The Top 10 Things to Do in North Cornwall 2023

    Make Your North Cornwall Holiday Unforgettable: Explore the Top 10 Things to See and Do

    top 10 thinks to do in north cornwall travel tips blog header.

    Surfing at sundown on Polzeath Beach.

    Make the most of your holiday to North Cornwall, a stunning and historic region of England that offers a wealth of attractions and experiences for visitors of all ages. 

    Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a culture buff, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the daily grind, North Cornwall is the perfect destination for you.

    To help you make the most of your trip, we've compiled a list of the top 10 things to do in North Cornwall. From picturesque coastal walks to family days out and outdoor activities, there's something here for everyone to enjoy. 

    We've also included stunning photos and videos to give you a taste of what's in store.

    So, if you're planning a trip to North Cornwall, sit back, relax, and let us be your guide to this unforgettable corner of England.

    1: Surf Lessons on Polzeath Beach, Harlyn Beach, or Watergate Bay

    North Cornwall is known for its brilliant surfing beaches. Rather than jumping into the water without any knowledge, we recommend taking a surf lesson, especially if you are with the kids. There's no better way to experience the thrill of the waves than by taking a surf lesson.

    Polzeath, Harlyn Beach, and Watergate Bay are the best beaches for beginners in the area.

    Polzeath is a popular spot for surfers of all levels, with consistent waves and a long sandy beach. Several surf schools in the area offer lessons and equipment rental, including Surf's Up Surf School and Wavehunters Surf School. There are lifeguards on the beach all year round.

    Harlyn Bay, is to the west of Padstow on the road towards St Merryn, is another great spot for beginners, with a really sheltered bay that provides ideal conditions for surfing begginers. The Harlyn Surf School offers lessons for all ages and abilities, and their experienced instructors will help you get up on your board in no time.

    Watergate Bay is a great option for those looking for a more challenging experience. This beach is known for its more powerful waves and is a popular for more experienced surfers. The Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay offers lessons for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

    No matter which beach you choose, taking a surf lesson in North Cornwall is a must-do activity and is perfect for the whole family. So grab your wetsuit and board and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

    sam and sarah from beach house art coming out from the atlantic at polzeath from a swim.

    Sam and Sarah coming in from a cold swim in Jan 2023

    2: Cycling the Camel Trail from Padstow to Wadebridge

    This is one of our favourite things to do with the family. If you're looking for a leisurely outdoor activity in North Cornwall, cycling the Camel Trail is a must-do experience. The trail follows an old railway track that runs along the Camel River, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Camel Estuary towards the mouth of the river.

    The most popular section of the trail is the stretch from Padstow to Wadebridge, which is around 5.5 miles long and takes about an hour to cycle at a leisurely pace. This is the section we do with the family. The route is mostly flat, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and there are plenty of places to stop and take in the scenery along the way as well as a café mid-way.

    Bikes can be rented from several companies in Padstow, including Padstow Cycle Hire and Trail Bike Hire, and there are also plenty of cafes and pubs in both Padstow and Wadebridge where you can stop for a refreshment break. You can also hire trailers for the kids and dogs.

    Top Tip - Make sure to book in the summer months as they have limited numbers of bikes and sell out. Wadebridge is a less popular start point, so it sometimes has more availability.

    Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or just looking for a fun family activity, cycling the Camel Trail from Padstow to Wadebridge is a great way to see some of the best views in North Cornwall.

    a picture of a couple cycling along the camel trail, looking towards the atlantic ocean and the coast of north cornwall

    Cycle along the scenic camel trail, passing a picnic spot with one of the best views in North Cornwall

    3: Sealife Safari from Padstow

    Experience the magic of North Cornwall's marine life and coastline with a Sealife Safari from Padstow. The guided boat tours take you out of the Camel Estuary and round the rugged coastline towards Port Issac or Harlyn, where you'll hopefully discover a variety of marine wildlife in their natural habitat. 

    We were sceptical about whether our trip would deliver the wildlife promised, but we were lucky to see Dolphins on our trip as well as a variety of birds.

    The tour is led by an experienced skipper and guide who will share their knowledge and insights about the area and the wildlife you'll encounter along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for playful seals, leaping dolphins, and a variety of seabirds.

    Sealife Safaris depart from Padstow Harbour and typically last for around 1.5-2 hours. Padstow Sealife Safari, offer a range of tours to suit different interests.

     Let us know what you see, if you do take a tour.  

    padstow sealife safari link

    A sealife safari goes from Padstow and takes about an hour.

    4: The Eden Project

    No visit to North Cornwall is complete without a trip to the world-renowned Eden Project. This fascinating attraction is home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world, as well as a variety of other biomes and exhibits showcasing the importance of sustainability and biodiversity.

    The Eden Project, near St Austell, about 30 minutes' drive from Padstow and Polzeath, we would recommend driving there and not using public transport. 

    Once there, you'll be amazed by the giant, futuristic biomes that house a vast collection of plant species from around the world.

    We personally love the Rainforest Biome, and it is a must-visit, with its towering trees, exotic flowers, and even a waterfall. 

    The Mediterranean Biome is also great, featuring plants and landscapes from the Mediterranean region, while the Outdoor Gardens showcase the beauty of the Cornish landscapes and indigenous plants.

    In addition to the biomes, the Eden Project offers various activities, including a zip wire, a skywalk, and a climbing wall. They also have events throughout the year, which our kids love to go to. 

    The Eden Project is open year-round; tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day. If the weather is against you, like it can be in Cornwall, this is a perfect wet weather day activity for your holiday in North Cornwall.


    one of the biones at the eden project with rows or wild flowers and other botanical elements.

    5: Polzeath to Rock Walk

    For a stunning coastal walk with breathtaking views, the route from Polzeath to Rock is a must-do. This 4-mile walk takes you along the rugged cliffs and beaches of North Cornwall, passing through some of the area's most beautiful scenery.

    The walk starts at Polzeath beach, a popular spot for surfing and other water sports. From there, you'll follow the South West Coast Path towards Daymer Bay, taking in stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding coastline.

    As you approach Daymer Bay, you'll see the iconic St Enodoc Church perched on the hillside, a striking sight against the blue sky. It is worth walking to take a look and is about a 5 minute detour. From there, the path leads through the dunes or along the sandy beach to the village of Rock, where you can catch a ferry to Padstow or have lunch in Rock and walk back to Polzeath.

    The walk is moderately difficult, but is well worth the effort for the spectacular views along the way. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as there is little shade along the route.

    If you're a keen birdwatcher, be sure to bring your binoculars, as the area is home to a variety of seabirds and other wildlife. In the summer there are Sand Martins in the dunes just before you reach Daymer Bay, they are brilliant to watch flying into the dunes, and lots of Oystercatchers and Egrets.

    If you are walking at sunset you’ll get some amazing photos, it’s one of the best walks to catch the sunset on the North Cornwall coastline.

    the path leading down to daymer bay, in north cornwall, on the walk from polzeath to rock.

    Enjoy stunning coastal views and quaint villages on this picturesque walk.

    6: Crabbing in Padstow Harbour

    Looking for a fun and inexpensive activity for the whole family? Look no further than crabbing in Padstow Harbour.

    Padstow is a charming fishing village is renowned for its excellent food and picturesque harbour, with plenty of spots to drop your line and try your luck. Crabbing will entertain the kids for a few hours whilst you enjoy a pint and a pastie in the sunshine.

    All you need to get started is a crabbing line, some bait (try bacon or ham), and a bucket of seawater to keep your catch in. The best time to go crabbing is at low tide when the crabs are closer to the surface and easier to catch. All the souvenir shops around the harbour sell crabbing nets.

    Head to the harbour and choose a spot on the quay to set up your crabbing gear. Then, drop your line into the water and wait for the crabs to bite.

    The Old Customs House and the Shipwrights sell drinks in plastic cups so you can take them to the harbourside.

    a collage of four of the best things to do in north cornwall, including surfing, rcrabbing and cycling.

    7: Rock Pooling and Trevone Beach Natural Pool

    Trevone Beach is an underrated gem on the North Cornwall coast just west of Padstow, and one of the best places for rock pooling in the area. With its rocky outcrops and shallow waters, the beach is a haven for a variety of marine life, including crabs, starfish, anemones, and small fish.

    There is also seawater pool at Trevone Beach for a relaxing swim. This large, shallow pool was carved into the rocks by locals and fills with seawater on the tides, making it a perfect spot for young children to splash around.

    Don’t forget to bring a bucket and net for catching creatures, and wear sturdy shoes that can handle the slippery rocks. You can also bring a wetsuit or swimsuit to take a dip in the natural pool.

    If you're visiting at low tide, you'll have the best chance of spotting a variety of sea creatures in the rock pools. Look for creatures hiding in the crevices and under the seaweed, and be sure to handle them gently and return them to the water after you've finished admiring them.

    After your rock pooling adventure, head to the other side of the beach to stroll along the main sandy beach or picnic on the grassy headland by the blow hole.

    Trevone Beach is a fantastic spot for families and has lifeguards in the summer, toilets, and a shop and café.

    milestone baby cards, perfect for a nebron gift.

    Searching for seaweed, for our red seaweed prints and rock pooling at Trevone - with the help of Griff 

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    Seaweed Print Wall Art (Fern Weed No2) - Framed - Beach House Art

    8: Sunset Drink in Polzeath at the Atlantic or Surfside

    After a busy day exploring North Cornwall, there's nothing better than kicking back with a cold drink and watching the sunset over the sea. And one of the best places to do just that is at the Atlantic or Surfside in Polzeath.

    Both bars/restaurants are located right on the beach, with stunning views of the ocean and the famous Polzeath surf break.

    As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the sky fills with pink, orange, and gold hues, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your evening drink.

    You can also grab a bite to eat if you're feeling peckish, the Atlantic has amazing pizzas and their fresh pasta is brilliant.

    A sunset drink at the Atlantic or Surfside is the perfect way to end a day in North Cornwall, with stunning views, delicious drinks, and a relaxed atmosphere that captures the essence of beach life in the area.

    custom baby photo album

    Some of the team, maybe after a drink, at sunset.

    9: Wine Tasting at Trevibban Mill Winery or Beer Tasting at Bluntrock Brewery

    North Cornwall is home to some fantastic wineries and breweries, and a tasting session is a great way to explore the local flavours in amazing settings.

    One of the best wineries to visit is Trevibban Mill, located just a few miles outside of Padstow. This family-run vineyard produces a range of award-winning wines, from crisp whites to rich reds, all made from grapes grown on site. We love the sparkling.

    During a tasting session, you'll get to sample some of the wines and learn about the winemaking process from the experts. The setting is amazing, and you’ll taste the wine whilst looking at the vines.

    If beer is more your style, head to Bluntrock Brewery in Wadebridge. This small, independent brewery produces a range of delicious, hand-crafted beers using traditional brewing methods and locally sourced ingredients.

    During a tasting session, you can sample some of the brews and learn about the brewing process from the knowledgeable staff. They have new beers out regularly and they also host some amazing food truck and music evenings.

    The Sharps brewery shop is next door to Bluntrock, so you can also pop in there on the way home to get your fix of Doombar.

    trevibban mill vineyard building and surrounding, just outside padstow

    10: Fish and Chips in Rock or at Rick Stein's in Padstow

    No trip to North Cornwall would be complete without indulging in the classic British seaside meal of fish and chips. And luckily, the area is home to some of the best fish and chips around. The fish is amazingly fresh.

    One of the top spots for this classic dish is Rockfish in Rock, a family-owned restaurant that prides itself on using sustainable and locally sourced fish. Their fish and chips are cooked to perfection, with crispy batter. We love the sole or the monkfish bites.

    Rick Stein's Fish & Chips in Padstow, part of the famous chef's seafood empire is a cliched choice but is definitely worth it. This popular eatery serves fresh fish and chips and other seafood specialities. We love the fish burger, which has a spicey relish on top.

    Whether you opt for Rockfish or Rick Stein's, you're in for a treat with North Cornwall's fish and chips.

    North Cornwall offers an amazing array of experiences and activities for visitors of all ages and interests. From surfing and cycling to wine tasting and fish and chips, there's something to suit every taste and budget. We hope this list helps you make the most of your holiday in the area.

    rick steins fish and chips on the harbour in padstow

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