If you are coming on a summer holiday in Cornwall this year, then make it a truly unmissable experience with our locals guide to what to do – and what not to do during your visit. Despite what you may have read, we do welcome visitors to Cornwall and are happy to share our love of the Duchy with you.
There is nowhere else quite like Cornwall on the planet and with our local knowledge we can help you decide what to do and where to go. Follow our list of do’s and don’ts and make this holiday one to remember for a lifetime. Once people get to know and love Cornwall, many come back multiple times a year because there’s so much to see and do.
Tourism has become increasingly controversial in Cornwall, especially in the two years following the first Covid lockdown, so by heeding the advice below you will be made to feel even more welcome.
DO ask a local for advice
We’re very friendly and will love to tell you about the best places to visit, eat and sunbathe – the chances are you’ll find somewhere off the beaten track and less busy that way.
DON’T be offended if we call you ‘my lover’
Calling someone ‘my lover’ doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in the rest of the country, so don’t feel insulted. It’s a term of endearment as is ‘my bird’ and ‘me ‘andsome’.
DO hire a car
There is nothing better than exploring the parts of Cornwall tourists don’t usually see and if you have a car it means one of the most beautiful road trips in Europe – the dramatic, historic and scenic B3306 road from St Ives to Zennor. If you want to be environmentally friendly, leave the car at home and get on an open top bus.
DON’T drive like a tourist
Cornwall’s roads are notoriously narrow, winding and bendy. If you’re only used to driving in cities and on motorways, then prepare for a whole new experience. The art of reversing is essential. And just be patient if you end up stuck behind a tractor or cow.
Feel free to drive to some of our most dramatic spots, whether it’s the rugged north Cornish coast or Bodmin Moor – but if you’re on a clifftop remember to put on your handbrake.
DON’T park wherever you like … or on a beach
In recent years there have been increasing cases of people parking where they like near busy beaches, blocking roads and access to residents’ properties. Please think of local people and access for the emergency services. Also, don’t park on a beach – there’s a thing called the tide. You may end up without a car.
DO enjoy our beaches
We are truly spoiled for sandy beaches and beautiful coves in Cornwall and it’s the main reason people visit us.
DON’T treat our beaches with a lack of respect
If you do visit please take your rubbish away with you and remove any barbecues and hot coals. And please don’t leave those environmentally unfriendly polystyrene bodyboards anywhere near the sea.
DO experience the classics
There are reasons Kynance Cove, Porthcurno, Perranporth and Fistral are hugely popular with tourists.
DON’T monopolise those famous spots
However, they get ridiculously busy – try some of the lesser known spots. Often you will find a beach that’s even better than the ‘classics’ and a lot quieter.
DO go for a swim
There are so many spots where it’s safe to swim and by mid-summer the water can almost be balmy. Almost. By all means wear a wetsuit, but don’t wear one if you don’t want to look like a tourist.
The sea can be notoriously dangerous and sadly there are tragedies every summer. One tragedy is one too many. Read the signs, be aware of rip tides, look at the safety flags and listen to advice from RNLI lifeguards.
DO experience our world-famous restaurants
We have some of the best places to dine out in the UK, including Michelin star chefs such as TV favourite Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw as well as exceptional pubs, cafes and street food venues. Cornwall is the perfect destination for the gourmand.
DON’T be rude to hospitality staff
There has been an increase in impatient people, frustrated by packed pubs and restaurants in the height of summer, being rude to staff working in the hospitality trade. The problem has been exacerbated in the last couple of years since the pandemic. These people are working their socks and trying their best in often difficult circumstances – please take a breath and #benice
DO buy a pasty
No trip to Cornwall is complete without savouring a pasty … or 12. We all have our favourite bakers, so ask a local where to go for the best.
DON’T eat it near a seagull
It’s not a Cornish holiday unless you get your ‘oggy’ (it’s what us Cornish call a pasty) stolen out of your hand by a greedy gull. Especially in St Ives where they seem to be particularly evil.
DO peruse property
We all do it on holiday; fall in love with the place and start looking at property prices. Who can blame you? We’d all like to live in Fowey and Looe too.
DON’T buy a second home
Well, you can of course, but be aware that if said second home remains empty for the majority of the year, you’re likely to get angry locals making their feelings known. There’s a bit of a housing crisis in Cornwall at the moment and empty properties don’t help.
DO stay at one of our celebrated hotels, campsites and accommodation providers
There are a zillion wonderful hotels, B&B, guest houses, campsites and glamping places to stay dotted all over Cornwall to suit your tastes.
DON’T do a mass AirBnB booking
As tempting as it is to stay in an AirBnB, the unregulated accommodation option is putting pressure on local housing. Last month Cornwall had over 2,000 AirBnb properties but only 61 homes available to rent.
DO visit Poldark country
The proliferation of TV dramas featuring Cornwall in recent years has added to the tourism boom. You can visit the mines of West Cornwall as featured in Poldark and the locations caught on camera in Dr Martin and Fisherman’s Friends. They won’t disappoint.
DON’T expect to meet the stars
You won’t get to see the likes of Martin Clunes, who film their scenes out of season, and you’re also very unlikely to bump into all those other celebrities who call Cornwall home, from Dawn French to Fern Britton and Gordon Ramsay.
DO have a cream tea
It’s one of the most delicious culinary experiences you will ever have. Don’t believe Devon, we invented the cream tea in Cornwall.
DON’T put the clotted cream on first
Jam first all the way – it’s the Cornish way and basically tastes better with the cream on top. If you’re spotted eating it the other way, you are frogmarched across the Tamar Bridge and your passport is thrown in the sea.
DO bring your dog on holiday with you
There are loads of places that are happy to have your dog as well as you, and Cornwall has some of the most beautiful locations to go for a dog walk. Plus, it even has one of the best shops especially for dogs… complete with a bar and ball pool.
DON’T leave your pet in a hot car
Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle if visiting an attraction or eating in a restaurant. Dogs can quickly suffer from heat exhaustion and die. Similarly, keep your dog on a lead if you are cliff walking. There have been far too many cases of dogs dying after falling off the edge.
DO a bit of research
Cornwall is fiercely independent and has a proud and unique history and heritage. It’s worth finding out a bit more about our Celtic nation and the Cornish language, which appears on many road signs.
DON’T just think Cornwall is for summer
Our winters are milder than the rest of the country and less people visit then, so your holiday won’t be as manic. There are loads of things to do if it rains too.