Things to Do in St. Ives

St. Ives, Cornwall is one of the most popular destinations in the world and for obvious reasons. It’s home to lovely beaches, exciting boat trips, spectacular views, fun surf schools, beautiful art galleries, and other attractions that keep you busy day and night. St. Ives is the perfect place to spend holidays with your family, friends, and special someone.

St. Ives has something for everybody. Are you an adventurer who loves going on fishing trips or an art enthusiast who prefers the serenity of art galleries? Are you more of a foodie who’s interested in tasting local food like fresh fish, cream tea, and freshly baked scone? Do you love golden sand beaches perfect for swimming or beaches with great waves for surfing? These are just some of the exciting things to do in St. Ives. Read on to find out more.

Fun and Sun in St. Ives Beaches

One of the reasons why many people frequent St. Ives, Cornwall is its amazing beaches that offer beachgoers numerous fun things to do. Among St. Ives’ famous beaches are Porthmeor beach, Carbis Bay beach, Porthminster beach, Porthkidney beach, Harbour beach, and Porthgwidden beach. These sandy beaches with great waves and turquoise waters offer more than enough things to do in St. Ives.

For instance, Porthminster beach isn’t just ideal for swimming, walking your dog, and building sandcastles. It’s also known for the Porthminster beach café, where you can enjoy local seafood with vegetarian and meat options or have a relaxing afternoon tea. It has a big terrace and spectacular beach views, too.

Meanwhile, you can check out some surf schools on Porthmeor beach. Learning how to surf is one of the things to do in St. Ives that you must include on your bucket list. Porthmeor beach has several surf schools that offer lessons on surfing and paddle boarding and lifeguard courses.

All other beaches in the area are the perfect spot for a beach picnic, sunbathing, and swimming. There’s a coastguard lookout to ensure the safety of everybody. These beaches are pet-friendly, too, so you can take your fur baby with you for a stroll.

Adventure to Seal Island

Your visit to St. Ives, Cornwall, will never be complete without a quick boat trip to Seal Island, which is approximately 3.5 miles west of St. Ives. True to its name, it’s home to many grey seals. These wonderful creatures will welcome you with open flippers as you get closer to the island. Most day trips to St. Ives include an excursion to Seal Island, where visitors can get close to the seals and at the same time discover other wildlife. If you’re lucky, you can spot dolphins, too.

Moreover, boat trips to Seal Island also offer tourists spectacular views of Porthmeor beach. If interested, there are daily trips to Seal Island from the harbour.  

Relaxing at Beach Cafes

Say goodbye to your worries while relaxing at St. Ives’ beach cafes. The fantastic beaches aren’t just known for their golden sand and ideal turquoise waters but also for the beach cafes that line their shores. These cafes are conveniently located so you can easily walk in the sand while taking in the scenic views of the beach before stopping by one of the beach cafes where you can enjoy fresh fish, salads, Cornish pasty, and clotted cream, and even ice cream. Some of the most visited cafes at St. Ives are Porthminster Beach Café, Porthmeor Beach Café, and Porthgwidden Café.

Art Appreciation at Tate St. Ives and Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden

The Tate Gallery in St. Ives, Cornwall, opened in 1993. It’s conveniently located overlooking the majestic Porthmeor beach. It stands three storeys tall and is famous for its circular entrance vestibule. Here, you can get lost in the gallery’s beauty with its contemporary art collection. But, it also showcases modern artworks from St. Ives School and other artists like Alfred Wallis.

If you’re an art enthusiast visiting St. Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden is a must-see. Barbara Hepworth was one of the most influential and famous artists in St. Ives. She’s best known for her bronze geometric abstract sculptures with holes. She worked in the garden from 1949 until 1975, when she died in a fire. A year later, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and gardens were opened to the public.

Dine and Shop at St. Ives Harbour

The St. Ives Harbour is one of the top attractions in the area. It’s also known as the town centre. Likewise, it’s a beach and a busy shopping street lined with many cafes, restaurants, and shops. But, people don’t come here simply for these but because of the picturesque view of the crystal clear water and bobbing small boats on the piers. You can walk along Smeaton’s pier during good weather conditions and take in the spectacular view of the town.

Experience the St. Ives Railway

Do you have a thing for scenic rail routes? If yes, taking the St. Ives Railway will be an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience you don’t want to miss out on. The St. Ives Railways opened in 1877, and its route follows the coast between St. Erth and St. Ives, Cornwall. The 20-minute-ride treats passengers to breathtaking views of the sand dunes overlooking Porthkidney Beach and the magnificent Carbis Bay.

Trip to Godrevy Lighthouse

When you’re in St. Ives, drop by Godrevy Lighthouse. It was built from 1858 to 1859 on Godrevy Island. The Godrevy Lighthouse is an 86-foot white octagonal tower that marks the Stones reef. The island is excellent for exploring rock pools and watching wildlife, though make sure not to disturb the animals. You can take a walk around the headland or along the North Cliffs. The lighthouse itself serves as an inspiration to many, including the poet Virginia Woolf.

You’ll never run out of things to do in St. Ives. There are always fun things to do and places to explore. So what are you waiting for? Book your hotel now, or try staying in some luxurious cottages by the beach

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About the Author

Jenny Smith

As a young girl growing up in Cornwall, I loved to explore the county and its treasure trove of secret spots. I feel like I know this beautiful area so well and I am keen to share everything I know with you. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions and I will be happy to help!

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