary artist Barbara Hepworth who lived here until her death in 1975.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan between St. Austell and Mevagissey are perhaps Cornwall’s most famous public gardens and have been fully restored to their 18th century magnificence. Set in 200 acres of gorgeous Cornish countryside, Heligan’s numerous themed gardens invite exploration and conceal surprises within! The gardens of the Trevarno Estate near Helston are the perfect getaway, featuring woodland walks, abundant wildlife, beautiful lawns and themed areas. You’ll also find the National Museum of Gardening here alongside a fascinating toy museum.

Historic Monuments, Buildings and Attractions

Cornwall’s history is fascinating and includes piracy, smuggling, industrial heritage and even Arthurian legend. Well-preserved historic attractions can be found everywhere giving visitors the opportunity to step back in time and immerse themselves in Cornwall’s atmospheric past. Cotehele near Saltash, for example, is a magnificent Tudor Mansion set in a medieval garden and brimming with tapestries, armour, ancient weapons and antique oak furniture. St. Michael’s Mount is an enigmatic and historic island just off the beach at Marazion with its own ancient castle, sub-tropical gardens and thriving island community. Tintagel Castle may only be ruins now but the place still retains the magical atmosphere of legend; this was the reputed birthplace of King Arthur, and the wizard Merlin’s cave can be found nearby.

A reminder of Cornwall’s contemporary industrial history can be explored at Pendeen near Penzance. Geevor Tin Mine Museum, formerly an operational tin mine from 1911 until its closure in 1990, is now an interactive mining experience which gives visitors an authentic taste of a Cornish tin miner’s world. The first cathedral to be built on a new English site in more than 650 years, the spectacular Truro Cathedral began construction in 1880 and was completed in 1910. Truro Cathedral houses one of the UK’s finest organs as well as remarkable wood carvings, stained-glass windows, paintings and decorative ornamentation.

Theme Parks

Everybody loves a fun day out at a great theme park or amusement park and Cornwall’s theme parks have a few surprises up their sleeves. Flambards theme park at Helston combines all the excitement of big thrill rides, with plenty of fun for smaller kids and adds the twist of a full-scale interactive village which recreates everyday life from different periods of British history.

Crealy Great Adventure Park between Newquay and Wadebridge promises more fun and excitement than you could fit in a single day with a host of indoor and outdoor activities, thrill rides, shows, a petting zoo and plenty more. As the name suggests, there’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had at Holywell Bay Fun Park near Newquay, including crazy golf, go-karting, pitch and putt and blaster boats. Kids of all ages will love St. Austell’s Kidzworld which features a high-ropes course, scrambling wall, mini-golf, dodgems and a wealth of indoor activities for smaller children. Mums and dads are free to join in the fun too!

Wildlife

Animal lovers, birdwatchers and wildlife spotters are spoilt by Cornwall’s diversity of nature reserves, farms, zoos and wildlife centres. Paradise Park in Hayle makes an excellent family day out and features 650 different birds including parrots, macaws, penguins and lorikeets, and bird of prey demonstrations. There are plenty of animals too, as well as fun indoor and outdoor activities for the kids. Whilst Otters are the stars at the Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre in Launceston, you’ll also spot free-roaming wallabies and muntjac deer in this woodland animal conservation park, and get the chance to see Scottish wildcats, owls and birds of prey too.

Newquay Zoo is a popular and traditional zoo and the place to see lions, zebras, monkeys, lemurs and everyone’s current favourite animal: meerkats. Rescued monkeys feature at the Monkey Sanctuary in Looe which cares for abandoned or mistreated pet monkeys and is home to a colony of woolly monkeys. There are also beautiful wildlife gardens here as well as a bat cave! Cornwall has many outstanding nature reserves to explore, allowing visitors to enjoy spectacular scenery and many species of birds, plants and wildlife in their natural habitat; a full list of these nature reserves is provided by the
Cornwall Wildlife Trust

The Great Outdoors

Besides a multitude of amazing beaches to enjoy, Cornwall has many dedicated walking trails and open areas which offer stunning landscapes and provide the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Cornwall at its best. These include the wild and rugged Bodmin Moor, the ever-changing scenery of the Cornish Coastal Path, the exhilarating Tamar Lakes Country Park and the eighteen mile long Camel Trail, a former railway line which runs from Padstow to Poley’s Bridge and which can be cycled or walked, taking in some of the south-west’s  finest scenery along the way.