Cornwall is famous for its coastline, the rugged Atlantic coast in the north beloved of surfers with high cliffs and spectacular views, rocky coves and broad, sweeping bays and the languid and exotic Cornish Riveria in the south, with tropical gardens leading down to peaceful estuaries and pretty coves. No location in Cornwall is not more than twenty miles from the sea so for most visitors, the great conundrum is which is the best beach to choose to stay at. Towns are not, therefore, the first thing that comes to mind when choosing great locations in Cornwall with the exception, that is, of St. Ives.
For many ardent Cornish holidaymakers, St. Ives has it all, who would want to go anywhere else? St. Ives, often described as the jewel in Cornwall’s crown is an utterly beguiling mix of tiny winding streets (and we really do mean narrow) lined with whitewashed fishermen’s cottages and Mediterranean style cafes and restaurants sitting cheek by jowl with salty fishermen’s pubs all clustered around a classic harbour. There is a pier that dates back to the 18th century with an unusual octagonal cupola. If you had to paint a picture of classic Cornwall to put on a postcard then St. Ives is hard to beat. St. Ives Porthmeor beach has been voted in the top ten of European beaches by TripAdvisor and the town itself, best family holiday destination by Coast magazine.
Attractions in St. Ives
There are so many but here are some of the most high profile places you won’t want to miss on a visit:-
- The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden – after the Second World War, the then tiny and bustling fishing village of St. Ives become the epicentre of a vibrant arts movement. Already beloved of artists who flocked to St. Ives for the unique quality of light, Hepworth was one of the great British sculptors of the 20th century who also made St. Ives her home. Tucked away in the centre of St. Ives, Hepworth used her sheltered garden at the Trewyn Studios as the perfect backdrop for her sculptures and now there are over 30 on display in a range of materials ranging including bronze, wood and stone, some still in the original location that Hepworth chose for them
- The Tate Gallery – an art gallery exhibiting work by modern British artists many with links to the St. Ives area. Tate St. Ives punches well above its weight and has an international reputation that belies its size. The iconic and modernist design of the Gallery which faces onto Porthmeor Beach was a talking point in its own right when it was built
- Porthmeor Beach – Ives has several beaches because the town is situated on a narrow peninsula which is fringed with sandy beaches on either side. Porthmeor is an award-winning beach which faces the Atlantic Ocean and backs onto The Tate Gallery perfectly convenient for the town
- Porthminster Beach – a beautiful crescent of golden sand backed by tall palm trees, this beach has a truly tropical feel with azure waters and the stunning views of Godrevy Lighthouse. Just a short walk from the centre of town this beach is well provided with restaurants and cafes
- Seal Island – this is located about three and a half miles west of St. Ives and is home to a colony of grey seals. Take a boat excursion direct from St. Ives harbour and enjoy fantastic ocean views of St. Ives, Porthmeor Beach and the rugged north Cornish coastline
- The Down-a-long – this is in lower St. Ives and built on a narrow strip of land that separates the Island from the rest of the town. Cobbled streets lined with quintessential whitewashed cottages brimming with cafes, galleries, eateries and independent shops make this is a special and truly unique part of the town
- The Railway – the track between St Erth and St Ives is a short journey with some of the most amazing scenery and spectacular views over St Ives Bay. It passes through the sand dunes overlooking Porth Kidney beach and climbs up to overlook the stunning Carbis Bay
Whatever type of holiday you are planning, St. Ives will have something for your visit including the most wonderful array of self-catering accommodation. Why not choose a tiny stone fisherman’s cottage near the harbour for that special romantic weekend away or a contemporary apartment converted from a fishermen’s net loft? For larger families, there are striking granite houses with large rooms and secluded cool walled gardens. The houses get bigger as you work your way up the hill and there are some imposing Victorian villas with space aplenty and the most stunning of views across the town and harbour.
St. Ives is completely self-contained and ticks every box for a classic Cornish holiday – stunning views, great food, beautiful beaches and culture and interest for those who really want to get under the skin of the place. If you can bear to tear yourself away, why not take the South West Coast path which meanders is way to Godrevy Head which is just half a mile of this epic coastal path with incredible views across St. Ives Bay? There is only one gentle climb which makes it perfectly accessible for all walkers.
St. Ives is located on the north Cornish coast and is ideally located for exploring inland or across to the south coast of Cornwall to Penzance and Mousehole and west to Land’s End. In Cornwall, you are never more then twenty miles from the sea and so even if you base yourself on the north coast, it is so easy to hop across to the south in about half an hour. Whatever type of holiday you are looking for, St. Ives is a great location to base yourself or just to spend all of your time. Whether you are a couple looking for a special romantic hideaway, a busy family looking for that classic seaside bucket and spade holiday or a party seeking a quieter pace of life who want to ditch the car, St. Ives has something for everyone.