Some posts on this website comprise affiliate hyperlinks. When you e book or purchase one thing by these hyperlinks, I earn a small fee (at no further price to you). Check out my privateness coverage for extra data.
Questioning what to do in St Ives, Cornwall? Right here’s my in-depth journey information to the quirky, creative, and very picturesque seaside city…
Sitting on the entrance to the Penwith Heritage Shoreline, St Ives is an enthralling little city with tons to entice. Identified for its quaint harbour and beautiful seashores, St Ives is ideal for a seaside vacation. It’s additionally the best base for exploring West Cornwall.
Throw in a thriving artwork scene – together with a beachside department of the celebrated Tate Gallery – and a unbelievable meals scene… and you’ve got a bustling cultural hub with loads to maintain guests busy.
Dwelling in Southwest England has its perks. I could also be a looooong prepare journey away from London (and the airports), however I’m inside straightforward driving distance of a few of the best possible components of England. Like Cornwall – one in all my very favorite spots for a beachy British vacation!
As quickly as spring hit this yr, I obtained myself right down to St Ives for a stunning, lengthy weekend of windswept cliff walks, artwork galleries, and fish n chips within the sunshine!
I used to be staying at Bay Hill Cottage, an Features Holidays property with fairly presumably the BEST view on the town! Extra on that later on this publish.
It was an ideal weekend. There’s a lot to do in St Ives, from artwork galleries and boutique retailers to superb seashores and dramatic coast walks! Plus, there are many nice day journeys to find the highlights of western Cornwall.
Based mostly on quite a few journeys to west Cornwall, right here’s my information to what to do in your vacation in St Ives…
My journey to St Ives was supported by Features Holidays. However all phrases and opinions on this publish are my very own.
What to do in St Ives should you Solely Have One Day
Quick on time, or visiting St Ives as a day journey? Under is a fast shortlist of the can’t-miss points of interest and actions. Extra information on every one within the subsequent part…
- Discover the Harbour and stroll by the Downalong to the Island.
- Go to the Tate St Ives to take in the city’s well-known artwork scene. In case you have time, pop into a few of the city’s different galleries, too.
- Take a ship tour to seal island (when you have time), or get lively with a coast stroll.
- Hit the seaside!
13 Issues to do in St Ives
1. Benefit from the St Ives Seashores
For most individuals heading to St Ives, spending a day on the seaside is high of the checklist! Whether or not you wish to surf, swim, or just loosen up on a tranquil sandy seaside, St Ives has you coated…
- Porthmeor Seashore – a large sweep of sand ignored by Tate St Ives and the hunched determine of The Island (see entry quantity 3). Additionally a preferred surf spot.
- Porthgwidden Seashore – a small, sandy cove tucked into the bottom of The Island.
- Porthminster Seashore – a large, sheltered crescent of sand with calm swimming waters and a scattering of vibrant seaside huts. Fashionable with households.
- Carbis Bay – simply alongside the coast from St Ives (however nonetheless inside strolling distance), it is a stunning sheltered bay with pale golden sands backed by grass-topped dunes. Additionally a preferred kayaking and paddleboarding spot.
2. Discover the Harbour and the Downalong
Backed by the sloping headland often known as The Island (see beneath) and stuffed with vibrant boats, St Ives Harbour is one of the vital picturesque in Cornwall.
The small, picturesque harbour has all the time been the beating coronary heart of St Ives. Pilchard fishing was as soon as an enormous trade right here, and the quayside is filled with previous pilchard curing and urgent homes. Right now, many of those have been transformed into galleries and boutique retailers. Take a look at the Features Holidays’ workplace webcam for a stay view of the harbourside!
St Ives Harbour is surrounded by some nice eating places, bars, and cafes. Seize a takeaway from Harbour Fish & Chips and sit on the harbourside for an al fresco dinner with a view!
Behind the harbour, alongside the ridge that leads in the direction of The Island, is a maze of jumbled, tightly-packed cobbled streets with names like The Digey and Teetotal Avenue. Generally known as The Downalong, or Down-a-Lengthy, this cluttered little neighbourhood is stuffed with historic buildings and fairly whitewashed cottages. It’s cute, photogenic, and filled with character – don’t miss it.
3. Stroll to The Island
Overlooking the harbour and the Downalong, The Island isn’t actually an island in any respect however a small headland separating the harbour from Porthmeor seaside.
Skirted by jagged rocks, the highest of this grassy headland affords some unbelievable views throughout St Ives to the Bay. No shock, then, that this was as soon as residence to an historic promontory fort.
Right now, there’s a coastguard lookout on the high, together with a tiny chapel of St Nicholas. Relationship from no less than the fifteenth century, this straightforward, one-room granite chapel is assumed to have been used within the 18th century as a lookout by income officers protecting look ahead to smugglers.
4. Take a Boat Tour to Seal Island
West alongside the coast from St Ives is a tiny, rocky island – simply off the coast – which is residence to a colony of Atlantic gray seals.
You may truly spot them from the coast path, particularly should you carry binoculars – although the stroll is a tricky one (see entry 13). However the easiest way to see the seals is from the water!
You may take a ship tour from St Ives on a “sea safari” to identify seals both at Seal Island or Godrevy Island. There are a few tour corporations leaving from the Harbour: the “Dolly P” Boat Journeys run by St Ives Boats are one of many highest rated, or there are the glass backside boat journeys on board the Nemo.
These boat excursions run from Easter to October. I used to be gutted that I couldn’t do it on my most up-to-date journey there, in March. Subsequent time!
5. Go to the Tate St Ives
Do you know that St Ives has a protracted heritage as a creative retreat? The clear mild and breathtaking pure great thing about the encircling shoreline have lengthy attracted artists to the city.
This shocking creative aspect to the small seaside city is greatest explored on the Tate St Ives. Overlooking the sands of Porthmeor Seashore, the Cornish outpost of one in all Britain’s most prestigious artwork establishments is a must-visit whereas exploring St Ives… even when it’s simply to benefit from the beautiful views from the exhibit halls and fourth-floor cafe!
Study extra concerning the artists and actions that lived, labored and have been impressed by St Ives. There have been the impressionists of the Newlyn College of the Eighteen Eighties, and later, the summary artists of the St Ives College within the Forties and 50s.
Two names to look out for are Barbara Hepworth and Alfred Wallis. Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) was a famed modernist sculptor and a number one determine within the St Ives College of Artwork. Wallis (1855-1942), a fisherman turned self-taught artist, started portray within the Twenties utilizing marine paints on cardboard – and his naïve model is assumed to have influenced the St Ives College.
6. Uncover an Iconic Artist on the Barbara Hepworth Museum
Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth DBE (1903-1975) was one of many leaders of the colony of artists who grew to become often known as the St Ives College. A modernist sculptor of giant affect, she moved to St Ives at first of WWII – and stayed there for the remainder of her life.
Go to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Backyard in her former residence and studio to study extra about Hepworth’s life, work, and modernist model.
Exterior is a gorgeous backyard, laid out by Hepworth and stuffed together with her sculptures – a lot of which have been created proper right here in her studio. It’s a gorgeous, tranquil area the place artwork and nature mix – don’t miss it!
7. Go to extra of St Ives’ Galleries
The Tate and Barbara Hepworth Museum are the 2 “major” artwork galleries in St Ives, however there’s much more to the native artwork scene. Make sure to go to a number of of those different galleries when you’re on the town.
Even should you solely have a passing curiosity in artwork, these areas provide a superb probability to discover an integral a part of St Ives’ character…
- Penwith Gallery – based by Barbara Hepworth and her St Ives College contemporaries, it is a stunning public gallery housed inside a former pilchard packing manufacturing unit.
- Livingstone – uncover up to date and trendy artwork related to St. Ives, its creative heritage, and future route.
- St Ives Society of Artists – housed within the former Mariners Church, the Mariners Gallery showcases work by members of the society. There are additionally separate exhibitions by invited artists between the principle exhibitions. Extra exhibits are held at The Crypt Gallery.
- Porthminster Gallery – one of many largest and best-loved business artwork galleries in St Ives, exhibiting and promoting works by each established and rising British artists.
- Belgrave Gallery – Fashionable British and Up to date Artwork, with a selected emphasis on artists related to Cornwall.
8. Stroll the St Ives Bay Coast Path
St Ives sits on the westernmost finish of St Ives Bay; a large, sweeping curve lined with stunning sandy seashores, with the wildlife-rich Hayle Estuary at its centre.
Observe the South West Coast Path from St Ives to Hayle (about 6 miles) over grass-topped sand dunes with beautiful views of the bay. At Hayle Estuary, cross a historic swing bridge, loosen up on the sands at Hayle Seashore, and spot wetland birds within the RSPB Nature Reserve.
Additional alongside the bay, Godrevy Head and the enduring lighthouse is one other good spot for a stroll. At 10 miles or so, the stroll there from St Ives is a little bit of a mission – however you could possibly take the bus or drive, then benefit from the a lot shorter stroll round Godrevy Head.
9. Benefit from the Views on Cornwall’s Most Scenic Railway
St Ives Bay can be residence to one in all Cornwall’s Nice Scenic Railways. The department line from St Ives to St Erth runs proper alongside the bay, with unbelievable views of the glittering ocean, earlier than following the Hayle Estuary down in the direction of St Erth.
The journey is just round 10-Quarter-hour and prices £4 return (off-peak). So you could possibly merely spend half an hour using the railway there and again to benefit from the views. Or, if you wish to make a day of it, you could possibly take the prepare to St Erth, then stroll again alongside the coast path (or vice versa).
Prime tip: for the very best views, sit on the left-hand aspect of the prepare as you allow St Ives, and the right-hand aspect for the return journey from St Erth.
10. Study to Surf
Like a lot of the Cornish coast, St Ives is a major browsing vacation spot. There are a number of surf spots close by, together with Sennen Cove and Gwithian Seashore.
Porthmeor Seashore, on the west-facing aspect of the city, is good for newcomers. The seaside will get constant Atlantic swells – but in addition enjoys safety from the wind due to the shelter of The Island. That is the place you’ll discover the St Ives Surf College – which affords group and personal classes for newcomers, improvers, and extra superior surfers.
11. Kayak and Paddleboard in St Ives Bay
The extra sheltered waters in St Ives Bay will not be suited to browsing, however they’re a perfect place to take pleasure in some gentler watersports comparable to kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Two of the very best spots are Carbis Bay, with its huge sandy seashores, and the Hayle Estuary, the place the encircling marshes are wealthy with birdlife.
Lease a kayak or paddleboard and hit the bay for a soothing paddle. You may rent tools and e book excursions and classes at Ocean Sports activities Centre in Carbis Bay.
12. Pop into St Ives Museum for Some Native Historical past
If you wish to study a bit of extra concerning the space’s historical past, head to the St Ives Museum on the coronary heart of the Downalong. Uncover an intriguing assortment of artefacts referring to the industries which have fueled St Ives through the years: pilchard fishing and curing, mining, and boat constructing.
Sadly, the museum wasn’t open once I visited. Like many vacationer points of interest in Cornwall, the St Ives Museum solely opens from Easter to October. However this volunteer-run museum appears like a terrific place to spend an hour or two searching the eclectic assortment.
13. Hike to Zennor
Surrounded on three sides by the epic, long-distance South West Coast Path (SWCP), Cornwall is FULL of nice coastal hikes to go well with all talents. Beginning proper from St Ives, the hike to Zennor Head takes in some dramatic (and steep) cliffs with unbelievable views – and the possibility to identify seals!
That is a tough, however rewarding 6-mile hike following the SWCP (signposted with an acorn waymarker. You may return alongside the gentler inland route for a 12-mile spherical journey, or come again by bus (these are rare so test timetables earlier than setting out).
As you cross the headland in entrance of Seal Island, it’s possible you’ll properly spot a number of gray seals swimming within the bay or basking on the seaside slightly below you. However please don’t stroll onto the seaside itself – disturbing the seals might result in moms abandoning their pups.
This hike shouldn’t be for the faint-hearted. I’m used to the SWCP and located it a wrestle! There are a number of sections the place you’ll must scramble over boulders, in addition to some fairly steep climbs up and down. I strongly advocate climbing boots, and presumably some climbing poles too (my knees wished I had some!). When you don’t assume the total hike is for you, you’ll be able to drive or take the bus to Zennor and do a shorter round route round Zennor Head as an alternative.
Issues to do Close to St Ives
14. Take a Day Journey to Land’s Finish
Considered one of Cornwall’s most well-known landmarks is inside straightforward attain of St Ives. Land’s Finish – mainland Britain’s most southwesterly level – is simply half-hour drive from the seaside city, so it makes an excellent little day journey.
You don’t want lengthy to discover Land’s Finish. Take a photograph with the enduring signpost, have a wander across the retailers, and ship a postcard from the 1st & Final Publish Field. There’s a restaurant and a number of other points of interest, together with indoor loopy golf, a 4D Movie, and the interactive Aardman presents: A Grand Expertise.
If you wish to make a day of it, you’ll want to go for a cliff stroll. Following the South West Coast Path in both route will take you alongside beautiful clifftops. You may even uncover a shipwreck: the MV RMS Mulheim, which was wrecked at Gamper Bay in 2003.
Prime tip: the carpark prices £7:50. A less expensive various is to park at close by Sennen Harbour Automobile Park and stroll the coast path (about half-hour) to Land’s Finish.
15. Discover the Penwith Heritage Shoreline
Land’s Finish is simply one of many many points of interest alongside the Penwith Heritage Shoreline, the westernmost a part of the Cornwall Space of Excellent Pure Magnificence.
This beautiful, sparsely populated shoreline begins simply west of St Ives and skirts the peninsula all the way in which in the direction of Penzance on the southern coast.
There are distant seashores, rugged cliffs, granite moorland hills, and tiny fishing villages to find. Take a hike alongside the South West Coast Path, or head inland do discover the peninsula’s historic stays just like the Carn Euny Historic Village and the Merry Maidens Stone Circle.
Don’t miss the Minack Theatre on the southern coast, in Porthcurno. Carved right into a clifftop, this out of doors theatre hosts common exhibits and occasions all year long.
16. Hop on and Off the Land’s Finish Coaster
The Penwith Heritage Shoreline generally is a good spot for a highway journey. However should you can’t – or just don’t wish to – drive, there’s a unbelievable various.
Land’s Finish Coaster is a hop-on, hop-off, open-top double decker bus service which circuits the Penwith peninsula. Working in a large circle between St Ives, Penzance, Land’s Finish, and St Simply – with a number of extra stops in between – it is a nice method to get across the peninsula.
In reality, it will probably merely be a enjoyable exercise all by itself: sit on the highest deck and watch the countryside and shoreline roll by! Fashionable stops embody Geevor Tin Mine, the Minack Theatre, and Maraizon (for St Michael’s Mount).
17. Go to Godrevy Level
On the jap aspect of St Ives Bay, Godrevy Level is one other unbelievable day journey. With miles of golden sands, clifftop walks, and plenty of wildlife, there’s one thing for everybody right here.
The towering headland is coated in wildflowers in spring, particularly purple Phacelia. In summer season, the heathlands are filled with butterflies, together with the tremendous uncommon silver-studded blue butterflies. Godrevy can be residence to gray seals, which may usually be noticed swimming off the headland or resting on the seaside. On high of all that, it is a birdwatching paradise, with one thing to see all yr spherical.
Simply off the headland stands Godrevy Lighthouse: inbuilt 1859 to mark a harmful reef. Literature followers received’t wish to miss it: Godrevy was the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Though the novel was set on the Isle of Skye, the landscapes have been based mostly on Godrevy, as Woolf’s mother and father owned a home in St Ives and the creator spent her childhood summers there.
What to do in St Ives within the Rain
Sadly, this being England, sunshine and seaside climate isn’t all the time assured in Cornwall! Fortunately, a variety of the actions and points of interest talked about above are nice in any climate. However right here’s a fast shortlist of the very best issues to do in St Ives when it rains…
- Discover the Tate St Ives. There’s rather a lot to see so you’ll be able to simply whereas away a number of hours right here – and the views from the galleries and upstairs cafe are unbelievable!
- Take shelter within the different St Ives galleries, particularly the Penwith and the Barbara Hepworth Museum. Don’t overlook the others talked about above, too!
- Take pleasure in a traditional cream tea in one of many quite a few cafes. The Porthmeor Seashore Cafe has a conservatory with nice views in any climate.
- Head to the indoor St Ives Farmer’s Market on a wet Thursday morning to browse native produce. The market is held in The Guildhall each Thursday from 9:30 to 2pm.
- Loosen up with a spa day at one of many native resorts. Attempt St Ives Harbour Lodge, Una Lodge, and Carbis Bay Lodge.
- Study one thing new! There are many enjoyable lessons in St Ives, together with artwork lessons at Barnoon Workshop and Porthmeor Studios, chocolate-making workshops at I Ought to Coco, and yoga lessons with St Ives Yoga.
The place to Keep in St Ives
There are a number of resorts and B&Bs in St Ives – however personally, I’d advocate reserving one of many many self-catering cottages discovered all through the city.
These are a terrific choice, as they afford more room and really feel rather more homely! Self-catering helps minimize prices, too, as you don’t must eat out for each meal. And staying in a bit of “residence away from residence” comes with some useful conveniences – like accessing a washer after a protracted day on the seaside!
On my vacation in St Ives, I stayed at a surprising self-catering vacation cottage from Features Holidays. They’ve tons of of cottages all throughout Cornwall, together with numerous actually pretty ones in St Ives.
Features Holidays are a small, native firm based mostly in Cornwall, with an enormous portfolio of lovely vacation cottages throughout the county. Being a neighborhood firm means a terrific, pleasant workforce of workers who you’ll be able to belief to present you all the very best data.
Bay Hill Cottage St Ives
I stayed at Bay Hill Cottage: a beautiful, white-washed cottage on a quiet lane on the hill above Porthminster Seashore. Unfold throughout three flooring, this cosy, characterful cottage had essentially the most unbelievable views throughout the seaside and harbour in the direction of St Ives.
It’s been a very long time since I used to be that blown away by a view from a vacation residence! Away from the home windows, although, the entire property was superbly adorned. There was an ideal mixture of contemporary, up to date feels and cute, cosy cottage vibes. Plus numerous ocean-blue hues and seaside nods right here and there!
Regardless of wanting fairly small from the skin, the property was extremely spacious. The center ground is at road stage on the entrance, with a small twin room and a comfy lounge – full with a comfy gasoline fireplace and two reclining chairs positioned in entrance of the big window.
As a result of the property is on a hill, the downstairs kitchen and eating room – gorgeously adorned with blue tiles and plenty of vibrant native paintings – opens out into the again road. There are huge French doorways to take advantage of that unbelievable view. I cherished throwing these open within the morning to sip my espresso within the sunshine while watching the waves crashing on the seaside beneath!
Upstairs is the lavatory (small however very properly laid out) and two double bedrooms. Each have been pretty, with calming colors and cosy double beds. However the main bedroom, in the back of the home, has the view! There’s nothing fairly like waking as much as a sea view – it was very onerous to tug myself off the bed within the mornings!
Bay Hill Cottage genuinely blew me away! I’d fortunately advocate it to anybody on the lookout for a vacation cottage in St Ives.
Finest Time to Go to St Ives
For the strongest probability of fine climate and sunshine, summer season is the very best time to go to St Ives. Nevertheless, summer season can be peak season, which suggests larger costs, busy seashores, and extra bookings.
When you are visiting in summer season, attempt to e book as far prematurely as doable, as a result of lodging can get booked up fairly rapidly! This additionally applies to British financial institution holidays, college half phrases, and the Easter holidays.
When you desire a quieter journey, the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn can be a good time to go to St Ives. Costs are typically decrease and also you’ll discover the city much less crowded – apart from the Easter Holidays. Plus, the cooler temperatures are perfect for climbing the South West Coast Path.
Find out how to Get to St Ives
Find out how to get to St Ives actually is dependent upon the place you’re coming from. Under are the greatest methods to achieve the city from London – however you’ll be able to decide these companies up at numerous spots – together with Exeter and Plymouth – alongside the way in which.
Trains from London Paddington take round 5.5 to six hours, altering at St Erth for the scenic department line (see entry quantity 9 above).
Alternatively, you’ll be able to take the Night time Riviera Sleeper – one in all simply two sleeper trains within the UK. It leaves London Paddington at 23:45 and arrives into St Erth at 07:46, simply in time so that you can catch the primary department line service to St Ives.
That is typically essentially the most cost-effective method to attain St Ives. Nationwide Categorical function a long-distance bus service from London Victoria Coach Station to Cornwall. Nevertheless, they don’t name at St Ives, so that you’ll must take a bus to St Erth or Hayle, then change for a neighborhood bus (or take the prepare from St Erth). The quickest is a direct in a single day bus (8 hours 20 minutes to St Erth). Daytime companies require a change at Plymouth Coach Station.
Take both the M4 then M5 from London in the direction of Exeter (or the A303 is an efficient various if there are visitors points on the motorway). Go away the M5 motorway simply after Exeter at Junction 31 and be part of the A30, which you’ll observe all the way in which to the Hayle Bypass – the place you’ll decide up highway indicators for St Ives.
Most guests to Cornwall have a tendency to come back by automotive. Whereas that is most likely the simplest and quickest method to attain St Ives, visitors throughout the county generally is a nightmare in peak season! All that congestion causes points for each the locals and the atmosphere – so should you can, journey at quieter instances of the day, or come by public transport as an alternative.
St Ives Street Journey Route
For a slower, extra scenic driving route – and one of many UK’s greatest highway journeys – head to Tub and decide up the A39.
Nicknamed the Atlantic Freeway, this winding highway will take you thru the gorgeous Exmoor Nationwide Park, then on to the beautiful bays and seashores lining the coast from Barnstaple to Bude.
Newquay Airport to St Ives
When you’re coming from additional afield, the simplest method to attain St Ives may be to fly into Newquay Airport – then decide up a rental automotive or take public transport to your remaining vacation spot.
Newquay Airport is round an hour’s drive to St Ives (relying on visitors situations). There’s no direct public transport, sadly, so that you’d must take a bus into Newquay, then take the prepare (through Par) to St Erth, and eventually the scenic Department Line to St Ives (see entry quantity 9 for more information on that). Alternatively, you’ll be able to pre-book a taxi switch: the official airport taxi firm is Shoreline Journey.
Newquay Airport has hyperlinks with quite a few locations throughout the UK (in addition to a number of European cities). These embody London Gatwick and Stanstead, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Belfast, and a number of other extra.
Extra on Cornwall and Close by
I hope you discovered this information to St Ives and what to do when you’re visiting useful! In case you have longer to spend in Cornwall and South West England, you may take pleasure in a few of my different weblog posts:
Bought a query or a suggestion of your personal? Scroll down to depart a remark…