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Cornwall is the UK’s top holiday destination and for a good reason, it’s beautiful! However, Cornwall’s tourist hotspots can get very busy and make visiting Cornwall stressful and less desirable, especially in the summer. That’s where these hidden gems in Cornwall come in!
Below are hidden places in Cornwall to visit that not as many people know about! These Cornwall gems have been shared by travel bloggers who love Cornwall. They know of the best places to visit in Cornwall and the best things to do in Cornwall and have given me their suggestion for hidden gems in Cornwall so you can add them to your Cornwall itinerary and see the best of Cornwall, without the crowds!
Hidden Gems in Cornwall
Here’s a map of cornwall to help you plan how to see these hidden gems in Cornwall!
1. Porth Nanven Beach
Within sight of Land’s End, the village of Sennen Cove is a much smaller and quiet cove and one of the top hidden gems in Cornwall. This hidden cove does not have a large sandy beach or lots of facilities (in fact there are none!), but it has more than enough to explore for an afternoon.
A single-track road leads from St Just village and is signed Cot Valley. The road follows a small river down the valley to the sea where the beach is located. At the end of the road is a small parking area with high cliffs on either side. From here paths lead along the coast towards Land’s and Cape Cornwall.
The beach has large round boulders that look like ‘dinosaur eggs’ and become more scattered the closer to the water you get.
To the left of the beach is a series of rocks and beyond these are small sandy coves and rock pools to explore. These will appear at low tide and you do need to be sure of the tides as they disappear completely at high tide with no route back to the main cove. This small cove is usually quiet and most people who visit stop for a short while before moving on meaning you can have it to yourself a lot of the time.
Suggested by: Suzanne Meandering Wild
2. Minack Theatre
Hidden right at the far south west of Cornwall, but definitely worth the drive, is the stunningly positioned Minack Theatre, one of the unique places to visit in Cornwall!
Open-air theatres are a delight in themselves but the Minack has the added appeal of being hand-carved into the Cornish cliffs. As well as enjoying a wide variety of live performances, visitors to the Minack Theatre can also expect incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and quite often the performers on stage will be vying with pods of dolphins for your attention.
The Minack is surrounded by beautiful gardens, there’s a café and a small museum which details the history of the theatre. The Minack was hand-built by Rowena Cade and her gardener in the winter of 1931 and was added to each subsequent winter during Cade’s lifetime.
The theatre really is a joy to visit. It offers a range of productions from Shakespeare to light-hearted shows for children. Close by is the beautiful beach of Porthcurno which can be reached on foot down a steep cliff path. Together the beach and theatre make for a really enjoyable day out. If you don’t have tickets to a performance, it is still possible to tour the theatre and appreciate Cade’s incredible feat of craftsmanship.
Suggested by: Smudged Postcard
3. Botallack Mines
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape is full of epic scenery and historic sites, but the Botallack Mines are a standout feature. Even visitors who aren’t here to learn more about the area’s fascinating mining history will be taken aback by the dramatic and rugged coastline which is home to these mines.
Fans of the TV show Poldark may even find Botallack Mines slightly familiar. This is because the mines were used as the setting of “Grambler”, the mine owned by Francis Poldark.
The Crowns, some engine houses perched right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean, are easily the highlight of any visit to the Botallack Mines. The Crowns is the most photographed area on the whole site, and there are lots of different places to snap some wonderful photos of them.
To get to know the mines and their stunning setting in more depth, head out on the Botallack Mining Walk. This one-mile walk covers all the best sightseeing spots in the area, and you can even see the Isles of Scilly in the distance on a clear day! Entry to the area is free, and parking costs just £1 per hour (free for National Trust members).
Suggested by: Many More Maps
Many visitors to Cornwall head straight for the most popular towns like St. Ives or Newquay. But there are so many lovely hidden gems in Cornwall like the fishing village of Newlyn. It’s the next town over from Penzance, so it’s convenient to get to, but it has a unique charm because of its rich fishing history that you won’t find anywhere else in Cornwall.
Newlyn is still one of the largest fishing ports in England, and when it’s the right season, you can watch fishermen pulling in pilchards just like they would have done in the 18th century. There’s even a giant statue of a fisherman right on the beach. And if that’s not enough fish for you, drop by Newlyn in the summer for their Fish Festival.
But Newlyn has more to offer than just sardines. Like almost every town in Cornwall, Newlyn is a popular destination for artists. The Newlyn Art Gallery exhibits work from contemporary artists in a lovely building right on the water. Finally, after a day outdoors, cool off with some refreshing and delicious ice cream from Jelbert’s. This legendary ice cream comes only in one flavour, but you can get it topped with cream and Cadbury Flake. It’s the perfect end to a day in Newlyn.
Suggested by: Around the World in 24 Hours
5. St Michael’s Mount
Similar to France’s famous Mont Saint-Michel which is often featured on TV travel shows, St Michael’s Mount is a similar place but found in Cornwall, England. This beautiful tidal island is located just a 4-mile drive east of Penzance and 9-miles south of St Ives on the south-west coast of Cornwall making it one of the easy hidden gems in Cornwall to visit.
My secret tip is to read the causeway calendar before arriving so you can coincide your visit with the causeway revealing itself. It’s then a case of walking across once the sea’s parted. Or do as we did and paddle through when there’s still two or three inches of sea covering the cobbled road for a really unique experience in Cornwalll!
Suggested by: Biggsy Travels
6. St Nectan’s Glen Waterfall
If you’re looking for a hidden gem in Cornwall and enjoy incredible waterfalls, look no further than St Nectan’s Glen. This breathtaking series of waterfalls is nestled into a secret gorge and the whole area looks like something out of a fairytale.
To get there, you walk along a path through beautiful woodlands, often following the path of the river, before suddenly arriving in front of the magnificent St Nectans Kieve– the main waterfall. St Nectan’s Kieve is 60ft high and falls through a hole in the rock. It used to be a basin, but the water eventually eroded it into what you see today.
St Nectan’s Glen is located in Tintagel, Cornwall- really close to the famous Tintagel Castle and Merlin’s cave from King Arthur’s legend- also well worth a visit, but decidedly busier!
Many people are unaware of the existence of St Nectan’s Glen- so it’s a lot less crowded and touristy than other places in the area- especially in summer, although it’s open most of the year. For the best experience, arrive early in the morning and try to be first on the trail so you can experience St Nectan’s Kieve by yourself (and get the best photos!).
Suggested by: Wandering Bird
7. Treyarnon Bay
Treyarnon Bay is just a short walk around the corner from Constantine Bay but is a lot quieter than this popular tourist spot.
Treyarnon Bay is a beautiful clean beach surrounded by low cliffs and sand dunes with crystal clear waters perfect for everything from paddling to surfing, it’s easily one of the best hidden beaches in Cornwall.
It’s also the perfect spot for toasting marshmallows on a beach bonfire in the evening while you catch one of the stunning sunsets that Cornwall is so famous for. Make sure you add this to your list of hidden gems in Cornwall!
Suggested by: Coco Travels
8. Kynance Cove
Kynance Cove is a truly hidden gem in Cornwall. Nestled into the Lizard peninsula, just two miles north from Lizard Point, Kynance Cove is famed for its white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and rock stacks.
The cove is one of the most photographed, filmed and painted beaches in Cornwall, and regularly features on lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world! At low tide, you can explore the beach and take a look around the coves and interconnecting caves, or just relax on the soft white sandy beaches taking in the sea air.
I love Kynance Cove so much because it’s so unassuming; you need to park up and take a walk over the hill before you can even catch a glimpse of the beach. After a short walk, you’ll soon be met with stunning panoramic views over the beach.
Suggested by: Hanna Talks
9. Restormel Castle
Hidden away down leafy country lanes not far from Lostwithiel, Restormel Castle is one of the more unusual places to visit in Cornwall. Perfectly circular in shape, this late 13th century Norman castle was once a lavish medieval home with superb panoramic views out over the Fowey River valley. It was often used for opulent gatherings for the nobility and was even visited by Edward, the Black Prince.
Today it’s a great place to explore and enjoy a picnic on the flower-covered castle mound. Far off the beaten tourist trail, Restormel Castle is never crowded, and the chances are you’ll have it all to yourself which is why it is one of the top hidden gems in Cornwall and secret places in Cornwall to visit!
Enough of the castle is still intact so visitors can easily imagine what life was like living in this uniquely shaped stronghold. There are steps up to the top of the walls where a walk around the circumference of the castle gives far-reaching views of the surrounding area.
To make this a half-day visit, try the 45-minute walking trail between the castle and the nearby Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, which is a great place for a spot of lunch in the stylish café after your explorations.
Suggested by: Conversant Traveller
Known to locals as “Meva”, which is also easier to pronounce, this seaside village looks like somewhere that is definitely not England. Turquoise waters, beautiful beaches and the most charming village. You’ll be drawn in from the minute you lay your eyes on this place.
The town itself is relatively small, but there are tons of restaurants, cafes and pubs to enjoy and all with a seemingly perfect view. Clifftop walks are a must during your visit to this seaside village as you’ll be able to get the best views, second only to the views you’ll get by being out on the water.
Take out a paddleboard or book into a boat tour whatever you choose it will be a great way to see just why people love this part of the country and this is why it’s one of the hidden gems in Cornwall to visit!
Suggested by: She Who Wanders
11. Charlestown Harbour
One of my favourite places in Cornwall is the historic port at Charlestown, near St Austell, home of the Eden Project. Visiting the UNESCO world heritage site is like taking a step back in time. The harbour and dock were constructed in the late 18th century to serve the local china clay industry, and it feels like very little has changed in the intervening period.
The old-world look is enhanced by the small fleet of traditional sailing ships that call the harbour home. The charm of Charleston hasn’t gone unnoticed by the film and television industry, and several feature films have been shot on the ships and around the port, most recently the BBC series Taboo, starring Tom Hardy, and, of course, Poldark, featuring Aiden Turner as the smouldering Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as his flame-haired love Demelza.
Charlestown is also the site of the eccentric Shipwreck & Heritage Centre, which displays artefacts recovered from the many wrecks that litter the local coast, and tells dark stories of the smuggling history that co-existed with more legitimate work in fishing and shipping. Round off your visit with fish and chips at the Longstore bar-restaurant, overlooking the harbour.
Suggested by: These Vagabond Shoes
12. Chapel Pool
The Picturesque fishing village of Polperro in South East Cornwall is a great place to visit at any time of the year. If you head West on the South West Hiking Trail out of the village you may stumble across the delights of Chapel Pool, one of nature’s swimming pools.
To find the lesser-known pool, head to the historic Blue Peter Inn in the harbour then climb the steps that are signposted as the coastal path. This leads you to the cliffs overlooking the harbour entrance with some fantastic views. Around the headland, there is a footpath off the main trail which leads down some manmade steps. These steps are the entrance to Chapel Pool, this is a pretty safe climb down the cliff to reach using handrails.
Chapel Pool is only visible and useable between quarter tide and three-quarters tide, at other times it disappears into the sea. What awaits you is a stunning rock pool to either swim or relax in with views out to sea. The pool is heated by the sun and a rather pleasant place to spend a few hours relaxing and easily one of the top hidden gems in Cornwall.
Suggested by: RJ on Tour
13. ATV Centre in Truro
While Cornwall may not be traditionally associated with extreme sports and adventure activities, you’d be surprised just how many adrenalin-fuelled adventures in Cornwall you can take part in. One of my personal favourites is going quad biking at the ATV Centre close to the town of Truro.
Cornwall’s ATV Centre consists of 3 main tracks; one smaller one for taking practice laps and for younger children, then two considerably longer ones. In fact, their 1.2km track is the largest Quad track in England and is full of sharp corners and fun jumps which you are free to take as slow or fast as you feel comfortable with.
Being a lesser-known attraction in Cornwall, the ATV centre isn’t usually packed with tourists and is actually far more popular with locals for birthday parties or weekend fun. Plus, the centre doesn’t allow too many people onto the track at one time so you have the freedom to take the course without fear of crashing into strangers all of the time.
20 minutes of quad biking costs £33 while 30 minutes is £38, which includes full safety equipment, a briefing and a couple of practice laps which happen before your time slot starts
14. Tintagel Castle
Cornwall is home to many myths and fairy tales, but none is more popular than the legendary King Arthur tale. A place where its history comes vividly to life is Tintagel Castle in the North of the county.
The medieval fortress, built in the Romano-British period 1st century AD, has long associations with the King Arthur legend since the 12th century. Its ruins, located on a small peninsula just outside of the sleepy village Tintagel, throne majestically over the rough cliff side with dramatic views of the Celtic Sea. This is a fantastic place to explore, as the castle ruin stretches widely over the land and is connected through steep wooden stairs. Surrounding the peninsula are hidden coves and epic coastal walks which ensure an adventurous day out.
The ruin itself is very well preserved, with many foundations and ancient structures still intact. I loved roaming the site and take in its mystical and magical atmosphere. The backdrop of the wild sea makes it a fantastic setting to indulge in your imagination on your Cornwall road trip.
Tintagel Castle is still an active excavation site. During its most recent discoveries from 2016, various artefacts such as glass, pottery and building structures from the Dark Ages were recovered. The archaeologists have also found a window ledge inscribed with Latin, Greek and Cornish symbols in the following year.
This is a very active site which still reveals its many secrets and has been constantly upgraded over the past ten years. The English Heritage built a new footbridge to the peninsula last year and have installed a metal artwork on the cliffside to remember King Arthur. Tintagel Castle is quite a remote place to visit, so if you plan on going here, you will definitely need your own car to see this hidden gem in Cornwall!
Suggested by: Style Lingua
15. Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is located in the beautiful Helford Estuary near the village of Gweek. The sanctuary is a charity which helps rehabilitate rescued seals from around the Cornish coast. Located in Gweek since 1975 after moving from its original base in St Agnes the centre also looks after other animals including birds, penguins, sheep, dolphins and turtles!
The Seal Sanctuary is a perfect destination in South West England and offers visitors the opportunity to see and learn about marine animals living off the UK coast. During the months of September to March the sanctuary is also home to large numbers of rescued Grey seal pups.
Don’t miss the Convalescence Pool where the sanctuary’s resident grey seals are located (plus the seal pups during the season). You can learn more about the individual stories behind each of the resident seals during the Seal talk which is held at the pool. Travel to the sanctuary by car or bus (buses run regularly from Falmouth and Helston to Gweek).
Suggested by: UK Travel Planning