Cornwall is a fantastic holiday destination thanks to its miles of sandy beaches, rugged coastline, and picturesque fishing villages. If you’re looking for where to stay in Cornwall you’ve come to the right place.
From surfing to exploring ancient castles and sampling some of the country’s best food, there are lots of great things to do in England’s westernmost county.
I’ve been visiting the region for over 30 years and will tell you about the best places to stay in Cornwall for families, foodies, adventure-seekers, and more. In this Cornwall accommodation guide, you’ll find a great selection of places to stay whatever your budget and preferences.
Learn where to stay in Cornwall with this guide.
Quick Look: Best Areas to Stay in Cornwall
- First-Time Visitor: Penzance
- With Family: Polzeath
- On a Budget: Bodmin
- For Nightlife: Falmouth
- For Foodies: Padstow
Where To Stay in Cornwall
Below I’ve listed all the best places to stay in Cornwall as well as some information on each place like where to eat, things to do etc. You’ll also find a useful interactive map with the same information below.
Penzance: Best Place To Stay in Cornwall for Your First Time
Charming Penzance is the best town to stay in Cornwall for first-time visitors as it has everything from top surfing beaches to some excellent restaurants, museums, coastal walks, and entertainment options.
Penzance is ideally situated for exploring some of Cornwall’s top attractions such as the Minack Theatre, St. Michael’s Mount, Land’s End, and much more.
Best Places to Stay in Penzance
There are plenty of great accommodation options in Penzance and below you’ll find some of the top places to stay.
1. The Quarterdeck: this harborside apartment is located in a converted former wharf building and includes a balcony overlooking the harbor, bay, and St. Michael’s Mount. The property sleeps two people and comes with a fully fitted kitchen, modern shower and bathroom, and a large, double bedroom.
2. Sunny Central Apartment: this modern, top-floor apartment is located in the center of town so is perfect for getting to the shops, restaurants, and close-by bars of Penzance. There is a double bedroom, kitchen, bathroom with bath and shower, and a living room with an extra fold-out bed so the property can sleep up to three.
3. Central Townhouse: This stylish two-bedroom townhouse in the heart of Penzance sleeps up to four people. There’s an open-plan kitchen and lounge with Smart TV, a fully equipped kitchen, and a small balcony.
5 Top Things To Do in Penzance
Penzance is packed with fun and interesting things to do from tropical gardens to beaches, pubs, shops, museums, and stately homes. Here is a selection of the top things to do in and around Penzance.
1. Learn to Surf: Cornwall is famed as one of Europe’s top surf destinations and so hitting a few waves is a must. This 2-hour beginners surf lesson is a great way to learn a new skill and have a lot of fun doing so.
2. Visit Penlee House: Penlee House is a gallery and museum set within acres of lush, tropical gardens in Penzance. Be sure to indulge in a Cornish cream tea at the onsite cafe (my favorite Cornish treat).
3. Take in a Show at the Minack Theatre: The Minack is an open-air theater on the cliffs overlooking the rugged Cornish coastline. You can take in a play under the stars or just explore the theater, gardens, and cafe.
4. Walk Around St. Michael’s Mount: St. Michael’s Mount is a large castle on a tidal island in Mount’s Bay across from Penzance. Walk over the causeway at low tide or take a boat if the tide is up and explore this top Cornish landmark.
5. Go Wine Tasting at Polgoon Vinyard: Cornwall is quickly establishing itself as the UK’s top wine region thanks to its mild climate. Visit the Polgoon Vineyard and sample some of the country’s best wines.
Where to Eat and Drink in Penzance
Penzance is a great destination for sampling some of Cornwall’s excellent dishes with lots of great restaurants, pubs, and cafes in and around the town.
1. Mackerel Sky Seafood Bar: No trip to Cornwall is complete without sampling its seafood and the Mackerel Sky Seafood Bar excels at preparing locally caught fish and shellfish. It’s located right next to the harbor so you know you’re getting the freshest catch.
2. The Shore: If you’re looking for an upmarket restaurant for a special evening or celebration, then head to chef Bruce Rennie’s the Shore in the center of town.
3. The Dolphin Tavern: This excellent traditional pub on the quay is the place to go for a homely meal at a reasonable price. Steak, fish and chips, chili con carne, and a large vegetarian selection make this a great place to dine with friends or family.
Padstow: The Best Place to Stay in Cornwall for Foodies
Padstow is an excellent destination for foodies as not only is it the home of four restaurants owned by TV chef Rick Stein, but it’s also home to one of the only Michelin-starred restaurants in Cornwall. The town is built around the harbor with fishing boats bringing in their fresh catch each day.
However, there is so much more to Padstow than just its awesome food (I’ve been visiting the town almost every year since I was born). From the beautiful Camel Estuary to boat trips, seaside walks, and rustic pubs, this fishing town should be on everyone’s bucket list (I know, I’m biased).
Best Places to Stay in Padstow
As Padstow is a small town, wherever you stay will be within walking distance of the harbor, shops, pubs, and attractions. Below you’ll find three excellent choices to make the most out of your stay in this beautiful fishing town and one of the best places in Cornwall to stay.
1. Sunrise Cottage: This beautiful one-bedroom cottage overlooking Padstow and the estuary is the perfect place for couples to stay. Just a few minutes’ walk from the town center, the property has a double bedroom, double shower, lounge/diner, and stunning views of the estuary.
2. Greenhorn: A spacious two-bedroom cottage that sleeps up to six people with great views of the town and estuary. Greenhorn benefits from two bathrooms so is a great option for families or a group of friends There’s a patio, decking, and conservatory perfect for cozy nights in.
3. Sea View: This two-bedroom open-plan apartment has a sun terrace with wonderful estuary views. It sleeps up to four people and includes a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, an additional bathroom, a living room with a log burner, and a fully fitted kitchen.
5 Top Things To Do in Padstow
Padstow is a fantastic destination in Cornwall thanks to its picturesque harbor, boutique shops, world-class restaurants, and excellent location on the beautiful Camel Estuary. Below you’ll find some of the best things to do in this Cornish seaside gem.
1. Cycle the Camel Trail: Cycling the Camel Trail is something I have completed countless times and will never tire of. With stunning views as you follow the estuary and river inland, the trail passes several great pubs where you can stop for refreshment.
2. Visit Prideaux Place: The Elizabethan country house at Prideaux Place has been looked after by the same family for over 400 years. Take a look around this Grade I listed building, enjoy the acres of grounds which is home to one of Britain’s oldest deer herds, or enjoy a cream tea at the cafe overlooking the estuary.
3. Take the Padstow Ferry to Rock: The Padstow to Rock ferry takes just ten minutes but is a great way to see the estuary from another vantage point and to get to the nearby beaches at Daymer Bay and Rock. The Black Tor leaves from behind the harbor every 20 minutes or so depending on the tide.
4. Eat Fish and Chips on the Harbor: You won’t have a problem finding fish and chips in Padstow with lots of cafes, pubs, takeaways, and fish and chip shops on offer. Being Padstow, you should opt for Stein’s Fish and Chips and grab a takeaway to enjoy on the harbor wall as you watch the boats.
5. Visit the National Lobster Hatchery: The National Lobster Hatchery is a conservation project that includes an award-winning visitor center with lots of hands-on exhibits. This is a great family attraction in Padstow and you can even adopt your own lobster.
Where to Eat and Drink in Padstow
Padstow is a foodie’s heaven thanks to its many great restaurants. Seafood is the specialty here, with freshly caught fish and shellfish straight from the boat to the restaurant table (well, via the kitchen of course).
1. The Seafood Restaurant: Rick Stein’s flagship Seafood Restaurant has been a Padstow fixture for over 40 years. Come here for the freshest seafood dishes with a modern twist and inspiration from Stein’s travels around the world (the Singapore chili crab is a favorite).
2. Paul Ainsworth at No 6: Paul Ainsworth at No 6 is Padstow’s only Michelin-starred restaurant so if you are looking for something special, this is the place. The name comes with a price so be prepared to pay upwards of £135 per person for four courses, not including drinks.
3. The Shipwrights: If you’re looking for a hearty tuck-in in charming surroundings that doesn’t break the bank, then look no further than the Shipwrights on the harbor. This is my favorite pub in Padstow and has a great menu of pub classics and comfort food; perfect after a day’s swimming, sightseeing, or hiking.
Falmouth: Best Area in Cornwall for Nightlife
Falmouth is a university town in Cornwall known for its large, deepwater harbor (the third deepest in the world) and Pendennis Castle which was built by King Henry VIII.
Being a university town there’s no shortage of pubs, bars, and nightclubs here – it’s one of Cornwall’s best destinations for nightlife. So, if you’re looking for the best place to stay in Cornwall where you can party ’til dawn, then Falmouth is the place for you.
Best Places to Stay in Falmouth
You’ll find a selection of great places to stay in the heart of Falmouth (though far enough from the clubs that you can still enjoy peace and quiet when it suits).
1. Waterside Apartment: This spacious and modern one-bedroom apartment is right on the harborfront and is just a few minutes’ walk from the town center making it perfect for daytime trips on the water and nights in town. The property includes a double bedroom, a large, open-plan living area, outside decking, and a fully fitted kitchen. Click here to book.
2. Bell’s Chappel: This stylish rooftop apartment sleeps up to four people and is located in the heart of the action just behind Market Street. The property has two bedrooms with balconies overlooking the town and across Pendennis Castle. It features a fully equipped kitchen and is located right next to Beerwolf Books (one of my favorite places in Falmouth). Click here for more info.
3. Waterfront Townhouse: This contemporary townhouse apartment right on the water’s edge benefits from floor-to-ceiling doors, an outside deck, and even a private pontoon perfect for hitting the water. There are three bedrooms and the place sleeps up to six people, with three private parking spaces (gold dust in Falmouth). Click here to find out more.
5 Top Things To Do in Falmouth
Below you’ll find some of the best things to do in Falmouth including its top attractions such as the castle and Maritime Museum.
1. Take a Falmouth Walking Tour: This 90-minute walking tour is a great way to familiarize yourself with the town while learning all about its maritime history. Discover hidden alleys and walkways, see the famous harbor and listen to amazing local stories from a Falmouth native.
2. Explore Pendennis Castle: Pendennis Castle was built by King Henry VIII in 1542 to protect England from its enemies of the time (France and the Holy Roman Empire). The castle sits on a headland overlooking the Fal Estuary and is a great place to get some fresh air with stunning sea views.
3. Visit the Falmouth Lifeboat: The RNLI lifeboat station at Falmouth gives a fascinating look into the brave men and women who risk their lives in all weather to help stranded seafarers. There are free daily tours between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm.
4. Visit the National Maritime Museum: The National Maritimer Museum is one of Falmouth’s top visitor attractions and charts the town’s history and connection to the sea. The museum is located on Falmouth’s famous deepwater harbor and is well worth a visit for those interested in maritime history.
5. Go Kayaking: Falmouth is the perfect place to set off on the water for a kayaking adventure. This 2.5-hour experience sets off from the beautiful Gyllyngvase beach before exploring the caves, coves, and gullies around Cornwall’s dazzling south coast. Suitable for all experience levels as training and safety gear are provided.
Where to Eat and Drink in Falmouth
As an artsy and metropolitan university town, Falmouth is not short of excellent eateries from upmarket restaurants to homely pubs and cafes. Below is a selection of some of the best dining options the town has to offer.
1. Seafood Bar: Looking to experience Cornwall’s fresh seafood with a taster tray of craft beer? Then look no further than the Seafood Bar run by Falmouth’s Verdant Brewing Company. Dine on the freshest ingredients and sample some of Cornwall’s best ales at this trendy bar on the harbor.
2. The Boathouse Pub and Restaurant: Another great option where you can combine two of life’s simple pleasures; eating and drinking. The Boathouse has an excellent harborside location and a reasonably priced menu offering hearty pub classics such as fish and chips, burgers, and a great selection of local beers, ciders, and wines.
3. Beerwolf Books: If you’re looking to feed your mind rather than your belly, then be sure to head to Beerwolf Books. This cozy pub doubles as a bookshop and library so you can browse the shelves and select a good book to entertain yourself with your beer. This is one of my favorite places to visit in Falmouth being a lover of both books and beer and I highly recommend an afternoon or evening here.
Newquay: Coolest Place to Stay in Cornwall
Newquay is the surfing capital of the UK, and as such attracts a hip crowd of adrenalin-seekers looking to catch the next big wave. The town has great nightlife too with lots of cool bars and clubs open until the small hours.
In summer, Newquay is definitely the hottest destination and one of the coolest places to stay in Cornwall for extreme sports enthusiasts and ocean lovers.
Best Places to Stay in Newquay
If you’re looking for where to stay in Cornwall England, then these great Newquay properties are perfect for access to the town’s beaches, bars, and nightlife. Newquay is definitely one of the best areas to stay in Cornwall and these are some of the accommodation options in the town.
1. Lamorna Guest Suite: This one-bedroom guest suite is located close to all of Newquay’s amenities and a short walk from the town’s beaches. The space includes a double bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and an outside patio area. Click here for more info.
2. Beach View Apartment: This two-bedroom apartment has stunning views over Newquay’s Fistral beach and is located within the exclusive Cribbar development. The property has a master bedroom with an en-suite, an additional family bathroom, a living area, and a fitted kitchen. Click here to learn more.
3. Apartment in Newquay: This recently refurbished one-bedroom apartment is in a quiet residential location but just an 8-minute walk to the beaches and center of town. The bedroom has an en-suite bathroom, a kitchen, and a lounge area. Click here to book.
5 Top Things To Do in Newquay
Newquay is famed for its great beaches (Towan and Fistral are the most popular), but there’s a lot more to do than just surfing. Discover the top things to do below.
1. Learn to Surf: Newquay will always be synonymous with surfing and so it’s the perfect place to learn. This beginners surfing experience will have you learning the basics and by the end end of the session, you should be riding waves like the best of them.
2. Go Coasteering: Coasteering is an adrenalin-fuelled adventure where you’ll be jumping off rocks into the sea, swimming through gullies, and clambering across the north Cornish coastline. This 2.5-hour adventure takes place around Newquay and is a great activity for adventurous souls.
3. Go Sea Kayaking: Sea kayaking in Cornwall is one of my favorite things to do (after surfing). This kayak tour is suitable for all levels and will have you paddling along some of the most scenic parts of the Cornish coast around Newquay.
4. Visit Trenance Heritage Cottages: The beautiful Trenance Cottages form part of a Grade II listed building and are set within acres of sub-tropical gardens. There’s a museum, gift shop, and cafe making it an excellent day out for the whole family.
5. Go Wine Tasting: Thanks to its mild climate Cornwall has firmly put itself on the wine-making map. The Trevibban Mill vineyard makes for a great day trip from Newquay where you can learn all about wine-making while also sampling some of Cornwalls top wines.
Where to Eat and Drink in Newquay
As Newquay is such a popular holiday destination it is not short on pubs, bars, and restaurants. Below are some of the top picks.
1. The Fish House at Fistral: This excellent seafood restaurant serves only the freshest catch right next to the town’s Fistral beach. Excellent prices for the location.
2. Restaurant/Bar Name: The Sailor’s Arms is a pub, restaurant, and nightclub, so you can eat, drink, and be merry in the heart of Newquay with views over Towan beach. Food is served until 8:00 pm.
3. The Secret Garden: The Secret Garden is a restaurant overlooking Great Western beach that specializes in artisan pizzas, and local wines and beers. It bills itself as having “the best view in town” and it’s hard to argue against that. It’s a great spot for a romantic evening.
Polzeath: Best for Families
If you’re looking for where to stay in Cornwall for families, then Polzeath is a fantastic option and somewhere I stayed on family holidays for years. With a massive sandy beach (and a smaller hidden beach next door), this small village is one of the best places to stay in Cornwall by the sea.
Polzeath is in a great location within easy reach of Padstow, Port Isaac, Tintagel, and Boscastle so if you get bored of the beach (which is unlikely), then there are plenty of interesting places to visit nearby.
Best Places to Stay in Polzeath
If you ask me where the best place to stay in Cornwall is then I have to say it’s Polzeath. Below is a small selection of places to stay in this wonderful beachfront village.
1. Headlands Apartment: This two-bedroom modern home on the headland of New Polzeath sleeps four people and benefits from two bathrooms so is one of the best places to stay in Cornwall for families. The property has recently been refurbished and comes with a full kitchen, living area, and a balcony with sea views. Click here to learn more.
2. Polzeath Flat: This two-bedroom cozy flat is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and bay. It’s in a quiet location away from the hubbub, but close enough to the beach, shops, and restaurants. Click here to find out more.
3. Stunning Holiday Apartment: This two-bedroom apartment is a home away from home and is just a stone’s throw from Polzeath beach offering stunning views out across the bay. The property sleeps up to six people and benefits from two bathrooms, a flatscreen TV with Freeview, WiFi, and a balcony. Click here to book.
5 Top Things To Do in Polzeath
Polzeath is primarily a beach destination but there are some great walks along the southwest coast path that start in the village.
1. Go Surfing: Polzeath is a great beach for surfing and there are plenty of rental shops to get kitted out right on the beach. There are lifeguards from May to September which makes it perfect for families. I’ve been surfing at Polzeath since I was a kid and it’s where I first learned to catch a wave.
2. See Baby Bay: At low tide, you can walk around the headland to Baby Bay, a tiny beach that’s much more secluded than Polzeath beach and is a great place to escape the crowds. Baby Bay is great for swimming, paddling, exploring caves and rock pools, and generally relaxing in stunning scenery.
3. Hike to Pentire Point: The southwest coast path passes through Polzeath from the back of the beach. An easy hike is up to Pentire Point which offers stunning views across Polzeath and out to sea. If you still have energy after reaching Pentire Point head further along the path to the Rumps, an old Iron Age hill fort shaped like, er, a rump.
4. Enjoy a Cream Tea at the Pentyr Cafe: Polzeath is where I tried my first cream tea (a pot of tea with scones, Cornish clotted cream, and strawberry jam) and the Pentyr Cafe is one of the best places around to indulge in this Cornish treat.
5. Walk to Padstow: If the rocky path to Pentire Point seems a bit much, then take the flat and easy path around Daymer Bay to Rock, where you can catch the ferry to Padstow and explore this wonderful fishing town. The walk should take around 90 minutes one way.
Where to Eat and Drink in Polzeath
For a smallish settlement, Polzeath has more than its fair share of great eateries, pubs, cafes, and restaurants. Here are my top picks:
1. The Cracking Crab: The Cracking Crab is a pub on the headland overlooking Polzeath beach and has a great seafood menu. They also have an onsite grill so if you’re looking for more turf than surf then you’ll not be disappointed. It’s also a great spot for cream tea or ice cream. I was last here a couple of years ago and both the food and views were exceptional.
2. Atlantic Bar and Kitchen: The Atlantic Bar and Kitchen is situated on the cliffs of New Polzeath overlooking the beach. This trendy Italian joint is a great place to while away a few hours as you watch the waves of the Atlantic crash onto the shore. Pizza and mains are priced from £15.00 per person.
3. The Waterfront: This beach bar and grill is located just off Polzeath beach with excellent views. The Waterfront serves food from 10:00 am so it’s a great option for breakfast as well as lunch and/or dinner. It’s also a great place if you just fancy a drink with some exceptional beachside views.
Bodmin: Where to Stay in Cornwall on a Budget
Bodmin is a small town perched on the edge of Bodmin Moor. It has excellent connections to the rest of the country (including direct trains from London) and there is plenty to do in the area from hiking to a steam railway, visiting an old prison, and more.
As Bodmin is not a beachside location it is generally cheaper than other parts of the county and is one of the best areas to stay in Cornwall for those on a budget.
But fear not, for if you want to visit the beach there are bus services, so if you’re looking for where to stay in Cornwall without a car then Bodmin is also a good option.
Best Places to Stay in Bodmin
Below is a small selection of reasonably priced accommodation options. If you’re looking for where best to stay in Cornwall on a budget then check these great listings below (one even includes a hot tub).
1. The Bethany: This cozy self-contained apartment with a courtyard garden is the perfect place for budget travelers. It’s within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of Bodmin and close to the major attractions. The property features a workspace and WiFi so it’s also great for digital nomads. Click here to find out more.
2. Bodmin Guest House: This adorable guest house comes with its own hot tub for the ultimate relaxing stay. There’s a small patio with a detached sun house/office, a fully fitted kitchen, a double bedroom, and a cozy living area. Click here to book.
3. The Garden Studio: This picturesque studio apartment is located on the edge of Bodmin moor and benefits from a patio and garden, kitchenette, and homely living area with pleasant garden views. This property is in a rural location but within walking distance of the nearest pub. Click here to find out more.
5 Top Things To Do in Bodmin
There are plenty of great things to do in and around Bodmin from exploring the dramatic moor (watch out for the Beast of Bodmin) to setting off on the Camel Trail which starts and ends in the town.
1. Go Hiking on Bodmin Moor: The dramatic and brooding Bodmin Moor is a great place to escape for some serious hiking and untouched scenery. With miles of heathland, wild ponies, lonely cottages, and roaring rivers, Bodmin is a hikers’ dream. Be sure to take a map, water, and warm clothing as the weather can change quickly.
2. Take a Trip on the Steam Railway: The Bodmin and Wenford Railway operates an old steam train through the beautiful Cornish countryside. There are two branch lines starting out from Bodmin General and this is a great way to experience some stunning scenery at a comfortable pace. There’s even the option of an onboard cream tea!
3. Visit Bodmin Jail: Bodmin Jail is an old prison built in 1779 that’s now part visit attraction and part hotel. Wander around the creepy halls of the austere stone building that was the site of many executions until it closed in 1927.
4. Cycle the Camel Trail to Padstow: The Camel Trail is a stretch of 18 miles of flat cycle trail from Bodmin to Padstow. The track follows the River Camel to the estuary and offers some of the most stunning scenery in Cornwall. Don’t worry if you don’t fancy cycling back as you can return rented bikes in Wadebridge or Padstow and hop on a bus to return.
5. Take a Day Trip to Port Isaac: Port Isaac is one of Cornwall’s most charming fishing villages made famous by the television series Doc Martin. Bus 96 takes just over an hour to reach the village – it’s one of my favorite places in Cornwall.
Where to Eat and Drink in Bodmin
Below is a selection of some of Bodmin’s fine eateries. There are plenty of great budget options and places with a strong focus on local produce.
1. No 4 Honey Street: This quaint independent cafe/bar and restaurant serves the freshest local produce with a Mexican twist. Feast on local fish tacos or siracha cauliflower nachos washed down with locally brewed beers and wines from nearby vineyards. You can also buy homemade produce here to take home.
2. Flory Restaurant and Cafe: This upmarket Bodmin restaurant has an extensive menu utilizing local ingredients. From locally caught fish to steaks, venison, and an excellent dessert menu, the Flory is the place to go for that special occasion, but it won’t break the bank (mains from $16.00).
3. The Red Lion Inn: If you’re looking for some pub grub or a great burger in cozy surroundings, then head to the Red Lion Inn. The pub is set within a charming 18th Century building and has an extensive menu of local fish, steaks, and bar foods at great prices (mains from £12.00).
FAQs About the Best Places to Stay in Cornwall
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about where to stay in Cornwall.
The towns and villages along the north Cornish coast are the best areas for tourists. Here you’ll find some great surfing beaches, picturesque fishing villages, and lively resort towns. Padstow, Newquay, and Polzeath are my top picks as there is so much to do in and around these places.
Cornwall is an incredibly beautiful part of the UK rich in history, culture, and folklore. There really aren’t any places to avoid, although to get the best out of your trip to Cornwall you should stay close to the coast rather than inland.
Cornwall is an incredibly safe part of the UK. The main danger comes from the ocean or getting lost on Bodmin Moor, so always swim at patrolled beaches and be prepared when setting off hiking with maps, water, and warm clothing.
The larger towns of Truro, Newquay, and Falmouth are great places for shopping. That being said, you’ll find a lot of interesting boutique shops and farm outlets across Cornwall.
First-time visitors should head to Penzance or Newquay as these large towns offer plenty to do from surfing and swimming at their beaches to hitting the shops, bars, and restaurants.
Now you know about the best locations to stay in Cornwall, my favorite part of the UK. Whether you are taking the whole family, looking for a romantic getaway, or looking to surf and party the night away with friends, Cornwall has it all.
The wild beauty, fun activities, excellent seafood, and stunning coastal paths have kept me coming back year after year and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with a trip to Cornwall, wherever you choose to stay.
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