21 Beautiful Towns in Cornwall to Visit With Kids

Visiting one or two of the best towns in Cornwall guarantees an unforgettable day out with your kids. The county is home to some of the most beautiful towns in England — from rugged Cornish coastal towns to colourful Cornish market towns and everything in between.

Discover quirky museums, historical landmarks, gorgeous gardens, and the most stunning beach towns in England. The south, teeming with sandy beaches and peaceful waters, is home to some of the prettiest towns and villages in Cornwall. The north of Cornwall packs in towering cliffs, massive waves and wild beauty. It is perfect for adventurers and thrill-seekers, and one of its biggest draws is Newquay, the surfing mecca of Cornwall, UK. Inland Cornwall has scenic woodlands, abandoned mines and stunning backroads.

You’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite. But we will help you plan the perfect trip with your family, starting with getting to know the best towns in Cornwall.

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Towns in Cornwall Map

Located on the rocky southwestern edge of England, Cornwall forms a peninsula of sandy coves, remote moorlands, and lovely countryside. But it’s the quaint towns in Cornwall that make every trip to the county special. Want to know more about this seaside paradise? Here is a map of the Cornwall towns.

21 Best Towns in Cornwall to Visit on Your Next Trip

Most Cornish seaside towns are famous for their stunning yet rustic charm. But there is more to Cornwall than ocean views, old fishing ports and surfing. You will often find the best of Cornwall hidden away in places off the beaten path. Be pleasantly surprised by the lushness of central Cornwall and the low-key beauty of less-known harbour towns.

Let’s peek at the best towns in Cornwall and what makes them worth visiting. (See below for a complete Cornish towns list.)

#1 St Ives 

st ives, cornwall, towns in cornwall

The town of St Ives in Cornwall is a beloved destination of beach lovers and outdoorsy families. It lies on a narrow headland flanked by a sandy coast on one side and a maze of cobblestone alleys lined with whitewashed cottages on the other. But it is not just the gorgeous sights that make St Ives one of the most visited places in Cornwall.

The town is also famous for its thriving art scene. Visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, with its unique bronze exhibits, and the Tate Gallery, which features modern masterpieces of British artists.

Wildlife lovers will enjoy a boat trip to Seal Island to see grey seals and other animals in their natural habitat. Don’t miss the chance to watch the sunset from Porthmeor Beach. There are plenty of amazing day trips from St Ives too!

#2 Padstow

Padstow, Padstow day trip, towns in cornwall

It is not a stretch to say that Padstow solidified Cornwall’s reputation for good food. If you’re looking for the best seafood in the county, go to this Cornish seaside town.

Celebrated chef Rick Stein helped put Padstow on the culinary map, but there is more to it than its eateries. Padstow is quintessentially Cornish in every corner, with its family-friendly beaches, a boat-lined marina and a working fishing harbour complete with fishermen’s huts and merchant houses.

The 18-mile Camel Trail, the most popular Cornwall hiking and cycling route, starts here. 

#3 Falmouth 

white and black boat on sea during daytime, falmouth, things to do in cornwall, cornwall towns
Photo by Kate Joyce

Undoubtedly one of the most historic towns in Cornwall, Falmouth is the heart of the county’s maritime heritage. It is home to the five-storey National Maritime Museum and the impressive Pendennis Castle, a fortress built in the 16th century by Henry VIII to protect Britain from invaders.

Falmouth also has a lively art scene, and you will find brilliant displays at the Falmouth Art Gallery. If it’s sand and sea you want, Falmouth has family-friendly beaches, including Gyllyngvase, Swanpool and Maenporth.

The lush and subtropical Trebah Garden lies seven miles from the town centre. Visit this Cornwall town in June, and you can witness the Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival, a gathering of singers performing songs of the sea.

#4 Penzance 

penzance, towns in cornwall, cornish harbours
Photo by Benjamin Elliott

The name comes from the Cornish pen sans, meaning holy headland, because a chapel once stood on the edge of its harbour thousands of years ago. Penzance has long been the commercial hub for Land’s End and makes a perfect base for exploring the peninsula.

It is home to the open-air Minack Theatre, and if you visit from May to September, you can enjoy a performance that ranges from concerts to Shakespeare plays to kids’ shows. While in town, explore the Morrab Gardens, Chapel Street and the Penzance promenade.

The sand and pebbles family beach of Long Rock is considered the best beach in Penzance.

#5 Newquay

Newquay airport, review, towan beach, kids2cornwall

As the surfing capital of the county, Newquay is the most famous of the north Cornwall towns. This vibrant seaside town in Cornwall is home to some of the most scenic beaches in the UK.

Fistral beach may attract pro surfers from all over the world, but its quieter, less-popular beaches are all worth exploring. Head to Crantock Beach for its caves, towering dunes, and sea birds or explore the enormous sea stacks at Bedruthan Steps Beach. View the best surfing spots in Cornwall here >>

Visit Newquay Zoo, observe marine life at the Blue Reef Aquarium, swim in the tropical-themed fun pool at Leisure World, meet farm animals at the Dairyland Farm Park, and ride the steam train across Lappa Valley.

#6 Marazion 

Photo by Benjamin Elliott

This charming Cornish market town is possibly one of the oldest in Britain. Marazion’s most famous landmark is the island and castle of St Michael’s Mount, from where you can witness sweeping views of Land’s End and the Lizard Peninsula. But it is not the only attraction in town.

Spot over 170 bird species at the Marazion Marsh, soak up the sun at Perran Sands, ghost hunt at Pengersick Castle, and explore the infamous Prussia Cove, the secret lair of pirates and wreckers.

#7 Looe 

looking out onto Looe harbour from afar.

Historically one of the most visited Cornish seaside towns, Looe has been a favourite holiday destination for more than 200 years. It is known for its cosy B&Bs, bucket-and-spades beaches, and award-winning fish and chips.

Looe is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and is perfect for crabbing, rock pooling, snorkelling, fishing and birdwatching. Head to the Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary. Or, sail to Looe Island, home to rare and exotic flora, fauna, and a seal colony. Stroll along Looe’s unique Banjo Pier or soak up the views on Lantic Bay.

#8 Truro 

truro cathedral, things to do in Truro with kids, Truro, places to stay in Truro

Cornwall’s only city, Truro, is the county’s administrative centre. With its Gothic spires and 250-foot towers, the Truro Cathedral is its most famous landmark.

Truro is also home to the Royal Cornwall Museum, 18th-century buildings, and shopping areas, including Boscawen, Kenwyn and River Street. It makes an excellent base for exploring the rest of Cornwall.

Drive to the sweeping countryside of Roseland Peninsula within half an hour away, or take a quick riverboat ride to Trelissick Gardens.

Read some amazing Facts About Truro Here >>

#9 Bodmin 

Before Truro, Bodmin was the administrative centre of Cornwall. One of its most popular attractions is the eerie Bodmin Jail, considered one of the most haunted places in Britain. If the Bodmin Jail is too spooky for you, check out the iBounce Trampoline Park, a fantastic indoor attraction for the entire family.

Drive to Bodmin Moor, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, for its charming villages, pretty nature trails, and abandoned railways. Explore the Carnglaze Caverns or hike up to the summit of Brown Willy, Cornwall’s highest point.

#10 St Austell  

The old town of St Austell used to be a mining hub in the mid-18th century. Presently, most tourists refer to it as the Cornish town near the Eden Project. But St Austell has loads to offer other than its proximity to the tropical biodome. It is, after all, still called the Cornish Riviera because of its spectacular nearby beaches and eclectic shops and restaurants. St Austell is also nearby the mystical and majestic Lost Gardens of Heligan.

#11 Bude

The northernmost town of Bude is one of the most visited places in Cornwall. Considered one of the best seaside towns in Cornwall, Bude has lured holidaymakers to its stunning shores since Victorian times. It is home to several beaches, but Summerleaze is its main beach and is ideal for beginner surfers.

Surrounded by the craggy cliffs, the Bude Sea Pool provides safe swimming for those who prefer a relaxing dip in the waters. Other beaches to check out include the semi-isolated Sandy Mouth, great for rock pooling, and Crooklets, a family-friendly cove adjacent to Summerleaze.

#12 Porthleven 

Built on massive high walls, Porthleven is one of the most picturesque Cornwall harbour towns. During winter storms, the town lures visitors who want to witness giant waves break against the granite sea defences.

Porthleven is great for surfing, fishing and kite flying in fair weather. With its rolling landscape, it is perfect for relaxing coastal hikes.

The town’s main draw, however, is its thriving food scene. If you’re a fan of seafood, add Porthleven to your bucket list.

#13 Fowey 

Fowey, south cornwall

The small port of Fowey can easily be called one of the prettiest Cornwall coastal towns. Its colourful harbour, lined with shops and 14th-century blockhouses, is the centre of many activities.

Drop by the Daphne Du Maurier Literary Centre, wander around the Fowey Museum, and stroll up the esplanade towards St Catherine’s Castle for a dazzling panorama of the estuary and the rugged cliffs.

While not a surfing destination, Fowey is known for its watersports, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and canoeing. 

#14 St Just

Located on the most westerly edge of Cornwall, St Just was a tin mining town in its heyday. Its best attractions include Geevor Tin Mine, no`w converted into a Museum and Heritage Centre, and Crown Mine in the village of Botallack. Read more about the mines in Cornwall here >>

A mile or two north is the otherworldly Cape Cornwall, a fascinating mix of a gorgeous rugged coastline and remnants of the once-prosperous mining industry. Portheras Cove, a sandy bay tucked at the end of a small valley, and Priest Cove, a pebble beach at the bottom of Cape Cornwall, are worth seeing.

#15 Launceston 

Packed with a rich history that goes back to the 9th century, Launceston is one of the most atmospheric towns to visit in Cornwall. The imposing 13th century Launceston Castle dominates the landscape.

Of all the inland Cornish towns, Launceston seems the most suitable for children. Your little ones will love a ride in the restored Victorian train on the Launceston steam railway.

Try the Bridge Community Centre and the Trethorne Leisure Park for indoor entertainment. For nature and animal lovers, go on a trip to the Hidden Valley Discovery Park and the Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre.

#16 Hayle 

hayle, estuary, things to do in Hayle with kids

Among the Cornwall coastal towns, Hayle is the only one that boasts three miles of uninterrupted golden sand at low tide, known as the Towans. This vast sandy stretch provides a scenic backdrop for beachcombing, sandcastle building, strolling and birdwatching.

In the north, the beaches Gwithian and Godrevy are popular with surfers and perfect for families interested in rock pooling. Check out Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary, home to hundreds of rare and endangered animals and birds. 

#17 Camelford 

People often link Camelford to Camelot because of its proximity to the mysterious Tintagel clifftop castle, believed to be the seat of King Arthur. The legends are unlikely true, but Camelford certainly looks the part of a charming medieval town. It is one of the best towns in Cornwall for hiking, swimming, surfing, and learning about the past. Some of its attractions include the Davidstow Airfield and Cornwall at War Museum, and the Arthurian Centre.

Go to the nearby village of Tintagel and climb up to the castle and cross the castle bridge before heading to the lovely wooded valley of St Nectan’s Glen.

#18 Helston 

Unlike most of the other towns in Cornwall, Helston doesn’t have a beach nearby. But what it lacks in sea views, it makes up for with its historical attractions, pasty shops, and an overall festive yet laidback vibe.

Visit the Museum of Cornish Life, get on a pedalo boat in Coronation Park and Lake, see the seals at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and brave the heart-pumping rides at the Flambards – the best theme park in Cornwall. If you love hiking, follow the easy trail through the Cornish countryside to the Loe, the largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall.

#19 Liskeard 

liskeard, cornwall towns

Liskeard offers a welcome change of scenery from the seaside towns of Cornwall and features attractions such as the Liskeard and District Museum, the Ancient Pipe Well and the 15th century St Martin’s Church.

Head to the surreal Golitha Falls in the ancient oak forest of Draynes Wood. Learn about the traditional practice of training and flying falcons at the Ancient Art Falconry. Meet the rare and exotic animals at the Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary. Brave the rides at the Adrenalin Quarry, including clifftop swinging, freshwater coasteering, and ziplining.

#20 Lostwithiel 

By Robert Pittmann

Lostwithiel is one of those odd-sounding Cornish town names that hides a beautiful backstory. The name comes from the Cornish “lostwydhyel”, which translates to the tail of the woodland.

The town lies on an enchanting wooded valley along River Fowey and is well-placed for exploring both the north and south coasts of Cornwall. Lostwithiel boasts winding narrow lanes fringed by pubs, cafés and quirky shops. It is one of the best towns in Cornwall to hunt for antiques and rare vintage items.

Be sure to see the 14th-century Restormel Castle, the Boconnoc House and Gardens, and the Lostwithiel Museum. You can drive five miles to Cardinham Woods for hiking or cycling adventures.

#21 Penryn 

By Tim Green

Many tourists would skip Penryn for the glamourous Falmouth, unaware that this small town has as much fun to offer. Penryn features sloping cobbled alleys lined with granite buildings from the Tudor, Jacobean and Georgian eras.

Ramble around Kennall Vale and the 30-acre Enys Gardens. The stunning Helford River, famous for its kayaking, snorkelling and sailing, is nearby.

Visit the Raze the Roof play area, which features a range of activities for toddlers, tweens and teens.

Cornish Towns List A-Z

For your reference, here is a list of Cornish towns.

  • Bodmin
  • Bude
  • Callington
  • Camborne
  • Camelford
  • Falmouth
  • Fowey
  • Hayle
  • Helston
  • Launceston
  • Liskeard
  • Looe 
  • Lostwithiel 
  • Marazion
  • Newlyn
  • Newquay
  • Padstow 
  • Penryn 
  • Penzance 
  • Porthleven 
  • Redruth
  • St Austell 
  • St Blazey
  • St Ives
  • St Just-in-Penwith
  • St Columb Major 
  • Truro
  • Wadebridge 

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