A Day Trip To St Ives, Cornwall

For the main chunk of our Honeymoon we were in Falmouth, Cornwall. I did my master degree at Falmouth uni and in my opinion it’s a great base to explore Cornwall from. Matt and I stayed in a fabulous airbnb townhouse on the top of the hill overlooking the sea. From here we explored Swanpool, Kynance Cove and, on one of our favourite days, St Ives.

St Ives is gorgeous all year round. It has an oceanic climate, with some of the mildest winters and warmest summers in Northern Europe. And it’s not just an illusion that it’s always sunny there – it has above the national average of sunshine per year.

St Ives Harbour

St Ives is literally award-winning, named best seaside town of 2007 by The Guardian, and best UK seaside town of both 2010 and 2011 by the British Travel Awards. And you can see why. Its harbour is sheltered by a pier and by the headland of St Ives Island, so that the old port is lovely and peaceful, with calm turquoise waters and golden sands.

If you’re driving I recommend parking at Park Ave so that you avoid all the narrow roads and pedestrians of the centre. Then it’s a short walk down to the town, although the steps on the way back up are quite steep. When you first enter the old port area, with its winding cobbled streets, you’ll be beset by tourist boats trying to entice you aboard to go whale or seal spotting. Or, do what we did and look for a spot to get coffee.

St Ives Harbour

There’s plenty to see in the old port of St Ives. We stopped at Hub, a cool sort of sea shanty style American joint, for a mid-morning coffee before exploring. If you’re looking for coffee on the go Yallah is meant to be really good too.

We had lunch booked at Porthminster Kitchen, but I wished we could try out so many more places! Among the top rated are One Fish Street, Beach Cafe Bar and Source Kitchen.

  • St Ives
  • Yallah Coffee
  • Rum & Crab
  • Porthminster Kitchen
  • St Ives
  • St Ives
  • St Ives
  • St Ives

St Ives Beaches

For me, the beaches are the real stars of St Ives. Harbour Sands, which is split into two beaches at high tide, is lovely and calm like I mentioned because of the pier. It also has amazing views of the harbour and town – but the downside is it’s not very private, and you will be observed by all the tourists milling about on the pier and the pavements.

St Ives Harbour Sands

If you make your way round the headland you’ll find Bamaluz Beach, which feels like a local secret, being at the base of a wall of cottages right on the cliff. Keep going round to get to Porthgwidden Beach, a small sandy cove flanked by rocky embankments and a row of colourful beach huts. Climb over “The Island” at St Ives Head and there in front of you is Porthmeor Beach, half a mile of golden sands beloved by families and surfers alike.

Porthmeor Beach

This is one of my top favourite beaches in Cornwall. Funnily enough, I’ve only ever been when it’s too cold to sunbathe or swim, but the sheer length of it makes it a great walk, and you get such a smashing view from the headland up the coastline.

Porthmeor Beach

This is the artsy bit of St Ives (lol it’s all artsy), where you’ll find the Tate, Penwith Gallery, Artlantic, Salthouse Gallery, Porthmeor Studios, Fish Street Gallery, The Island Gallery, and the St Ives Society of Artists. On our day trip we followed the South West Coast Path off the beach and through the streets of St Ives, poking our heads into artist studios to see if they were open for a look. We pottered around Whites Old Workshop on Porthmeor Road, a maze of studios with everything from glass blowing to ceramics.

Porthminster Kitchen

Lunchtime! Safe to say, Porthminster Kitchen takes the prize for the best food we ate our entire Honeymoon. We arrived early, right as a table on the balcony had freed up, giving us the best view of the harbour and port.

Porthminster Kitchen serves up a refreshing, playful take on Cornish cuisine, introducing a menu of smaller plates and lighter options which combine global flavours, fresh local ingredients and creative cooking. The restaurant enjoys awe-inspiring panoramic views from its location in the heart of St Ives. From your vantage point above the harbour, escape the hustle and bustle and relax on our sun-drenched terrace, or gaze out from huge windows and take in the 180° view.

Guys. The starter. Crispy fried squid with Asian salad and miso dipping sauce – this is where it’s at. We shared it and immediately ordered another one. For our mains Matt had moules marinière, and I had freshly caught cod with homemade herby gnocchi. Everything was delicious but that starter just takes the crown. The second helping arrived after we’d finished, so our meal was bookended by the amazing flavours of the sweet fruity miso sauce and salty peppery calamari.

St Ives Town

After lunch we did some more exploring. We meandered along Fore Street doing some window shopping and actual shopping. Then we followed Pednolva Walk, which skirts at the edge of the rocks until it’s interrupted by the St Ives Arts Club.

On the way back to the car park we passed through Street-An-Pol, an absolute treasure trove of hidden gems. Matt spent several minutes peering into the windows of Dragon’s Hoard, which looked to be bursting with collectibles, models, toys and all sorts. We passed Anima Mundi gallery opposite the guildhall, and I found myself drawn in by the moody depictions of the Atlantic sea, each on a massive canvas. This was a Sax Impey exhibition, a local environmental artist and mariner who paints from first hand experiences at sea.

St Ives

Verdict

I mean, it’s no hot take to say that St Ives is a must-visit for any Cornish tourist. Four beaches, an oceanic climate, hundreds of galleries, and the best food we ate on our Honeymoon – take me back to St Ives.

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St Ives
Sophie Lain
Sophie Lain

I’m Sophie, a writer and blogger living in St Albans, traveling, eating, and telling you all about it.

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