I spent many a summer holiday as a kid down on the beautiful beaches of Cornwall visiting some of the best towns in Cornwall. Renowned for their pretty architecture, great food and, of course, pretty beaches, Cornwall is a popular holiday destination in the UK.
Cornwall is where I (attempted) to learn how to surf, dug massive holes on the beach with my siblings and continued to eat my weight in shellfish. Yum!
While most people think only of the popular seaside town of Newquay, there is SO much more to explore in Cornwall. The area is known for its delicious food, artsy villages, surfing spots and some of Cornwall’s historic mining areas have become Unesco World Heritage sites!
If you’re planning a Cornwall holiday, then make sure to make a trip to these prettiest towns in Cornwall!
The Best towns in Cornwall
I’ve picked out the prettiest towns and fishing villages in Cornwall that you should add to your Cornwall bucket list. These seaside towns in Cornwall are all super cute and have delicious places to eat. I’ve also suggested some places to stay so that you can enjoy a relaxing seaside holiday in the UK.
How to get to Cornwall
Most visitors to Cornwall will drive there from all across the UK. If you’re coming from a larger city in the UK and do not have a car, I recommend getting the train to Cornwall and then renting a car once you’re there.
High-speed trains to Cornwall run frequently from London Paddington. There’s also the Night Riviera Sleeper Service to Penzance. Bath and Bristol also have daily trains to Cornwall.
Getting around Cornwall
Though there is public transport across Cornwall it’s not the most efficient or reliable. Using public transport to get between the smaller villages, or to the beach is very difficult and for that reason, I recommend hiring a car.
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!
The seaside village of Mousehole in Cornwall (pronounced ‘Mow-zel’ by locals) has a picturesque harbour at the centre and plenty of cute buildings around it. This Cornish fishing village’s pastel-coloured boats in the port mean you won’t be able to resist taking some photos!
As you walk further into the village from the port, there are some great independent shops and galleries and plenty of delicious restaurants and cafes too!
A short drive away, there’s the Minack Theatre; the open air, the world-famous theatre that puts on great productions every year.
Mousehole isn’t just one of the best coastal villages in Cornwall, it also makes up part of the Cornwall Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Make sure you spend some time walking the coastline to really appreciate the wild beauty of Cornwall.
Where to stay in Mousehole
These hotels in Mousehole come with great views of this pretty town in Cornwall.
- Boatman’s Cottage: Right on the beachfront in Mousehole.
- 9 Chapel Street: A super cute holiday cottage in Cornwall.
- The Old Pilchard Works: Sea views with this beachfront location.
One of the more well-known and nicest towns in Cornwall, St. Ives is renowned as a surfing hotspot and has been voted one of the best European beach destinations too. The fact that the colour of the water makes it seem like a tropical beach must’ve helped! The streets are lined with colourful bunting and the cobbled buildings and streets are just so pretty!
It’s one of the best places to go in Cornwall for independent shops, food and art gallery browsing. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is well worth a visit.
Where to stay in St Ives
- 27 The Terrace St Ives: In the centre of St Ives with a bar, lounge and garden area.
- Lifeboat Inn: A beachside Inn just steps from Porthmeor Beach
- Tregenna Castle Resort: Within 72 acres of private grounds, this Tregenna Castle Resort overlooks St Ives and the Cornish coast.
The small village of Coverack in Cornwall is another great Cornish village to visit. This coastal village and fishing port in Cornwall, UK is on the east side of the Lizard peninsula about 9 miles away from Falmouth. It’s a hotspot for watersports including windsurfing, sailing and diving.
Walk the Cornish Pisky Pal Trail to discover Coverack. There are clues to follow all around the village and the first letters of their name spell out a secret phrase!
Where to stay in Coverack
- The Bay Hotel: This hotel has a lounge and garden and some great views of the sea.
The Paris Hotel: offers a bar and restaurant, along with wonderful sea views from the garden.
Another of the most beautiful holiday villages in Cornwall is Helford. This historically important port used to be the gateway to imports from Europe but these days the port serves as a picturesque location in a popular holiday destination in Cornwall.
The village of Helford gets its name from the Cornish word for ‘estuary’. And, as the village is on the banks of the Helford River, it’s easy to see why it’s been given such a name. Walking along the grassy banks of the river is a perfect activity in Helford.
Where to stay in Helford
- The Old Vicarage: Cute holiday home with 5 bedrooms.
Between Plymouth and Falmouth, Fowey is one of the best Cornwall villages and it’s super cute. It’s a popular destination for holidays in the UK and is a great place to stay if you enjoy sailing (or just like watching it!).
Full of English maritime heritage, Fowey has breathtaking views which is no surprised given it’s also in the Cornish Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty!
Get some fish ‘n’ chips and head down to the harbour to enjoy them while taking in the views.
Where to stay in Fowey
- Fowey River Views: Beachfront property just 2 km from St Catherines Castle with plenty of hiking opportunities.
- Fowey Hall: Waterfront views of Fowey Port at this luxurious spa and hotel.
- The Old Quay House Hotel: A luxury hotel in Cornwall overlooking the Fowey’s attractive waterfront.
One of the most popular cities in Cornwall for holidays, Falmouth is home to the third-largest deep water harbour in the world! The high street is lined with independent boutiques and art galleries. There are live shows regularly scheduled throughout the summer from some of the best musicians in Cornwall. Falmouth is also a foodie hotspot with some delicious waterfront restaurants serving locally sourced seafood dishes.
Where to stay in Falmouth
- Greenbank Hotel: Seafront location overlooking Falmouth Harbour, Greenbank Hotel offers panoramic views and traditional charm.
- Chainlocker: Situated in Falmouth with beautiful views.
- The Red House Guesthouse: The Red House is an elegant and distinctive Victorian house overlooking the harbour and the River Fal.
A quieter Cornish village, Polperro is incredibly charming and deserving of being called one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall. It’s become pretty famous for the beautiful white fishermen cottages with their dark slate roofs. And if that wasn’t quaint enough, the narrow cobbled streets add to the effect. A stroll alongside the River Pol which runs through the village of Polperro is a super peaceful thing to do in Cornwall.
Hotels in Polperro, Cornwall
- Lannear Farm: Beautiful holiday home with great views and a garden.
- The House on the Props: Situated in Polperro, The House on the Props is right in the historic harbour.
Boscastle is set in a stunning coastline location with a beautiful natural harbour and old thatched cottages which I just love. There’s lots of medieval history in the village in Cornwall and plenty to discover including pottery and the mysterious Museum of Witchcraft and Magic which make great rainy day activities in Cornwall!
Hotels in Boscastle, Cornwall
- Boscastle House: Built in 1839, this historic building set in its own grounds, is located at the top of Boscastle. Just a 15-minute walk to the harbour.
- The Old Coach House: Situated in Boscastle, The Old Coach House is in a beautiful building with a terrace and garden.
- The Bull Pen: This cute holiday home has everything you need for a self-catering holiday in Cornwall.
With whitewashed thatched cottages, old crabbing boats and a great pub (get the crab sandwich!), this Cornish village is one of the most beautiful places in Cornwall.
Popular with locals and tourists alike due to its live music scene, Cadgwith Cove has everything you need for a peaceful Cornish getaway.
It’s well worth taking the short drive to the Kynance Cove which has a beautiful white sandy beach and is close by to a cliff formation called The Devil’s Frying Pan which is 200ft high!
Where to stay in Cadgwith Cove
- Cadgwith Cove Inn: Beachfront accommodation, some rooms with their own terrace
Padstow, or Padstein as its sometimes called due to the number of Rick Stein restaurants and eateries, is a beautiful harbourside town and one of the best villages in Cornwall for great restaurants. At the head of the Camel River in northern Cornwall, this town is a favourite for holidaymakers.
One of the top things to do in Padstow is to go crabbing from the harbour. Many of the shops sell little crabbing kits and it’s such a fun thing to do in Cornwall!
Be sure to try at least one of Rick Stein’s restaurants as they’re all delicious!
Where to stay in Padstow
- The Old Custom House: The Old Custom House overlooks Padstow’s medieval harbour. Fresh, local fish and seafood are served in the stylish restaurant.
- The Pickwick Inn: The Pickwick Inn is slightly out of the centre but is the same location as a fantastic Padstow restaurant and has an outdoor pool.
- The Old Mill House: The Old Mill House is set in a renovated Grade II listed former corn mill featuring a restaurant, bar, terrace and garden adjacent to a stream.
Considered Cornwall’s oldest town, Marazion is full of local historical attractions. If historical attractions in Cornwall aren’t your thing, you’ll still enjoy walking around this small village in Cornwall. The village runs an annual competition called “The Garden Cup” which sees locals adorn their cottages with hanging baskets and making the village even prettier!
Marazion is also well known for being the village to visit to get to St Michael’s Mount. This tiny tidal island is home to a medieval church and castle and is part of The National Trust. You have to time your visit carefully to make sure you don’t get stuck, but it’s a very cool thing to do in Cornwall.
Where to stay in Marazion
- Marazion Hotel: The Marazion Hotel offers a restaurant, bar and stylish rooms, some with views of the sea towards St Michael’s Mount.
- [email protected]: This Cornwall B&B has garden views and is located in Marazion, 350 metres from Marazion Beach.
- Sandpiper: You can’t get much closer to the beach! This accommodation in Marazion is just 30 metres from Marazion Beach!
Beautiful beaches and a refreshing breeze pretty much sum up the town of Looe in Cornwall. Another Cornish harbourside town, Looe is also the gateway to miles and miles of sandy beaches and rock pools full of creatures. Rockpooling is such a fun activity, you never quite know what you’re going to fin!
Looe is also full of independent shops full of pretty bits and pieces and you could easily spend an afternoon exploring them!
Where to stay in Looe
- The Portbyhan Hotel: Right on the quayside overlooking the picturesque Cornish fishing port of Looe.
- Shell seekers Guest House: Another Quayside hotel in Looe with great reviews.
- Deganwy Hotel: A gorgeous hotel with a bar and beautiful rooms.
Port Isaac featured as the backdrop in ITV shop Doc Martin so it may look familiar if you were a fan of the show! In the northwest of Cornwall, Port Isaac has a slightly less tropical feel that some of those on the south coast but, nevertheless, it’s often said to be one of the best places to visit in Cornwall.
Explore the medieval village and spend some time watching the local fishermen haul in their catch at the harbour. Then, head to Nathan Outlaw’s restaurants in Port Isaac to eat the freshest catch of the day!