When it comes to camping in Cornwall, artsy, crafty, sun-bathed St Ives is undoubtedly one of the top destinations. It's not just the art galleries, independent shops and refined cafés that make it such a firm favourite but also the natural, seaside splendour of the place. There are beaches within easy reach, excellent water sports facilities and a warm climate that is recognised across the UK. Then, of course, there are the St Ives campsites. There are a wealth of great camping and glamping sites within easy reach of town so it’s no surprise that St Ives is regularly highlighted as one of the best places for a family holiday in the UK.
Cornish holidays don’t come much better than camping or glamping in St Ives. This small but swish fishing town offers a blend of sandy beaches and art galleries that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Located on the north coast of Cornwall, it’s also a great base from which to explore the rest of this south-western county with Land’s End to the west, the Lizard to the south and bustling Newquay north-east along the coast. You can spend sunny days on the beach and rainy ones exploring the town’s galleries, eateries and independent shops before bedding down at some of the fantastic camping and glamping sites we’ve found in and around St Ives. Whether you want a pitch with a sea view, a campsite in Cornish countryside or a bell tent, yurt or shepherds hut near St Ives we should have something to suit you.
There's a reason why St Ives has been named the British Travel Awards' Best UK Seaside Town on two separate occasions — there are few places better to get your dose of sun and sand than here. There are plenty of things to do in the Cornish town, from summer days on the beach through to visiting its high street and harbour. Go to the beach Spending the day at the seaside will be at the top of most people’s list when visiting St Ives. The shape of the St Ives peninsula means there’s a beach facing every direction, so whether you’re heading out to take photos at sunrise or going for a paddle at sunset, there’ll be a beach that’s bathed in sunshine (assuming the sun is out, of course). Choose Porthmeor or Porthminster Blue Flag beaches for top-quality surfing and swimming, with the latter being the most popular beach in the region with its sensational views across to Godrevy Lighthouse. The sheltered Porthgwidden is the smallest beach in the area, though proves to be a sun-trap throughout the summer so is sought out among those looking to top up their town. The St Ives Harbour beach lets you admire the boats from your spot on the shore, while Cardis Bay is just a mile from the town and with its tranquil waters making it an ideal spot for parents with toddlers and younger children. Enjoy the town Wandering the maze of independent shops and galleries in the town is a nice way to while away an afternoon and a trip to Tate St Ives is a great place for rainy days. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is another cultural hotspot, one of the region's most influential artists and many of her sculptures to be found here, along with subtropical plants to admire. The historic St Ives Society of Artists is available to visit, too, which features changing exhibitions. Visitors can walk along its cobbled streets to the harbour, too, with its working port letting you watch the fishermen go by in their boats with an ice cream in hand. Shops, galleries, cafes and pubs line its street, letting you dine out while overlooking the harbour. Getting active If browsing the art galleries isn't your cup of tea, how about something more active? You can go for a run or ramble on the South West Coast Path, the UK's longest national trail. The 630-mile route takes explorers around the coastline of the southwest peninsula and can be picked up from St Ives, the part of the walk that takes ramblers to Pendeen. We wouldn't recommend this 14-mile walk in one sitting, but even following a portion of the trail affords visitors some magnificent views. For those looking to get active in the water, a stand-up paddleboard or kayak can be hired at the beach, while you can also take a boat trip to seal island. Your campsite hosts should be able to give you insider tips on the local attractions and there’s more information on things to do during a camping holiday in St Ives at the town’s tourist information site too.
St Ives is an ideal destination to take your kids, with the Cornish town being a hugely popular destination for family holidays. With many of its campsites within close proximity to its best attractions, such as its gorgeous beaches, St Ives makes for a laid-back trip to take with the kids in tow. The kids will love the family-friendly Blue Flag beach of Porthminster, which is safe for shallow swimming with dogs only welcome in the winter, and views of Godreby Lighthouse in the distance. It's spacious, too, giving you and your clan plenty of room to find your available spot in the sand. If you have younger children, we'd recommend Cardis Bay, which has far less surf than its counterparts making it ideal for toddlers going for a supervised paddle. If you're looking to start your holiday off with a bang, then you could even book a trip with the St Ives Bay Line, a beautiful train journey from St Erth to St Ives that will provide you with an incredible view of the coast. For evening entertainment, Kidz R Us is an award-winning youth theatre group putting on events throughout the year. The group works with around 100 children, teenagers and young adults a year, putting out shows for everyone to enjoy from musicals to pantomimes.
Artsy, crafty, seaside St Ives is the place to go in southwest Cornwall and for good reason. Four fantastic beaches, a town rich with shops, galleries and eateries, plus a host of excellent campsites within easy reach. What more could you ask for?