There is no place quite like St Ives. The buzz of the town offers plenty to see and do, while a collection of tranquil beaches lie a mere stone’s throw away.
Our picturesque coastline will take your breath away. When you’re not bathing on the beach or riding the waves off Porthmeor, the town itself is a treasure trove of art galleries, quirky shops, and fine restaurants.
In the middle of it all lies the Pedn Olva. Here, you’ll find the perfect basecamp to unwind after a special day in a very special place. Here are some of the best things to do during your visit.
Food and Drink
From handmade fudge and ice cream to pasties and locally-landed seafood, St Ives champions the best of Cornish food and drink. An impressive collection of cafes and restaurants awaits, making it hard to walk around the town without being distracted by a tempting morsel on 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 of local produce. The festival also hosts an impressive schedule of live music and entertainment.
Inspiring Art and Culture
Artists the world over have been falling in love with St Ives for centuries. Examples of their work can be seen on display throughout the town’s shops and galleries. Collections source international names and local talent, offering something to suit every taste. Don’t miss the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Embrace the Sea
Thrill-seekers can try their hand at surfing on Porthmeor or scale the rugged coastline on a coasteering trip. If you’re after something a little more peaceful, you can glide across Porthminster Bay on a stand-up paddleboard or drift across it in a kayak. St Ives Surf School is a go-to for lessons and equipment hire.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches, with St Ives boasting a stretch of sand for every occasion. We’re biased, but we love the award-winning Porthminster. With its golden shoreline and calm, turquoise waters, it feels almost tropical.
Soak up the bustling maritime activity on Harbour Beach while tucking into a pasty or takeaway fish and chips. Just be sure to keep an eye out for wily 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.
Explore the South West Coast Path
With plunging cliffs, rugged, boulder-strewn moors, and the Atlantic Ocean stretching out before you, this section of the coast path is something rather special. There’s a real feeling of isolation and solitude, making it perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the town.
Make a day of it and head west towards Zennor, passing concealed coves and remnants of Cornwall’s mining heritage. There’s an altogether different landscape when you head east, with Carbis Bay and Gwithian Towans offering spacious, unspoilt sandy beaches.
Zennor is set in wild moorland and adorned by myth and legend. This magical village lies a short drive from St Ives and takes around an hour and a half to get to on foot. Whichever your method of transport, a real treat awaits, and you may even spot a mermaid!
Take a hike up to Zennor Quoit and marvel at a megalithic burial chamber marked by impressive standing stones. Then, unearth an exquisitely-carved medieval mermaid seat and 15th-century carving at the Norman church.
We love a celebration here in St Ives, so you can expect a vibrant programme of festivals and events throughout the year. Alongside St Ives Food and Drink Festival in May, further 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