Weekend Shortcut: Your Complete Guide To Short Breaks In Cornwall In Winter
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I can personally vouch for benefits of holidaying in Cornwall in the depth of winter; I once boarded a train at London’s Paddington Station in the snow – and arrived a few hours later in St. Austell, to the sight of sunshine and daffodils, at the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Cornwall as a summer destination will of course need little introduction to UK readers; the rugged southern county is bookended by the Celtic Sea and the English Channel, and is synonymous with the best British seaside holidays – but does that mean you should write off short breaks in Cornwall in winter?
Why Take A Short Break In Cornwall In Winter?
Cornwall may be one of the UK’s most popular summer holiday hotspots, thanks to miles of sandy beaches, dramatic coastal cliffs, arty towns and delightful seaside villages, but Cornwall is also well known for enjoying its own unique climate, meaning that spring arrives in Cornwall well before the rest of the UK. So if you want to pop somewhere a little warmer for a weekend away, without leaving the country, Cornwall could be the answer.
If you’re driving to Cornwall rather than taking the train, you will also find journey times and traffic a lot easier to bear off season than in the height of summer – and that’s just for starters.
Another bonus of booking your short break to Cornwall in winter is that as well as the roads being quieter, the coastline is too. So instead of sharing all of the county’s stunning outdoor locations with the summer crowds in July and August, you can use one of these less frenetic months of the year in to enjoy a tranquil short break in Cornwall, while still escaping the harsher winter weather of the rest of the UK.
And if you fancy embracing rather than fleeing the dramatic winter weather, you couldn’t pick a better place for storm watching: from Cornwall’s vantage points on the westerly edge of England you can witness Mother Nature putting on a show as the storms roll in from the North Atlantic, making winter the perfect time for budding photographers to visit Cornwall.
20 Ideas For Your Short Break To Cornwall In Winter
There is so much to see and do on your short break in Cornwall, and what you prioritise depends on your interests – and of course the good old British weather.
Whether you’re travelling to Cornwall for a romantic break, renting a cottage for a family weekend away or headed to Cornwall with a group of friends you’ll find some ideas for days out in Cornwall here:
1. The Westerly Edge of England: Land’s End
Cornwall may be home to the UK’s most southerly spot, Lizard Point, but the ultimate bucket list viewpoint in Cornwall has got to be Land’s End, at the country’s western tip.
A beautiful, dramatic coastal landscape in its own right, Land’s End is a haven for birdwatchers, and wildlife buffs, as it’s home to multiple species of seabirds, plus sharks, dolphins and seals. There’s also 220 species of flowering plant here.
The South West Coastal Trail is great for walkers too, and you could easily spend a whole day exploring the area – or just enjoy the dramatic views before heading off on your next stop.
The best thing about visiting this amazing slice of Cornwall in winter is that you will get the views all to yourself.
2. Theatre Under The Stars: The Minack Theatre
One location which should top your list of places to visit on a short break to Cornwall in the winter is the Minack Theatre – this jaw-dropping amphitheatre set into the rocks at Porthcurno gets busy with productions between Easter and October, but out of season you’ll be able to take to the stage and perform monologues of your own to an empty auditorium.
3. Seafood & Small Ships: Padstow
Padstow is of course famous for seafood, as home to no fewer than six Rick Stein establishments, ranging from casual eateries to the celebrated chef’s flagship seafood restaurant.
Padstow still retains the charm of a working fishing port, and a visit in winter is a great way to capture the true essence of the small Cornish harbour, without the plentiful foodie crowds.
4. Walks & Witchcraft: Boscastle
The small coastal village of Boscastle has an utterly charming harbour setting, is associated with arts and crafts and is surrounded by stunning walks. Another reason to make a beeline for Boscastle is the town’s Witchcraft museum – but be warned: if your short break in Cornwall in winter is scheduled after November you’ll have to work some serious magic of your own to get inside as the museum is closed until April.
5. The Castle On The Rocks: Tintagel
It’s all very Game of Thrones at Tintagel – the castle which is run by English Heritage is steeped in the legends of King Arthur, but whatever the history of the 13th century castle, there’s no doubt that the views from this exceptional slice of the Cornish coast are stunning to behold.
The town of Tintagel is itself a small tourist centre, lined with shops and car parks, all touting for castle visitors’ business, so in winter the ability to drive right up to the site itself makes things far easier and less stressful.
Tintagel Castle is being revamped so that it can re-open with a brand new footbridge in Spring 2019.
6. Island Views: Marazion & St Michael’s Mount
Marazion itself has the distinction of being Cornwall’s oldest town, and has a stunning, vast beach, but it’s the views out to St Michael’s Mount which really sets this Cornish gem apart.
The island is connected to the mainland by a man-made causeway – accessible only at low tide, which in this part of Cornwall in winter probably means a morning visit if you’d like to climb the mount itself.
In the winter months access is restricted to specific days and times, so check the National Trust St Michael’s Mount page for details.
7. Arty St. Ives
If you tire of the natural sculptures created by the Atlantic Ocean bashing against the rocks, and want to enjoy some artistic creations of the manmade variety, head to St Ives.
The Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture garden are the undoubted highlights, with changing exhibitions of modern British art. If you like England’s other arty seaside towns (Margate springs to mind) you’ll definitely enjoy St Ives.
The drive from St Ives to Lamorna is also said to be one of the best scenic Sunday afternoon drives in the whole country and St Ives Bay remains the unsung hero of the area.
8. The Outdoors, Indoors: The Eden Project
No guide to Cornwall would be complete without a mention for one of the UK’s most famous attractions, The Eden Project.
If you’re visiting Cornwall in winter but want to enjoy a Mediterranean landscape or experience the world’s largest indoor rainforest, then the biospheres at the Eden project are the perfect place for you to find yourself on a rainy day out in Cornwall.
9. Refuel At One Of Cornwall’s Pubs
Whether you want to stop off for a pub lunch, enjoy a pint of Cornish ale or simply take refuge from a winter downpour by someone pouring you a local beverage, you’ll find no shortage of historic and picturesque country inns dotted around Cornwall.
Take your pick from a selection of traditional pubs like The Tinners Arms, which dates back to 1271, and gastro pubs like The Gurnard’s Head which serves up local Cornish fayre with finesse.
10. On Golden Sands: To The Beach
If there’s one thing Cornwall has in spades, if you’ll pardon the pun, it’s sandy beaches and coves. Perranporth Beach is a vast sandy beach which is popular with four-legged visitors, and nearby St. Agnes and Chapel Porth Beach are worth a look too.
In need of more inspiration? Here are 10 more ideas for short breaks in Cornwall in winter:
11. Madron Wishing Well – Holy wishing connected with mysterious healing properties.
12. Carn Brea Castle – 14th Century castle turned hunting lodge, turned restaurant half an hour’s drive inland.
13. Penberth Cove – tranquil secluded cove with a history of pirates, popular with Poldark fans.
14. The Egyptian House in Penzance – a rare example of 1800’s Egyptian architecture in Cornwall.
15. Porth Joke Beach – scenic and unspoiled beach near Newquay known locally as Polly Joke.
16. Newquay – popular Cornish town and a surfers’ haven in summer.
17. Gwithian Beach – great for sunset and views of the surf breaks.
18. Godrevy Headland – home to a colony of seals.
19. The Bedruthan Steps – beach with treacherous currents and stepping stones used by a giant according to local legend.
20. Cornwall’s cideries – the county is dotted with farms making local scrumpy.
Where To Stay On Your Short Break In Cornwall In Winter
The best way to experience Cornwall in winter is to rent your own holiday cottage – meaning you have space to relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing and you can put the kettle on and cosy up on the sofa, just like you would at home.
It also means if you don’t fancy eating out every night, you can cook up your own feast with local Cornish ingredients and tuck in while taking in the view.
There are lots of styles of holiday rentals available in Cornwall, from classic quaint cottages to modern stylish apartments, but for an amazing winter break in Cornwall I would recommend 34, The Dunes right on Perranporth Beach – this is the ultra chic beachfront pad I tried out thanks to Cornish Horizons. This kind of property would suit anyone in search of a short break in Cornwall, and with 3 bedrooms it works for families, couples or groups of friends.
With modern sleek surroundings, you’ll be wowed by the level of luxury and attention to detail in this apartment. The bathrooms and kitchen are ultra modern, bed linens are on par with the best 5 star hotel, and the furnishings are stunning. Plus the palette chosen is natural and calming and perfectly reflects the beachside setting, bringing the outdoors indoors.
But most of all, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the floor to ceiling windows, and ever-evolving beach views.
I arrived to find a fully stocked fridge and cupboards, absolutely packed with local goodies from The Cornish Food Box Company – so I wasted no time in tucking into the scones, jam and clotted cream. I mean, that’s what a trip to the UK seaside is all about.
Organising the rental and gaining access to the property could not have been easier, and on check out you simply leave the keys in a lockbox and the cleaning up behind you. Now, if only that happened at home.
They’ve grown to become a nationwide operation with 20 offices, 190 staff and more than 3,000 cottages on their books but the dedicated Cornwall cottage rentals, Cornish Horizons, is still based locally in Padstow, Fowey, Looe and St Ives. They can help you choose between their 700 different properties across the county, many of which are pet friendly – because dogs like short breaks in Cornwall just as much as everyone else.
Stop Off Points En Route To The Cornish Coast
Chances are if you’re driving to Cornwall from anywhere in the Southeast of England, you’ll spend some time on the A303 – which means driving right past Stonehenge.
The famous druid stone circle makes a great stop off point, and if you have spare time you could even pop into the charming city of Salisbury.
From here it’s also possible to do a detour into another area of the UK which is famed for its natural beauty: the Cotswolds.
Around a 2 hour drive inland from the Cornish Coast, Wolford Chapel makes an interesting stop off point if you’re headed east, especially if you have an interest in Canadian history.
As the burial place of John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, this is the only Ontario Heritage Trust site to exist outside of Canada, and considered as historically important as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Not what you’d expect to stumble upon in the English county of Devon.
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SavoirThere.com was a guest of Cornish Horizons.
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