The small town of St. Ives is the most popular holiday destination in Cornwall and it is easy to see why. We first travelled to St Ives for a summer break a few years ago, having been encouraged to visit the area by close friends who also have young children. Like them we fell in love with the area instantly and have returned several times.
The pretty harbour town of St. Ives lies just north of Penzance and west of Camborne and is an ideal base to explore the ‘far end’ of Cornwall. It’s traditional whitewashed fishing cottages; historical harbour; sandy beaches and cobbled streets are picturesque and full of character.
Local Art Scene
St Ives has been recognised as a major centre for British art since the 1920’s and has been home to many world famous artists including renowned sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo. The area has a special quality of light, unique to the area and this, along with incredibly beautiful local scenery has attracted generations of artists to the town. There is a large community of artists living and working locally, making this a top place for visiting open studios and galleries and checking out some local work. There are many different exhibitions and workshops held throughout the year at the famous Tate St Ives and this family friendly gallery is well worth a visit.
The busy fishing port at St Ives was once the most important on the north coast of Cornwall and the locals relied heavily on the success of their fishermen for generations. Nowadays freshly caught fish and seafood can be sampled and enjoyed in numerous local eateries along with the local speciality, lobster, which is out of this world; you can enjoy bass, snapper, oysters and crab.
If you are not a great lover of fish, fear not, as you will find plenty of other great options on the local menus, including the lunchtime favourite, Cornish pasties. A picnic classic with my family! Try a freshly baked one and you will understand why.
Access to the town was at one time very limited and visitors primarily arrived by boat, but this all changed in 1877 with the opening of a new railway line which made it possible for people from all over the UK to reach the town by rail. From then on, word spread about how beautiful the area was and St Ives gradually established itself as a very desirable holiday location.
The railway line boasts incredible views over the coastal cliffs and bays and is something of a tourist attraction in its own right! Of course you can truly appreciate some of these sights by foot on one of the many coastal footpaths. Definitely pack your hiking boots if you like a ramble as the walking is excellent round here.
So far on our visits we have been pleasantly surprised by the mild, sub tropical climate as Cornwall benefits from some of the mildest weather in the whole of the UK due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. Warm air and above average hours of sunshine, create the perfect scene for beach lounging and a spot of surfing.
As you will have gathered, surfing plays a big role in our Cornish breaks and for that reason we tend to spend a great deal of time at Porthmeor as this beach offers the best surf, however the beaches at Porthgwidden, Porthminster and the Harbour Beach all have their own appeal and are equally stunning. You will find crystal clear waters and stretches of golden sands along with convenient facilities at all four of these great locations. If you fancy checking out the surf yourself, you can rent boards, wetsuits and so on easily and beginners can have lessons via one of the local surf schools. Should you tire of the beach, you can always find plenty to do in St Ives or within the surrounding area.
St Michaels Mount
On the south Cornish coast and managed by the National Trust and free to members, this fascinating island adventure can be accessed by a footway at low tide and by boat at high tide. Steeped in history and legend, it has sub-tropical gardens and wonderful castle tour this is a great choice for a day trip.
St Ives Treasure Trails
These can be downloaded online and are a great way to get out and explore and learn about the local area, trails are designed to pass numerous refreshment stops on the way and usually take around two hours to complete.
Here you will find great indoor and outdoor activities and a wonderful selection of parrots and birds from all corners of the globe. A rainy day or dry day activity all our kids have enjoyed in the past.
Although there is no shortage of excellent high quality holiday accommodation locally, it is always a good idea to book early to avoid disappointment as St Ives is a popular place to visit and rightly so.
Whether you are looking for a self-catering cottage, an apartment or a decent hotel you will find something to suit your budget. There are also several campsites and caravan sites locally that boast excellent facilities too. There really is something for everyone and to all budgets.
St Ives is a great choice for a fabulous holiday and if you have not yet discovered its rugged coast, tropical plants and crystal blue waters, it will not disappoint. Art lovers, food lovers, surfers, walkers and families – everyone will find something for them. My family and I can’t wait to get back down there again.
About The Author: This post was shared by by Felix at Cherished Cottages, Cornwall’s best loved places to stay! Here at Cherished, we pride ourselves on being able to offer you a unique collection of handpicked, beautiful holiday cottages, set in and around stunning St Ives, West Cornwall. With personal service, attention to detail, great knowledge and care, we will ensure that your holiday in Cornwall is a memorable one! We care, we help, we Cherish.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia CC