Visiting Cornwall for a weekend - best places on south coast.
Updated: 6 days ago
If you live in a big city and from time to time you crave peace and quiet of a countryside with some great views, long walking trails, and perhaps sandy beach then I would say pack your bags and head to South West of England for some beautiful places for a weekend escape, especially when you have long bank holiday weekend at your disposal. Or if you are visiting London as but want to explore England more and spend good few days outside the capital, Cornwall for a weekend would be my recommendation.
Cornwall is a huge place in itself so you may need to decide which parts you want to visit, or if you have enough time have a round trip. The locations I am recommending below are all located in the south of the Cornish peninsula.
Cornwall is a charming part of South West England that you should consider visiting if you want to see England outside of London. The best way to get to Cornwall is to rent a car, as the area is quite remote and you won't be able to get everywhere with public transport. It is possible but you may be more restricted. You can get as far by train as Penzance but certain location are quite rural so a car will allow quick and easy access.
We rented our accommodation around St Austell and used mobile holiday homes for our base, great alternative to your standard hotel or hostel accommodation. This was definitely the cheap option considering we visited during May bank holiday which usually sees Cornwall booked and at the peak of prices for rooms. The downside was that it was a bit chilly and as it was beginning of May it meant we had times when we arrived to a very cold accommodation and had to put heating on and wait a while until it got warm. The good thing about those houses is that if you wanted to have a BBQ you had space outside as well as parking space. This location was our base. Depending on what you want to see, it may be important to choose your location differently to ours. We drove everywhere and every place that I mention in this article is within one to two hours max on the south coast of Cornwall. Following are places that I think are worth visiting on the South side of peninsula:
Firstly, fishermen town of Mevagissey is a beautiful port town that has a picturesque harbour. While you visit this port town, I will also recommend a fantastic restaurant “sharksfin “ (seen on the photo above) which serves fresh sea food and fish delivered daily by local fishermen. So if an item is finished, it's no longer available - that's how fresh it gets! Everything we tasted there was fingerlicking good - my favourites were crab linguini, and bbq prawns. It was also great to sit on the bench outside the restaurant and eat Cornish cream ice cream (they are the best) and enjoy people watching and feel jealous of slow life they have walking their cute dogs.
While you are in Cornwall, I would suggest next place to visit is Eden Project (ideally on a rainy day - we are in England so that should not be a problem). If you are travelling with kids, this will be great fun for them too. It is a reclaimed china clay pit, now turned botanical garden with two biomes that have plants that are collected from many diverse climates and environments around the world. It is located approx. 5 km from the town of St Austell. Save good few hours for this place. Not far away from Eden Project, you will find Lost Garden of Heligan which is a huge area of gardens, farm, estate and woodland where you will not only have an amazing walk but also find man made figures claimed by nature. It is a secret garden lost for decades with great photo opportunities.
Another place we visited was Land's End the most western point of mainland Cornwall and England, situated about 13 km west-south-west of Penzance. It's just the location that attracts a lot of tourists because of being the most western tip of England and Cornwall, ans that's the reason why it is commercially prepared for that - shops, cafes. If you need to skip a place - then I think you can chose to easily skip this one.
On the other hand, Lizard's point is the location you don't want to miss. It is most southern point of Britain and south tip of Lizard Peninsula. We met a man who works at the Lizard Point who claims that you could see whales or dolphins here if you are very very lucky! There's a lot of sea and bird enthusiasts around with their telescopes and big cameras. If that's an interest for you, then this place may give you great opportunities for capturing or observing those animals. Apart from being a great view point, this location has a Lizard lighthouse for maritime history enthusiasts and great view from the top of the lighthouse. It is as well a great spot for lunch. We had traditional fish and chips as it just felt right to have this dish there.
Next place you want to visit is Kynance Cove on the eastern side of Mount's Bay. It is situated on the Lizard peninsula approximately two miles north of Lizard Point. It is said to be the most beautiful beach in the world (not sure who voted that, perhaps by locals?) with white sand beaches and turquoise sea surrounded by rocks, in fact you would not think you're in Cornwall. Don't get me wrong, it's unique for sure; the sea colour does not give you a typical association you have with British Isles beach look. However, it is really picturesque place and fantastic for walks.
Apart from having a great meal in restaurant, as always we wanted to try local specialities. While in Cornwall you must try Cornish pastries which are staple food from Cornwall and I suggest you try it at least once! These are giant dumpling-like patties filled with meat and they taste really good - it is something different. I'm not a big fan of those but I had a bite from my hubby and it was worth trying. And don't forget the ice cream too - it must be the milk / cream they are using that makes them so creamy and delicious!
Another stop and huge surprise for me was St Michael's Mount, a small tidal island accessible from Marazion town beach. It may not be as well known as its sister in Normandy but it is as beautiful as Le Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France. In fact, this castle was built by the same monks who built Normandy's castle. I guess one of the attractions of this place is that when the tide is low you can walk to the castle by a man-made causeway linked to the town, passable between mid-tide and low tide (water). If the tide is high you would need a boat ride to get to the island. You can visit the castle and it's grounds so don't leave it till the end of the day if you want to return on foot.
The Minack Theatre which is an open-air theatre perched on the cliffs above the Atlantic, is also a beautiful place to visit especially if you can see performance live. Little did we know that it's so popular, that we should have booked tickets for the show in advance. We arrived at the gate to be told the tickets are sold out! Such a shame as on that day they played Shakespeare's "Midsummer night dream" at the sunset of a very beautiful day! It's only 4 miles from Land's End so you can combine seeing those two attractions. Nonetheless we enjoyed amazing descend to the beach just next to the theatre with turquoise colour sea which looks like you're in The Med and not South of England.
Cornwall is also a home to the cutest houses, little streets with pubs and small unique boutique shops in every small town we have visited. And blue colour seems to be popping everywhere! I think it's a perfect weekend gateway or even a few day's trip. I would suggest that you consider it for your next London escape or if you want to see a bit more of England apart from London.