St. Ives, Cornwall, is truly the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With its plethora of sandy beaches, quaint shops, cafés, picturesque views, and more, it is not hard to fall in love with this gorgeous location. If this is your first time considering a trip to this idyllic part of the UK, choosing which activities to include on the itinerary can be a little tricky—especially if you are short on time. So to assist you in planning an incredible and memorable vacation, here are the ten best things to do in St. Ives, Cornwall.
10 Visit The Barbara Hepworth Museum
For art lovers and visitors looking for a non-beach activity, a leisurely visit to the Barbara Hepworth Museum is the perfect way to spend the day. Not only is this museum brimming with fine art, culture, and some of Hepworth's most significant works, but it also has a lush Sculpture Garden. Here in this popular attraction, guests can tour this famed sculptor's residence and studio. Once done touring the museum, visitors can take a stroll through the spectacular grounds that are home to giant sculptures and an immaculate garden.
9 Stroll Along The South West Coast Path-Godrevy Head
Located along the South West peninsula coastline, The South West Coast Path-Godrevy Head is a scenic treat with towering cliffs, beautiful beaches, a cove filled with seals, and the famous Godrevy Island Lighthouse. The trail/walk itself spans just a few miles but still gives adventurers a chance to see many of these St. Ives' main attractions, including St. Ives Bay. This walk is ideal for new hikers and families since it is a short and easy climb. Visitors can easily embark on this lovely trail from the National Trust car park at Godrevy Point.
8 Lounge On Incredible Beaches
St. Ives is definitely a beach town destination, much to many world travelers' surprise. There are a variety of sandy beaches in the area (over 300 or so to be exact), and St. Ives' Porthminster Beach is easily a fan favorite. A truly stunning beach with golden sands, palm trees, and crashing waves—visiting this particular beach is an absolute must. Other amazing St. Ives beaches to check out include Porthmeor, Porth Kidney, St. Ives Harbour, Porthgwidden, and Carbis Bay—just to name a few.
7 Cruise Along St. Ives Bay
As previously mentioned, St. Ives Bay is a sight to behold, and there is more than one way to see it. This stunning Bay Area is visible from various points in this region. So you can appreciate its beauty, whether you are out hiking, exploring other local attractions, or simply enjoying all the shops, hotels, and restaurants that adorn this waterway. That said, one of the most delightful ways to take in St. Ives Bay is by boat. So why not schedule a cruise and check out these waters. Off land, you can get a new perspective on the expanse of soft golden sand beaches and the breathtaking landscape plus catch a glimpse of the ample sea-life while you're at it.
6 Set Sail To Seal Island
Ocean lovers can enjoy a quick boat trip or tour to nearby Seal Island, also known as the Western Carracks. Not only is it one of the top things for tourists to do here in St. Ives, but it is also a great way to combine several great activities if you're only in town for a few days. This rugged isle attracts countless seals, and there is a strong possibility that island-goers will get a chance to see a few other sea locals like the basking shark and dolphins.
5 Check Out St. Nicholas Chapel
Visitors looking for the best view and some good ole fashioned history should make their way up to the highest point in the area. Here adventurers can check out St. Nicholas Chapel, which sits atop this high peak (which ironically is named The Island). This medieval chapel, named after the patron saint of sailors, dates back to the 15th century. Over the years, St. Nicholas has been everything from a lookout point to a wildlife observatory to a chapel for sailors. So stop by, learn more about this important church, and don't forget to marvel at the beach haven down below.
4 Explore The Tate Gallery St. Ives
Yet another excellent vantage point, The Tate Gallery St. Ives looks like a work of art surrounded by the sparkling blue hues of the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, inside this expansive gallery, ample treasures await. Here gallery-goers can fix their gaze on stunning works of art by 20th-century artists who have a connection or ties to St. Ives. Notable artists featured include Alfred Wallis, Ben Nicholson, and even a few pieces from Barbara Hepworth. Guided tours are available, and there is also a lovely café on the premises that serves first-rate scones and tea.
3 Enjoy A Spot Of Afternoon Tea Or Cream Tea
Speaking of tea, St. Ives' travelers have a few options when it comes to having a delightful spot of afternoon tea and cream tea. If you prefer the posh option, check out any establishments in town that offer afternoon tea, which generally consists of a pot of tea, finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, jam, and an assortment of pastries. Alternatively, for those looking to experience authentic Cornish cream tea, there are several spots in town like the Dolly's Tea Room and Wine Bar, The Searoom, and the Camel Trail Tea Garden that can accommodate you.
2 Grab A World-Renowned Burger
Once visitors have indulged in a spot of tea and some delicious scones with Cornish cream, a trip down to Blas Burgerworks should definitely be in the cards. This quaint establishment with communal tables is known around the world as one of the absolute best places in Europe to grab a burger. Here patrons have their choice of fantastic burgers, including an array of vegan options. So stop on in and enjoy probably one of the best burgers you will ever have in your life.
1 See The Sights Via Train
Finally, for anyone keen on taking in as much of the region as possible, then a nice train ride on the Scenic Rail Britain railway line is in order. This railway connects St. Ives to the rest of the region around Cornwall and parts of South West England. Passengers can see yet another side of St. Ives and all its glory. What's more, with several stops along the way, travelers can hop off at Carbis Bay to marvel at the beach or simply enjoy the nearby shopping, art galleries, and dining in the surrounding areas of Cornwall.