Cornwall Weekend Away: 3 Easy Peasy Short Breaks – Tried & Tested [2024]

Posted on 23rd Apr 2020. In , , , ,


Cornwall is England’s fancy ankle boot, dangling at the end of the country with enough charm, character and beauty per square inch to keep you returning every weekend infinitum. If you’re a Cornwall first-timer, there are lots of Cornish short break options both inland and on Cornwall’s fabulous coastline.

So, what’s it to be? Do you head to the rugged north coast with its surf-bashed beaches or the cove-peppered south coast with its gentler beat? Truth be told, wherever you go in Cornwall there will be a cream tea nearby so you’re in for a good time regardless. Here are three tried and tested weekend getaways in Cornwall to help you sink your teeth into this delicious county.

North Coast Cornwall Weekend Away

Padstow and Mawgan Porth


Short Break Number 1

North Coast Cornwall Weekend Away

Padstow and Mawgan Porth

The North Coast of Cornwall is adventurous at heart, with 40 miles of dramatic Atlantic coastline and clean, bracing air stretching from Bude to St Agnes. Trendsetters love the North’s rugged, handsome features and, over the years, some of its villages and towns (such as Padstow and Rock) have become smokin’ hot destinations. So, if you crave a bout of body boarding followed by some celebrity chef food, trendy mingling and arty hangouts, this Cornwall weekend away is just the ticket.

Saturday in Padstow

Start Here: Padstow is no longer the simple fishing town it once was. Synonymous with Rick Stein (who owns a restaurant, hotel, fish and chip shop, and a seafood school here), it has more glitz than lobster pots these days. Today Padstow boasts some of the best seafood restaurants in the county, as well as boutique shops and art galleries that look like they’re fresh in from London.

Alongside the glamour, the town still retains some of its fishing-port charms: traditional fisherman’s cottages encircle the small harbour and there are a number of down-to-earth pubs and pasty shops standing fast against all-out gentrification.

Do this: Mooch around town. The best way to get to know Padstow is slowly: wind its twists of little streets, which are thankfully less crowded in the autumn months, nose in shop windows, walk the harbour, shelter in doorways from the rain, and exchange smiles with the other weekenders who love the off-peak pace.

Visit this: Drang Art Gallery. Like a pistol pop in a chic corner of town, the Drang Gallery is proof Padstow is no longer a local town for local people. Hanging on the walls is contemporary art that demands your attention, including works from Andy Warhol, Banksy, Damien Hirst and, my newfound favourites, The Connor Brothers.

As you’d expect, the price tags are weighty but the art is worth a slice of your time if you can spare it. For more grounded art that showcases homegrown Cornish talent, try the Padstow Gallery or Beyond the Sea.

Lunch here: Rick Stein Café. For seafood bounty without paying top dollar, head to the Rick Stein Café on Middle Street in the heart of Padstow. You won’t find the man himself there, but his friendly team give a 5-star experience for your weekend in Cornwall even if you’re just after coffee and cake.

We booked ahead (it’s notorious for being full) and settled in for a girls’ weekend lunch in the pleasant, if bijou, white and blue surroundings. Strangely, there was less fish on the menu than we expected – whether that’s a good or bad thing we weren’t sure. You may also want to try Michelin-Starred Paul Ainsworth at No. 6

Finish With: Views over the Camel Estuary. Padstow sits on the west flank of the Camel Estuary, a vast inlet of calm water running five miles up to Wadebridge. To get good views across the estuary and out towards the Atlantic, follow the South West Coast path just around the corner from Padstow harbour until you reach the WWI memorial at St. Saviours Point. There are benches for you to sit on, but there’s no shelter so you’ll need to break out the emergency waterproof if the elements close in.

Aside from this quick stroll up the hill, there are plenty more walks to follow from Padstow should you want more sweat on your Cornwall weekend away. Including Steeper Point – a headland walk that offers stunning views over the River Camel – and the Doom Bar (the great sandbank that guards the mouth of the Camel Estuary).


Stay Here

Scarangar: A Unique Cornish Glamping Experience

Scarangar is a low-impact overland group tour that takes you beyond the ordinary. There are two adventure options to choose from: Hire Scarangar for 4 to 7 days as a private group of 10 on a ‘Stationary Hire’ with all your meals and glamping at a hand-picked, high-quality campsite in beautiful Cornwall. Or choose Scarangar’s ‘Mobile Hire’ where you can sail from North to South Cornwall, travelling between campsites with the option to add your own wellness activities along the way. Again, your meals are all included, just bring yourself and your buddies.


Sunday in Mawgan Porth

Start Here: Mawgan Porth Situated midway between Padstow and Newquay, Mawgan Porth is an award-winning cove with a sheltered, dog-friendly sandy beach sandwiched between pea-green cliffs; so it’s a great spot for your first body board. If walking is more you thing, the South West Coast Path passes right through Mawgan Porth and if sitting in a pub with a book is your idea of adventure, the Merrymoore Inn or the Smugglers Inn are just metres from the beach.

Do this: Body boarding Give your eyes time to adjust when you arrive at Mawgan Porth beach. This vast soft gold channel of sand rushes towards you leaving the Atlantic Ocean way behind. Thanks to its sheltered west-facing location, the waves here can be gentler so, get into your wetsuit, grab your bodyboard (or surfboard) and head to the sea to play. As you might expect, the beach is popular with surfers but nothing like the throngs that crowd Newquay beach in the summer. There is seasonal lifeguard cover and flags usually mark the sections that are safe for body boarders and surfers.

Lunch here: Beach Box Café Serving some of the best coffee and food concoctions in Mawgan Porth, the Beach Box Café is just the spot to go to warm up after a dip. The building used to be the public toilet block until it was saved from destruction and the top half turned into a funky café complete with surf soul (the bottom half still houses the original working toilets).Now clad in wood, the Beach Box Cafe has an imaginative menu of coffees, teas, smoothies and light bites. Make sure you try the Blue Magik Rainbow Latte made from Spirulina algae – even if you don’t dig the taste, it looks excellent in photos.

Visit This: Bedruthan Steps Swap wetsuits for walking boots and head to Bedruthen Steps (the drive takes 5 mins, the walk 40 mins). The hulking granite sea stacks that make up Bedruthan Steps were, as legend tells it, stepping stones for the Giant Bedruthan. Their colossal size certainly adds merit to the story and it’s easy to see why people flood here during summer. Luckily, out-of-season the coast is clearer and you can make it down to the tidal beach at the bottom without too much hassle.

The steps that take you down to the beach, however, are not for the faint-hearted: narrow, slippy and only worth trying if you’re able or accompanied by Steve Backshall.

If you do have to stay at the top, there’s plenty to feast your eyes on. The views over the cliffs and across the Atlantic take your breath away, and the stories of smugglers and shipwrecks (not to mention the allure of Poldark) just make it all the more irresistible.

Finish Here: the Witches Hotel, Newquay End your weekend away in Cornwall with a trip to the iconic The Headland Hotel in Newquay. Clamped to a crop of melancholic rock, it has stood watchfully on the same spot since the 1900s. An imposing Victorian stack of red brick and grey, it’s famous for being the setting for the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. And is still proud of the association to this day. Indeed, ask one of the members of staff and they’ll delight in retelling how Rowan Atkinson (who played the hotel manager in the movie) flooded his room by overfilling the bath. And how Angelica Houston (who played the Grand High Witch) would often get large bouquets of flowers delivered to her from her boyfriend at the time, Jack Nicholson


More Places to Stay in North Cornwall

Places to Stay In Padstow: Self-catering Properties | Hotels, Pubs and B&Bs

Places to Stay In Mawgan Porth: Self-catering Properties | Holiday Homes

Places to Stay In Newquay: Self-catering Properties | Hotels, Pubs and B&Bs


Things to Do in North Cornwall

Sea Kayaking in Newquay 

North Coast Boat Trip

Surfing for Beginners in Newquay

Newquay Paddleboarding and Tour

West Coast Cornwall Weekend Away

Mousehole and Marazion


Short Break Number 2

West Coast Cornwall Weekend Away

Mousehole and Marazion

Head down the north coast from St Agnes westwards and you arrive in the West Cornwall. This amazing stretch of storm-washed coastline, including Land’s End and St Ives, is the last stop before the Atlantic Ocean. As such, it’s a region of geographical opposites: there are azure waters, golden beaches and quiet coves loved by families, as well as giant Atlantic swells and jawbone cliffs favoured by thrill seekers. Away from the coast, there is the cultivated beauty of subtropical gardens and the romantic relics of Cornwall’s historic mining past, which inspired the Poldark novels. Yup, you won’t be short of things to do on a West Cornwall weekend away.

Saturday in Mousehole

Start Here: Mousehole (pronounced ‘Mouzle’) is a village on the west coast of Cornwall that’s as cute as a sailor’s button. Three miles from Penzance, this harbour-front clutch of fishing-pot cottages, salted sea air and roads like ribbons is ideal for a weekend of monk-like seclusion.

Mousehole’s unusual name is thought to come from the opening to its tiny harbour or the small cave a few hundred yards along the coast from the village, but no-one really knows the true origin of the name. One thing we do know, is that the village is famous throughout Cornwall for its Christmas lights (there are even helicopter flights from Penzance to see the lights from the sky).

Do this: Harbour strolling A mooch around the small harbour followed by a sandy-toe saunter along the little beach is a sweet start. Go in mid- Dec and see the Mousehole Xmas lights switched on – they’re famous throughout Cornwall. At any time of year, you can lose hours sitting on the harbour wall staring out toward St Michael’s Mount. Follow it up with a stroll around Mousehole’s car-free (most of the time) labyrinth of slender streets with pretty art galleries and hidden nooks (make sure you visit The Ark – a fairytale-like curiosity shop – as well as The Moushole gift shop; it’s iconic).

Visit this: The Minack Theatre An outdoor theatre carved into the granite of a Cornish cliff, overlooking beautiful Porthcurno Bay, and surrounded by subtropical gardens. From Mousehole, the Minack Theatre is just over 20 minutes’ drive and there are plays, tours and events happening from Easter to Septemeber. Alternatively, see the Minack Theatre by boat on a one-hour trip down the coast to view it from the sea. There are various other boat trips from Mousehold, including wildlife cruises and trips to Land’s End.

Eat here: The Old Coastguard A Victorian maritime inn serving lunches and evening meals, with an outside terrace with the views of the sea. Or, if you’re in Mousehole around Christmas time eat at The Ship Inn on the 23rd December and try the famous Stargazy Pie. Legend has it that a 16th-century Mousehole local sailed out in stormy weather one night and came back with a boat of pilchards. His catch was made into a pie, which is now called Stargazy Pie


Mousehole – Stay Here

The Fallen Angel: A Romantic Design Bolthole For Two

The Fallen Angel in Mousehole is a romantic one-bedroom getaway that easily takes the silverware for being one of the very best honeymoon or couples’ escapes in the UK.  This split-level luxury hideout is a masterpiece of razor-sharp architecture and decadent interior design where you can make unforgettable memories. Especially if you bolt-on a massage and a private chef.


Sunday in Marazion

Start Here: Marazion This ancient market town, cradling around a vast sandy shoreline, is a must-visit on a short break in Cornwall. Central to its fame is the island of St Michaels Mount in the bay, which is visible from almost every spot in the town. Marazion, which means ‘small market’ in Cornish, is itself famous for being the oldest town in Cornwall having a charter granted in 1257 and certainly feels from a bygone age. The best way to enjoy Marazion is on foot, wandering the main street that runs parallel to the sea and browsing the variety of gift and craft shops that line it.

Visit this: St Michael’s Mount With its cobbled causeway visible at low tide, St Michael’s Mount is one of Cornwall’s most famous landmarks. This unbridged tidal island is home to a small community, a striking medieval castle and a church (the first monastery on the island was created here in the 9th century). You can visit the island by boat but we prefer the walk across the 15th-century causeway, which is revealed for four hours each day. The island is owned by the National Trust so you pay to access it, but the ticket is worth the fee. Explore the castle and the garden terraces, wander the harbour and the village. PS: See if you can spot the footsteps of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh that were cast in bronze after their visit to the island during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Lunch here: Godolphin Arms For lunch, it has to be the Godolphin Arms. Stylishly renovated throughout, it overlooks St. Michael’s Mount and is probably the most impressive contemporary beachside pit-stop in Marazion. Stroll in straight off Marazion beach and find a table outside next to the glass balustrade on the chic lower deck.

The table-service is swift, the atmosphere informal and the menu plentiful – as well as fresh, local seafood on offer, you’ll find a fair selection of traditional mains and sandwiches. Dogs are welcome and kids are well-catered for – colouring pencils are thoughtfully placed on each of the sun-bleached benches and there’s a separate children’s menu.

Best of all, the portions served at the Godolphin Arms don’t err on the side of miserly: our sandwiches were large enough to fill the belly of the burliest fisherman and we left heavy enough to sink a pilchard boat.

Go here: Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens Found in a beautiful sheltered valley, overlooking St Michael’s Mount, is Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens: one of the most unique all-year-round gardens to visit in Cornwall on a weekend away. A verdant wonderland and micro-climate of exotic and sub-tropical plants, Tremenheere’s rich grounds are interwoven with evolving contemporary artwork, including works from internationally-renowned artists. Add to that a year-long programme of exhibitions plus a gallery, shop and restaurant and you can see why the gardens are so popular.


Near Marazion – Stay Here

Angel Cottage: Oceanside Cottage for Six

Spectacular and stylish in equal measure – with more than a little cosy comfort thrown in – Anchor Cottage gives you an alfresco window on the drama of the Atlantic Ocean, along with all the Cornish charm you could ever wish for. All nestled in lovely Porthleven; only 16 mins’ drive from Marazion.


More Places to Stay in West Cornwall

Places to Stay In Mousehole: Boutique Retreat | Hotels, Pubs and B&Bs

Places to Stay Near and In Marazion: Holiday Homes | Hotels, Pubs and B&Bs

More accommodation options in Cornwall


Things to Do in West Cornwall

Land’s End Boat Trip

Mount’s Bay Discovery Boat Trip from Penzance

The Tate St Ives

South Coast Cornwall Weekend Away

Fowey and Polperro

Short Break Number 3

South Coast Cornwall Weekend Away

Fowey and Polperro

Replace the wilds of Cornwall’s north and west coast with the relative calm of its south side. Here, the muscular cliffs are replaced with rolling hills and the dramatic surf gives way to fishing boat bobbing harbours and meandering estuaries. Drop anchor in the south of Cornwall for a slower short break exploring the many under-the-radar fishing village gems, like Megavissey and Portwrinkle, as well as the indelible pretty popular yachting meccas such as Fowey and Falmouth. There are also quiet sandy coves and beaches, great for traditional seaside holidays, as well as lush, nationally-renowned gardens to explore. The south is an easy breezy relaxed part of Cornwall – you’re going to love it.

Saturday in Fowey

Start here: Fowey With its beautiful deep estuary and famous literary links, Fowey (pronounced Foy) is a dream Cornish spot – especially if you like ‘messing about on boats’. Fowey sits on a steep west bank side of the Fowey Estuary looking across the boat-dotted blue waters to Bodinnick and the tiny harbour of Polruan. The town has long been a mecca for sailors and yachters, and getting our on the river is a must on your visit. It’s also been an inspiration for writers for over hundred years, featuring in ‘The Wind in the Willows’ as ‘the little grey sea town…….that clings along one steep side of the harbour’ and the place where Rebecca author, Daphne Du Maurier had her riverside home.

Do this: Meander with a Pasty Shuffling up and down Fowey’s ribboning streets with their Georgian and medieval buildings is the only way to get under the skin of the town. Along with independent art galleries and curiosity shops, there are a clutch of brilliant cafes and eateries as well as a little museum and aquarium. We love the giant pasties from the Quay Bakery (but go early before they sell out) and strolling to the Town Quay to eat them whilst watching boats tack back and forth. 

Visit this: St Catherine’s Castle is a Tudor fort built as built as part of Henry VIII’s ambitious scheme of coastal defences against an attack by the French. After your pasty, take a walk to the fort ruins on the southern edges of Fowey. The walk itself follows the river and is reached by footpath from the lovely sands of Ready Money Cove. It is a steep walk, through woodland, but the vista across the estuary mouth out to sea is worth every bead of sweat.

Go here: Getting on the water is a must when in Fowey. You can either hire your own boat, join a kayaking trips or hop aboard the pedestrian ferry to carry you across to Polruan. This small charming village won’t sustain you for the entire day but a seafood lunch in The Lugger Inn is worth it. Then you can, if you want, talk the steep circular ‘Hall Walk’ to Bodinnick (where a ferry takes you back to Fowey) with incredible views on route.

Lunch here:  It may not be in Fowey, but for an original homemade afternoon tea that is out of this world or an insanely good Sunday roast, we recommend travelling 20mins to Boscundle Manor– a grade-II listed Cornish boutique hotel sitting on the outskirts of St Austell. Inside, the Manor is artful and modern, decorated to an impeccable standard with quirky furnishings, cheeky artwork and vintage finds. Outside, there’s a charming terrace and garden where you can take your Cornish afternoon tea amongst the flowers and plants, or head inside to the Library to enjoy your roast. Booking essential.

Finish here: The Fowey Harbour Hotel is a grand Victorian pile boasting some of the best panoramas of the Fowey Estuary. Head to the colonial-inspired bar and terrace and bag one of the comfy sofas by the windows. If it’s a warm day, make the terrace your home and order one of the hotel’s signature cocktails or local gins. This is the high life for sure.

Sunday in Polperro

Start here: Polperro Unspoilt is a word used a lot about Cornwall; but if one places deserves the title, it’s Polperro. This traditional costal village clings to the cliff around a sleepy harbour. It’s gaspingly pretty – picture perfect if you like – and impossible not to fall for. The road into the village is joyfully free of traffic most of the time, so you can lick an ice-cream and daydreaming in the street without causing too much bother. And there’s plenty to see, do and soak up for an easy day.

Do this: A great way to see Polperro is by following the Harbour and Headlands Walk. It’s a 3-mile figure-of-eight walk that take syou through the little streets, past quaint houses and shops, and along the clifftop. You’ll get to see Polperro Beach, the harbour and the Grade II listed Roman Bridge.

Lunch here: The Blue Peter Inn Sandwiched between ancient smugglers cottages on the harbour and Fish Quay, just a few yards from the beach, ‘The Blue’ (as it is affectionately known) has everything you could wish for from a fishing village inn. A warm, traditional welcome awaits you along with a cosy interior of polished brasses and dark timber beams. The inn has racked up awards for its food and drink, so grab a table and feast on fresh seafood. We loved the ‘famous Blue’ fish and chips; pretty sure you will too.

Finish here: The Harbour Museum of Smuggling and Fishing Polperro was heavily involved in the smuggling trade in the 18th century with boats bringing back tobacco and alcohol across the channel from France. The trade was richly documented and you can read all about it in the local museum. It’s only small, but packs a lot in giving fascinating insights into the history of smuggling and fishing from the late 1700s to date.


Near Polperro – Stay Here

Turnstone: Luxury Waterfront Holiday Home for Six

The views out over Whitsand Bay from this stylish Cornish holiday home are something else. Whether you’re cooking in the kitchen, soaking in the master tub or sprawled out on the plush velvet sofa, the panoramic ocean blues roll in through the glass doors and wash over you. If you get tired of them (as if), exchange Turnstone for the on-site spa and a massage. Hey, it’s a tough life, but someone’s got to do it.


More Places to Stay in South Cornwall

Places to Stay In Fowey: Hotels, Pubs and B&Bs

Places to In Polperro: Holiday Homes

More accommodation options in Cornwall

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I've still never been to Cornwall, must sort that out soon. I hadn't heard of Mawgan Porth but it sounds like exactly the kind of place that I'd love to visit, and the cottage is absolutely gorgeous!
Sally Akins on 2019-10-17 08:59:39
Great minds think alike - I took an off-season break in COrnwall this time last year, to the same area and I I loved it. There's so much to do that I don't know how I would have coped if I had gone when it was hot and sunny, and I found the beach scenes in the rain or fog really enthralling. I am keen to go back and will keep your post handy for more ideas of things to see!
Jaillan Yehia on 2019-10-17 12:27:16
I adore Cornwall but haven't made it to Padstow yet. Looks like it's one to add to the wish list!
Suzanne Jones on 2019-10-17 14:29:59

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