Hot-out-the-oven Cornish pasties, big beautiful beaches, air so clear it inspired entire schools of painters, from St Ives to Newlyn… The best things about Cornwall are just as true in the depths of winter as they are in the height of summer. You could even argue they’re even better: the piping pasties are all the more welcome after a blustery walk, beaches are clear and dog-friendly, and roaring fires in cosy pubs beckon.
In the depths of winter, Cornwall is often dusted with the occasional layer of snow, with crisp, clear mornings tempting you out in the fresh air for a daybreak wander with a magical difference.
Oh yes, there are many amazing reasons to visit Cornwall in winter, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast who loves a refreshing romp on the beach, or a cosy cuddler who wants nothing more than a toasty cottage with views of the churning sea where you can curl up and hit the reset button during your stay.
Ready to experience Cornwall in all its wintery glory? Here are just some of the frost-topped things you can enjoy during your stay…
For the nature lovers…
If there is one thing that’s practically synonymous with Cornwall in winter, it has to be storm-watching. The joy of watching wind, rain, and waves stir up the world from the safety and comfort of your chosen lookout is simply unmatched and one of the ultimate Cornish experiences. When it comes to places to bunker down and enjoy the show, you’re spoiled for choice. Opt for your cosy Cornish cottage with sea views to enjoy your own storm-wrapped sanctuary, head to a harbourside pub like The Ship Inn in Porthleven for unbeatable views with a pint in hand, or enjoy the wave-crashing sights from the comfort of your own home with one of our perfectly placed webcams around Cornwall.
The winter surfer might sound like a comic book hero, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become one when you visit Cornwall in the cooler months. Yep, with a thick wetsuit, boots, and cowl, you’ll be ready to hit the waves at any temperature – earning yourself the title of true Cornish surfer. Newquay’s beaches are famed for their world-class surf throughout the year, making this coastal hotspot ideal for those wanting to make the most of winter waves and quiet beaches. For an extra bump of serotonin, seek out one of Newquay’s many tempting cafés for a mug of something warming and a plate of something absolutely delicious.
Doggy days out
Speaking of quiet beaches, Cornwall’s coast turns into a total and utter playground during the winter, especially for those on four legs as many of Cornwall’s beaches become dog friendly. St Ives is particularly fun to explore with the dogs in tow as not only is parking much easier, but the golden sandy beaches that surround the town open up to all, meaning paw prints in the sand are an option at any time of day. When everyone’s hair and fur is well and truly windswept, head down the winding cobbled streets to find a cosy and wonderfully dog-friendly pub or restaurant where food, drink, and often roaring fires await. If you love exploring somewhere new with the pooch, winter is the perfect time as you can often enjoy a beach or coast path all to yourselves – total Cornish bliss!
Hit the South West Coast Path anywhere around Cornwall and you will be rewarded with views to die for and a head clear of any and all cobwebs. Cosy cafés are never far away for those all-important boosts while out and about enjoying the brisk sea air, while Cornwall’s carveries offer button-popping roasts that are sure to warm the cockles. While the coast paths are always a stunning choice of backdrop, in the winter we also love turning our boots inland towards woodland and moorland where everything is a little bit more magical when the air is crisp and your breath unfurls in front of you like fire (who hasn’t pretended to be a dragon on a cool winter’s day). Whether you want a ‘there and back again’ in North Cornwall stroll or a full circular route (that conveniently ends in a pub), Cornwall has a myriad of paths to choose from.
For the attraction seekers…
Thanks to Cornwall’s mild climate, the many (and we mean many) gardens that call our county home are just as beautiful and visit-worthy in the winter months. At dog-friendly Trebah Gardens, you’ll find the pink bloom of Camellias as early as December, while the peeling bark of the Chinese Paperbark Maple is absolutely stunning under the winter sun. Further up Cornwall’s beautiful south coast, the Eden Project waits to delight its visitors at any time of year. In fact, the iconic rainforest biome will have you shrugging off your coat and longing for an ice cream even in the middle of January. New displays and exhibitions are always popping up, ensuring no two visits are the same, and with their famous ice skating rink open until February, you can really make the most of winter at Eden.
There might be a nip in the air but there’s more than one way to feel a chill in Cornwall… We’re talking about haunted buildings and spooky stories! Oh yes, Cornwall is home to some wonderfully woeful places to visit when the evenings are dark and the days are cold. In the north, Bodmin Jail provides a spooky and historical tour of Cornwall’s famously haunted prison, while The Jamaica Inn tempts travellers in with ghost stories and tales of smuggling gone awry. Down on the south coast, stories of ghostly apparitions abound at Pendennis Castle, which also makes for a great rainy day visit as there are some fascinating exhibits to explore. While you’re touring Cornwall’s epic castles, Tintagel is certainly worth a visit, especially when it comes to the iconic clifftop backdrop, which is all the more jaw-dropping with winter seas crashing at the foot of the cliffs.
With unbelievably beautiful places around each and every corner, you’ll find no shortage of incredible wintry backdrops for your selfies. Steam rolls off the water as the sun sets behind the harbour in Porthleven, making for a dreamy spot for a photo (and a pint). For dramatic coastal scenes, head to Kynance Cove and Lizard Point for crashing waves, the Minack Theatre for fascinating carvings and rugged cliffs, or Land’s End for all of the above in one jaw-dropping location. If you want something a little more rural and wild as your background, head to Bodmin Moor where cobbled tors, ancient woods and rolling vistas await. Pretty and peaceful villages like Mousehole and Port Isaac also make for a stunning setting during the winter months, as the cobbled streets remain clear and the crisp mornings add a pinch of magic to the air.
Rainy day visits
A spot of rain? No matter! Cornwall is home to a fantastic assortment of indoor activities and attractions where you can while away a rainy afternoon. With such a rich artistic history, it will be of little surprise to discover Cornwall is full of some incredible art galleries, from contemporary showcases to exhibitions that celebrate some of Cornwall’s biggest names. St Ives is particularly famed for its collection of galleries, which range from the iconic Tate St Ives above Porthmeor beach to the quiet corners of Leach Pottery, where potters of all kinds converge to share their skills with the world. If the kids are in tow and need to let off some steam, Cornwall’s many indoor soft play areas are ideal. Raze the Roof is particularly exciting with laser tag and a virtual reality area adding to the fun. Places like the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and Flicka Foundation are also a great choice for family-friendly days out as they rely on support from visitors, especially in the winter months.
For the foodies…
Low beams, comfy chairs, and roaring fires, there’s just something special about a cosy Cornish pub in the winter months. Duck in during your frosty walk for a warming gulp or two, or tuck yourself away in a corner to play card games as the afternoon slowly turns to nightfall – there’s nowhere we’d rather be when the temperature drops! In west Cornwall, firm favourites include the ancient fire-lit charms of The Tinners Arms in Zennor and The Old Coastguard in Mousehole, where sea views and pork belly make for a delicious spot to rest after your walk. On the south coast, Falmouth promises countless pubs, inns, and bars where you can shake off the frosty air and melt into the toasty vibes on offer. The Star & Garter boasts soul-stirring cocktails, while The Working Boat offers thirsty guests no less than 15 beers and ciders on tap – cheers! North Cornwall is home to more than its fair share of warm and welcoming pubs, whether you fancy the beachside embrace of The Watering Hole in Perranporth or the soul-warming foods on offer at The Griffin in Newquay, where comfort food lies at the heart of the mouth-watering menu.
We love winter nights as the long evenings provide even more time for after dark festivities, from cocktails in Newquay to seafood feasts that take you on a tour of local waters – while staying bone dry! Oh yes, if you’ve got a special occasion to celebrate, a winter’s night in Cornwall is just the ticket. Lingering Christmas lights provide a magical backdrop while the sound of crashing waves add a totally unique soundtrack to your evening stroll. Cornwall is also home to some of the AA guide’s best restaurants, so you can dine in utter style as you toast to one another or perhaps the New Year. If it’s memorable foodie experiences you’re after, Cornwall has you well and truly covered, from taste-fuelled cookery schools to foraging, where you can really make the most of the bountiful natural larder the county is known for.
Sampling local produce
Is there a greater feeling than pulling a piping hot pasty out of a backpack to be enjoyed perched atop a cliff with the white-topped sea below? Oh yes, in Cornwall we picnic all year round! Alongside fresh-out-the-oven oggies, winter walks are made all the better for packs laden with local goodies, from trail snacks to full blown feasts you can tuck into at a picture-perfect spot. Head to one of Cornwall’s many welcoming farm shops to stock up on everything from artisan cheeses to fresh pork pies, or stop by one of the toothsome local chocolate makers to fill your pockets with all kinds of sweet treats. You can even grab a cream tea to go - yes, this Cornish delicacy can be enjoyed at any time of year!
Excited to experience the magic of Cornwall in winter? Explore our range of cosy cottages that make the perfect base for your winter stay.