If you’re not sure where to stay in Cornwall then we’ve got you covered with this detailed guide all about the best towns, what to do in and around each one and which Cornwall hotels you should take a look at.
We hope you find it useful – but most importantly, we hope you enjoy your trip!
If it’s large sandy beaches, superb coastal views and beautiful green parks and areas that you’re after then we can think of nowhere better. The South West – and especially Cornwall – is our top choice for where to go in England whether it’s for a fun day trip, charming weekend getaway or epic week-long adventure.
Think you’re ready for that? Great, let’s go!
At-A-Glance: Where To Stay In Cornwall For First Time Visitors
Penzance – best for first time visitors
Penzance in the West is one of the best towns to stay in Cornwall for first time visitors as it sits close to the main road of the A30, which runs through much of Cornwall, Devon and beyond.
So it’s easy to use Penzance as your base for exploring top sights in and around the area.
Penzance itself is home to a quaint port and harbour, which even inspired the popular opera: The Pirates of Penzance in the 1800s. Penzance is also close to other fantastic places to visit in Cornwall.
Don’t Miss In & Around Penzance:
Most visitors to Penzance make the day trip to nearby Marazion, which is just 15 minutes away by car. Here, you can make the crossing to St Michael’s Mount.
St Michael’s Mount is such an interesting little island to visit. Despite being a solitary place due to high tide cutting off the only walkway to the island, it has thirty people living on it and a charming community of shops and restaurants to visit. Not to mention there’s also a castle overlooking the bay.
Be sure to check tide times before coming here though. At certain points of the day, you can walk or get the shuttle across the walkway that appears once the tide goes down. But if the tide is up, then you’ll only be able to take pictures of St Michael’s Mount from Marazion Beach.
Near to Penzance is also the totally charming fishing port of Mousehole, also a 15 minute drive away. Not only is this village great to visit in the summer but it’s also known for its incredible Christmas light displays (in case you’re in the area later in the year).
Top Penzance Hotels and B&Bs
Hotel Penzance is a delightful 4-star hotel housed in a period property overlooking the bay. With a cooked-to-order breakfast, use of the hotel’s swimming pool and charming gardens surrounding the hotel, your stay here is set to be a very relaxing one. Not to mention the rooms are bright and airy (some with spectacular sea views) and the hotel itself is just a few minutes walk from the train station, so you don’t necessarily have to drive here if you’re not able to.
Camilla House is a modern upscale B&B with incredible views of the port-side of Penzance. The rooms are large, bright, beautifully decorated and come with plush furnishings. Breakfast is of course included and with just eight rooms at the guest house, you’re sure to be looked after by the owners. There’s also access to free parking onsite.
The Queens Hotel
The Queens Hotel is a traditional 3-star seaside hotel located on the Penzance Promenade and overlooking the bay. Although the decor is somewhat old-school, the rooms are large and comfortable (some with huge seaview bay windows). Once again, a full breakfast is included in the cost of your room – as is access to parking. It’s also dog friendly, always a bonus!
The Longboat Inn
The Longboat Inn is a charming 3-star inn found just next to the train station. There are two restaurants onsite as well as a free children’s club and the rooms are simple yet comfortable. If you’re looking for a budget place to stay in Penzance then this is the one for you!
St Ives – best for first time visitors and beaches
St Ives is one of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall – and it’s easy to understand why.
Not only is St Ives home to a number of gorgeous sandy beaches and safe clean bays, making it one of the best places to stay in Cornwall for families, but there’s also lots to see and do within the town and in the area.
St Ives is absolutely buzzing during the summer months. But if you’re after some of the best beaches in Cornwall, traditional seaside boutiques and seriously fresh seafood then you’ll love St Ives (even with all the crowds!)
Don’t Miss In & Around St Ives:
Tate St Ives is one of the top things to do in the town. Yes, the artwork is great if you’re into that, but there’s also a charming cafe here with stunning sea views from the terrace. So even if you’re not into art, it’s well worth a visit.
There are lots of coastal paths to follow in the St Ives area, which will allow you to really take in the views. Some of them even lead to cliffs that are popular to jump from if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I personally wouldn’t but I know of a lot of people who have (and will!)
Outside of St Ives, I’d recommend heading to Hayle where some of the best cornish pasties I’ve ever had reside, as well as taking surfing lessons at Godrevy.
Perranporth is also roughly a 30 minute drive from St Ives, which also has a stunning sandy beach, coastal walks and is popular for bodyboarding due to being safe and clean.
Top St Ives Hotels and B&Bs
Pedn Olva is a large 3-star beachfront hotel with stunning sea views and large rooms, as well as an outdoor pool and large bar/restaurant area also overlooking the bay. As far as hotels by the sea in Cornwall go, this one is a great choice!
St Ives Harbour Hotel
Another beachfront hotel in St Ives to consider is the St Ives Harbour Hotel. This stunning 4-star hotel has great views, excellent indoor pool and spa facilities, bright and colourful rooms and a comfy terrace overlooking the bay. This is another Cornwall hotel by the sea well worth considering!
The Nook is a charming 3.5-star guesthouse close to the centre of St Ives. The rooms are comfortable and modern while a daily breakfast is included in the cost of your room.
Trevose Harbour House
If you want to splurge on your trip to St Ives then 5-star Trevose Harbour House is a great choice. The rooms are large, bright and airy (some with sea views), while the B&B has a chic lobby downstairs and provides a full breakfast daily, which is included in your room cost.
Sennen – best for popular Cornwall highlights
Sennen is close to the most Southwesterly tip of Cornwall (and of the UK), which makes it a great base for exploring some of Cornwall’s most popular highlights including Land’s End.
There’s also a beautiful sheltered sandy cove here with an active fishing harbour nearby, making it the ideal spot for relaxing, swimming and eating fresh fish ‘n’ chips.
Although Sennen is as far West as you can go, it’s easy to get to and to other top attractions around Cornwall thanks to being close to the popular and far-reaching A30 dual carriageway.
Don’t Miss In & Around Sennen:
Land’s End is easily one of the most well-known landmarks in the UK. There are spectacular coastal views here, as well as traditional funfair attractions and games.
If you’ve got time, we’d recommend parking at nearby Sennen Cove as it means that you can make use of the popular coastal path (taking around 1 hour to walk to Land’s End and back).
Found 15 minutes away in Porthcurno is Minack Theatre, which is an incredible open air theatre set right into the cliffs. After spending the afternoon at the beach, there’s nothing better than spending the evening catching a show!
For popular shows (and peak times), you’ll need to book your tickets in advance — at least three months ahead in order to secure the best prices. Minack Theatre is guaranteed to provide you with an unforgettable evening.
Maybe you’ll even see a clear sky and bright full moon like we did the last time we went?
Top Sennen Hotels and B&Bs
Old Success Inn
Old Success Inn is a charming beachfront inn with rooms overlooking the bright blue water of Sennen Cove, which are all lavishly decorated and modern. The inn has a bar and restaurant downstairs serving delicious food and breakfast is included in the cost of your room.
The Land’s End Hotel
The Land’s End Hotel is a large 3-star hotel just a couple of minutes from the Land’s End attraction itself. While some of the rooms are more traditional in feel, others have been fully modernised with high-end decor. There’s a bar and restaurant on site although the buffet breakfast usually costs extra.
Sennen Rise is a small but upscale 4-star B&B within easy reach of both Land’s End and Porthcurno. The rooms are all large and uniquely decorated, while the downstairs is open-plan and very grand. Breakfast is included; as is on site parking.
Bonus: Trendrennen Farm Bed and Breakfast
If you’d rather stay in Porthcurno, for instance, if you’re watching a late evening show at the Minack Theatre then Trendrennen Farm Bed and Breakfast is a great option. It’s a beautiful 4-star B&B with a large garden and sea views. The rooms are stunning with all the latest fixtures and fittings, while a delicious breakfast is included in the price of your room.
Newquay – best for surfing and nightlife
Newquay is a large town along the North coast of Cornwall, and is known for its sandy beaches, surfing, watersports activities and buzzing 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.
Given Newquay’s size and popularity, there’s lots to do here and it’s really easy to get around (even if using public transport).
Throughout the summer months, Newquay operates direct trains to/from London, Bristol, Birmingham, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland – and even has its own airport!
Don’t Miss In Newquay:
Newquay’s biggest draw is its 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 snorkellers (you may even spot some dolphins!)
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 boats go by… just watch out for seagulls stealing your food!
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. A couple of the city’s best nightclubs include Tall Trees Club and Berties Nightclub.
Top Newquay Hotels and B&Bs
Situated just a couple of minutes away from Great Western Beach, Hotel Victoria is right in the centre of Newquay’s top attractions. The hotel is a stunning building with plenty of character and is fairly traditional to what you can find in many English seaside towns.
Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa
Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa 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!
Taking about five minutes to get to Fistral Beach in the car, Lewinnick Lodge 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.
Bonus: Porth Veor Villas & Apartments
Boasting a swimming pool on site, large rooms and within a five minute drive of Newquay’s town centre, the Porth Veor Villas & Apartments are great places to stay. You can choose between self-catered, half-board or a bed & breakfast option – you may even get a sea view!
Truro – best for convenience
Truro is Cornwall’s only city. Although Truro lacks beaches and a seaside vibe, it more than makes up for this with its convenient central location.
Thanks to its connections to the A30, A39 and A390 dual carriageways, it’s really easy to make Truro your base when visiting other cities, attractions and beaches in Cornwall.
Plus the Roseland Heritage Coast is only 30 minutes away, which has plenty of coastal walks with stunning ocean vistas.
Don’t Miss In & Around Truro:
Truro Cathedral is easily the city’s biggest attraction. Not only is it Cornwall’s one and only cathedral but it’s also just one of three cathedrals in the UK with three spires. It’s free to visit and will definitely keep you captivated for an hour or two.
Found just 10 minutes from Truro is the National Trust’s Trelissick estate. Offering relaxing woodland walks and 300 acres of fields and countryside to explore, as well as a visit to a historic country manor house and superb panoramic views across the Fal estuary, this is one attraction not to be missed when staying in Truro.
The Roseland Heritage Coast is a 30 minute drive from Truro. Here, you’ll find superb coastal walks, ocean vistas, sandy beaches and secluded bays. If it’s Cornwall’s coast you’ve come to see (and it should be!), then this is the perfect day trip from Truro.
Top Truro Hotels and B&Bs
The Alverton is a stunning 4-star hotel, just a ten minute walk from the centre of Truro and offers spacious modern suites. The hotel and its rooms have lush decor throughout and the service here is top-notch.
Merchant House is a charming guesthouse with large modern rooms and is just a twelve minute walk from Truro’s city centre. There’s a delicious breakfast included and there’s plenty of seating areas downstairs to relax in.
Pengelly Farmhouse B&B
Pengelly Farmhouse B&B is a charming 4-star B&B 15 minutes North of Truro and offers comfort in abounds. The rooms are spacious with a cosy feel while the downstairs lobby and lounge areas are traditionally decorated. The breakfast is tasty and this B&B is even dog friendly!
Bonus: The Lugger Hotel
Although The Lugger Hotel is actually located in Portloe, a 25 minute drive from Truro, we couldn’t help but include it. It’s a charming 4-star inn with a terrace overlooking a secluded cove. The rooms are light, bright and spacious and are decorated in neutral colours with sea greens and blues to remind you that you’re by the sea. Simply marvellous!
Tintagel – best for history lovers
Tintagel is a beautiful village in North Cornwall with an interesting story to tell.
Legend dictates that Tintagel Castle is where King Arthur himself was conceived by Uther Pendragon, King of Britain and Queen Igerna, wife of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall.
Aside from the castle, the village of Tintagel is also well worth spending some time in.
Decked in bunting during the summer months and completely bustling with tourists and energy, there are plenty of independent boutiques and shops in Tintagel selling everything from gifts, souvenirs and fudge to clothes, toys and games.
Whether Arthur really was born in Tintagel (or not) doesn’t take away from the fact that visiting the village and castle today should be on every UK bucket list.
Don’t Miss In Tintagel:
Tintagel Castle is the village’s crown jewel and well worth visiting. Although it’s in ruins, the English Heritage have done a superb job at ensuring your visit focuses on the castle’s royal history.
The castle is perched on top of a steep cliff and the views from up here are extraordinary! You’ll even find a bronze statue of Arthur and his sword up here.
Below the castle, there is a small beach known as Tintagel Beach or Castle Cove. Although it’s a pebble and shingle beach, it’s very quiet and perfect for rock pooling or just paddling your feet on a hot day.
From the beach, it’s also possible to access and walk all the way through Merlin’s Cave when the tide is out.
After all this, take a stroll through Tintagel Village for a good old fashioned mooch in the local shops before settling down to some fish ‘n’ chips, Cornish pasties or traditional ‘pub grub’.
Top Tintagel Hotels and B&Bs
Tintagel Arms Hotel
Found a short walk away from Tintagel Castle, the Tintagel Arms Hotel offers a very comfortable stay. Breakfast is served daily, and in the eating area, you’ll be joined by statues of knights in armour and other quirky Arthur-related decor.
The Cornishman Inn
Just three minutes from Tintagel Castle, The Cornishman Inn is a traditional B&B with pub and food served on site and a large terrace and garden attached to keep the kids busy.
Camelot Castle Hotel
For those of you who are after something a bit more special during your stay in Tintagel, Camelot Castle Hotel is the one for you. With amazing sea views, period features and set inside what was once probably a castle or at least a rich person’s mansion, this 3.5-star hotel will take your breath away!
Mevagissey – best for a traditional Cornish vibe
Mevagissey is a charming fishing village on the South Coast of Cornwall – and something of a hidden gem… at least for now.
It’s a great place to while away your time watching boats and eating traditional fish ‘n’ chips – a must when by the seaside in Britain! If you want, you can even hop on a fishing tour to see how the fish are caught.
If you’re after a traditional Cornish vibe then Mevagissey is a great choice!
Don’t Miss In & Around Mevagissey:
Aside from spending time in Mevagissey, be sure to drive for ten minutes to the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan, which are beautiful.
The original gardens date back as far as 1766 but what’s really fascinating is that the gardens became neglected during the First World War. It wasn’t until 1990 that the gardens were discovered again, prompting a full-scale renovation project spanning an entire decade.
Today, you can see that the gardens have been lovingly restored. But there is still an air of mystery when you visit thanks to unusual stone statues, overgrown spaces and an area of the garden aptly named ‘The Jungle’.
To truly enjoy your visit without rushing, we’d suggest spending three or four hours here. You can even bring your dog!
Top Mevagissey Hotels and B&Bs
Mevagissey Bay Hotel
Found just ten minutes South of Mevagissey Harbour, the Mevagissey Bay Hotel is a bright and airy 3-star hotel with superb sea views, large windows and a charming terrace and patio outside.
Also a ten minute walk South of Mevagissey Harbour, the Tremarne Hotel also has superb sea views and modern rooms. The hotel even has a seasonal swimming pool, large terrace and garden and an award-winning restaurant on site.
Trevalsa Court Hotel
Within an eight minute walk North of Mevagissey Harbour, you can be at the Trevalsa Court Hotel. This charming 3-star beach hotel has stunning sea views, large guest rooms, extensive gardens and sumptuous lobby/lounge areas downstairs.
The Little Cornish B&B
Found just opposite Mevagissey Harbour, The Little Cornish B&B is an absolute delight! This 3-star B&B only has three guest rooms, which means you’ll be treated to a highly personalised and quiet stay in Mevagissey.
Bude – best for dog friendly holidays
If you’re looking for one of the most dog friendly places in Cornwall then Bude simply has to be up there.
This seaside town on the North Coast of Cornwall has multiple dog friendly beaches, lots of dog friendly cafes and restaurants to choose from as well as plenty of dog friendly B&Bs to stay at.
Don’t Miss In & Around Bude:
Summerleaze Beach is in the heart of Bude and offers a huge stretch of sandy beach. Throughout the summer months, dogs must be kept on leads from 10am-6pm, but outside of those hours and throughout other months of the year, dogs are perfectly welcome to roam wild and free!
Alternatively, nearby Blackrock Beach is just as sandy as Summerleaze Beach but dogs can be off-lead no matter the time of year.
Bude is also home to a number of canals that are delightful to walk along with your dog, while the Hartland Peninsula Coastal Walk and Bude Coastal Path both offer lots of great seaside views and beautiful hikes to tire both you and your dog out.
If you want to head out of Bude with your dog then we’d suggest a trip to the oh-so-charming village of Clovelly, which is about 30 minutes away. It’s world-famous for its cobbled, traffic-free streets, sledges pulled by donkeys, historic harbour and flower-strewn cottages that seem to just tumble down the cliff towards the sea. And dogs on leads are welcome throughout the village.
Dog Friendly Bude Hotels and B&Bs
Upton Cross B&B
With four dogs of their own, the staff at the 3-star Upton Cross B&B welcome dogs with fully outstretched arms. You’ll even be joined by geese and chickens in the garden!
Elements Hotel & Restaurant
The rooms at the 4-star Elements Hotel are above a popular restaurant and cafe. Although dogs aren’t allowed in the restaurant, they’re allowed on the pretty terrace, which has stunning views! The hotel rooms are simple, but can fully cater to your dog’s needs (and yours).
The Cliff Hotel
The Cliff Hotel is a 2-star hotel close to Crooklets Beach with beautiful sea views, an indoor pool and restaurant. Although the room decor is a little outdated, the hotel promises a comfortable stay for you and your dog.
Hebasca Hotel is a superb 4-star hotel overlooking Bude’s golf course and has beautiful guest rooms. Although only specific ones are dog friendly, we’re yet to find a more beautiful dog friendly hotel than this one.
Par – best for train travel
We appreciate that not everyone can embark on a road trip to Cornwall, so if you want to see the sights by train then Par is a great option.
Why? Because Par is the junction station for the Atlantic Coast Line. Many of the trains from outside of Cornwall (e.g. from London, Bristol, Wales and further afield) going to towns in North Cornwall like Newquay, St Ives and the like connect at Par.
So you should find Par will get you to a lot of cool places by train in both Cornwall and Devon.
Don’t Miss In & Around Par:
Admittedly, there’s not a huge amount going on in Par itself. A trip to the beach at Par Sands is ideal and a visit to the Tregrehan Gardens is well worth it.
But other than that, you’ll probably want to use Par as a connection to get to some other cool places.
For example, the Eden Project is a ten minute taxi ride away and well worth it. Newquay is an hour away by train in case you want to try surfing. And Penzance is just over an hour away by train too.
Top Par Hotels and B&Bs
The Royal Inn
Found super close to Par train station is 4-star The Royal Inn. Although the guest rooms are a little outdated, the inn is conveniently located and has a large bar and restaurant downstairs serving delicious food.
Also found close to Par train station is the 4-star upscale B&B: Elmswood House. With modern guest rooms, free WiFi, a full breakfast included in the price and stunning views of the Cornish countryside, this little B&B promises a comfortable stay.
Read More About Cornwall
Take a look at our other Cornwall travel blogs and continue planning your trip to this beautiful English county:
- The Best of Cornwall Itinerary: 3 Days Road Trip
- 15 Best Beaches in Cornwall | Quick Cornwall Beach Guide
- Tintagel: The Most Beautiful Village in North Cornwall
- Dog Friendly Cornwall: Things To Do in Bude