From the gentler pursuits of fishing and golf to the extreme adrenaline-fuelled activities like skydiving and paragliding, Cornwall has every activity or sport you could wish for.
Cornwall has over 400 miles of coastline, the longest out of any county in the UK, so it’s fair to say that Cornish water sports are a favourite of most people who travel to the area. Other land-based activities can even be carried out in the Cornish rain.
Read on to find out more about the activities in Cornwall that you, your friends, and your family can take part in. Don’t forget to find yourself a picture-perfect cottage to stay in before booking some of these Cornish attractions.
Cycling in Cornwall
Stay active in Cornwall by taking to the trails on two wheels. Going out on a bike is great for a day out with the kids in Cornwall as you can enjoy Cornwall's beautiful countryside at your own pace. The Camel Trail is arguably the most successful recreational multi-use trail in the UK. There are 18 miles of trail between Wenfordbridge, Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow, and almost all of it is completely level!
The North Cornwall Trail follows the Camel Trail out of Bodmin and continues into Camelford and then Bude. It eventually wends its way into Devon. Discover pretty little villages, stunning scenery and hidden corners along the way. Finally, the Clay Trails is a series of trails around the town of St Austell, its surrounding villages and the Eden Project. As you ride along, you’ll be taken through the striking and dramatic scenery of the old china clay mining area.
Fishing in Cornwall
Fancy fishing? Cornwall has a wide variety of fabulous fishing spots. Whether you want to hire some equipment and fish off the harbour wall or splash out on a boat trip, Cornwall has it all.
Cornwall’s history is often intertwined with fishing and it still remains part of the culture for business as well as pleasure. Initially, you may only think of sea fishing when pondering this pastime in Cornwall but there are plenty of good fishing lakes too. Siblyback Lake, near Liskeard, is backed by incredible Bodmin Moor scenery, and Tamar Lakes, near Bude, and offers water sports as well as angling. Argal Lake, close to Penryn, has ample wildlife to spot, and Colliford Lake is great for fly fishing.
When it comes to sea fishing, there are bass, pollack, skate and mackerel aplenty on offer. In South Cornwall, you are spoiled for choice. From the remote coast of Polperro to the sheltered bay of St Austell and from the beauty of the Roseland Peninsula to the bountiful catches of Falmouth, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a favourite spot. Take a look at our guide to top things to do in Polperro for more holiday inspiration.
In North Cornwall, there are many options too. Fish by boat in Newquay or on the Doom Bar in Padstow, or perhaps you’d fare better standing on the beaches of Constantine Bay, Harlyn Bay, Mawgan Porth, and Perranporth and casting your line. Whatever you choose, you’re bound to get hooked!
Golfing in Cornwall
Cornwall is home to a fantastic selection of unique golf courses, including the UK's most southerly course, Mullion Golf Club. The Cape Cornwall Golf Course was designed in 1990 by Bob Hamilton who also designed further courses in Scotland and Singapore. This imaginative course features impressive views and tricky natural hazards, making it a real joy to play. Alternatively, if you are looking for a real challenge, you can pit your skills against the West Cornwall Golf Course, where games are played in winds ranging from a light breeze to 50mph gusts!
St Austell Golf Club is located on the Cornish Riviera and offers a warm and friendly atmosphere, and a course that appeals to golfers of all levels. Budock Vean Golf Course, located near Helford, offers a 9-hole/18-tee parkland course that is open to visitors all year. St Enodoc Golf Club is situated near Rock, a short ferry trip from Padstow, and is one of the finest links golf courses in the South West of England. The Point at St Minver near Wadebridge boasts views of wooded valleys, streams and the sea beyond. There's even a gym, a spa, a beauty salon and tennis courts. Lastly, with its two spectacular championship golf courses, St Mellion Golf Club firmly secures its position as the best venue for golf in Cornwall and as one of Europe's premier golf resorts.
Horse riding in Cornwall
There is no better way to truly appreciate the Cornish countryside than on horseback. Whether you are cantering across the moors, trekking through woodland trails, or exploring winding lanes, horse riding gives you the opportunity to explore a hidden side of Cornwall that you might not otherwise experience – why not give it a try?
There’s an equestrian experience to suit all levels of ability so go ahead and try something that brings you closer to one of the friendliest and most sociable large mammals. Reen Manor Riding Stables, in Perranporth, offer an excellent variety of trekking, taking in beaches and the local countryside. If you’re near Bodmin Moor and the Tamar Valley, a visit to Cardinham Woods is a must! A hidden gem with a beautiful bubbling stream, this is a great place to bring a horse. Even better there are three stables nearby: Denby Livery Stables, Benbole Farm Trekking Stables, and Hallagenna Horse Riding.
Walking in Cornwall
Cornwall is a walkers’ paradise. The meandering trails of a riverside walk, the craggy and blustery nature of a coastal stroll, and the smells and serenity of a countryside amble – all these are on offer in this marvellous county. There are some famous walks to be had and some that are off the beaten track. Some are family-friendly and some require a bit of planning and ample water reserves. Here are a few of our favourites...
The South West Coast Path is an incredibly varied trail hugging the coast around the South West. The section along the dramatic Cornish coastline is 300 miles long! The Saint's Way trail takes you through valleys, woodlands, pastures, moors and villages and covers 30 miles from Padstow to Fowey.
The Smugglers' Way is an ambitious route requiring navigation and compass-reading skills. The challenging walk takes you from Boscastle on the north coast to Looe on the south across the stunning moors of Bodmin.
The Roseland Peninsula is a phenomenal place to walk with the Nare Head circular proving one of its top walks. Stride up and down cliffs, through hedgerows and woods making your way to either Portloe to the north or heading south to grab glimpses of Gull Rock.
More land-based activities in Cornwall
Calling all thrill seekers! Cornwall is an ideal destination for that action-packed adventure break. With miles and miles of stunning cliffs, Cornwall is the ideal place for rocky adventures such as climbing and abseiling. See stunning scenery and explore areas of the coast that no one else can. EBO Adventure, in Newquay, will take you to some of the best climbing locations in the UK with world-class backdrops. All equipment is supplied and the staff are all MLTE qualified.
If paintballing or laser quest is more your thing, you can go ballistic at Paintball Cornwall, near Launceston, where you can get your own back on that family member who stole a bite of your Cornish pasty. Another popular venue is Big Dunk’s Paintball, near Delabole, where Big Dunk marshals many of the games himself. Try your hand at paintball, Splatmaster, laser tag, combat archery, footgolf and airsoft.
The next few activities in this section may not technically be land-based, but you do begin on land and end on land, so we think it’s ok. Cornwall is an ideal spot for paragliding and hang gliding with high cliffs and more than its fair share of wind, so head to Cloud 9 in Redruth where their tailored tuition will have you soaring in the skies in no time.
What better place to give skydiving a go than Cornwall? Experience the ultimate thrill with the stunning scenery of Cornwall's coastline hurtling rapidly towards you! The Cornish Parachute Club in Perranporth is the only skydive centre in the UK that can say that their drop zone is on a beach!
Cornwall is home to the longest zip wire in England. Spanning the width of the 35-acre pit in which the giant Eden Project biomes are sited, this amazing experience takes in views of the quarry, the surrounding countryside and the biomes themselves. Alternatively, travel 40 mph down a 490-metre-long zip wire suspended 50 metres above the ground at the Adrenalin Quarry near Liskeard in South Cornwall.
Surfing in Cornwall
Cornwall is arguably the best surfing destination in the UK and one of the best in the world. From fantastic surfing beaches that are suitable for families like Widemouth Bay near Bude to world-class pro surfing beaches like Fistral Bay in Newquay, Cornwall has a beach to suit you.
The north coast is generally regarded as the best for surfing, but you can often catch some great waves on the south coast too. Hire a board and hit the waves or get some expert tuition. The choice is yours! If you are thinking about surfing lessons, there is no shortage of providers.
Escape Surf School, in Newquay, is at the centre of the surfing scene. With ex-professionals on their coaching staff and a number of awards on the shelf, if you can’t stand up on a board after a few lessons with these guys … just have some more lessons, it’s great fun!
Harlyn Surf School, in Harlyn Bay, has been described as the ‘best surf school on the North Cornish coast’ by the Sunday Times and has been helping novice surfers for 25 years. With consistent waves and a beautiful backdrop, this is a top place to learn to surf.
Operating from two beaches in St Ives, the St. Ives Surf School is one of the best places to learn to surf in Cornwall. Their specialist surf coaches can provide a bespoke session for you, and if surfing isn’t quite your thing, they offer paddleboarding lessons, kayaking tours and coasteering adventures too.
Self-catering stays in Cornwall
If you’re not all tuckered out after all these Cornish activities, then we’re proud of you. Nevertheless, you’ll need a place to rest your head eventually and we’ve got just the spot for you. Whether it’s a coastal retreat for the whole family, a countryside cottage just for two or a dog-friendly holiday home, we’ll help you find your perfect Cornish escape.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.