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The 5 Best Places to Visit in Cornwall, England

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Judi has explored Cornwall's most popular destinations and best-kept secrets. She enjoys sharing her experience with others through writing.

Cornwall is revered by travelers and locals alike for its stunning coast and storied history.

Cornwall is revered by travelers and locals alike for its stunning coast and storied history.

What to Do in Cornwall

Cornwall, the south-westernmost county in England, has built a reputation among holiday-makers as one of the UK's premier coastline destinations. The county boasts hundreds of miles of beaches, some of which are punctuated with quiet coves and picturesque harbours, while others are bustling with throngs of surfers and sunbathing families.

Cornwall has a lot more to offer than just sun and sand, however. Venture away from the sea and you'll discover a veritable corn-ucopia of delightful and secluded places to visit. Some of the following destinations are already popular with visitors and locals, while others are still a few steps off the beaten path. If you plan to visit Cornwall in the near future, be sure to check out these five must-see locations.

5 Great Places to See in Cornwall

  1. St. Nectan's Glen
  2. Cotehele
  3. Trebah
  4. Minack Theatre
  5. Levant Mine

1. St. Nectan's Glen

Cornwall has a reputation for being a magical place, and this feeling of magic is perhaps nowhere more tangible than in St. Nectan's Glen. The Glen is set in a secluded woodland valley along the banks of the rIver Trevillet near the village of Trethevy, not far from Boscastle.

St. Nectan's Kieve is a small but stunning river cascade that marks the focal point of the glen.

St. Nectan's Kieve is a small but stunning river cascade that marks the focal point of the glen.

What Makes It Memorable

Although the valley itself is a great setting for a peaceful walk, most people who journey to the glen are in search of one thing: St Nectan's Kieve. The Kieve is a breathtaking, 60-foot waterfall that is considered to be one of the UK's most spiritual sites.

Whether there was ever a real St. Nectan remains a subject of debate. The name may refer to the Cornish water god Nechtan or may simply be a romantic re-branding of the local surname Nathan. To this day, people still leave offerings such as stones, coins, brooches and notes along the ledges of the Kieve as tributes to the water deity.

Access and Fees

St. Nectan's Glen can be reached from several directions along marked footpaths. One of the easiest routes to find is behind the Rocky Valley Centre on the road between Boscastle and Tintagel. Entry to the Glen is free, but if you want to view the waterfall or enjoy a cream tea in the gardens, a small entry fee must be paid.

Additional Attractions Near St. Nectan's Glen

  • Tintagel Castle: The reputed birthplace of King Arthur
  • Boscastle: A nearby village that hosts the Museum of Witchcraft

2. Cotehele

Cotehele, one of Cornwall's premier Tudor mansions, is located in the county's southeast near the village of St. Dominick. This solid-grey, granite-fortified house dates back to the 14th century, but was largely rebuilt by the Edgcumbe family during the early Tudor period. It remains one of the county's finest examples of Tudor architecture.

This architectural marvel is a must-see for any mansion enthusiast visiting Cornwall.

This architectural marvel is a must-see for any mansion enthusiast visiting Cornwall.

What Makes It Memorable

The house contains a fine array of armour, tapestries and furniture. An ongoing exhibition examines the lives of the Edgcumbes and their servants within the Cotehele during the Tudor period, and special events and workshops are hosted on location throughout the year.

Outside of the mansion, fine gardens slope down to the river Tamar where visitors can encounter an ancient quay alongside a restored Victorian sailing barge. Another highlight of the gardens is a well-preserved stone dovecote that used to house domesticated pigeons. Also on the estate are orchards and a working watermill that is still used to press apples and grind corn.

Access and Fees

The Cotehele, gardens and mill are owned by the National Trust. Parking and refreshments are available on-site. Current admission prices can be found on the National Trust's website.

3. Trebah

Thanks to its temperate climate, Cornwall boasts countless acres of gardens. Professional and amateur gardeners alike have taken advantage of the area's hospitable climate for centuries, and the county is now blessed with a diverse variety of plants and flowers. Trebah, one of my favourite gardens in Cornwall, features a stunning array of sub-tropical plants.

The exquisitely cultivated Trebah garden allows visitors to explore an enchanting valley of subtropical flora.

The exquisitely cultivated Trebah garden allows visitors to explore an enchanting valley of subtropical flora.

What Makes It Memorable

Located on the Cornish coastline, Trebah's gardens tumble down a deep, fern-cloaked valley into a lily-pad-covered pond and finally out onto a private beach. There are plants in bloom all year round, and events take place in the gardens regularly. Children love the adventure playground and treasure-trails that weave through the gardens.

The private pebble beach offers stunning sea views and is a fantastic place to sit and relax with an ice cream. The beach below Trebah wasn't always so peaceful, however. In 1944, the 29th US Infantry Division debarked from this area en route to Omaha Beach during the infamous D-Day Landings.

Access and Fees

Trebah is open year round and offers discounted rates to members of the National Trust and Royal Horticultural Society. Dogs on a lead are welcome. Current admission fees can be viewed on the garden's website.

4. Minack Theatre

The Minack theatre is a world-class entertainment venue located near Land's End, the westernmost point in Cornwall. The Minack is a must-see destination not only due to its stunning, coastal-cliffside setting, but because it is a testament to one woman's amazing vision and determination.

Minack Theatre's sea view and open-air construction make for some truly memorable shows.

Minack Theatre's sea view and open-air construction make for some truly memorable shows.

What Makes It Memorable

Looking at the Minack, it is easy to imagine that it is a vestige of the Roman invasion of Britain. Not so! A remarkable woman names Rowena Cade began building the theatre in 1931 with the help of her gardener and his mate and continued to develop the structure until her death in 1983.

Watching a performance at the Minack is always unforgettable. If you are lucky, the memory etched in your mind will be of a beautiful, balmy evening with a sparkling azure sea providing the backdrop to a wonderful play. Occasionally, however, an evening at the Minack may result in a soggy night of watching talented actors battle against the elements to make themselves heard!

If you want to watch a performance, plays run from May to October. Bring a cushion to sit on (the stone steps get uncomfortable after a while) and pack a picnic basket for the half-time interval. Some people take their Minack picnics very seriously—don't be surprised if you see more champagne and salmon than tea and sandwiches.

Access and Fees

While seeing a play at the Minack is recommended, you don't have to attend a performance to visit the the theatre. You can enter during the day to learn about Rowena Cade at the Exhibition Centre and wander around the site. The views are fabulous and it's well worth the entrance fee.

5. Levant Mine and Beam Engine

Several mines across Cornwall have been granted World Heritage status for their historical importance, but the site that best exemplifies the county's rich mining legacy, at least in my mind, is the Levant Mine and Beam Engine near St. Just.

While parts of this mining complex have fallen into disrepair, a functional steam-driven beam engine—the only of its kind in the world—remains intact.

While parts of this mining complex have fallen into disrepair, a functional steam-driven beam engine—the only of its kind in the world—remains intact.

What Makes It Memorable

Set atop a seaside cliff, Levant was a tin mine whose workings once snaked out under the sea for miles. Nowadays, you can explore the engine house and observe the only remaining functional steam-driven beam engine in the world. If you are feeling brave, you can descend a tunnel to the main shaft of the defunct mine. If subterranean settings give you the chills, feel free to stay above ground and take in the refreshing seaside atmosphere among the ruined buildings of the complex.

Access and Fees

The National Trust now owns the Levant Mine, so plenty of events and activities are hosted year round. Parking is available on-site, but refreshments are not, so be sure to bring your own food and drink. Current admission prices are viewable on the National Trust's website.

Honorable Mention: Golitha Falls

Not a beach in sight! Peace and tranquillity reign at Golitha Falls near Bodmin Moor.

Not a beach in sight! Peace and tranquillity reign at Golitha Falls near Bodmin Moor.

Map of the Locations Listed in This Article

Comments

John Smith from New York on August 07, 2018:

Cornwall is absolutely gorgeous! I've visited The Levant Mines and Minack Theatres, added the rest to my to-do list! Thanks Judi!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 17, 2013:

Hi tastiger04 - I hope that you do get the opportunity to visit, it's a beautiful county :)

Thanks for your kind comments and vote.

tastiger04 on July 16, 2013:

This is a great hub, lots of info and pictures. I have heard wonderful things about Cornwall....I anticipate being able to go someday, next time I am in the UK :) voted up!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on September 27, 2012:

Hi theraggededge - I never get over wanting to go "home", which is Bristol, even though I haven't lived there for more than thirty years now and it's nowhere near as picturesque as Cornwall. Hope you had a bit of a trip down memory lane with this hub - some of the photos are lovely!

Thanks for your comments, always a pleasure to hear from you!

Bev G from Wales, UK on September 26, 2012:

Makes me want to go home! I have no family left now in Cornwall since my grandparents died but I feel the pull now and then. Lovely hub with some wonderful suggestions for off-the-beaten-path exploration.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on April 21, 2012:

Hi Talullah - I was lucky to find some great photos - I like the woodland and the waterfall best. Really must remember to take a camera out with me to take my own photos!

Thanks for your comments and votes, I appreciate it :-)

Talullah from SW France on April 20, 2012:

This is a wonderful hub full of information and some great photos! Voted up!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on April 15, 2012:

Hi Bill - get on over here, the sun's shining, there's a little bit of surf and the birds are singing - oh, and we have an arts festival this week too! A beautiful day - I'll try to put it on pause until you get here!

Thanks for your comments, great to hear from you :-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 14, 2012:

Thank you for the great tour! When I finally visit your fair land I will carry this with me as a guide! In the meantime I will allow you to show me from 6000 miles away.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on April 05, 2012:

Hi B.Leekley - you have identified a problem with HubPages (in my experience, anyway!) - lots and lots of inspiration for places to visit, but not quite so much money rolling in with which to travel to those places. One day though!

Great to hear from you again, I appreciate your comments :-)

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on April 04, 2012:

After reading this article about Cornwall, I hope to visit there someday if my HubPages ship comes in.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 31, 2012:

Hi JamaGenee - Oh, I thought we had a tenuous link! Ah, well, still looking forward to your hub :-)

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on March 31, 2012:

Found it. In Letters of John Wesley: "Joseph Hoskins (Hosken), of Cubert, was the wealthy farmer with whom John Haime lived for a time in 1766 as his domestic chaplain. Wesley paid him several visits."

That's why Cubert didn't ring a bell. Rev. John Haime was a great-uncle of Rev. Charles Haime, and therefore not my grandkids' ancestor. It's accepted that John's friendship with Wesley influenced his great-nephew Charles to follow in his footsteps, but John Haime isn't my focus. ;D

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on March 31, 2012:

Yes, I have a .pdf of the book by the son. Have gleaned many tidbits about the rest of the family from it.

Cubert? Doesn't ring a bell. I'll have to look up its connection to Haime. Thanks for the heads up! ;D

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 30, 2012:

Hi JamaGenee - I look forward to reading your hub! I see that one of the sons wrote a book about his father and Rev Haime had a connection to Cubert, which is near where I live.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on March 30, 2012:

Judi, I already have a hub in the works about my grandkids' ancestor, the Rev. Charles Haime. Fascinating man! In spite of the fire and brimstone, he was quite a gentle and tolerant soul, loved by all who met him. Two sons followed in his footsteps.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 30, 2012:

Hi tireless traveller - I can see why you think of Cornwall and Jane Austen together, as you say, carriages trundling along muddy lanes to house parties. In reality, I don't know if she ever visited - I wrote a hub a few weeks ago about Jane Austen places, and didn't find a Cornwall connection. But who knows!

Thanks for your kind comments, much appreciated :-)

Judy Specht from California on March 29, 2012:

When I think of Cornwall I think Jane Austin. I feel like I should be touring by carriage. Lovely hub!

Voted up and interesting awesome and interesting.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi Graham - I love Looe and the countryside around it! When I was a child we had a boat and my favourite place to stay overnight was Looe. Fowey and Polperro are very pretty too. Love the north coast though, it's a bit wilder, which I like.

So glad you enjoyed this hub and thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi JamaGenee - how wonderful, to be able to visit a stately home and have a connection! Cornwall was and, to some extent still is, popular with the non-conformist churches. There were a lot of itinerant preachers and you can still see a few "preaching pits" in some villages. I've half toyed with the idea of writing a hub about them. As for the Minack - can't recommend it enough!

Thanks so much for your comments, and sharing a little bit of your family history - fascinating! :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi robie2 - it's a beautiful afternoon here too, it would be idyllic! You bring the picnic, I'll find us a cove!

Thanks so much for your comments, always appreciated :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi Beata Stasak - thanks very much, hope to see you soon!

Thanks for taking the time to comment, you are very kind :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi Eileen - yes, the Minack is a beautiful place and watching a performance is magical. I particularly envy those people who get a performance with dolphins jumping around in the background!

Thanks very much for commenting and sharing, it's appreciated :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi Snurre - Cornwall is a superb place to visit, hope you make it soon!

Thanks so much for your comments, much appreciated :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi Rufus rambles - you must visit Cornwall, it's such a beautiful and diverse county, always something to see and do.

Thanks so much for your kind comments, I appreciate them :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 29, 2012:

Hi scottsalot - so glad you enjoyed this hub! And you are right, the surfing here is great, in fact there's a dripping wetsuit in my garden right now (my husband's, not mine!) - surf's up, sun's out, it's a perfect day!

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated :-)

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on March 29, 2012:

Hello Judi Bee. Thank you for this gorgeous hub. We go to Cornwall almost every year. We tend to go to the south side: Looe, Polperro, Fowey etc. Last year we did go to the north coast and stayed at Boscastle. We did 'the coast' and countryside but we found that we preferred the south coast. It is an absolute delight to be there, well done for making it your home.

voted up/awesome and SHARED.

Graham.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on March 29, 2012:

Judi, Cotehele was already on my "must see" list since two of my grandkids are distantly related to the Edgcumbes on their father's side. Also, one of their direct ancestors was an itinerant Wesleyan minister who served all over Cornwall. I've been compiling a list of places in Cornwall that have an ancestral connection to them, plus some that have none at all! The Minack sounds delightful! Thanks to you and this hub, the list will have a few additions. No wonder you've been there so long and haven't seen all there is to see yet!

Voted up, useful and awesome! ;D

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on March 29, 2012:

Ahhh A quiet cove in Cornwall-- sounds wonderful and I would love to go there. Your Hub makes it all sound so tempting.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 29, 2012:

I would absolutely love to visit Cornwall after seeing your beautiful pictures and reading the accompanying information. This is an awesome and beautiful hub. Voted up!

Beata Stasak from Western Australia on March 29, 2012:

Beautiful hub about beautiful place, I hope I visit once, thank you for sharing:)

Eileen Goodall from Buckinghamshire, England on March 29, 2012:

I haven't been to Cornwall in years but I have always wanted to the Minack Theatre and watch a performance on a warm Summer's night - definitely one of those things you have to do at least once in your lifetime. Great hub, thanks for sharing, voted up and Pinned.

Snurre on March 28, 2012:

I've always wanted to visit Cornwall. It sounds like such a wonderful place! And your Hub is the perfect starting point in research for those who are planning a trip. Thanks for posting!

Rufus rambles from Australia on March 28, 2012:

My family comes from Cornwall but I'm yet to visit. When I do I will definitely use this hub! Thanks and voted up!

scottsalot from Oakland California on March 28, 2012:

Beautiful! I've always wanted to go, but especially now after this post. Isn't there good surfing in Cornwall as well?

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 25, 2012:

Hi Imogen - I've been here over 20 years and I am still discovering great places. The Minack is definitely special, although you can't mention it to my daughter - she spent a very, very wet and cold afternoon there and hates it! I've been more lucky, all my visits have been sunny.

Thanks for the comments, great to hear from you!

Imogen French from Southwest England on March 25, 2012:

Great hub Judi, there are so many lovely places in Cornwall. I have been to St Nectan's glen and it really is a magical place, the walk down to the waterfall is beautiful, and the fall itself is amazing. Still have to get around to visiting the Minack theatre, so must plan another trip some day soon!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 24, 2012:

Hi Keri - if you follow the Minack link on the hub you can find a live webcam. And it is a beautiful day here, which begs the question, why am I sitting at the computer? Will be taking the dog to the beach later though!

Keri Summers from West of England on March 24, 2012:

Judi, I just turned you Minack Map to satellite and zoomed in. You can see the waves splashing round the cliffs around the theatre - it's spectacular. Oh, on a lovely day like this in the SW as well ...

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 24, 2012:

Hi Keri - the Minack is just spectacular and incredible to think that one woman and her two gardeners built it - simply amazing.

Thanks for your comments, always appreciated :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 24, 2012:

Hi Simone - I've got the welcome mat ready!

Thanks for taking the time to comment, much appreciated :-)

Keri Summers from West of England on March 23, 2012:

I must get back to Cornwall! Still so much to see. I didn't know about The Minack Theatre; what a special place. Up, beautiful.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on March 23, 2012:

Gaaaah! I really MUST travel through Cornwall someday. These places look amazing!!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 23, 2012:

Hi Case1worker - hope you can find some time to visit Cornwall soon then!

Thanks for your comments, always great to hear from you :-)

CASE1WORKER from UNITED KINGDOM on March 23, 2012:

Great hub I thought that I had been everywhere in Cornwall- well this has proven me wrong!

Voted up and interesting

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 23, 2012:

Hi Brian - it's so easy to get wrapped up in the beautiful Cornish coastline (I should know, that's why we moved here!) and forget about the other wonderful places we have.

Thanks for your comments, always appreciated :-)

Brian Slater from England on March 23, 2012:

Judi thanks so much for writing this, as an avid lover of Cornwall I know there are some excellent beeches to sun yourself, but didn't know these little treasures existed, voted up :)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 23, 2012:

Hi Deb - I've lived in Cornwall for years and it is so tempting to stay around the coast. Gorgeous though the sea is, it is lovely to go inland sometimes, we have some beautiful scenery.

Thanks for your comments and support, always appreciated :-)

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on March 23, 2012:

It's been many years since I visited Cornwall, and I didn't make it to any of these places. I will need to go back. Great hub!