Whether you’re heading there for a weekend break or a full-time vacation, here are the top 10 things to do in Falmouth and its wonderful surroundings!
Nestled along the rugged southwest of England, you will discover the charming port town of Falmouth. With its sandy beaches, stunning views, and fascinating history, it is not hard to see why this serene seaside oasis is a popular tourist spot for both locals and visitors alike. But look beyond its quaint façade, and you’ll find a modern, vibrant university town that pulsates with life!
In Falmouth, you can soak up the old-world ambience of cobbled streets, sample local gems in the picturesque harbour flanked by restaurants serving up lip-smacking dishes made with locally caught seafood and independent shops, immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring art galleries, theatres and museums celebrate Cornish history and culture, or simply wander through the fishing village that provides the perfect backdrop for exploring the history of this Cornish town.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or something more adventurous, there are plenty of things to do in Falmouth to fit the bill. So read on to discover 10 must-visit spots in this picturesque corner of England and find out why it continues to be a popular destination among tourists looking to explore a part of Britain that is off the beaten track but still brimming with attractions and things to do!
When I visited Falmouth with my husband, an ex-local of the area, I was immediately taken by the idyllic beauty and timeless charm of this stunning Cornish town. But what truly captivated me was the vibrant and living community there — a population bolstered year-round by the presence of universities both in and around Falmouth, bringing a sense of energy and dynamism to this destination.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN FALMOUTH, CORNWALL
TAKE A STEP BACK IN TIME
Pendennis and St. Mawes, two sister fortresses that have stood guard over the deep estuary at the mouth of the river Fal for centuries, provide a unique opportunity to explore the castle walls and trace their history all the way back to Tudor times.
Whether you’re looking to experience Medieval England or admire the architectural prowess of these past defenders, both castles offer an immersive experience in some of Britain’s most beautiful scenery, as well as captivating stories of defeat and victory, entwined with tales of mystery, pirate attacks and smuggling routes.
#1: Visit Pendennis Castle
Set on a spectacular peninsula just 25 minutes walk from the centre of town, this 16th-century Henrician castle is one of the most well-preserved fortifications in England. Alongside St Mawes fortress, it served as a protector of the Carrick Roads anchorage and the neighbouring port towns for over four centuries.
Inside, you can take a (guided) tour of the fort and marvel at its cannons and other military exhibitions before taking some time out on its beautiful grounds with views of Falmouth and the surrounding coastline.
#2: Visit St Mawes Castle
Situated opposite Pendennis Castle, St Mawes Castle is another must-visit spot while visiting Falmouth.
Visitors to the castle can explore its many features, including its bastions and gun rooms, and learn about its fascinating history of guarding against foreign invasions. In addition to the historical aspects, the castle also offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and sea, making it a popular spot for photography and scenic walks. The castle hosts various exhibitions, events, and activities throughout the year, making it a great destination for visitors looking to immerse themselves in history and culture.
MAKE A SPLASH
Falmouth boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in all of England, from sandy stretches like Gyllyngvase Beach and Swanpool Beach to secluded coves such as Castle Beach. The surrounding area is also blessed with breathtaking coastal walk paths that offer the perfect backdrop for a romantic stroll or an invigorating hike. The South West Coast Path runs right through Falmouth and takes in some spectacular scenery along the way – so make sure you bring your camera! If you’re feeling brave, you can even take a plunge into the chilly English sea.
#3: Relax on Gyllyngvase & Swanpool Beaches
Gyllyngvase Beach: A trip to Falmouth wouldn’t be complete without a visit to what is locally known as Gylly Beach. As one of the most popular beaches in the area, and one of the top things to do in Falmouth, Gyllyngvase Beach offers plenty of opportunities for soaking up some sun and admiring the stunning views across Falmouth Bay.
The beach itself is well-maintained and clean; it also has a cafe where you can enjoy some lunch or grab an ice cream while taking in the views! For those feeling adventurous, Gyllyngvase Beach is also great for watersports such as surfing, standup paddleboarding and kayaking — when the weather is kind, that is.
Swanpool Beach: Another must-visit for holidaymakers and locals alike is Swanpool Beach, whose golden sands — when you get closer to the ocean at least — and crystal clear waters provide a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing and beach strolls.
What’s more, its colourful beach huts are a sight to behold – perfect for taking pictures or as a refuge from the blazing sunshine.
#4: Take a Walk Around National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Located on Discovery Quay, Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum offers visitors a unique insight into the nautical heritage of Cornwall, as well as a chance to explore some underwater wonders without getting wet.
National Maritime Museum Cornwall is a great destination for those looking to explore the history of sailing and seafaring. Here you’ll find displays featuring model ships, interactive exhibits on local shipwrecks and smuggling activities, as well as artworks depicting maritime-themed landscapes. Plus there are plenty of hands-on activities aimed at all ages — so be sure to check out this fascinating museum when you’re visiting Falmouth!
#5: Sail Around Falmouth Bay
What better way to explore Falmouth than by sailing around its harbour?
Renting or taking a boat tour to explore the beautiful coastline and see the town from a different perspective is definitely one of the best things to do in Falmouth. You can enjoy an unforgettable sailing experience aboard as you cruise along the Cornish coast and spot seals, seabirds, and maybe even dolphins! Weather permitting, of course.
STEP INTO TRANQUILITY
#6: Stroll Through Trebah and Glendurgan Gardens
Trebah Garden: One of the best things to do in Falmouth is to get lost in nature strolling through this enchanting 26-acre subtropical garden, which boasts winding paths, rare, exotic and colourful plants, and breathtaking views over Falmouth Bay.
Glendurgan Garden: With its lush tropical plants, colourful flower displays and a small pebbly sheltered beach, it is easy to forget you’re still in England when visiting this tranquil paradise tucked away in the Cornish countryside!
A visit to Glendurgan Garden is one of the best things to do in Falmouth — perfect for couples looking for a romantic walk or families with children who want to explore the grounds. The sweeping paths, winding streams, and of course, Glendurgan’s ancient cherry laurel maze, are just some of the highlights that make this garden such a special place.
#7: Hike Along the South West Coast Path
If you love hiking then make sure you take time out to explore part of the South West Coast Path which runs through Falmouth. This stunning trail takes you along some breathtakingly beautiful scenery and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and flowers — perfect for those looking for a peaceful escape from busy city life.
Make sure you bring your camera as there are some incredible photo opportunities along this route!
The South West Coast Path is the UK’s longest national trail, stretching 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset all the way to Poole Harbour in Dorset. As it passes through Cornwall, it provides stunning coastal scenery and a wonderful way to explore the region’s coastline. In Falmouth, one of the main highlights of this walking route is the stunning harbour views that are on offer. Plus, there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants along the way. For those looking for something a bit more adventurous, the path also crosses nearby hills and woodlands adding an extra element of exploration to your trip.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN CULTURE AND CUISINE
#8: Explore Falmouth Art Gallery
Another great spot to explore is Falmouth Art Gallery. Located right in the heart of town, this gallery showcases works from some of Cornwall’s most exciting artists and features regularly changing exhibitions throughout the year.
Entry to Falmouth Art Gallery is free and no booking is required.
#9: Sample Local Delicacies
No trip to Cornwall would be complete without indulging in some classic local delicacies – namely Cornish pasties and seafood! The harbourside area of town is teeming with cafes and restaurants serving up delicious versions of these dishes — And, with so many options available it would be rude not to try them all!
For a delicious brunch or casual lunch, visitors can check out Cafe Strand Falmouth or Koala Karlous Bagel Co, with the latter also specialising in coffee. Beerwolf Books is a unique spot, combining a bookshop and a pub, perfect for book lovers and beer enthusiasts. Harbour Lights Fish & Chips and The Lookout, both offer a good view of the harbour along with fresh, locally sourced seafood. The Meat Counter is a burger bar that provides high-quality meat and (against what the name suggests) good vegetarian/vegan options, while The Verdant Seafood Bar specializes in freshly caught seafood dishes. And finally, for vegan and plant-based options, Planted Café is a must-visit.
Just make sure you leave room for dessert afterwards, especially for Roskilly’s handcrafted ice cream made with locally sourced ingredients!
Falmouth also hosts a number of food and drink festivals throughout the year. From traditional seafood festivals to major events featuring leading chefs and celebrity guests, there’s something for every foodie.
The Falmouth Oyster Festival is one of the town’s most popular events, held every year in October. You can enjoy sampling some of the freshest local oysters while sipping Cornish cider and beer, listening to live music and soaking up the atmosphere. And don’t forget about Falmouth Beer Fest — an annual celebration of craft ales from across Cornwall with live music and entertainment.
#10: Catch a Show at the Princess Pavilion
The Princess Pavilion, an auditorium which hosts music performances from emerging local talent as well as nationally renowned acts, is one of Falmouth’s most iconic landmarks.
If live music isn’t your thing then don’t worry — there are also plenty of comedy shows, musical theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place here throughout the year too!
Don’t forget to check out what’s on at the Princess Pavillion closer to your visit.
MAP OF TOP THINGS TO DO IN FALMOUTH, CORNWALL
How to Get to Falmouth?
By car: Falmouth is easily accessible by car, with the A39 and A393 connecting the town to other parts of Cornwall and the UK. Travelling by car, it takes approximately 5.5 hours to get from London to Falmouth.
By train: Falmouth is accessible through two train stations, Falmouth Town and Falmouth Docks. Travelling by train, it takes approximately 5 hours from London to get to Falmouth. An alternative option is the Night Riviera sleeper train from London Paddington to Penzance, which departs London at 11:45 PM (Mon-Fri) and 23:50 PM (Sun) and arrives at Truro at 7:12 AM (Mon-Fri) or 08:01 AM (Sun). From Truro, you can take a 20-minute train ride to Falmouth.
By bus: There are regular bus services to Falmouth from other towns and cities in Cornwall, as well as from London and other major cities in the UK. Although, with an estimated duration of just under 9 hours, this is not likely to be your preferred mode of transport if you’re travelling from London Victoria.
By ferry: Ferries run from Falmouth to St Mawes and Flushing and also connect to Truro and other parts of the Fal River network.
By air: The nearest airport is Newquay Cornwall Airport, which is 20 miles away and has flights to and from several UK and European destinations. From the airport, you can take a bus (which takes around 2 hours) or hire a car/taxi to reach Falmouth.
Getting Around Falmouth
Getting around Falmouth is relatively easy due to the town’s compact size. Within the town, visitors can explore many of the main attractions on foot. Falmouth also has a bus service, with regular routes linking the town and coast, and the town to other destinations in Cornwall. Ferries also operate along the Fal River and connect Falmouth to other picturesque towns such as St Mawes and Truro. Taxis and rental cars are also available for those who prefer more flexibility in their travels.
Cycling is also a great option for those looking to explore the surrounding countryside and coastal villages. The South West Coast Path also passes through Falmouth, where visitors can enjoy stunning vistas while hiking along the coastline.
Where to Stay in Falmouth
Falmouth offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. For those seeking a luxury stay, there are several high-end hotels and spas, many with stunning views of the harbour and coastline. For a more budget-friendly option, there are guesthouses and hostels offering clean and comfortable rooms, some with breakfast included. Self-catering apartments and holiday homes are also popular in Falmouth, providing visitors with the opportunity to feel at home and enjoy some privacy.
Those looking for more unique experiences, like camping or glamping, can find many sites in the surrounding countryside — or more specifically, in this cabin where we stayed —, providing an excellent base for exploring the nearby beaches and areas of natural beauty.
FAQs | Falmouth, Cornwall
Is Falmouth, Cornwall Worth Visiting?
Yes, Falmouth, Cornwall is definitely worth visiting as it has a rich maritime history, scenic walking trails, beautiful beaches, stunning gardens, and a variety of cultural attractions such as art galleries and museums. Furthermore, the local food and drink scene is known for delicious Cornish pasties and fresh seafood. Overall, Falmouth offers a unique and enjoyable travel experience that is well worth the visit.
Does Falmouth Have a Town Centre?
Yes, Falmouth does have a town centre spanning from the High Street and extending all the way to Arwenack Street, Events Square, and the Maritime Museum.
How Do I Spend a Day in Falmouth?
A day in Falmouth can be spent exploring the town’s rich maritime history at Pendennis Castle and National Maritime Museum Cornwall, relaxing in the sub-tropical garden at Trebah Garden, enjoying fresh seafood, and taking in the views of the coastline by boat or by foot along the South West Coast Path. You can also visit Falmouth Art Gallery, sunbathe and swim at Gyllyngvase Beach, learn about Tudor life at St Mawes Castle, and catch a show at the Princess Pavilion in the evening.
Why Is Falmouth So Popular?
Falmouth is popular due to its rich maritime history, beautiful coastal scenery, cultural attractions such as art galleries and museums, excellent food and drink options, and a range of water sports and boating activities, including sailing and fishing. Additionally, Falmouth is easily accessible from other popular destinations in Cornwall, such as Truro and Penzance, making it an ideal base to explore the local area. All of these factors combine to make Falmouth a popular destination for visitors from all over the world.
What to Do in Falmouth When It Rains?
When it rains in Falmouth, visitors can explore indoor attractions such as the National Maritime Museum or the Falmouth Art Gallery, try some delicious local food in one of the cafes/restaurants, or watch a movie at the Phoenix Cinema.
Which is Nicer Truro or Falmouth?
It is subjective to decide which is nicer, Truro or Falmouth, as both towns have their own unique charms. Truro is the county town, with a cathedral and interesting museum, while Falmouth is a charming coastal town with a rich maritime history and many attractions, including beaches, gardens, and cultural sites. It all depends on personal preference and what you are interested in exploring.
RECAP: Top Things to Do in Falmouth, Cornwall
No matter how long your visit to Falmouth is, and whether you are interested in history, nature, savouring the finer things in life, or simply want to relax on the beach with a pasty or two, there are plenty of things to do in Falmouth that will leave you with lasting memories for years to come.
So, tell me… Isn’t it time you packed your bags and start your adventure to discover all that Falmouth has to offer?
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