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10 of the best places to stay in Cornwall

Which is the best part of Cornwall to stay in? 

The dilemma with Cornwall is that it isn’t just one beautiful place – but many – each with their own distinct scene, feel, and location, making you spoilt for choice when it comes to picking your holiday destination.

Waterside idyll or beach retreat? Picturesque harbour or historic town? 

Allow us to help you narrow down your favourites with our top ten places to stay...

St Ives

For coastal charm and culture...

Looking across St Ives harbour beach at low tide

The stunning seaside town needs little introduction, so if a sand-between-the-toes stay is what you seek, then you’re guaranteed a memorable one here. You’ll find beaches of the family-friendly, surf, and secluded variety alongside world-renowned art and culture by way of Tate St Ives, Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gardens, and smattering of art galleries dotted throughout the cobbled streets, which also present top notch dining, whatever your palate prefers.

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For beachside bliss...

Looking across the golden sands at Fistral Beach in Newquay

Cornwall’s famous surf capital boasts a bevy of beaches for everything from sun worship to water sports, while the town itself is home to an assortment of shops, cafés, and restaurants. The outskirts offer a more away-from-it-all vibe, allowing visitors to escape to picturesque coves like Polly Joke and Bedruthan Steps for the most breathtakingly unspoilt sands.

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For food lovers...

Lots of boats floating in the water of Padstow Harbour

Synonymous with Rick Stein, the foodie’s favourite of Padstow ensures a lip-smacking stay, with Paul Ainsworth at No.6 and his Mahé Cookery School and Chef’s Table, Caffè Rojano, and Prawn on the Lawn all adding to the epicurean experience. Meanwhile, the working port and its surrounds present pleasure-seekers with other delights, from cycling the nearby Camel Trail to adrenaline-charged water sports and open sea boat trips.

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For a wild escape...

Looking out over the golden sands and turquoise waters of Sennen Beach in Cornwall

Located near Land’s End in the far west of Penwith, Sennen fuses world-class surf, sweeping Atlantic views, and rugged coastal paths with a wonderfully inviting village. So whether you wish to soak up the sun at the impossibly beautiful beach (or its neighbouring dog-friendly stretch of Gwenver), hike to edge of the world, dine at a sea-gazing restaurant or hit the waves, Sennen is the place to be.

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For exploring near and not-too-far...

Looking out over the harbour at the pretty town of Mevagissey with the Cornish coast in the background

Situated on Cornwall’s subtropical south coast, the diminutive fishing port of Mevagissey is as well placed as it is oh-so pretty. Offering a palpable sense of seclusion, the village is also conveniently close to attractions such as Lost Gardens of Heligan, Eden Project, Caerhays Castle and Charlestown, while along the harbour and throughout the winding streets you’ll find a museum, aquarium, and plethora of shops, cafés and restaurants.... not to mention some stunning nearby beaches.

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Mount’s Bay 

For a magnificent mix of must-sees...

Looking across the sandy beach at Marazion at St Michael's Mount

West Cornwall’s sprawling bay is not only home to the iconic St Michael’s Mount, but is fringed with places of beauty and interest; from the fishing port of Newlyn and gorgeous harbour village of Mousehole to the ancient market town of Penzance and beachside charm of Marazion. Art lovers should head to The Exchange, Penlee House Gallery & Museum, and Newlyn Art Gallery, while the art deco seawater lido, Jubilee Pool, makes for a cool summer’s day out. Packed with places to eat, drink, and shop, Mount’s Bay presents a plethora of scenes, whatever your whims.

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For laidback living...

The small sandy Readymoney Cove full of people enjoying the sun and sea

The literary inspiration for the likes of Daphne Du Maurier and Kenenth Graeme, Fowey’s allure is instantly tangible as you roam the riverside and explore the area’s picturesque sights. Take a river trip, stroll along the South West Coast Path, dine in a waterside eatery, or lounge on the shores of Polruan, Polkerris, Polridmouth, Lantic Bay and Readymoney Cove for a sense-spoiling sojourn.

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For fun and discovery...

Looking out over the sea towards the golden sand beach and field-lined coastline of Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth

Cornwall’s maritime hub is abundant with scenic sights, attractions, year-round events schedule, and top-notch dining, ensuring a mesmerising mix of things to see and do. Visit Pendennis and St Mawes Castles, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, and explore the River Fal at your leisure by foot or boat. Relish some top beach time at Gyllyngvase, Castle, Maenporth and Swanpool, where you can swim, snorkel, SUP and sunbathe, while the town boasts the biggest concentration of independent outlets for shopping and dining.

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For family frolics...

Looking across the sea, with bobbing boats, at the golden sands of Summerleaze Beach, with the town of Bude behind

North Cornwall’s captivating (and award winning) coastal town is chock with family-friendliness. If it’s a beach holiday you seek, you’ll achieve it in easy style with the likes of Summerleaze (also home to the fantastic Bude Sea Pool) and Crooklets, while a host of other attractions such as Bude Castle and Heritage Centre, Bude Canal and nearby host of adventure parks will provide further entertainment for all ages. A salt-kissed assortment of walks wind across the surrounding coastline while a bevvy of restaurants and cafés wait to refuel you upon your return.

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For a sensory feast...

Looking down at Porthleven harbour across houses

Nestled between the Lizard and near Helston, Porthleven’s harbourside town is a laidback locale to savour. Dine in inimitable style at The Square or the acclaimed Kota Restaurant, relish some beach time, amble the South West Coast Path toward Loe Bar and the county’s largest fresh water lake, or head away from the water for a taste of Cornwall’s great gardens such as Trebah, Trevarno and Glendurgan: the area is awash with eye candy of the most awe-inspiring kind.

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For more holiday inspiration, see our guides to 10 of the prettiest villages in Cornwall or unbelievably beautiful places to visit in Cornwall before returning to your welcoming holiday cottage

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