This summer I visited Cornwall for the first time and brought my Mum along on her first ever blog trip. We spent 3 nights at the Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa in Newquay and used it as our base to explore the surrounding area. Leading up to the trip, I had so many of you send me fantastic recommendations of where to visit and must-see things. It made me realise that 3 nights and 2 full days is nowhere near enough time to do the beautiful coastlines of Cornwall justice, so instead of trying to see everything, I wanted the trip to be an ‘introduction’ to Cornwall’.
As this was my first time in Cornwall, I’m not going to suddenly claim to be a Cornwall expert and this post definitely isn’t a definitive guide to Cornwall. Instead, I just wanted to share with you everything we got up to in a diary-style post. We planned to prioritise some of the biggest attractions in the area including St Ives and The Eden Project (both of which were under an hour away from Newquay). Here is my Cornwall travel diary…
My Cornwall Travel Diary
Day 1 – Getting There and Exploring
As we were only in Cornwall for 3 nights, it didn’t really make sense to spend +12 hours on the road getting there and back. Luckily, there are direct flights from Leeds Bradford to Newquay Airport with Flybe, so we booked two return flights and arranged a hire car through Car Hire Bible. The flight had no delays and lasted only one hour. As we touched down on the runway of tiny Newquay airport, I couldn’t believe how quickly we had arrived in Cornwall! Our hire car was waiting for us to be collected. If you’re flying to Cornwall a hire car is a bit of a must as the public transport is not the best.
No sooner had we checked into our room at Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa, we were itching to get down and explore Fistral Beach. The constant wave break makes Fistral one of the best surfing beaches in Cornwall, and possibly the UK. It’s a surfer’s paradise, but even for non-surfers like me it’s a spectacular beach you can enjoy. We went for a wander and stopped for a drink at Fistral Beach Bar, next to Rick Stein’s fish and chip restaurant. Along with a few surf shops, this complex of establishments is the only one on the whole beach, so you can’t miss it. We sat outside, breathed in the sea air and didn’t care that our hair was getting severely windswept. It was lovely and I already began to feel myself relax.
Day 2 – Newquay Harbour and a Visit to St Ives
Our first full day in Cornwall was jam packed, starting with a local visit to Newquay Harbour. Much prettier than Newquay town itself, the harbour is nestled within a type of cliff edge. We visited early morning, and it was already a hub of activity. Fishermen were loading up their boats, a grandfather had brought his son fishing and tour groups in wetsuits were getting ready for a morning of activity.
The harbour was incredibly picturesque. From one angle it looked like your traditional British fishing harbour and from another it looked like an exotic scene from Thailand. The secluded sandy beach in the corner or the harbour was framed by a green cliff face and turquoise waters, which was like nothing I’d ever seen in the UK before. If we had a bit more time we would have definitely stopped off for breakfast or a coffee at the Harbour Hotel, which has an outdoor terrace overlooking the harbour.
We spent the rest of the morning enjoying the spa our hotel, before heading out to St Ives for the afternoon. A few of the hotel staff warned us how busy St Ives would be as we were in the peak summer season, but I still wanted to go and see it for myself. We hopped in the hire car and drove 50 minutes to the famous Cornish town. I realised that St Ives was the southernmost point I had ever been to in the UK (if you look on a map you’ll see its almost at the tip of the country).
The hotel staff were right! It was incredibly busy, especially around the main harbour. But despite the crowds we still enjoyed an afternoon of exploring (at a very slow pace!). To our surprise, the entire harbour had emptied of water when we arrived (due to the tide) so we took our sandals off and walked down to the waters edge.
We also enjoyed mooching around the artisan shops and many galleries along the harbour front, and picked up a souvenir from the Cornwall Candle Company. For dinner we stopped at The Rum and Crab Shack, which had been recommended to me by someone at our hotel. I indulged in a fantastic beer-battered fish and chips which was cooked to perfection. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is fantastic. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a good meal in St Ives.
Day 3 – The Eden Project
The Eden Project was one of the things I was most looking forward to visiting whilst in Cornwall and as one of the biggest attractions in the county, I knew I had to make it a priority. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, The Eden Project is home to two main biomes that house different microclimates and environments from around the world (the rainforest biome and the tropical biome). The result is that you can step into different places around the world and learn about their plants, wildlife, resources and vegetation. It was a sunny day when we visited so the heat in the rainforest biome was incredibly humid, and it really did feel like we were in a tropical country.
Surrounding the two futuristic biomes are other attractions, all focused around the environment and sustainability. Don’t miss the extensive outdoor gardens with their hidden sculptures and the stage has different events and exhibitions going on throughout the year. In the winter months you can go ice skating and in summer they have an ice tubing for children. I love that the whole premise of the Eden Project is built on sustainability, the environment and on-going research to protect our planet. Its a fantastic family day out but equally as enjoyable for adults. Check out As The Sparrow Flies’ Essential Guide to The Eden Project for more info about what to expect.
After arriving back in Newquay we decided to get our walking shoes back on and walk further around the coastline, beyond Fistral Beach. We reached Little Fistral and walked right up to the white bandstand on the headland (which we had spotted from our hotel room window). By the end of the day its safe to say my pregnant body was exhausted, and all I was up for was a burger, bath and bed. I remember falling into the deepest sleep that night, which must have been thanks to all the walking and sea air.
Day 4 – A Walk to Pentire Head
Our flight departed at around 3pm, so we had a bit of free time in the morning to take in one more coastal walk. This time, we ventured in the opposite direction of Fistral Beach and followed the footpath round to Pentire Head. This is the headland on the other side of Fistral Beach and the reason Fistral is so wonderfully sheltered and protected. The landscape around Pentire Head was spectacular and so easy to reach on foot from our hotel. For a final treat, we stopped at Lewinnick Lodge for a hot chocolate on their outdoor terrace.
I remember feeling genuinely sad to be leaving and wishing we could spend a couple more nights at the hotel. My Mum and I got on so well and had such an amazing time that I wasn’t ready for the trip to be over. There’s something about that fresh sea air that makes me feel so at peace and gives me so much clarity, and I just wanted to be around it for a bit longer. I felt like I had only begun to scratch the surface of Cornwall and that there are so many places I still want to see.
I’m so glad that I’ve finally visited Cornwall and can understand why its such a special part of the UK to so many people. I already know I am going to return to Cornwall time and time again, and hopefully next I will have Scott and our little baby in tow.
Read my review of Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa in Newquay
Have you visited Cornwall before, or are you planning a trip there? I’d love to know your thoughts on Cornwall. If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment in the box below. Jess x
Want to read more about Cornwall? Check out these fantastic blog posts from my friend and fellow blogger Wanderlust Chloe