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Top 10 things to do in Falmouth

Cath 20 February 2024

Falmouth is a lovely town, which lies on the west bank of the River Fal in West Cornwall. Surrounded by spectacular scenery, Falmouth is one of Cornwall’s most popular destinations and is full of pretty streets which are home to some of the best eateries, shops and galleries in the county.

Falmouth also has a great community spirit and a busy events calendar with festivals throughout the year. From the popular Falmouth Week, usually held in August, to the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival, usually in June, which is the largest free nautical music festival in Europe, Falmouth offers something for everyone to enjoy and get involved in.

Read our guide to the top things to do in Falmouth and begin planning your getaway to this fantastic coastal town or get inspired by browsing our collection of cottages in Falmouth using the button below.

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  1. Spend the day at one of Falmouth's beaches
  2. Head to the National Maritime Museum
  3. Catch the Falmouth to St Mawes ferry
  4. Head to Pendennis Castle
  5. Spend time at Falmouth Harbour
  6. Head to a gorgeous Cornish garden
  7. Browse Falmouth's shops
  8. Wander Falmouth Art Gallery
  9. Watch a film at Falmouth's cinema
  10. Play golf at Falmouth Golf Club

1. Spend the day at one of Falmouth's beaches

Photo of Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth, on a blue sky day
Photo credit: Visit Cornwall/Matt Jessop

Falmouth is home to three spectacular beaches, the most popular of which is Gyllyngvase Beach, commonly referred to as Gylly Beach. Gylly Beach (pictured above) is about a 10-minute walk from Falmouth town centre and is perfect for swimming and water sports such as paddleboarding or snorkelling. The beach is popular with families as it has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag status for its clean, safe waters. 

Castle Beach is the most northerly of all Falmouth beaches, situated below Pendennis Castle. The beach offers wonderful views over Falmouth Bay and the castle beyond and is renowned for rock pooling.

Lastly, Swanpool Beach is about a 20-minute walk from Falmouth’s centre and is a delightful sand and shingle swimming cove with a nature reserve behind it. Set in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it’s a lovely calm spot for a swim or paddle. To discover more beautiful beaches, check out our best beaches in Cornwall guide

2. Head to the National Maritime Museum

 Photo of outside of National Maritime Museum and Falmouth Harbour
Photo credit: Visit Cornwall/Adam Gibbard

The National Maritime Museum is one of Cornwall's must-visit attractions which celebrates the incredible maritime history of Falmouth and how the sea influences global culture. The museum is home to 15 galleries over five floors, with collections that span The National Small Boat collection, exciting temporary exhibitions, artworks, maps, charts and other memorabilia.

There’s also a boatbuilding workshop which is worth a visit, where visitors can see shipwrights at work restoring and building boats.

3. Catch the Falmouth to St Mawes ferry

 Photo of St Mawes Harbour with boats on the water
Photo credit: Visit Cornwall/Matt Jessop

Across the estuary from Falmouth is the small fishing village of St Mawes. The Falmouth to St Mawes ferry operates 364 days a year, with up to three ferries an hour in the summer and an hourly service in the winter months.

The journey takes 20 minutes and is one of Cornwall’s most iconic boat trips with world-class scenery including two historic castles and a wealth of marine life in Falmouth Bay.

4. Head to Pendennis Castle

Photo of Pendenis Castle across the water on a cloudy day
Photo credit: Visit Cornwall/Adam Gibbard

Built between 1540 and 1542, Pendennis Castle is an artillery fort constructed by Henry VIII to protect against invasion from France. Today, Pendennis Castle is owned by English Heritage and is one of Falmouth’s most popular attractions. 

With a fun family trail, a soft play room and an on-site café, there’s plenty for visitors of all ages to discover and enjoy. Be sure to climb to the top of the keep and take a moment to enjoy the 360-degree panoramic views across Falmouth. If you enjoy visiting castles, check out our guide on the top castles in Cornwall.

5. Spend time at Falmouth Harbour

 Falmouth harbour with boats on the water

Falmouth Harbour and the estuary of Carrick Roads form the third-largest natural harbour in the world and the deepest in Western Europe. The Falmouth docks extend over 70 acres and cover a range of services such as repair, refuelling and cleaning.

The dock lookout point along Pendennis Rise affords superb views across the site and Falmouth Harbour. Did you know that The Queen Elizabeth Dock alone holds 128 million litres of water and can be emptied in 3 hours? 

6. Head to a gorgeous Cornish garden

 Tropical plants at Trebah Garden near Falmouth
Photo credit: Visit Cornwall/Trebah Gardens

Situated about a 20-minute drive from Falmouth are the two beautiful gardens of Trebah and Glendurgan. Interestingly, both gardens were started in the 1840s by the Fox family and are two of the top gardens in Cornwall.

Today, Trebah is a 26-acre sub-tropical garden, with small ponds, lakes and waterfalls which eventually lead down to a small, secluded, private beach. 

Glendurgan Garden which is just down the road from Trebah is now owned by the National Trust. Set in a 30-acre woodland valley, with views to the Helford Estuary, many exotic and rare trees and shrubs grow here. Read more about some of our favourite National Trust places to visit in Cornwall in this guide.

7. Browse Falmouth's shops

Falmouth High Street, full of a large variety of shops
Photo credit: Visit Cornwall/Adam Gibbard

Falmouth is home to a maze of streets and alleyways which showcase a brilliant selection of small, independent shops and galleries. The main shopping street is Market Street which leads into Church Street and offers a wonderful blend of local and national shops that you simply wouldn’t find on a ‘normal’ high street.

There are also several well-known national brands including Fatface, Seasalt and Quba to name a few.

 Exterior of Falmouth Art Gallery with blue sky in the background
Photo credit: Falmouth Art Gallery

Falmouth Art Gallery is an award-winning, family-friendly gallery which is free to visit. The gallery has an outstanding collection of over 2,000 pieces of art that includes 19th and 20th-century paintings, British Impressionist paintings, the RCPS Tuke Collection, contemporary prints and more. 

The gallery also runs a range of events throughout the year including art fairs, exhibitions and workshops.

9. Watch a film at Falmouth's cinema

 Couple watching a movie at the cinema

A trip to the Phoenix Cinema is a way to keep any little ones entertained, particularly during wet weather. The cinema opened in 2009, has five screens and shows all the new and popular film releases. Seating is provided in luxurious leather armchairs, and the cinema is fully licenced to sell alcohol.

10. Play golf at Falmouth Golf Club

Golf ball on golf course with flag and blue sky in background

Located on the outskirts of Falmouth, Falmouth Golf Club is an 18-hole course with stunning views across Falmouth Bay. The golf course welcomes visitors and has an on-site bar and restaurant, called ‘Above the Bay’ which offers freshly cooked food and a fully stocked bar. 

Map of things to do in Falmouth

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Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage in Falmouth

If you haven’t booked yourself a holiday to Falmouth yet, what are you waiting for? Browse our excellent range of self-catering holiday homes and cottages throughout the town and pick out the perfect retreat for you.

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.

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