>  Travel   >  Europe   >  Cornwall: 10 best places to visit
wheal coates
Cornwall is a peninsular county in the South West of England. Its territory is famous for the extraordinary beauty of the pristine beaches, the cliffs overlooking the sea with a crystalline blue colour, vast green countryside and rugged coasts dotted with picturesque fishing villages. In addition, the county is one of the Celtic nations of Great Britain with its own flag, language and culture.


The climate of Cornwall is closely influenced by the proximity of the sea. Strong winds and sea fog are very common and precipitation is frequent. Temperatures are warm in summer and mild in winter, making the vegetation of the entire county lush.


Rural resources provide the basis for the economy. The valleys offer excellent pastures for dairy cattle. Horticulture is important in sheltered coastal districts, mild winter encourages the cultivation of particular crops and tourism provides the main source of income, especially along the coast.


The name Cornwall most likely derives from the tribal name “Cornovii” which means “people of the horn”referring to their isolated position at the bottom of the peninsula which recalls the shape of a horn. Thanks to the presence of important metal minerals such as tin and copper, prehistoric settlers of the early Bronze Age created the first real settlements in the area. The latter increased in size during the Iron Age and the rural society of Cornwall remained largely unchanged, even when the Romans formally assumed territorial control of the peninsula. Following the fall of the Western Empire, Cornwall was ruled for about five centuries by the Anglo- Saxons and there was a period in which the strong religious influence (Christian), gave rise to a very special cult that will characterize from that moment, religious practices not only in Cornwall, but also in Wales, Ireland and Brittany: Celtic Christianity.

In medieval times, Cornwall was not an English county like all the others, as it was never colonized by the Anglo-Saxons. The culture of the common people remained completely different from that of their neighbours. For example, they still spoke Brythonic, a Cornish language closely related to Welsh, still boasted of descending from British rather than Saxon ancestors. Until the mid-16th century, they still possessed their own clothing styles, their folklore, their naming costumes, their farming practices and their games and pastimes. From the beginning of the Tudor period onwards, almost everyone accepted the fact that the Cornices were a separate ethnic group. But from the next century, when the common people of East Cornwall gradually abandoned their native language in favour of English, Brytonic was spoken only by the westernmost communities of the peninsula. It was the resulting Linguistic Reform that struck a blow when a law was passed that made English the official language of the Church of England. In the 1700s, there were only 5,000 talking frames left and most of them lived in coastal parishes, between Lizard and Land’s End. Today Cornishmen and women speak revitalized versions of the original Cornish language.


port of Polperro

fisherman in Polperro

fisherman in Polperro

On a weekend in late June, I proposed to the trusty photographer Giuseppe to go and discover this wonderful wild county and so we visited several places worthy of note, including:


Our first stop was this lovely fishing village whose picturesque and pretty streets are so narrow that cars are not allowed to circulate; so the best way to explore the village is on foot. In fact we walked along a small downhill road entering almost tiptoe in the heart of the village up to the small granite port. Here we found a small inlet at the mouth of the river Pol. Everything is very nice and we felt welcomed by the locals . Along the hills of houses with slate roofs embellished with colourful windows, numerous cottages and artistic craft shops. The Shell House, a particular house whose facade was entirely covered with shells in 1937 by Samuel Puckey, an elderly fisherman, certainly does not go unnoticed while walking in this village.
All the narrow streets converge in the port from where boat trips depart to discover the pirate history of this stretch of coast. You should know that this quiet fishing bay. Once it was a thriving centre for smuggling in the area: Polperro, during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, was known for the presence of numerous smugglers who were used to hide illegal loads of gin, brandy and tobacco bales in some caves near the village or in secret hideouts in the hinterland. To better understand this story, in Polperro you can visit the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing, within which you can find several exhibits and photographs on smuggling and fishing.
village of Polperro

fishing village of Polperro

fishing village of Polperro

fishing village of Polperro


From Polperro we moved to Kynance Cove located on the Lizard Peninsula. This place is a small hidden jewel which became popular in Victorian times and famous in our contemporary era thanks to the many photographs that are taken every year here. To reach Kynance Cove you have to leave your car in a parking lot not far away; from here begins the path that will lead you in front of a breathtaking spectacle, produced by the contrast between the white sand beach, the dark serpentine rocks covered with green and the blue of the crystalline sea. When the tide is low you can explore the caves and islets nearby and on a beautiful sunny day you can also think of swimming. In addition, near the beach there is a cafeteria that sells pastries, fresh sandwiches, homemade cakes and other delights.
After exploring the bay, we returned to the parking lot and walked the path to Lizard Point, Britain’s southernmost viewpoint. The walk continues up and down, among immense green meadows and rocky steps up to a series of inlets where the streams flow into the sea. Also along the way, in the summer, it is easy to find flowers of various shades, from the yellow broom to the Cornish heather. Step by step, we finally arrived at Lizard Point, where you can visit the lighthouse.
Kynance cove

Kynance Cove

Lizard penisula

Lizard penisula


While we were driving to the city of Marazion, we noticed an island towering over the sea and for a moment we thought we were in France. In fact, this place is the smallest copy of the French twin Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy and has the same characteristics. When the tide is low the island is connected to the mainland via an ancient cobbled road, while when the tide is high the road ​ disappears and to reach the island you will need a boat. This place takes its name from the archangel Michael who, according to legend, appeared here to a group of Benedictine monks and for this the faithful, to pay homage to him. They decided to build an abbey that over the centuries has undergone several changes until from a place of welcome for pilgrims was converted into a fortress where you can admire the ancient chapel of the twelfth century, still used for Sunday functions. In addition to the castle, you can visit the beautiful gardens or walk through the narrow alleys and enjoy the lifestyle of the few remaining inhabitants. Giuseppe and I were lucky, because we found the low tide and we could reach the entrance of the island easily.
st michaels mount

St. Michael’s Mount

st michaels mount

St Michael’s Mount


We had to stop at the beach of Porthcurno, considered among the most beautiful in the United Kingdom. A heavenly place, nestled between high granite cliffs with its white sand washed by a sea of fifty shades of blue, where nature is the undisputed protagonist. From the beach we climbed a steep staircase, accompanied by the strong wind, to get in sight of one of the most spectacular outdoor theatres in the world, built overlooking the cliffs. At first glance it might seem Roman or Greek, instead it was built only in 1932 by the idea of a stunning woman: Rowenda Cade. In 1929 she was struck by the opera “A midsummer night’s dream” and decidedand decided to bring the opera to her garden, thus exploiting the splendid natural scenery and with the help of only two men, within six months, she built the stage and some seats. In short, enough to stage that first play and since then was called Minack Theatre. Today, during the summer evenings, theatrical performances are held but to assist you must book well in advance.


Minack teatre

Minack teatre


We have arrived at the southernmost terminus of Great Britain, where in the past it was believed that the known world ended. This is one of those places that always has a special charm; in all this the wind has never abandoned us and the panorama around us was mainly composed of rocks with strange shapes and cliffs overlooking the sea, like almost all of Cornwall. In my humble opinion it is not the most beautiful place in Cornwall, they have built a theme park dedicated exclusively to tourists. Despite this, there are several trails that will take you to remote places away from the chaos.
land's end

Land’s end

land's end

Land’s end


A magical place, surrounded by a bay whose marine colours can envy the Maldives. We, to best enjoy all this splendour, parked the car in the upper part of the city, from which you can see the roofs, the harbour, the beautiful beach of Porthmeor and we walked up to the centre where there is a succession of characteristic shops, art galleries and elegant clubs. In medieval times, St Ives was an important fishing village but it is believed that its foundation dates back to the Bronze Age. In the city museum you can find several testimonies about its past. Today fishing has given way to tourism as the main source of income. The Tate Gallery and the Barbara Hepworth museum have been opened, which has also led to the opening of other art galleries. It is said that inSt Ives we have the best beaches in Cornwall; in fact there are as many as four, easily accessible from the city, and the colour of the sea water certainly will not leave you disappointed and will confirm this rumour. Including the ​ golden sandy beach of Porthmeor located in the shade of the iconic Tate Gallery building. It is a surfer’s paradise with a unique combination of Atlantic wave exposure and good wind protection. Porthmeor is one of only five beaches in Cornwall that hold the prestigious Blue Flag Award 2019, given in recognition of water quality, safety, environmental management and education.
St Ives

villagge of St Ives

beach of St Ives

beach of St Ives


This place has something special. It is an iconic mine shaft that descends from the cliff to the sea and is accessible through a large cave at the end of Chaper Porth beach during low tide. Legend has it that Wheal Coates is haunted by the ghosts of the miners who tragically died there. The first evidence of the tin and copper mining site dates back to 1692 but it was definitively abandoned in 1914. The mining activity that took place in Sant’Agnese and surroundings has shaped the landscape, economy and society of the country. This is still evident today in the ruins of the mines themselves. In the port where the ore was shipped and the coal received, as well as in the magnificent houses of the mine owners. From this area, recognized as a World Heritage Site, there are several walks that wind along the coast.
wheal coates

The mine of Wheal Coates

wheal coates

Wheal Coates


Port Isaac has been an attractive fishing village since the beginning of the fourteenth century. From the Middle Ages until the mid-19th century, Port Isaac managed large imports and exports of coal, timber, ceramics and slate. The name Port Isaac derives from the Cornish Porth Izzick which means the port of ‘mais’. After the advent of the railways, it became mainly a fishing port and several times was the protagonist of some television series, including Doc Martin. Its narrow and winding streets are lined with old white cottages. Houses with slate roofs overlooking the ocean and to keep us company during the visit, there was the sea breeze and the sound of seagulls. The village is located within an area of exceptional beauty and there are plenty of walks to do along the coast and inland.
port isaac

Port Isaac

port isaac

villagge of Port Isaac


A must for anyone who decides to visit Cornwall and we certainly did not miss it, is the castle or rather what remains of Tintagel Castle. It is under these towers, collapsed courtyards, along these secret and tortuous passages that echo the legends of Tintagel, from the romantic sagas of King Arthur to the magic and witchcraft of Merlin the enchanter. The Tintagel Castle was originally the great fortress of the medieval rulers of Cornwall. Its link to the Arthurian legend was forged by historian and chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, who was the first to suggest in the pages of his Historia Regum Britannae that this imposing fortress was the birthplace of King Arthur. The castle can be reached along the path from the town of Tintagel but the thing that struck us most is its position on a spur overlooking the sea which is now easily accessible via a bridge seventy meters long only opened in 2019. Among the many works of art to admire when walking through this fascinating coastal enclave, there is the life-size bronze sculpture inspired by King Arthur, his code of chivalry and his noble past. According to the legends, through a steep staircase and accessible only at low tide is the cave where magician Merlin tried his ​ spells and potions. A place where you can still breathe an atmosphere of pure magic.
tintagel castle

Tintagel castle

tintagel castle

Tintagel castle


Finally, instead of a place, I insert a typical Cornish dish, the Cornish Pasty. If you’re coming to Cornwall, you can’t leave the county without experiencing this delight that you’ll find everywhere. It is simply a half-moon shaped dumpling of dough, the border folded into a thick crust. With filling that can be meat, potatoes, onions and rutabaga. This is the original recipe, although there are many variations. Since 2003, it has been recognised at European level as an indication of controlled origin (PGI). The Pasty was a simple food for families, fishermen, farmers but also for men and boys who worked in the depths of the tin mines of Cornwall. Their wives and mothers lovingly prepared these tasty and hearty meals to provide a just and warm sustenance to these men during the exhausting dark days in the wet mines, which it was not possible to re-emerge even at lunchtime. The thick crust served as a means of keeping the Pasty with dirty hands without contaminating the meal.

cornish pasty

Cornish Pasty


  • from Italy take a flight to London or Bristol then the most convenient solution is to rent a car with which to move freely between the various places. Take the M4 motorway from London then the M5 to Exeter (or take the M3 and the A303 through Salisbury Plain) and finally the A30, which is mostly dual-lane, or the A38 through Plymouth and Saltash to South East Cornwall. Alternatively, if you enter Cornwall from North Devon, there is the panoramic Atlantic Highway A39 through Bude, which you can reach from junction 27 on the M5.

  • You can reach Cornwall via an internal flight from London Gatwick or Manchester to Newquay Airport.

  • With public transport, you can use boththe train and the bus and the route from London takes about 7/8 hours

  • By ferryyou can reach Cornwall, Plymouth is the nearest port connected by the French city of Roscoff or Santander in Spain.


If you don’t want to visit the county yourself, you can think about going on some organized tours without having the thought of driving or travelling by public transport.

I recommend going in the summer months, it is not so obvious to find sunny days. The area is very windy. From July to early September, during the summer school holidays, it is advisable to book well in advance.
Try to spend at least 3 days exploring Cornwall.

post a comment