World famous for its spectacular natural scenery that ranges from rugged cliff lines to beautiful beaches, majestic moorlands to idyllic rivers and sub-tropical gardens – Cornwall is veritably chock with eye candy.
From iconic landmarks to Caribbean-rivalling coastline, chocolate-box villages and historic harbours – Cornwall boasts an abundance of breathtakingly beautiful spaces and sights that can only truly be experienced in their exquisite, natural state.
So whether you simply want to stay near somewhere exceedingly nice-looking or spoil the family to a day out awash with Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, consider (in no particular order) our top-ten-for-inspirational-starters.
St Michael’s Mount
Perhaps one of the most recognised landmarks in the county, visitors continue to flock to St Michael’s Mount in Marazion in their droves for a number of reasons. Not only is the famous islet and castle an inimitably striking sight as you enter Mount’s Bay, but the former medieval monastery is steeped in a variety of history, which can be explored at your leisure – along with unfeasibly pretty 360 degree panoramas – via tours of the house and grounds. Marazion beach is also one of the best beaches in Cornwall for swimming - you couldn't ask for a more memorable backdrop to your swim!
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The globally recognised attraction is a truly arresting sight, with three giant, architecturally wondrous biomes arising from the otherwise barren former clay pits like futuristic structures from another planet. In essence, it’s the world’s largest indoor rainforest and is home to thousands of species of plant and wildlife, along with a range of exhibits and events that will entertain whatever the outside weather. Read our full guide to the Eden Project here.
The Minack Theatre and Porthcurno Beach
In the far west of Cornwall lies another unmissable architectural gem – the Minack Theatre. Carved into the cliff above the impossibly picturesque sands of Porthcurno (also dubbed one of the UK’s most romantic beaches), the renowned open-air theatre affords aerial-like views of The Atlantic as the incredibly apt dramatic backdrop to the variety of live performances staged there.
The Lizard and Kynance Cove
Marking the country’s most southerly point, The Lizard is an uber idyllic peninsula where attractive farmland sublimely spills into the most aquamarine coloured ocean below. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Kynance Cove, where the contrast between glistening blue sea and fertile green land more otherworldly beautiful. Meanwhile, a bevy of other natural beauties awaits in the area, including Trebah Garden and the Helford River, if you can tear yourself away from the exotic crystalline cove, that is. Why not check out the catalogue of walks around the peninsula to really make the most of the stunning scenery.
Botallack Mine and Cot Valley
We’re in Ross Poldark territory here teetering on the edge of the world near Land’s End (another stunning sight to stop by), with some of Cornwall’s most magnificent mining territory showcased to spectacular, by-the-sea effect. Walk the cliff path, meander past mineshaft and make your way to the lush sub-tropical treasure that is, Cot Valley.
This largely unspoilt corner of Cornwall offers a range of lusted-after landscapes, from beaches and rivers to woodland, countryside and cliff scape. Visit charming villages such as St Mawes, St Just in Roseland and Portloe, explore the river via ferry or kayak and embark upon a wild walk of this particularly enchanting Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Roam the county’s twin peaks of Rough Tor, walk the myriad of scenic routes in Daphne Du Maurier’s land of musing and sample some bushcraft at Cornwall’s captivating rural core.
Tate St Ives and Porthmeor Beach
Admire it from the outside on the beach (or from the sea during a boat trip), or inside-out from within its whitewashed façade that gazes out to the spectrum of sea and sky blues beyond; either way, the Tate St Ives fuses art, architecture, light and its stunning seaside surrounds into pure sensuous overdrive.
Lost Gardens of Heligan
Tim Smit’s pre-Eden project presents 200 acres of the sublime: a fantastic fusion of landscapes (jungle, woodland, wetland), features (walking trails, Burmese rope bridge, rope swing) and events schedule designed to immerse you into a world of intrigue, adventure and boundless natural beauty.
The Camel Estuary
North Cornwall’s ever-popular destination presents a series of soul-stirring sights, from the pretty of Padstow to the super scenic Daymer Bay, Rock and Polzeath. Then there’s the Camel Trail, which delivers its own smattering of things to see as you wheel past on pushbike. From spectacular sandbanks teeming with birdlife to creeks and rivers running through scenic farmland, the estuary won’t disappoint anyone with an eye for natural beauty.
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