Historic fishing port, student hub, and beach resort—this Cornish Riviera town does it all.
Falmouth’s picture-perfect location is befitting of its popularity. Verdant headlands slope down to a trio of sandy beaches, cobbled lanes lead the way to artisan shops and cafés, and fishing boats line the marina. Explore the seafront Pendennis Castle, visit the National Maritime History, then cruise over to St Mawes in a water taxi. There are plenty of ways to get outdoors, whether walking or cycling along the coast, fishing or bird-watching around the Fal Estuary, or coasteering, kayaking, and surfing at the beach. Campsites dot the surrounding countryside, making it easy to escape the crowds.
East of Falmouth, the South West Coast Path takes hikers on a thrilling tour of the Cornish Riviera, passing rocky coves, traditional fishing villages, and seafront castles. Beach lovers can choose from some of Cornwall’s sunniest shores—Carlyon Bay, Par Sands, and Porthpean are all popular choices, and campsites pepper the seaside. Don’t miss a visit to the Eden Project, just outside of St Austell.
Venture west of Falmouth and Cornwall’s coastal scenery becomes even more dramatic. Hike along windswept sea cliffs and discover hidden coves along the Lizard Peninsula, walk the causeway to St Michael's Mount, then check into a beachfront campsite in resorts like Helston, Hayle, or Penzance. A visit to Land’s End, the westernmost point of mainland Britain, is also a must.
The wind-ravaged shores of the Atlantic coast are a mecca for surfers, and you’ll find the best waves in Newquay and Bude. Look out for dolphins as you drive along the St Agnes Heritage Coast, visit the beaches of Perranporth and Port Isaac, then discover the legend of King Arthur at Tintagel Castle. For foodies, a pitstop in Padstow is essential—the town is renowned for its seafood.
Falmouth is one of Cornwall’s most popular summer vacation spots, so book campsites and holiday parks in advance if visiting in July and August. There’s always something going off in this student town, especially on weekends and university holidays, and the annual Oyster Festival (October) draws a crowd. Winter weather can be wet and windy in Cornwall, but Falmouth’s student population means it’s still one of the liveliest places to visit in the off-season.
You’re unlikely to run out of things to do while you’re on a camping holiday in Falmouth. The beaches alone can keep you occupied for days: there’s Castle Beach with its rock pools at low tide, Gyllyngrase and its crescent of golden sand and Swanpool on the edge of a nature reserve—and they’re just the beaches within walking distance of the town. You can, of course, take to the water; swim, surf or SUP to your heart’s content and, if you haven’t got your own gear for watersports, there are plenty of outdoor companies with equipment to hire and the expertise to teach you the ropes. There’s more sea-salt flavoured fun to be had in taking a boat trip out to sea, visiting the National Maritime Museum and eating out – perhaps at one of Rick Stein’s eateries. In town, you can browse the independent shops, visit the Falmouth Art Gallery and stroll through the sub-tropical plants of Kimberly Park Gardens.
There are more impressive and exotic plants at Trebah and Glendurgan Gardens in nearby Mawnan Smith and, on the outskirts of town, you can visit Pendennis Castle. You can take a boat to the town of St Mawes, where there’s another castle on the other side of the estuary, or go up-river to the Cornish city of Truro with its Gothic cathedral. Lizard Point, the most southerly point of England, is about 20 miles west of Falmouth and the Eden Project is 30 miles northeast of here.