Y ou’ll find an abundance of things to do both within St Ives and on the doorstep. Here are some of the highlights to tick off during your stay.
Looking for the best beach in St Ives? We’re spoilt for choice with a stretch of sand for every occasion. Feel transported to an almost tropical paradise at Porthminster, a golden beach with waters that glisten in turquoise hues during the warmer months.
Harbour Beach adorns the town centre and is the perfect spot for enjoying a pasty or ice cream while admiring the working fishing boats – just keep an eye out for seagulls! Porthmeor Beach is perfect for hitting the surf or storm-watching during winter. Another highlight is Porthgwidden, a sheltered suntrap that’s popular with families.
Why just look at the sea when you can get active on or in it? Beginners and experienced surfers alike regularly take to the waves at Porthmeor, which is also a popular spot for coasteering. For a slower pace, you can navigate Porthminster Bay on a stand-up paddleboard or glide across it in a kayak. St Ives Surf School is a go-to for lessons and equipment for hire.
St Ives is a haven for sampling Cornwall’s food and drink staples. Whether you’re looking to sample a ubiquitous pasty, scoops of homemade ice cream, handmade fudge, or fresh seafood, you’ve come to the right place. The streets are peppered with cafes and restaurants of all styles, meaning you’ll be tempted to indulge at every turn.
St Ives Food and Drink Festival is among the highlights in Cornwall’s culinary calendar. Porthminster Beach hosts a stage frequented by celebrity chefs, while an array of stalls showcase the very best local produce. The festival also hosts an impressive schedule of live music and entertainment.
St Ives has long been a vibrant hub for artists of all mediums and from all walks of life, and many outstanding examples of their work are displayed at galleries throughout the town. You can buy originals and prints at shops or go and see major exhibitions. For international names and some of the very best local talent, pay a visit to Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.
One of Cornwall’s most cherished stretches of coastal path connects St Ives with Zennor in the west. The trail features all the quintessential elements that make the county’s coastline so special. Keep your eyes peeled for rugged cliff-tops, boulder-strewn moorlands, secluded coves, and a wealth of wildlife that includes sunbathing seals in the summer.
With the Atlantic Ocean bursting out to the horizon, this is the perfect escape from the buzz of the town. There’s an altogether different landscape when you head east, with Carbis Bay and Gwithian Towans offering spacious, unspoilt sandy beaches.
One of Cornwall’s most magical villages, Zennor is steeped in myth and legend. You can reach it by walking the coastal path or taking a short 10-minute drive from St Ives. Discover the story of the Mermaid of Zennor, a famous folk tale; be sure to head to the church and find the 15th-century mermaid carving. Then, take a hike up to Zennor Quoit and marvel at a megalithic burial chamber marked by impressive standing stones.
St Ives hosts a vibrant programme of festivals and events throughout the year. Alongside St Ives Food and Drink Festival in May, other favourites include Feast Day in February, the Swellboard Shootout in June which sees hundreds of surfers take to the water in fancy dress to raise money for charity, and the St Ives September Festival which welcomes weeks of live music, films, exhibitions, theatre, workshops and much more.