Cornwall. Many have heard of it, but have you ever been? If not, that’s a real shame, since Cornwall is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes and fascinating history.
People started living in this region as far back as 10,000 years ago after the end of the last Ice Age. Battles have been fought here, which is of no surprise since this is the birthplace of King Arthur. Cornish pasties were invented here. Eat a few to fuel up for the unique Cornish wrestling style that is performed here. There are over 300 beaches to choose from. It’s home to the largest collection of plant species in the British Isles. Cornwall even has its own Celtic language known as Kernewek.
We could go on. Proves the point that Cornwall is a pretty interesting place.
But we know how it is now. Travel isn’t just about where you want to go or what’s affordable. In this digital age, taking our friends, family and followers along for the journey is a huge part of travel. People want to be able to show you where they’ve been – almost as soon as it’s happened, if not while they’re actually there.
And ain’t nothing wrong with spreading the word!
So, in the spirit of sharing this world with as many people as possible, here are 12 Instagrammable places you (and your camera) are going to love:
Perched on a jagged headland overlooking the Cornish Sea are the famous ruins of Tintagel Castle. Need we say more? That sentence alone simply screams Instagrammable. But what we love most about this castle are its links to the legend of King Arthur.
If you’ve ever read The History of the Kings of Britain by 12th-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth, you may recall him stating (speculating) that Tintagel was where King Arthur was conceived. Romantic attention now drawn to the region, supposedly the Earl of Cornwall was inspired to build the castle thanks to this speculation from Geoffrey of Monmouth.
And one legend goes that after his death at the Battle of Camlann, Arthur’s ghost returned to Tintagel and haunts it to this day. So, while you’re there (say on our new 4-day Cornwall, Devon & Stonehenge tour from Bristol) be on the lookout.
The story of Minack Theatre truly is a wonderful one. And we have a woman called Rowena Cade to thank for this impressive structure. Born in 1893, Rowena moved to Cornwall in the 1920s and bought the Minack headland for £100. At first all she did was live there, building her home, Minack House, which you can still see today.
But in 1929, Rowena took to acting and was part of an open-air production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With the continual success of this production, Rowena and her troupe realised they needed a proper and practical place to perform in the future. So, Rowena offered her cliff garden for their upcoming performance of The Tempest.
So began the construction of the Minack Theatre. Rowena and her helpers used hand tools (and the occasional stick of dynamite) to create the magnificent theatre we see today. And with unbeatable views of Porthcurno Bay and its host of sub-tropical gardens, Minack Theatre truly is an incredible place to visit.
Today, over 200 live performances are staged at the theatre, including plays, opera, music, musicals, and even children’s events. We'd love to take you there ourselves on a new tour from Bristol, the 4-day Cornwall, Devon & Stonehenge tour.
You may have heard of the famous Mont Saint-Michel in France, the tidal island that draws travellers year after year. But did you know Cornwall has one of its own? St Michael’s Mount is England’s very own tidal island and perched at the very top is a medieval castle and church overlooking Mount’s Bay. Be sure to plan your visit just right, otherwise the tide may just get in your way.
And no dramatic island or castle is complete without a good legend. This one features a giant. During the 6th century, before the castle was built, legend has it that the island was once home to an 18-foot giant called Cormoran. Now Cormoran wasn’t the nicest of giants. His cave home was filled with treasures he’d obtained by terrorizing local towns and villages, not to mention his appetite for children and cattle. One day, a young farmer’s son named Jack decided to do something about this menace. Jack trapped Cormoran in a concealed pit and then brought his axe down upon Cormoran’s head, killing him. He was a celebrated hero back in his village and dubbed “Jack the Giant Killer”.
Now that Cormoran no longer lives there, you’ll find the St Aubyn family currently resides on the island.
At the most south-westerly point of mainland Britain, you’ll find a little place called Land’s End. Rugged cliffs and gorgeous countryside await you here. Not just that, but you’ll also find a signpost. What’s so special about it?
It was established in the 1950s by a local family-run business. A section of the signpost allows for personalised messages to be added, so it’s become a point where End-to-Enders come to celebrate their remarkable journeys across the length and breadth of Great Britain from John O’Groats in the far north of Scotland.
It’s owned by a local photography company, and you can pay to have your own little message added to the sign for that perfect shot. You can do this on our 4-day Cornwall, Devon & Stonehenge tour from Bristol.
With its picturesque fishing harbour and stunning ocean views, St Ives is a glistening jewel. There’s something so quaint about it too, with a maze of narrow cobbled streets, endless independent shops, and even fishermen’s cottages.
It’s the iconic beach holiday you’ve been daydreaming of. You may even be lucky enough to spot some of the cute local wildlife peering up at you from the water. No need to be creeped out, we’re talking about adorable grey seals. You can even take a boat trip out to Seal Island.
Check out St Ives on our new tour from Bristol, the 4-day Cornwall, Devon & Stonehenge.
You can’t visit a country like Great Britain and not stand on a dramatic moor landscape with the sense that you’re about to embark on a noble quest. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bodmin Moor is a stunning granite moorland in the north-east of Cornwall.
Take a wander and you might spot some of the ponies and other wildlife that continue to call it home. And if hiking is up your alley, why not give Brown Willy or Rough Tor a go? As you wander, you’ll likely see the wild range of plants and rare animals that live on the moorland, such as otters, Marsh Fritillary butterflies, bats and songbirds.
Time to be enchanted. St Nectan’s Glen is a truly spectacular sixty-foot waterfall that comes pouring through a hole in the rocks, almost as if a small portal to another world. Perhaps it is.
Local belief is that, in the 6th century, Saint Nectan had a hermitage above the waterfall and that he would ring a silver bell to warn ships during storms of the dangers of offshore rocks that sat at the mouth of the Rocky Valley.
St Nectan’s Glen isn’t alone. You’ll find several other waterfalls and a beautiful walk in the area too. Stroll along the banks of the River Trevillet, underneath a canopy of ancient woodland trees, listening to the song of the birds, wondering if there are fairies tucked away along the path somewhere. It truly is that magical. It’s even been appointed a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its rare specimen of plants.
This is also a great one to add to your list if you’re looking to avoid the bigger crowds.
This is an absolute must. Hugging the Treryn Dinas cliffs, Pedn Vounder is one of Cornwall’s loveliest beaches with that sought-after crystal-clear turquoise water and beautiful white sand beach. This spot isn’t far from Land’s End and Minack Theatre, so you’ll be able to tick off a few of these amazing locations one right after the other.
Pedn (pronounced ‘pednee’) Vounder is at the tip of the Penwith coast and is a relatively remote spot depending on the time of year you go. In summer it does tend to grow in popularity, but that’s no surprise with such a view drawing people in.
It’s not the easiest spot to get to, mind you. But some things are worth the effort. Just make sure you’re ready for the rugged cliff path and climb down to the sand. It can be a bit hairy, so just be prepared. If you do decide to go, go early and pack light.
Fans of the TV show Poldark might recognize it as the dream sequence of Nampara Cove.
For those who like to photograph the slightly odd or striking, make sure to check out Wheal Coates. This former tin mine sits on the cliff tops on the north coast of Cornwall. Opening in 1802, we can only imagine what it would have been like to work in such an industry, but with such incredible views.
While the mine has been closed for good since 1914, it remains a beautiful site for hikers and photographers, and is maintained by the National Trust charity. Today, it’s one of the most photographed mine buildings in the country. It’s no wonder, what with the coastline stretching out around it and the shimmering blue water below.
If you’ve got time to spare on a clear day, spend a bit of extra time and be rewarded with a stunning sunset. Even once the sun sets, the starry sky above is a must-see.
In the west of Cornwall is a lovely little beach known as Cot Valley Beach. A favourite of photographers due to the smooth granite boulders and rocks that make up the shore, it’s also backed by a killer backdrop. Sitting out in the water, the twin peaks of the Brison rocks will make for a great photo at sunset.
The walks within Cot Valley itself are absolutely beautiful and will lead you to the beach.
If you’re hoping to avoid crowds, give Nanjizal Beach a go. This beautiful and secluded spot can be found in the town of Penzance in Cornwall. There are no facilities on the beach, so take care when swimming and exploring, but that’s part of the charm.
You’ll certainly find a range of striking natural features, from rock pools to birds and sea life. Most of all, you can’t miss the incredible rock arch called ‘Zawn Pyg’, or ‘Song of the Sea’. Time it just right and you can take in the sun glowing through this crack in the stone.
Also keep an eye out for the famous Diamond Horse, a vein of quartz running through a section of the stone which sparkles in the sun.
Here’s one you’ll have to time well. For just a few weeks each year, the fields of West Pentire sprout a picture-perfect blanket of red flowers. If you can manage a visit between late May and throughout June, you have to go see this landscape of Poppies for yourself. You may also spot some stunning yellow corn marigolds and dozens of other species.
If you’re lucky with the weather and go at sunset, we can only imagine the glow of the sun through the field. Who doesn’t love a shot of themselves spinning in a bed of wildflowers?
Flowers or not, West Pentire is a wonderful spot to visit throughout the year and boasts some beautiful beaches as well.
Whether you go for the history, the nature, or a bit of both, you can surely see why Cornwall should not be overlooked. An incredibly popular destination for travellers, we think Cornwall should be on your travel bucket list.
Where we can take you there ourselves, we’d be more than happy to on our tours from Bristol and London. See our list of tours to Cornwall here.