Cornwall is England’s hidden gem – a glorious county (and once separate kingdom) of sandy coves, endless beaches, and some of the best weather anywhere in the British Isles. Celtic to its bones, Cornwall is often overlooked by tourists and travelers – yet the county punches well above its weight in sights.
From King Arthur’s legendary home at Tintagel to Heligan’s mysterious gardens, Cornwall is a magical place. Entering this historic country, you can’t help but feel transported to a strange world of secret coves, ancient relics, and breathtaking natural beauty.
Let’s explore England’s southernmost point – the greatest peninsula in the world – and learn exactly where is Cornwall, England.
Where is Cornwall, England?
Cornwall forms the tip of the southwest peninsula of Great Britain. Jutting out in the Atlantic Ocean, its coastline is scalloped into silvery beaches, and coves hugged by towering cliffs and weatherworn rocks. The larger peninsula is known in England as the West Country – including Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and Bristol.
Being somewhat cut off from the rest of England, Cornwall has always had its own identity. Cornish, for example, is an old Brittonic/Celtic language closely associated with Welsh. Meanwhile, the Cornish identity – renowned for its strong literary, folk, and musical tradition – remains alive and well among the modern Cornish people.
What To Do in Cornwall, England
Distilling Cornwall into a few key locations and sights is impossible. Few English counties boast its richness of history and culture. Nevertheless, here are the things you’d be a fool to miss:
- Eden Project
The Eden Project is unlike anywhere on earth. Composed of two giant multi-domed biomes – a rainforest and a Mediterranean environment – it’s one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. Created by Tim Smit and Jonathan Ball in an old clay pit near St. Austell, it’s attracted millions of visitors since it opened in 2000.
- St. Michael’s Mount
Constructed on an outcrop of rock off the Cornish coast, St. Michael’s Mount is a tidal island containing a castle and chapel built by the Normans. Its counterpart of Mont-Saint-Michel is located in Normandy on a similar tidal island.
It’s said the spectacular location was the inspiration for Tolkien’s Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings – it’s not hard to see the comparisons. If you visit, stay to catch the sunset behind this majestic catholic retreat. It’s one of the most astounding views in Cornwall.
- Lost Gardens of Heligan
Planted by the Cornish Tremayne family in the mid-18th century, the gardens of Heligan are a natural wonder. Colossal rhododendrons and camellias tower over visitors as they explore this verdant world of jungles, Italian Gardens, and Europe’s only remaining pineapple pit.
Located in the Heligan Estate, it’s a fantastic day out for all the family.
Padstow is a quaint seaside tower situated on Cornwall’s north coast. Famous for its stunning harbor restaurants, it’s the culinary heart of the county. Special mention goes to restauranteur Rick Stein who first opened his Seafood Restaurant in 1975 – turning the small town into a popular location for Michelin-star-winning restaurants.
- Isles of Scilly
The archipelago of the Isles of Scilly is not far from Land’s End – England’s southernmost point. Due to their favorable climate and relaxed culture, they’ve become a popular spot with tourists hoping to soak in the sea air in the warm summer sun. You can also see spectacular flocks of seabirds – and it’s where many American vagrant birds first make European landfall.
- Minack Theatre
Cut into the steep granite cliffs at Minack is an open-air theater like no other. The brainchild of Rowena Cade, it’s become a world-famous location for some of England’s finest playwrights to host their plays. Many classics are performed here, including Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
- Eat a Cornish Pasty
Cornwall is famed for its culinary delights. First, there’s the Cornish cream tea – which always starts a debate about whether cream or jam goes on first. Then there’s the eponymous Cornish Pasty. It’s made with beef, sliced potato, swede, and onion encased in delicious shortcrust pastry. The story goes that it was created so miners could hold the pastry with the thick crust without getting dust on their meal.
Still thinking about where is Cornwall, England? How about some of the other fun things to do while IN Cornwall, England.
- The Beach. Cornwall is renowned for its stunning beaches, and no trip is complete without finding your very own personal cove. From Kynance Cove to Penberth, it’s perfect for a relaxing day paddling in the sea and lounging with a book.
- Tintagel. The birthplace of the legendary King Arthur, Tintagel, is steeped in mystery and magic. Numerous archaeological excavations unearthed signs of habitation as early as the Bronze Age.
- National Seal Sanctuary. The National Seal Sanctuary is a haven for injured and orphaned seal pups located in the picturesque Helford Estuary.