If you’re thinking of spending your next UK holiday in Cornwall but remain undecided about where to stay, you’ve come to the right place. Our useful guide highlights a selection of some of the best places to stay in Cornwall, designed to make your decision easier when it comes to choosing which town or village to base yourself in.
Leaving no stone unturned, we explore some of our favourite places to visit in Cornwall - all the way from the north to the south and everywhere in between.
England’s southernmost county, bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel, Cornwall boasts some of the country’s most impressive coastal and moorland scenery. Creating the tip of the south-west peninsula of Great Britain, the tranquil South Coast – otherwise known as the Cornish Riviera – provides an obvious contrast to its wilder North Coast counterpart, making Cornwall one of the most diverse landscapes in the UK.
Regardless of geographical position, the entirety of Cornwall is dotted with charming harbour towns, golden crescents of shoreline and illustrious historical landmarks, not to mention an abundance of notable local offerings such as the Cornish pasty and a world-famous surf culture. With so much to experience, it’s really no wonder that Cornwall is a holiday destination attracting thousands of tourists every year.
Places to stay on the North Cornwall coast
Best for sunshine
Sitting on the border of neighbouring Devon, Bude is often referred to as the gateway to Cornwall. Once a busy Victorian resort, this Cornwall seaside town still retains much of its traditional charm, but provides a calm, relaxed atmosphere these days. Bude has seen some of the hottest temperatures on record in the UK and is regarded as the sunniest town in Cornwall, so you’ll be in luck if you prefer a warmer climate. Accommodation in Bude brings a blend of trendy boutique hotels, guest houses and family-sized cottages, attracting a wide variety of holidaymakers.
Best for walks
Escape the hustle and bustle of Cornwall’s tourist hotspots with a holiday in Port Isaac, a historic fishing village peppered with winding cobbled streets and picturesque, whitewashed cottages. You’ll have easy access to the South West Coast Path, making it one of the best places to visit in Cornwall if you’re planning a walking holiday, and this particular stretch of the path provides incredible views. B&Bs and inns are a popular choice when it comes to accommodation, or head 15 minutes’ inland and relax on a caravan, lodge or chalet holiday at St Minver Holiday Park.
Did you know? Port Isaac was the filming location for ITV’s drama, Doc Martin, as well as several other well-known films and television series.
Best for foodies
Otherwise known as the foodie capital of Cornwall – largely thanks to Rick Stein’s four eateries in town – Padstow is another gem in North Cornwall’s crown not to be missed. This quaint little fishing port is surrounded by cliffs, coves and beaches galore - and visitors can enjoy various types of boat trip from the harbour. Explore the colourful, narrow streets or venture a little further to follow Cornwall’s famous Camel Trail through the countryside, before retiring to one of the many local restaurants to sample the fresh catch of the day.
Best for beaches and surfing
Generally considered as the county’s best known town, lively Newquay is a fantastic option for a family break if you’re pondering over where to stay in Cornwall. Owing to its 11 superb North coast beaches, trendy bars and restaurants and numerous attractions, it’s no wonder that Newquay is an award-winning holiday destination. Celebrated for its excellent surf conditions, you’ll discover action-packed activities like surfing and other water sports in spades. Whether you choose to stay in a luxury hotel, beach apartment or one of our four holiday parks in Newquay, you’re guaranteed to have the best time.
Best for art lovers
Due to its peaceful nature, St Ives is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay in Cornwall for couples. Renowned for its culture and artistic heritage, the town is full of independent galleries, museums, gift shops and a handmade crafts market – so it’s no surprise that artists flock here year-round to soak up the atmosphere. Paired with glittering turquoise waters and some of the highest-rated hotels in Cornwall on TripAdvisor, St Ives truly is a slice of Cornish paradise.
Top tip: If you fancy something a little different, why not take a day trip out for some seal spotting? There are plenty of boats running from the harbour and you might even see some sharks and dolphins too.
Places to stay on the South Cornwall coast
Best for wildlife
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Looe Bay Holiday Park, the harbour town of Looe offers a quieter pace of life, so is perfect if you’re after some rest and relaxation. Separated into two halves by the pretty River Looe, it’s a great part of Cornwall for wildlife lovers - with the nature reserve of Looe Island nearby, plus a country park and animal sanctuary ready to explore. It’s also the ideal spot for whetting your appetite with some local seafood, which is caught in the harbour daily and served up in the nearby restaurants for you to enjoy.
Best for architecture
Travelling further south down the coast, our next recommendation for where to stay in Cornwall is the idyllic Fowey. Located at the mouth of the River Fowey in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s a town bursting with exquisite medieval architecture. It’s also a popular site for sailing enthusiasts, being the home to the annual Royal Regatta which takes place every August. You’ll find plenty of independent shops, cafés and pubs lining the main street, as well as accommodation options overlooking the harbour if you want to be at the centre of all the action.
Did you know? Fowey also features some of the best beaches on Cornwall’s south coast, so it really does tick all of the boxes!
Best for history
History buffs rejoice, as next on our list of great places to stay in Cornwall is Falmouth - a town steeped in fascinating naval heritage as well as housing Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII. It’s also one of the largest natural working harbours in the world and offers a vibrant atmosphere. The diverse coastline nearby means there are plenty of Cornwall's beaches to explore, from sandy bays, ideal for water sports, to rugged coves filled with rock pools. You’ll be spoilt for choice with places to stay too, whether you’re on the hunt for a grand hotel or a great value B&B.
Best for attractions and landmarks
Not just one of the best places to visit in Cornwall but previously named as one of the greatest towns in the UK, head west to Penzance and get lost in a rich history of smugglers and pirates! From castles and museums to caves and coves – there’s so much to explore in this buzzing market town. You’ll also be within easy reach of the glorious St Michael’s Mount, an island off Cornwall's coast just a 10 minute drive away. If history isn’t your thing, Penzance is brimming with shops, restaurants and more to keep you busy, as well as a Victorian promenade and saltwater lido on the seafront.
Places to stay in Mid Cornwall
Best for exploring the great outdoors
One of the region’s oldest towns and home to several recognisable landmarks, Bodmin is a brilliant choice if you’re wondering where to stay in Cornwall. You’ll be well catered for if you love the outdoors, with the magnificent Bodmin Moor – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – nearby, as well as plenty of nature reserves and walking and cycling trails. In terms of places to stay, there are hotels old and new, available to all budgets, or why not book a self-catering holiday at White Acres Holiday Park, just a 20 minute drive away?
Did you know? Bodmin Jail is believed to be one of the most haunted places in the UK - and as of 2021 you can actually stay in it, as it's been partially converted into a hotel!
Best for shopping
Holding the title of Cornwall’s only city, Truro is regarded as the county’s main hub, dominated by the Gothic masterpiece that is Truro Cathedral. It’s one of the best places to stay in Cornwall for families, with lots of child-friendly attractions close by, plus a wide variety of restaurants - offering everything from Cornish cuisine to international delicacies. Truro is equidistant to both the north and south coast of Cornwall and its central position makes it a great base for discovering other neighbouring towns.
Top tip: Truro is one of the best places in Cornwall for shopping and in addition to familiar high street names and independent boutiques, you’ll find a weekly farmer’s market at Lemon Quay.
Best for the Lizard Peninsula
Our last recommendation on where to stay in Cornwall is Helston, the entryway into the spectacular Lizard Peninsula. The most southerly town in the UK, Helston is a thriving and characterful market town but also benefits from being just 3 miles from the coast if you’re after a beach holiday. Absorb yourself in the gorgeous Georgian architecture and take a stroll around the boating lake, right in the town’s centre. Attractions are plentiful in and around Helston, with days out to suit all family members, so you won’t be short of things to do. A 15 minute drive away, base yourself at Lizard Point and make the most of the park’s brand new activities, facilities and accommodation.
What’s your family’s favourite place to stay in Cornwall? Share your recommendations with us on our Facebook page!