Cornwall has a lot to offer with its huge variety of landscapes: from white sandy beaches, breathtaking and windy cliffs and wild moorlands, to cute little towns and small harbours.
During my stay there, I always used buses and public transport, but sometimes took advantage of friends or family coming to visit to rent a car and explore things a bit more. This is the mean of transport that I would definitely recommend to anyone visiting Cornwall, as it allows for more flexibility.
I have already talked about St Ives in a previous post, so I will now draw a small itinerary around this town that includes my personal favourites and the most famous – and beautiful – spots in the westernmost part of Cornwall. This can be done in a day or more, depending on what you want to see and how long you want to stay in each place.
Starting point: St Ives
I have picked this as the starting point, but won’t include the visit of St Ives in the itinerary as it requires at least an afternoon, especially if you want to visit the museums. To read more about St Ives, click here.
St Michael’s Mount and Marazion:
From St Ives you can easily go to the town of Marazion taking the road to Penzance then heading East. This town is famous because it is right in front of one of the most famous landmarks in Cornwall: St Michael’s Mount. If you have been to Normandy in France, you have probably visited the Mont Saint-Michel. Well, this is the British version of it. It is a bit smaller, but still wonderful to look at.
For those who haven’t been to Normandy, it is basically a small tidal island with a castle on top of it. It is linked to the town of Marazion by a pathway, that can only be walked on at low tide. As a consequence, you can either reach the castle by foot or by boat, paying attention to the tides if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises.
I have actually never been on the island – but it’s on my to-do list – and only ever saw it from the coast, which is already quite an incredible view. Marazion is also a cute town to walk around, and every time I went there, I HAD to stop at The Copper Spoon café to have a cream tea and homemade salted caramel spread on my scones!
This town is just a few miles away from Marazion and easily reachable by public transport. It’s definitely not my favourite but it is probably the bigger town in this area of Cornwall. You can stroll up and down the main street to check the shops and bakeries, explore the Morrab gardens or Trewidden gardens, and admire the harbour and the view over St Michael’s Bay.
If you are travelling with public transport, the many buses departing from the station can lead you pretty much everywhere in Western Cornwall. In the summer, double-decker buses can take you on a scenic route that goes all along the Cornish coast. If you take one, make sure to go upstairs and at the front!
Not very far away from Penzance there is this cute village and fishing port called Mousehole, but pronounced “mowzel”. It is so small that walking around takes around an hour, but you’ll find plenty of very cute cottages, and the harbour is very pretty.
Even though it is not the best time to visit Cornwall, the Christmas lights in Mousehole draw thousands of visitors each year as they are particularly beautiful and unique, with floating displays of lights that are all sea-themed. I have never seen them, but I really hope to be able to see them one day.
Minnack Theatre in Porthcurno
Porthcurno’s beach is very pretty, but this very small town is more famous for the Minnack Theatre. A bit further away from the town, this open-air theatre is absolutely stunning. It was built on the cliffs right above the Atlantic Ocean and it still hosts a variety of performances in the summer months.
From every seat you get an extraordinary view of the stage, the nearby beach, the cliffs and obviously the turquoise water. I was absolutely amazed by the wonderful colours that surround this scenery, especially on sunny days: from the white and golden sand to the brown and almost pink rocks of the cliffs, the green plants and the bright blue ocean.
This is the most westerly point of mainland England. This is probably one of the most visited places in Cornwall, as it has been a touristic attraction for many years now. It even hosts a modern touristic centre with a variety of possible activities and attractions for families and tourists. I wouldn’t really recommend this, though visiting the landmark is surely an incredible experience.
As always in Cornwall, the view of the coast and the ocean is breathtaking and 100% worth the visit. You can also wander a bit around, and explore the less-packed-with-tourists pathways along the Cornish cliffs and moorlands. As it faces West, you can try to get there for the sunset and take it all in.
The return journey along the coast
To go back to St Ives, if this was your starting point, I highly recommend taking the coastal road. This scenic drive follows the coastline, so you can admire the ocean on one side and the land on the other. If you are a bit tired from all the walking it is really a great way to explore the Cornish countryside, and you can stop wherever you want if you have your own car: abandoned mines, cute towns and wonderful fields are all scattered along the road. If you are on the double-decker bus, this is the time to go upstairs and take in the magnificent view!
Here is your small day trip in West Cornwall! As I said, I have only talked about the most famous places, that are also easily reachable by public transport, but I feel like everything is worth seeing in Cornwall. If you think you might get tired of cliffs, moorlands and harbours, trust me: you won’t!
Below is a small map of this part of the country, and each place I’ve mentioned is marked by a star, hope it helps to visualize everything!
Have you ever visited Cornwall? What was your favourite part of it?