Top 10 Seaside Villages to Visit in Cornwall
Stunning Seaside villages in Cornwall to visit for a great Cornish day out
Cornwall without a doubt is a beautiful place full of quaint beach towns, vibrant landscapes, dramatic seas and a stunning sweeping coastline covering over 422 miles or 697 km, which make it a great holiday destination full of sandy beaches and beautiful villages.
Cornwall provides you with many opportunities from exploring the golden sands with loved ones to capturing some stunning seascape pictures among the various outstanding natural beauty areas.
If you’re planning a vacation and are looking for some gorgeous beaches, somewhere to catch some waves or perhaps somewhere to get away from it all, then the South West of England's country of Cornwall is the place to go. It boasts breath-taking scenery and amazing outdoor activities that accommodate people with a wide range of interests - surfing and paragliding anyone?!
It really is a great location to visit to see the beauty of the England's Southwest. and that beauty doesn't just stop at the counties natural landscapes and coast. It continues onto the the Cornish Towns and Villages that dot the landscape from the Bodmin moor to the Tip of Cornwall's Coast.
You can see the elegance of Cornwall continue in its lovely and quaint villages, here we have created a list of 10 beautiful villages you must visit in Cornwall.
1. Marazion - St Michaels Mount.
Marazion's name derives from the two markets that used to take place in the area known as Marghas Byghan (Small Market) and Marghas Jew (Thursday Market) the names of these two markets over time created the name Marazion.
It comes as no surprise then that Marazion is one of the oldest towns in the UK having been chartered by Henry III in 1257 although records of markets here date back to 1070.
Marazion has many charms and you can feel the age of the village when you walk down its cobbled streets. We would highly recommend a visit to the beautiful and old village of Marazion and whilst your there be sure to check out the Cutty Sark Restaurant if you fancy something to eat.
Why your at Marazion why not head to one of the many carparks by Marazion beach and visit another gem of Cornwall's South Coast. The iconic and stunning St Michaels Mount which comprises a castle build in 1135 on the Island.
During low tide it is quite possible to walk to the mount and back so get your timing correct and check the tides at https://www.tidetimes.org.uk/ if you fancy a visit.
Did you know that Marazion is older than Penzance and was the original large sized town of the area!
St Michaels mount is somewhere I have photographed many times over the years why not check out one of our St Michaels Mounts Prints for Sale such as this one with the Milkyway above.
2. St. Ives - The picturesque Harbour
The beach town of St Ives is named after the Irish Princess St la, who was a missionary that sailed from Ireland to Cornwall on a leaf in the 5th Century, to build an oratory. - Yes on a leaf!! St Ives is a rich and vibrant fishing town with a varied history
St Ives has a population of 9,500 people and is situated about 8 miles north-west of Penzance and is the most westerly major town on the English Coastline.
St Ives enjoyed great prosperity during medieval times due to nearby tin, copper and silver mines like the stunning examples up the south west coast path at Botallack Mines as well as from fishing activity.
One of our Panoramic Prints of Cornwall's Botallack Mine
In recent decades its popularity as a tourist destination has grown leading to many restaurants, shops and galleries opening up. Some come to indulge themselves on the lovely beaches like Porthmeor, St Ives bay or St Ives Harbour.
For visitors who choose to stay longer there's lots going on such as free concerts at Churchfields during summer months or visiting other beautiful coastal locations like Sennen Cove, Godrevy Lighthouse or Mousehole all of which are only a short drive away.
Did you know that Grey Seals can often be spotted on the beach's surrounding St Ives!
3.Padstow - The fishing town
Padstow is a charming seaside town in a world-class destination and one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall, perfect for those who are seafood lovers. with a large range of Sea Food Restaurants to choose from.
If your a fan of Rick Stein he kind of has a monopoly on Padstow and you can choose from four of his restaurants including.
The Seafood Restaurant
Opened by Rick Stein and Jill Stein in 1975, the Seafood Restaurant is where it all began. Boasting an international reputation for serving the freshest fish and shellfish, Head Chef Pete Murt and our team celebrate Cornish produce, with ingredients sourced locally to create simple seafood dishes and classic flavours.
The St Petroc’s Bistro
At our informal bistro that is only a short stroll from Padstow harbour, we take classic French cooking seriously.
St Petroc’s Bistro is renowned for its atmosphere best experienced whilst enjoying a dry-aged, grilled steak or the freshest Cornish catch. Stopping by Ruby’s Bar next door for a pre or post dinner cocktail is a must.
Rick Stein’s Café
The informal, family friendly café with atmospheric Cornish charm provides a relaxing pause in the middle of Padstow from morning until late.
Stop by for a classic full English or crushed avocado on toast, our breakfasts are the perfect way to start the day.
Stein’s Fish & Chips
On the coast overlooking the Camel Estuary, Rick Stein’s fish and chips boasts both an informal restaurant and takeaway.
Our menu features a large range of locally sourced fish served battered or grilled alongside famous favourite sauces and sides, our hand cut chips or even oysters to shuck. With three courses of local produce available, including a selection of curries and desserts, we’re rather proud of our fish & chips being some of the best in Cornwall.
Find out more at https://www.rickstein.com
Padstow also has many things to do non food related, like visiting some of the fishing boats nestled among the historic harbour, walking along the sea wall (just watch out for seagulls) or building sandcastles on the many beaches that surround Padstow such as St George's Cove.
We would highly recommend a visit to Padstow although it can get very busy in the summer months, get there early and head to one of the many large carparks in the town to get a spot https://padstowlive.com/parking
Did you know that Padstow originally named Petroc-stow, was founded by the Welsh missionary Saint Petroc in AD500 and was raided in 981 by the Vikings.
4. St. Agnes - An original quaint Cornish village
In South Cornwall lies the quaint seaside village of St. Agnes, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site. This tiny village is just a 30-minute drive south of Newquay and is absolutely gorgeous in its Cornish charm.
I'm a big fan of St. Agnes and have visited it many times over the years, and whilst St Agnes town is limited in size you can still find a great selection of shops and places to eat such as the Tap House.
There are a couple narrow streets that can make it hard to manoeuvre through town, but what’s a village without having the proper time to enjoy all its quirks especially as you drive through!
The main charm to me though is the Stunning St. Agnes Heritage Coast on the South West Coast Path which is full of many great and enchanting walks among the heather, Cornish coastline and old Cornish Mining Heritage
A good bet here is to park your car at Chapel Porth Beach, get a drink and bite to eat at the Café and then head up the footpath to Wheal Coates Tin Mine.
Find out more at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chapel-porth
Did you know that Saint Agnes is the patron saint of those seeking purity!
5. St Just - The rural village in the South
St Just-in-Penwith is the perfect Cornish village to stay in if you’re visiting Land’s End, Sennen cove or many of the other locations of Southern Cornwall and the Roseland Peninsula.
There are so many things here to explore in the area from the town which is steeped in history, reflected in the narrow picturesque streets full of granite cottages and churches to further a field. St Just and the Roseland Peninsula is quite rural even for Cornwall, so grab your map and go for a hike or cycle.
The Church in St Just is a rather picturesque one so why not stop by for a Cornish picnic with a view and don't forget your camera.
Make sure you check out Cape Cornwall on the south west coast path whilst you’re in the area, Sennen Cove for surfing and it goes without saying Lands End, if your into history as well be sure to check out the Submarine Crown Mines at Botallack for an amazing view across the coast.
Did you know that Cape Cornwall which is next to St Just is the only Cape where two oceans meat in England!
6. Port Isaac - The Magical village by the sea
The picturesque fishing port of Port Issac has a magical and fairy-tale feeling to it, due to is stunning location and elevated views across the ocean and because it is home to several different children’s films and TV series.
The setting of the Martin Clunes show, Doc Martin was actually filmed in Port Isaac as well! It makes sense choosing Port Isaac as a filming location as it has many charms of a British town that we often see on screen!
Popular films such as Hamlet, King Arthur, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Black Beauty, Gulliver's Travels as well as Harry Potter were also all filmed here at Port Issac!
Port Issac is a great location to base yourself at for a few nights way in Cornwall, the town has many great shops and restaurants to visit as well as picturesque narrow streets and views for as far as the eye can see.
We would highly recommend a visit to Port Isaac, bear in mind you will probably have to park at the carpark around the corner from the village and it can then be a 10 minute walk into the village so it may not be suitable for those with mobility restrictions.
Find our more about visiting Port Isaac here
Did you know that Port Isaac was once one of the busiest fishing ports in Europe and specialised in the Cornish pilchard!
7. Looe - The magnificent harbour town
Looe is a popular beach and harbour town, widely regarded among tourists and locals alike as a top tourist destination due to its beauty and peaceful atmosphere and one of the best beach towns to visit in the UK.
If you want to experience the quintessential Cornish getaway Looe is the right place for you. The most important thing to do here is go swimming or try out surfing as it's very common throughout that region of Britain.
A fishing harbour with a long history of valuable sea products being landed there has been preserved so that tourists and locals alike can admire its beauty. Other activities such as bird-watching are possible if one wishes to venture off the beaten track.
Looe has a rich history to offer. Some of the highlights worth visiting include the famous Looe Bridge that joins together the east and west of town, as well as beautiful woodland areas and cobbled streets lined with independent boutiques and charming shops, deliciously savoury restaurants, and charming cafes.
Looe is a great place to visit if you are shorter on time, being on the East coast and closer to Devon than some of the other locations it can be easier to reach by car.
Find unique Looe accommodation for your holiday.
Did you know that Looe was once one of the largest exporters of Arsenic which was once used in herbicides and wood preservatives, as well as pigments in paints.
8. St. Mawes - The village on the Sea
St Mawes is a beautiful village in Cornwall. It's on the south coast, very near to Falmouth. If you find yourself traveling through Cornwall, we would definitely recommend making a stop at St Mawes because it's literally breath-taking!
The best time to go would probably be early morning or sunset to really experience the magic of St Mawes with the golden light catching the beautiful coloured houses of the region.
Why not stay the night and spend a bit more time exploring St Mawes. You should take advantage of the views offered by Hotel Tresanton's rooftop which you can pop into for a drink or a spot of lunch, and be sure to swing by St. Mawes Castle for a bit of local history.
Once you have finished with that you can head over to Falmouth via the ferry for an afternoon of shopping and exploring the lovely Falmouth town!
Did you know that St Mawes Castle was built in the 1540s, and is the best surviving example of a Henrician artillery fort.
9.Falmouth - The large town bursting with life.
No guide to a Cornish Village would be complete without a mention of Falmouth and whilst many would argue that Falmouth is too big for a village, it still holds the charm of one and we just have to mention it.
Surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Fal River Estuary, the town of Falmouth lies on Cornwall’s south coast. and has an array of things to explore including its splendid harbour.
The sea’s long been a big part of life in Falmouth, and it’s still a working harbor, as well as a university town and seaside resort. With beaches, castles, pubs and seafood, Falmouth makes a great weekend break. Whether you’re after summer sun or winter walks – or visiting for the annual Sea Shanty or other fun fesivals in Falmouth.
If your planning on staying somewhere for several days or even a week, Falmouth really is a great place to stay, it has the feel of a large village by the sea, but the shops and convivence of a large town.
Its location by the sea means it has stunning views and old harbours to explore as well as a wealth of history to take in.
We could write a whole article on Falmouth alone so please have a look at https://www.falmouth.co.uk for a full in-depth look at Falmouth.
Did you know that Falmouth has the third deepest natural harbour in the world! Its no wonder why Henry III build two castles to protect it.
10. Mevagissey - The quaint fishing harbour
Mevagissey is an attractive harbourside village that was once the economic centre of Cornwall’s pilchard fishery.
Although it is no longer the economic centre of Cornwall’s fishery, it still boasts a working harbour where small fishing boats and yachts rotate in and out of for their daily catch.
Located just 12 miles from Fowey (another great place we would recommend a visit to) there is a surprising amount to do in the area.
Fishing trips can be taken from the harbour and there is a ferry to the nearby port of Fowey. There is a car park on the quay but the narrow streets can be difficult to negotiate and are often full of pedestrians.
We would recommend a trip to Mevagissey to see the stunning old building, historic harbour and tucked away in narrow streets you'll find plenty of coffee shops and cafés with delicious cocktails and food to taste along with many galleries full of beautiful art for your home.
Did you know that the name Mevagissey comes from the name of two combined Saints of St Meva and St Issey.
Check out our art and landscape photography prints of Cornwall
Such as our print of Padstow Lifeboat Station
What's your favorite seaside place to visit in Cornwall? Let us know in the Comments box below!
Meet the Author:
I am a Devon based Photographer, who enjoys travel, hiking, rugby and photographing the beautiful world in which we live in, I see photography as a creative expression upon visiting beautiful places. Each picture often tells a story.
Thank you for reading this article, Please feel to share it with your friends and please check out all my Photography - and my Cornish Seascape Prints for Sale
Sebastien Coell Photography