Cornwall is a county in England that you just cannot miss out on. Situated in the far southwest, it is a world away from the rest of the country and if the weather is right, you could as well be anywhere in the world. Padstow and Newquay are just a couple of the popular tourist destinations that first spring to mind when it comes to Cornwall but its unspoilt villages are where this county really shines.
There is so much to see and do here that you are guaranteed to want to return time and again. For me though, it’s the villages that lure me back. Here are some of the lesser known but equally as inviting ones you might not have heard of but will hopefully be adding to your list to explore! These are, in my opinion, the best places to stay in Cornwall.
Pronounced as ‘Mow-zel’ by the locals, Mousehole is a quaint little seaside village in west Cornwall with a picturesque port at its centre. This gorgeous fishing village is well worth a venture to and is where we chose to base ourselves for the duration of our Cornish staycation this year. In my opinion, it is one of the best places to go in Cornwall.
Traditional pastel fishing boats line the water’s edge making for postcard-perfect pictures but there’s more to this little village than its spectacular port and seafront.
Venture further inland and you’ll find independent shops, superb restaurants and galleries to wander around as well as Minack Theatre, the open-air theatre that’s famous world wide, just a short drive away.
As far as the best places to stay in Cornwall goes, Mousehole is one of my absolute favourites and is where we always spend at least a night or two when we visit this glorious county. If you are looking for the perfect little cottage to hole yourself up in for a couple of nights, or even a week, then make sure to look at Mole Cottage. This former fisherman’s cottage is beautifully decorated and makes for a cosy retreat. Better still, it is situated in the heart of Mousehole and is just a stones throw away from the pretty harbour.
For a quick guide to Minack Theatre and Porthcurno beach click here.
Helford is another of the most beautiful villages in Cornwall. It was once an important port that welcomed goods from the continent but nowadays it’s a peaceful place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the county’s more vibrant destinations.
Its name comes from the Cornish word for estuary, fitting considering it sits on the south bank of the Helford River, and it’s an ideal location for keen walkers thanks to its lush greenery and winding pathways.
I highly recommend a stay at September Cottage if you’re looking to stay in Helford. It’s a delightful cottage that is centrally located in the heart of the village and just a short wander to the Shipwrights Arms, the thatched village pub, who do some rather scrumptious food! Not to mention fantastic views out over the river. I highly recommend you pay Helford a visit to see its beauty for yourself. It really is one of the best places to visit in Cornwall and still relatively off the usual tourist radar!
You may well have heard of St Ives before. It’s renowned for its surfing scene and has been voted one of the best European beach destinations on TripAdvisor. Not to mention it has a firm place on the list of best places to go in Cornwall. Away from its stunning stretch of coastline though, it’s home to a vibrant art scene that attracts big-name artists from across the globe. Not to mention some incredible food spots. We particularly enjoy dining at the Rum & Crab Shack when we visit. Make sure not to miss out on their cocktails, they’re incredible!!
If you’ve been before, consider leaving the beach behind and setting off to explore its impressive collection of galleries with fresh eyes next time. One of the things I love most about St. Ives is that it always feels summery. Especially when it is clad with colourful bunting.
Instead of a cottage, for St Ives I recommend you stay in somewhere with some proper wow factor. Tregenna Castle certainly has that, and is very affordable despite the fact it has over 250 years worth of history to impress you with!
Stone-built, whitewashed thatched cottages, old-school crabbing boats and the much-loved local pub (which do an excellent fish and chips by the way) make Cadgwith Cove another of the most beautiful villages in Cornwall. Possibly my favourite of them all and definitely one of the best places to stay in Cornwall in my opinion. In fact, I think it should win the award for best village in Cornwall! It’s a quintessentially British destination but is also surprisingly popular amongst locals on account of its live music scene.
Cadgwith is only a short drive away from the stunningly picturesque Kynance Cove if you wanted to make an afternoon of it on a beautiful white, sandy beach instead of the pebbled one of Cadgwith. Also, it’s only a five-minute drive away from a 200ft deep natural cliff formation known as The Devil’s Frying Pan! We absolutely loved our time in this part of Cornwall. A lazy day soaking up the atmosphere in the most beautiful of settings, tucking into fresh caught fish and crab sandwiches at the local pub and then an afternoon relaxing on the beach at Kynance. What more could you ask for on a sunny summers day?
If you are booking a stay here I highly suggest you stay at Old Dolphin Cottage! You may have seen this cottage on my instagram feed a couple of times, I love it! It’s the cottage in the landscape image below. Perched about 20 steps from the seafront and brimming with character. You could not find a better place to stay in such a beautiful place as Cadgwith and it is definitely one of the best places to stay in Cornwall if you are looking for charm and character.
Marazion is thought to be Cornwall;s oldest town so you can expect to experience plenty of local historical attractions here. The Town Museum which is set inside the old fire brigade’s headquarters is just one of them. I particularly enjoyed ambling around this small village and admiring all the flower baskets adorning the cottages, which a local informed me is for ‘The Garden Cup’. Any excuse for flowers is one I am happy to go along with!
Marazion is also joined to St Michael’s Mount, a tiny tidal island that’s home to a medieval church and castle (now in the hands of the National Trust and open for all the see – click here for more info), great for anyone looking to uncover even more Cornish culture outside the mainland.
For accommodation, look no further that this adorably cosy cottage. Situated just a short walk up the main street leading through the village, it only takes about 5 mins to wander down to the beach and yet still has wonderful views out over St Michael’s Mount.
Perched on the Atlantic coast, the picturesque cottages and narrow winding streets of Port Isaac are a familiar backdrop for fans of ITV comedy drama, Doc Martin. You can even take a Doc Martin Tour if you wish! Click here for details. Located in the northwest of the county it’s got a much less tropical feel than some of the other villages on this list but is equally as charming and worthy of a visit. In fact, it is often voted as one of the best places to visit in Cornwall!
A stream runs right through the village to the rocky beach and in the summer months, visitors can take boat trips from the harbour. Be sure to explore the village itself before you do though, it’s medieval alleyways are full of quirky independents. We also made sure to stop and spend some time watching the local fishermen bringing in their haul and did a little crab hunt, unsuccessful mind; think the seagulls beat us to it. To sample the fishermen’s catch at it’s finest, I recommend a visit to one of Nathan Outlaw’s restaurants in the village. You won’t get a better plate of food than that!
When it comes to accommodation, there is no better place to stay in Port Isaac than The Old School Hotel. You will be hard pushed to find anywhere with better views. And let’s face it, when you’re staying in a fishing village as pretty at Port Isaac, you want the views!
Where To Stay In Cornwall
If Airbnb is more your thing, there are so many fantastic places to stay around Cornwall. In fact, I created an entire post on all the best Airbnb’s available in Cornwall. Click here to see some incredibly unique, luxurious escapes.
On our last trip we booked two wonderful cottages which were ideal for our small family. This one in Mousehole and this one near Falmouth where we were able to park up a short drive away at Helford Passage and get a boat across to the beautiful village of Helford.
If you’re new to Airbnb then make use of my link to get £34 off your first trip!
How To Get Around Cornwall
I would highly recommend driving around Cornwall as it is one of those counties that is far easier to get around with a car! Especially as a lot of these places are quite remote. Don’t have your own car? Why not hire one for a day or two? Car rental is available from a number of companies. Find prices and availability here.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cornwall?
Cornwall is a fantastic part of the UK and I would go so far as saying it is the most popular county for Britains to book their own vacations in. Because of this, the summer months of July and August are absolutely heaving! You need to book your accommodation well in advance if you are wanting to play a visit during these months. Yes, the weather is at its best but personally, I can’t stand the crowds. I prefer to visit in May or June. You still get excellent weather but there aren’t as many tourists!
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