The stuff of myths and legends the world over, a castle not only makes for a spellbinding storybook setting, but a fantastic visitor attraction. And along with our renowned abundance of things such as piskies, pasties and palm trees, another thing with have aplenty is castles.
Chock with history, Cornwall’s landscape is gloriously littered with ancient ruins, mining heritage, historic houses and standing stones – but it’s our castles that create quite the imposing stir on the horizon.
Nothing presents the past and tells our maritime story quite like the striking structures built to protect our people from invasion. Located in some of the county’s most sublime spaces, Cornwall’s castles provide an intriguing place to discover our unique history along with the jaw-dropping delights of our diverse landscape, with most boasting to-die-for-views affordable from some prized and proudly preserved architecture.
Here’s our top five for starters…
St Michael’s Mount
One of Cornwall’s, not to mention – the country’s – most iconic landmarks, St Michael’s Mount is a must-see for many reasons. Its paradisiacal position offshore Marazion in Mount’s Bay is breathtaking, while the castle and subtropical surrounds simply smack of the sublime.
Home to the St Aubyn family and island community as well as a diverse history of inhabitants from Bronze Age settlers to Benedictine Monks, The Mount has a unique identity and story to share, with a brilliant bundle of things to see and do.
Sprawled on the rugged headland overlooking the Atlantic in north Cornwall, Tintagel Castle is closely associated with Arthurian legend, with some claiming it as King Arthur’s actual birthplace.
The spectacular site of the Roman castle’s ruins is treat enough, but wander amongst the Great Hall, chapel and walled garden or embark upon a Wild Walk to truly lose yourself amongst the ancient site and awe-inspiring atmosphere. Explore the exhibition, enjoy traditional Cornish food and refreshments, and relish some quality sand-between-your-toes time at the gorgeous beach below.
Expect a feast of things to see and do at one of Falmouth’s most famous and popular attractions. Staking prime cliff top position overlooking the Fal River estuary, it’s always replete with action as well offering as a continually changing schedule of exciting events.
Built as a fortress by Henry VIII, the castle is now home to a fascinating array of interactive features. Take a free, guided tour of the keep, gun decks and Governor’s private rooms before visiting the First World War Exhibition, Discovery Centre and Victorian War Shelter. Round off your stay with some tasty, locally sourced food at the brilliant, Barrack Block.
St Mawes Castle
Another of Henry VIII’s great Falmouth fortresses, St Mawes Castle sits on the other side of the estuary opposite Pendennis and comprises a stunning clover leaf construction with practically 360° ocean views.
Explore the gun platform, bastions and Tudor Blockhouse outside or venture into the castle keep for the gun tower and meander round the other rooms for a fascinating insight into Tudor times there.
Set in a spectacular valley and perfect for a spot of picnicking, Launceston Castle boasts a beautiful rural location overlooking the historic town.
Built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the 13th century tower features a host of sites from the Great Hall and North Gatehouse to the Courtyard. Climb the tower to its magnificent peak and engage in some fun family activities such as brass rubbing, historic dress-up and archery targets.
Other well-worth-a-visit ruins to explore in Cornwall include:
St Catherines Castle, Fowey
Polruan Blockhouse, Fowey
The Old Blockhouse, Tresco
King Charles Castle, Tresco
Caerhayes Castle, St Austell
Pengersik castle, Penzance
Maen Castle, Land’s End
Chun Castle, near Penzance
Trematon Castle, near Saltash
Bude Castle, Bude
View all our cottages in Cornwall >