Are you looking for the best things to do in Newquay as inspiration for your next visit to Cornwall?
Then you’re in the right place… I’ll even include some day trip ideas you can take from Newquay in case you’ve got longer to spend on holiday.
Newquay is a large town along the north coast of Cornwall, and is known for its sandy beaches, surfing and watersports activities, and thriving nightlife.
Popular among both locals and visitors to the UK, Newquay often pops up in lists of top places to visit and other accolades, such as being voted “one of the nation’s favourite seaside towns” in the Which Holiday Survey.
Even if you only have one day to spare, that’s okay – it will be the beaches you’ll have come to see.
But it’s recommended that you spend a long weekend, or even a week in Newquay, so these recommendations of things to do are based on if you have more time to spare.
Things To Do in Newquay
Newquay is home to a number of great sandy beaches.
Some of the best ones include Fistral Beach, which is very popular with surfers and dog owners; Tolcarne Beach, which families love going to; and Crantock Beach, which is great for swimmers and snorkelers (you may even spot some dolphins!)
Just a short walk from the town centre is Newquay Zoo, which offers all the usual types of animals you’d expect to find in a zoo, such as lions, monkeys and lemurs, as well as over 1,000 of the world’s rarest and endangered animals.
You can’t possibly visit Newquay without taking a trip down to the harbour.
After all, this is how Newquay got its name! The town used to be called ‘Towan Blystra’, until they installed a new harbour (or quay).
This is a great place to stop for ice cream or traditional fish ‘n’ chips and to watch the fishing boats go by… just watch out for seagulls stealing your food!
South Quay Hill
Newquay is one of the most popular surfing spots in the UK, due to the consistent waves that come in from the Atlantic.
There are a large number of surfing schools throughout Newquay if you’re a beginner, and the larger waves out to sea are perfect for those of you who are more experienced.
Newquay is also a great spot for other types of watersports including wakeboarding, paddleboarding and even riding jet skis.
Newquay Watersports Centre
South Quay Hill
Coasteering is great fun (especially for thrill seekers), and involves jumping from cliffs, wild swimming and walking narrow cliffside paths.
There are a few companies that offer this as an excursion, or you can check out the Airbnb Experiences program for cheaper options.
Blue Reef Aquarium Newquay
There are a few Blue Reef Aquariums around the UK (as you might expect from an aquarium chain in an island nation).
But they’re popular because they are a great day out!
The aquarium at Newquay even has a tunnel you can walk through that goes under the water, allowing you to see sharks and all manner of marine life from below.
Blue Reek Aquarium Newquay
The Japanese Garden
Open from March 1st until October 31st, The Japanese Garden is a beautiful and tranquil place to come for an afternoon.
As can be expected from a Japanese style garden, you’ll find bonsai trees, bamboo plants, Japanese maple trees, calming ponds and Japanese-inspired ornaments and pagodas.
And with adult tickets costing just £5, this is also a cheap day out near Newquay!
The Japanese Garden
Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park
Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park is very popular with families, and offers all sorts of things to do.
Newquay Zoo is found here, as is a boating lake, play parks, miniature golf and a swimming pool (with fun water slides!)
Trenance Gardens and Leisure Park
Bars and Clubs
You’ve heard of “apres ski”, but what about “apres surf”?
Newquay is famed for its nightlife as well as being the surf capital of the UK.
You’ll also likely spot a few hen parties and stag dos while out – they can’t seem to be avoided in Newquay!
Photography Courses and Tours
While you’re busy exploring Newquay, you’ll probably also want to snap some Insta-worthy photos to take home with you, which is where a photography course or tour might come in handy.
You’ll be able to experience all of the beauty that Newquay has to offer while learning how to better capture it all within a photo (or fifty!)
If this sounds like fun to you, then take a look at Paul David Smith Photography. This is a local business with various courses, workshops and tours for you to choose from – all based within beautiful Newquay and other must-see places around Cornwall, such as the Tin Coast (where some of Poldark was filmed!)
Best Day Trips from Newquay
Speaking of other places and sights to see around Cornwall, Newquay is in an ideal location for you to venture further afield.
Here are my suggestions for the best day trips from Newquay.
Heading further into Cornwall from Newquay (and in under one hour), you’ll come across another popular Cornish location – St Ives.
There are a number of great sandy beaches here as well, thriving harbour and port, Tate art museum and cliffside walks, so it warrants you to spend a full day here.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Head 40 minutes to the southern side of Cornwall and you’ll find The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Neglected during WWI, the gardens were “found” and restored in the 1990s, and it’s now a very popular place to come when in Cornwall.
Expect to spend several hours here admiring the plants, trees, ponds and interesting stone statues.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
A few minutes further south from The Lost Gardens of Heligan is Mevagissey, a charming and very traditional Cornish fishing village.
A visit here will be completely different from your time spent in Newquay – you can even hop on a fishing tour to see how it’s done!
Less than 40 minutes by car from Newquay is Eden Project.
You’ve likely seen the striking dome biomes on Instagram or on other blogs before – they’re quite famous now!
Basically, this is a great day out to admire plants and trees (even tropical ones).
Although my advice would be to wear layers and take water with you – you’ll be sweating buckets inside some of the greenhouse domes!
Just 20 minutes by car along the north coast of Cornwall is nearby Perranporth Beach.
It offers the same sort of sandy beaches as Newquay, although it’s a little quieter.
It’s also several miles long, and offers superb views if you climb to the tops of the overlooking cliffs.
Where To Stay in Newquay
When looking for places to stay in Newquay, it’s recommended to either choose somewhere near to the town centre so that you’re within easy walking distance of the main attractions, or to find somewhere close to some of Newquay’s beaches.
Here are a few of my recommendations on where to stay in Newquay…
These self-catering villas are right by Watergate Bay and are just a 10 minute drive away from the centre of Newquay.
As they’re self-catered, you’ll find everything you need within the villa. There are also shops and restaurants a short walk away.
Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa
This hotel is superb and overlooks popular Fistral Beach.
It’s an adults only hotel, which means it will be a peaceful retreat for couples. The addition of the spa at the hotel is particularly great if you’re after the ultimate retreat!
Legacy Hotel Victoria
Situated just a couple of minutes away from Great Western Beach, this hotel is right in the centre of the top attractions.
The hotel itself is a stunning building with plenty of character, although the rooms are a little outdated. Still, the hotel building itself warrants an awesome getaway!
The Lewinnick Lodge
Taking about 5 minutes to get to Fistral Beach in the car, this hotel is in a great location.
The views from sea-facing rooms and the hotel’s terrace/sundeck really are incredible.
And in most rooms, you can expect a posh spa bath and excellent power shower.
Porth Veor Manor Villas & Apartments
Boasting swimming pool on-site, large rooms and being just a 5 minute drive from Newquay’s town centre, this is a great place to stay.
You can choose between self-catered, half-board or a bed & breakfast option – you may even be lucky enough to get a sea view!
Getting to Newquay
As Newquay is a large (and popular) Cornish town, getting there is really easy.
When arriving by car, you’ll likely come along the M5 motorway and A30, which are both main roads.
You may find yourself driving through some narrow Cornish lanes when you come off the A30, but it won’t be for very long.
Newquay also has a decent railway station, although it’s on its own line, so you may need to catch a connection on your journey at Par train station.
However, throughout the summer months, Newquay operates direct trains to/from London, Bristol, Birmingham, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.
Another great option to get to Newquay is with a National Express coach, which operates from all large cities throughout the UK including London, Bristol, Birmingham and Plymouth to name just a few.
And finally, there is (surprisingly) an airport near Newquay – the Cornwall Newquay Airport.
There are daily, year-round flights to/from London Gatwick, Manchester and the Isles of Scilly, as well as some flights with Ryanair and Flybe from other major UK cities and some international destinations (during the summer months).
Getting from the airport into town is also pretty easy – you can even hire a private transfer via GetYourGuide:
I hope this guide to Newquay, including the best things to do, where to stay and day trip ideas from Newquay comes in useful. Where are you excited to see first? Let me know in the comments below…