St Ives must be one of my favourite places in Cornwall, there’s something special about it. It has an abundance of gorgeous blue flag powder sand beaches, rocky outcrops, some of the best coastline anywhere and a great vibe. It’s small enough to walk round on foot and is generally just a chilled out little town.
There are some great art galleries, amazing restaurants, cool independent boutiques and artsy gift shops, it caters for almost everyone.
You’ll find lots of ice cream sellers by the beach and harbour in St Ives with as many flavours as you can probably think of! Watch out for the seagulls overhead though, when we were there one of them swooped down and stole the top off someone’s ice cream cone!
The beach in St Ives is lovely and clean but can also get busy.
Cornish pasties and fish and chips are beach-side classics at St Ives and their smell permeates the air, meaning you will finally give in to a mouth-watering layered pasty or some hot battered fish. The classic Cornish pasty is shaped like a D and crimped on one side. Traditionally made of beef, swede, potato and onion.
Besides the Cornish pasties and fish and chips, this area is also known for its cream teas, the best comprise of warm scones from the oven, with fruity strawberry jam and clotted cream, thick with a crusty top and gooey centre. Serve with lashings of English breakfast tea, the Cornish cream tea is an iconic afternoon treat.
St Ives has lots of lovely independent shops to look round and enjoy. The town is filled with quirky clothes, home and gift shops that should satisfy anyone who enjoys a bit of shopping.
The magical light in St Ives means it’s a haven for artists. You only have to take a stroll to the seafront to watch budding artists set up their easels by the harbour walls, their long brush strokes capturing the crashing waves. There are many galleries in the town, selling work by local artists.
St Ives also has a Tate Gallery! If you’re interested in modern art, then this is a must to visit. It showcases some of the artists who lived in the area.
Don’t forget to visit the rooftop cafe at Tate St Ives which is open for lunch and traditional cream teas and has spectacular views over St Ives, all their dishes are made from scratch on the premises.
The Barbara Hepworth museum and sculpture gardens are also worth a visit. One of the few female British artists of her generation to achieve international prominence, she is particularly known for her modern sculptures.
St Ives is also known for its amazing fresh fish and some of the best restaurants in St Ives feature fish heavily on its menu. From the Seafood Cafe with fish so fresh it’s almost swimming away, to the award-winning Porthminster Cafe, with amazing views over the beach.
We also love the Rum and Crab Shack serving fresh seafood and with beautiful views out across the harbour, and The Loft Restaurant and Sun Terrace, I enjoyed a surprise birthday meal here and the setting and food is fabulous.
Accommodation in St Ives
There are so many places to stay as St Ives is full of lovely bed and breakfasts, hotels and apartments.
There are loads to choose from in the area though as what’s nice about St Ives is the plethora of independent hotels and guest houses rather than chains. If you just want to browse what’s available in St Ives then check out here. Many of these don’t even require payment at the time of booking which is great!
If you have a car with you then do check about parking options as it can be a bit tricky. There’s always the option of staying slightly outside St Ives if needed to. We stayed in nearby Marazion at the Marazion Hotel which is just a bus ride away (on a lovely day the top deck is open so you get the views and fresh air as you travel), the service is regular and the bus stop was just outside our hotel.
There’s also lots more in the area if you can explore a bit further afield.
Take the train along the coast. The train journey along to St Ives is one of the most beautiful in the country, with views of stunning blue waters, white beaches and the rugged coast.
Minnak Theatre – Approx 30 minutes drive from St Ives
This is a must on the list of places to visit in the area. Depending on the dates you visit, there will be different show playing and I would definitely recommend booking to see a show if you can, as it’s something really different and memorable to watch in such a unique location!
It is worth visiting at non show times too, if you want to explore the lower part of the theatre, take pictures and enjoy the view. There’s also a nice cafe where you can enjoy lunch.
St Ives Portminster Beach – Approx 10 minutes drive from St Ives
This is a lovely clean sandy beach that’s really close by. There are plenty of picnic tables where you can sit with your fish and chips or ice creams, and there’s a shop to buy any buckets, spades and other beach toys you might need.
Lands End – Approx 30 minutes drive from St Ives
Land’s End is one of the most famous landmarks in the UK, so it’s a must to stop by and see it! The landmark has been developed into a tourist attraction with lots of other entertainment and amenities all bundled together, which is really good for families. We visited on Pirates Day and there were lots of activities going on. There are shops, restaurants and a playground for children.
St Michael’s Mount – Approx 15 minutes drive from St Ives
St Michael’s Mount is a small tidal island, that you can walk across to when the tide is out. There is a café, shop and gardens to explore. On top of the mount, there’s the castle and chapel to visit. This is National Trust and we are members so visited twice while we were there. You can walk across at low tide or take a boat trip over. We had a lovely view of the mount from our hotel window in Marazion, although I did take the photograph on a misty day.