Things to do in St Ives

Here are some of our favourite things to do in St Ives.

The picturesque town of St Ives sits on a narrow peninsula on the West coast of Cornwall. With multiple sandy beaches, a rich artistic heritage and delicious local food and drink, it is unsurprisingly a popular holiday destination in the South West.

St Ives offers something for everyone, whether you are looking for outdoor adventure or culture and relaxation. Whilst you may struggle to find a man with seven wives, despite the old adage, you will not be short of attractions. in this beautiful Cornish town.

Here are some of our suggestions for what to do whilst visiting.

Things to do in St Ives - Harbour

Harbour and Town Centre

With its cobbled streets, painted cottages and quaint cafes, the town centre is quintessential Cornwall at its best. Spend a relaxing afternoon strolling along the waterfront or exploring the numerous shops, galleries and cafes on offer. Many of the shops sell local arts and crafts, as well as local produce, so there is plenty of opportunity to purchase gifts or souvenirs.

From traditional English pubs to beach cafés and seafood restaurants, there are plenty of options for savouring the local cuisine.

Beach

Beaches around St Ives

If you’re looking for something to do in St Ives, time on the beach is sure to feature. St Ives boasts a range of its own beaches to choose from as well as being a great base for accessing many other stunning points along the coast.

There are several beaches within walking distance from the town. On the West side of the town, Porthmeor Beach faces the Atlantic and is a popular choice for surfers. It holds the Blue Flag Award in 2019 for safety and water quality. You can improve your surfing skills by booking lessons with the surf school, or rent boards if you prefer to hit the waves on your own.

Porthminster Beach is a spacious and sandy, stretching away from St Ives in a golden crescent. Deckchairs, palm trees and glorious views across the Bay and towards the Godrevy Lighthouse make this beach a wonderful day out.

If you prefer a smaller, more sheltered beach, Porthgwidden Beach is found on the far side, nestled amongst craggy rock outlets.  As well as a café, there is a two-tiered row of rentable beach huts right on the beachfront make this beach a practical option for families.

St Ives Boat Tour

Island Adventures

There is no better way to experience the Cornish coastline than from the water and there are several options for boat trips from St Ives to explore further. Godrevy Island is a small island housing a lighthouse on the far side of St Ives Bay, which can also be accessed by foot if you prefer to walk the coastal paths. Birds, wildlife and stunning views in both directions make this National Trust island a worthwhile trip.

Alternatively you can take a trip out to Seal Island, home to a colony of Great Atlantic Seals. This offers a truly special opportunity to see seals in their natural habitat as well as enjoying a gorgeous view back towards the Cornish coast. Click here for details on boat trips to both islands.

Paradise Park

Things to do in St Ives with kids

Whilst sandy beaches provide endless entertainment for children, an alternative way to explore St Ives with the family is by completing a treasure trail. Taking you around the town and ending at the iconic Tate Gallery, the Treasure Trails murder mystery trail is a self-guided trail with downloadable resources to enable you to complete it at your own pace.  

A short drive from St Ives is the wildlife sanctuary Paradise Park. As well as seeing the rare birds and animals at this safari park, the children can burn off steam in the JungleBarn indoor soft play, or take a ride on the railway.

Or if you are looking for somethings to do in the rain, the St Ives Escape room Escape Time has a Chocolate Factory themed escape room that is ideal for children aged 9-12, as well as another room aimed at older teenagers or adults.

Tate

Arts and Culture

St Ives is a town that has always attracted artists, and the iconic Tate Gallery, built right on Porthmeor beach, encompasses the artistic heritage of the town. The gallery hosts a range of local artwork including work from St Ives school.

Linked to the Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is well worth a visit. This beautiful setting, the original workspace of the artist herself, is the perfect backdrop to display her various bronze, stone and wooden sculptures.

If you feel inspired to try out your own artistic talents, Jo McIntosh is a textile artist based in St Ives who runs a range of different workshops for both adults and children. Click here to find out more.

St Ives also boasts a thriving music and performing arts scene. There are regular events put on throughout the year at the Guildhall, or if you are looking for some musical entertainment, head to the Jazz Club. In the summer months a local theatre group performs Shakespeare productions outdoors, set against the backdrop of the rugged Cornish coast.

Holidaying in St Ives

St Ives is a town that captures the imagination and keeps visitors returning year after year to enjoy its beautiful surroundings and culture and climate. With plenty of things to do to occupy your time and the perfect setting to help you unwind, it is hard not to leave feeling refreshed. What’s more, the location makes it a perfect launch-pad for exploring the rest of the beautiful Cornish peninsular. Watch the live conditions at St Ives here