Famed the world over for its white sand beaches, kissed by glass-like seas and unique natural light, St Ives has been the muse of countless artists and authors over the years. Melding intensely beautiful natural scenery with picture-postcard streets peppered with white-washed cottages and quirky shops selling everything from home-made fudge to priceless paintings, there is something for everyone here.
Whether you are surfer ready to hit peely green barrels, a leisurely stroller looking to lose yourself in tangled streets or a creative searching for inspiration, here are the top things to do in St Ives that will keep you thoroughly captivated whatever the weather:
Take the Scenic Route
Make the most of every moment of your trip to St Ives, starting with your journey in. Home to a park and ride and a huge car park, you can hop on the St Ives Bay Line at the pretty St Erth Station and enjoy a scenic route into town. Grab yourself a window seat if you can and gaze out onto stunning views of the Hayle Estuary and Carbis Bay. With tickets from as little as £3, it’s a must.
Paddle Your Toes
Boasting a plethora of gorgeous beaches, there’s nowhere better than St Ives for the ultimate toe paddle. If you are feeling a little braver, you can go for the full-body dunk and let the cathartic wash of the crystal waters glide over you in blissful waves. If you’ve perfected your pop-up, St Ives’ Porthmeor is one of West Cornwall’s best surfing beaches.
Visit the Tate
Of course, no holiday in St Ives would be complete without visiting the famous Tate St Ives. An iconic gallery overlooking the Atlantic, a trip to the Tate is an experience in itself. Put aside some time to browse the exhibitions du jour and treat your eye and mind to a hearty splash of international modern and contemporary art.
Drink Rum, Eat Crab
A summer’s day in St Ives already feels like a trapdoor to the tropics, so why not enhance the experience? At the Rum & Crab Shack, you can feast upon some of the most tongue-tantalisingly wonderful dishes you could wish for (including imaginative vegetarian and vegan dishes too), all washed down with a delicious spiced rum or cocktail. Well, when in St Ives…
Go on a Boat Trip
Boat trips in Cornwall afford a superb way of seeing the coast from a whole new point of view – especially in St Ives. With a number of local operators welcoming you to step aboard, you will have plenty of chances to get your fill of salty air and sapphire seas. And, what’s more, you will be in for a good chance of seeing sleek seabirds, doe-eyed seals and even dolphins, whales and sharks too.
Explore the Shops
From local artists’ galleries to pasty stores to well-known clothing brands, the streets and alleyways of St Ives are packed with shops and boutiques. If you are a bit of a shopaholic or have an eye for quirky knick-knacks, make you sure you set some time aside for perusing windows and ducking in and out of shops. With no two the same, you are sure to find the perfect keepsake or gift.
Lick Ice Cream
Definitely one of the top things to do in St Ives, sourcing dollops of the tastiest ice cream and zingiest sorbet is a must. Fortunately, you won’t have to go far before you stumble upon pop-up stalls or shop fronts proffering a mouth-watering range of flavours. Pick your favourite and slurp happily on the most indulgent scoops – watch out for the seagulls though!
Sit in the Sloop
One of Cornwall’s oldest inns, the Sloop has origins dating back to the early 1300s. Boasting impressive historical pedigree and a great location on the harbour front, it is as welcoming on a bracing winter’s eve with the fire’s a-crackling as a blistering summer’s day. Head inside to sit beneath the crooked beams or take a pew outside and watch the world go by.
Hone Your Hepworth
Glean a fascinating insight into the life and work of one of Britain’s most important 20th century artists. Featuring sculptures in bronze, stone and wood as well as archive material, the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden (laid out by Barbara herself) should definitely be on your list of things to do in St Ives.
Go to the Island
Originally called ‘Pendinas’, St Ives “island” is a grassy peninsula that is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip. Home to the picturesque 15th century Chapel of St Nicholas, the island rewards walkers with stunning views over the bay. It is also one of the best places in St Ives to bird-watch, particularly in autumn when migratory birds stop off for a rest.
Come and see for yourself
Tempted to discover St Ives for yourself? When planning your stay, be sure to talk to the friendly team at St. Ives Holidays (link here) who offer a hand-picked selection of over 200 holiday cottages specifically in and around St Ives.