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A family walking along a coastal path overlooking a bay in Cornwall

Discover the Cornwall attractions you may not have heard of

Whilst on holiday in Cornwall, aside from the famous (and still must-visit) attractions like The Eden Project and Porthmeor, the county has plenty more hidden gems you may not know about.

And who knows Cornwall better than the people that live there? We’ve chatted with born-and-bred Cornish resident, Malcolm Bell, Chair of Visit Cornwall and Aletha Mays, Head of Communications at the South West Coast Path Association, for their insights on the attractions and places you must see.

Must-visit historical Cornwall attractions

A play at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall at sunset

Malcolm recommends, “On one of your trips to Cornwall, go to the Minack Theatre, which is an open-air theatre on the cliffs, quite close to Land's End, which is absolutely stunning.”

Located on the cliffs of Porthcurno, Minack Theatre offers panoramic views of the sea. Visitors can enjoy a range of performances including plays, musicals, and concerts while enjoying the impressive backdrop. This theatre has been in use since the 1930s and you can also enjoy guided tours to learn more about the history and heritage of this cultural must-visit attraction.

Malcolm adds that you’ll want some extra time to explore, “Get there an hour and a half early because it's stunning and that is a very special place to go.”

Aletha recommends an attraction in West Cornwall, “I live near to a castle island in the sea, St Michael’s Mount. This is a stunning tidal island which can be reached at low tide by a cobbled causeway, or during mid to high tide you can reach it by ferry boat, or amphibious vehicle in the winter months. It is a National Trust property but managed by the St Aubyn family who have lived there for generations. The sub-tropical cliff garden is spectacular and I’d definitely recommend a visit during the spring. There are a couple of cafes and shops on the island and a visit to the castle is worth it for the far-reaching views across Mount’s Bay.”

Cornwall is enriched with history and most of the attractions pay homage to this. Malcolm tells us, “We've got some fascinating cycle tracks the Mineral Tramways, which go through the market a mining area. You’ve [also] got Geevor Tin Mine one of the last tin mines to close and that's got a really solid history of the mining side of Cornwall.”

Dating back to the 18th century, the Mineral Tramways were a network of rails used to transport tin and copper from the coast. Now, the area offers a range of trails and routes for walkers and cyclists to explore the region's mining history. Depending on how far you want to go, you can take various trails. Most trails are flat and, therefore, suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Chimneys and buildings from historic tin mines silhouetted against the sunset in Cornwall

Geevor Tin Mine produced tin ore from the late 19th century until 1990. Today, visitors can explore exhibits, artefacts, and mine buildings while learning about the lives of the miners who worked there and their challenges. Geevor Tin Mine is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in Cornwall’s industrial heritage.

Malcolm tells us that another historical attraction to visit is the Wheal Martyn Museum. “If you're in Eden, then there is the Wheal Martyn Museum, which is all about China clay. Most people don't know we're one of the biggest China clay quarry areas in Europe. The China Clay Museum shows you what it used to be like, and you can then take a Land Rover tour and see the operations of today.”

Once one of the world's largest china clay operations, this open-air museum is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the china clay industry in Cornwall. Visitors can explore a range of exhibitions, learn about the process of china clay extraction, how it was transported and look at the heavy machinery and equipment used. A fun day out for all the family, this museum also offers natural trails, stunning countryside views and guided tours.

Places to go in Cornwall

Aside from the many historical and cultural attractions in Cornwall, you must also see many places and sights. Malcolm tells us, “You can do a boat trip up to Truro or Trelissick house up the estuary to see one of our fine country houses and wonderful National Trust Gardens.”

The National Trust owns Trelissick Garden. It is surrounded by the River Fal, where you can explore the picturesque gardens and visit viewing points to admire the beautiful backdrop. After a walk in the woodlands, sit back and enjoy a cuppa in the house tearoom, taking in the coastal views.

Waves crashing along the dramatic coastline near Trevose Head in Cornwall

“I would say if you're in Padstow, if you drive five-six miles up towards Constantine Bay, there's a brilliant walk around Trevose Head, the lighthouse, Mother Ivey's Bay and then back around. A good three 3 hours walk and a stunning coast.”

The Trevose Head circular walk is a 6-mile trail offering coastal views, secluded beaches and a variety of wildlife. You’ll also see significant monuments along this route, such as the Trevose Lighthouse, Gulland Island, and the shipwreck of the SV Carl.

Malcolm adds, “Also, if you're in Padstow, drive up to Boscastle, Port Quinn and Port Isaac, which is quite famous, but there are some beautiful places up there.”

Situated within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Boscastle is a quaint village with a natural harbour, expansive countryside and stone cottages. Visitors can enjoy a range of hikes and trails, explore sandy coves, and visit attractions such as the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

Cornwall has abundant of attractions and hidden gems just waiting to be explored. There’s so much on offer you’ll never run out of things to do!

Parkdean holiday parks near Cornwall’s hidden gems

Local insiders

Malcom Bell of Visit Cornwall Malcom Bell MBE


Malcolm has lived in Cornwall his entire life, growing up in Truro. He has worked on the Cornish Tourist Boards for the last 25 years (14 years on VisitCornwall).

Malcolm’s main objective and role is to inspire people to come to Cornwall for the first time or keep returning. He wants to work with the industry to future-proof Cornwall for tourism and be an advocate for Cornish tourism.

Aletha Mays of South West Coast Path Aletha Mays

Head of Communications

Aletha has lived in West Cornwall for years and worked with the South West Coast Path Association for nearly three years.

Her mission is to highlight the South West Coast Path and the charity behind sustaining it.