Cornwall is famed for its rugged coastline steeped in smuggler history, quaint harbour towns and some of the best surf in the UK. Tuck into a traditional Cornish Pasty while hiking the scenic coastal paths, learn about this county’s macabre past at highway men’s hangouts, or just have a pint in your nearest local pub and enjoy some freshly caught fish.
Hostels in Cornwall have it all, from Georgian Mansion dwellings with luxury teepee tents in the grounds; farmhouse dorms and night-time bonfire gatherings; arty vibes in a converted chapel and schoolrooms; and an eco-hostel just a stone’s throw away from The Eden Project’s lush botanical gardens. Cornwall hostels are as diverse as Cornwall itself, and there are plenty of social areas, cooked breakfasts and sea views.
Both Penzance and St Ives have plenty of surf schools, so you’ll be riding the ocean waves in no time. In Penzance expect to spot palm trees as you wander among the bohemian independent shops. From Penzance head south to explore Mousehole, a fishing village situated in a picturesque cove. Or take a boat to St. Michael’s Mount and explore this remote island castle. St Ives is an art-lovers haven, with The Tate St. Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Apparently, it’s the Mediterranean-esque light that caused artists to come flocking and plenty of galleries have popped up. For a more rural adventure stay a few miles from St Austell, near the huge biodomes that form The Eden Project.
Hike the coastal paths, stopping for a traditional Cornish Pasty among the pink-heather topped cliffs and absorb the Atlantic Ocean views, while catching a sunset. If you don’t mind getting cold, go surfing, paddle-boarding or kayaking. The Eden Project houses the world’s largest indoor rainforest, so get your tropical fix here. For adventure activities perhaps flying through the sky on a roller coaster at Flambards or take a 490 metre zip-wire across Adrenalin Quarry. For cultural and historical experiences why not take a trip to Tintagel, Boscastle, The Tate St Ives, or watch a performance at the cliff-top Minack Theatre in Land’s End.
Buddying up with some fellow backpackers and hiring a car offers the most freedom to explore Cornwall. But, if that’s not an option there are various bus and train routes throughout the county. For a day exploring the local town and surrounding areas there are usually places to hire bikes, kayaks to explore the ocean and of course there’s always the option to hike the coastal paths. Cornwall does have an airport, so you may fly into Newquay but it’s more common to arrive by train into Exeter (from London) and then travel down by bus or train from this Devonshire city.