Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in St Ives, England

England

By Felicity Long

St Ives, located on the Cornish coast of England, is a charming seaside town that offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. This picturesque town is renowned for its stunning sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant art scene, making it a popular destination for tourists from around the world.

One of the top attractions in St Ives is the Tate St Ives, an internationally acclaimed art gallery that showcases a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art. The gallery is housed in a stunning waterfront building and offers visitors the opportunity to admire works by renowned artists. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate beauty, a visit to the Tate St Ives is a must.

If you’re a nature lover, make sure to explore the beautiful St Ives Bay, which offers breathtaking coastal walks and opportunities for outdoor activities. The bay is home to numerous sandy beaches, including Porthminster Beach, Porthmeor Beach, and Carbis Bay, where you can relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy swimming in the crystal-clear waters.

For those interested in history, a trip to the St Ives Museum is highly recommended. This fascinating museum showcases the town’s rich heritage and offers insights into the local fishing industry, mining history, and maritime traditions. The museum also houses a collection of artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that provide a captivating glimpse into St Ives’ past.

In addition to its attractions, St Ives boasts a thriving food and drink scene, with a plethora of restaurants, cafes, and bars offering delicious Cornish cuisine and locally brewed beers. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample fresh seafood, cream teas, and traditional Cornish pasties while enjoying the stunning coastal views.

Whether you’re seeking art, history, nature, or simply a relaxing seaside escape, St Ives has something for everyone. Plan your visit now and discover why this picturesque town is one of England’s most beloved destinations.

Explore St. Ives Harbour

St. Ives Harbour is one of the main attractions in St. Ives, England. Known for its stunning beauty and lively atmosphere, the harbour is a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike. Whether you’re interested in enjoying the scenic views, indulging in delicious seafood, or exploring the local art scene, St. Ives Harbour has something for everyone.

One of the best ways to explore the harbour is by taking a leisurely stroll along the waterfront. As you walk along the cobbled streets, you’ll be surrounded by picturesque fishing boats and charming seaside cottages. Be sure to stop and admire the colourful sails of the local boats, known as “St. Ives luggers,” which add a vibrant touch to the already scenic landscape.

If you’re a fan of seafood, be sure to visit one of the many restaurants and cafes that line the harbour. From fresh fish and chips to mouthwatering lobster rolls, you’ll find a variety of delicious options to satisfy your cravings. Don’t forget to grab a seat with a view, so you can enjoy your meal while taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of the harbour.

In addition to the natural beauty and culinary delights, St. Ives Harbour is also known for its vibrant art scene. The town has been a magnet for artists since the 19th century, thanks to its unique light and picturesque scenery. Take some time to explore the numerous art galleries and studios that dot the harbour area, where you’ll find a diverse range of artwork, from traditional paintings to contemporary sculptures.

For those looking for a bit of adventure, St. Ives Harbour also offers various water activities. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the harbour from a different perspective, or join a boat tour to see the stunning coastline and wildlife up close. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can even try your hand at surfing, as St. Ives is known for its great waves.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, an art enthusiast, or an adrenaline junkie, St. Ives Harbour has something to offer. So, plan your visit to this charming destination and prepare to be captivated by its natural beauty, delicious cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene.

Visit Tate St. Ives

One of the must-visit attractions in St Ives is the renowned art gallery, Tate St. Ives. Located in a stunning coastal setting, the gallery showcases a wide range of modern and contemporary art.

At Tate St. Ives, you’ll find a collection of works by both local and international artists. The gallery’s exhibitions and displays change regularly, so there’s always something new and exciting to see.

One of the highlights of visiting Tate St. Ives is the opportunity to see works by famous artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. The gallery also hosts temporary exhibitions, which feature works by emerging artists, ensuring a diverse and dynamic experience for art lovers.

In addition to its impressive collection, Tate St. Ives also offers stunning views of the surrounding coastline. The gallery is situated on Porthmeor Beach, providing a picturesque backdrop for both art enthusiasts and beach lovers alike.

To make the most of your visit, be sure to check the gallery’s website for information on current exhibitions and events. Guided tours and workshops are often available, providing insight into the artists and their works.

After immersing yourself in art, you can also take some time to explore the charming town of St Ives. With its narrow cobbled streets, independent shops, and beautiful beaches, St Ives is a destination that offers something for everyone.

So, whether you’re an art lover or simply appreciate beautiful surroundings, a visit to Tate St. Ives is a must when exploring this picturesque coastal town in England.

Discover St. Ives Museum

If you want to delve into the rich history and culture of St Ives, a visit to the St Ives Museum is a must. This small but charming museum is located in the heart of town and offers a fascinating glimpse into the past of this vibrant seaside town.

The museum showcases a variety of exhibits that span different periods of history, from the town’s humble fishing village origins to its heyday as a thriving industry hub and popular tourist destination. You can learn about the local fishing industry, the artists who flocked to St Ives inspired by its beauty, and the town’s involvement in the mining and maritime industries.

One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of artwork by renowned St Ives artists, including Alfred Wallis and Barbara Hepworth. You can admire their works and gain a deeper understanding of the artistic legacy that St Ives is known for.

As you explore the museum, you’ll also come across displays of historical artifacts, photographs, and personal stories that provide a glimpse into the lives of St Ives residents throughout the years. From vintage clothing and tools to old photographs and maps, these exhibits offer a fascinating insight into the daily life and traditions of the town.

If you’re interested in the maritime history of St Ives, don’t miss the museum’s maritime section, which highlights the town’s strong connections to the sea. Learn about the local fishing traditions, boat-building industry, and the infamous St Ives Lifeboat, which has been saving lives off the coast for over a century.

Visiting the St Ives Museum is a great way to gain a deeper appreciation for the rich heritage of this picturesque town. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply curious about the past, this museum is sure to provide an informative and enjoyable experience.

Make sure to check the museum’s opening hours before planning your visit, as they may vary depending on the season. And don’t forget to leave a small donation to support the museum’s efforts in preserving and sharing the history of St Ives for future generations.

Enjoy Porthminster Beach

Porthminster Beach is one of the most popular and picturesque beaches in St Ives. With its golden sands and clear blue waters, it’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.

Whether you’re a family looking to build sandcastles, a couple wanting a romantic stroll along the shoreline, or a keen water sports enthusiast, Porthminster Beach has something for everyone.

For those seeking a bit of adventure, there are plenty of water sports available, including paddleboarding, kayaking, and even surfing lessons. The gentle waves make it an ideal spot for beginners to learn how to ride the waves.

If you prefer to stay dry, there are beautiful coastal walks that offer stunning views of the beach and the surrounding cliffs. You can also explore the rock pools and discover the fascinating marine life that calls Porthminster Beach home.

When it’s time for a break, there are several beach cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a refreshing drink. Many of them offer outdoor seating, allowing you to take in the breathtaking views while you dine.

Porthminster Beach is also conveniently located near the town center, so you can easily access all the shops, galleries, and attractions that St Ives has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a souvenir or a piece of local artwork, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.

Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, try your hand at a new water sport, or explore the local area, Porthminster Beach is a must-visit destination in St Ives.

Take a Stroll Along the South West Coast Path

If you’re looking for a scenic and invigorating way to explore the beautiful surroundings of St Ives, taking a stroll along the South West Coast Path is a must. This renowned walking trail spans over 600 miles, stretching from Minehead in Somerset all the way to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The section of the path that passes through St Ives offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and crystal-clear waters.

As you walk along the South West Coast Path, you’ll encounter stunning cliffs, secluded coves, and charming seaside villages. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as seals, dolphins, and a variety of bird species. The path is well-maintained and signposted, making it easy to navigate and suitable for walkers of all skill levels.

One highlight of the South West Coast Path is the walk from St Ives to Zennor. This 6-mile stretch takes you along dramatic cliffs and provides panoramic views of the ocean. Along the way, you’ll pass by the legendary Zennor Quoit, an ancient burial chamber, and the quaint village of Zennor itself, with its historic church and traditional pub.

Another popular section of the path is the walk from St Ives to Lelant. This 3-mile route takes you across sand dunes and offers stunning views of St Ives Bay. Keep an eye out for the picturesque St Uny Church and the stunning Porthkidney Sands beach along the way.

Whether you choose to tackle just a short section of the path or embark on a longer hiking adventure, a stroll along the South West Coast Path promises unforgettable scenery and a chance to connect with nature. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, bring plenty of water, and pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the many scenic viewpoints along the way.

Note: It’s important to be aware of the tides and weather conditions before setting out on your walk. Certain sections of the path may be closed or more challenging during high tides or stormy weather, so it’s always best to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the latest information.

So, lace up your walking shoes, breathe in the fresh sea air, and embark on a memorable journey along the South West Coast Path.

Experience the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Located in St Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. This unique museum showcases the work and life of renowned sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

The museum is housed in Hepworth’s former studio and offers a fascinating insight into her creative process and the inspiration behind her iconic sculptures. Visitors can explore the museum’s collection of sculptures, drawings, and other artworks, which span Hepworth’s career and reflect her evolving artistic style.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Sculpture Garden, a tranquil outdoor space where visitors can enjoy Hepworth’s sculptures in a natural setting. The garden features a variety of sculptures, some of which are integrated into the landscape, creating a harmonious relationship between art and nature.

As you wander through the garden, you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of birdsong and the gentle rustling of leaves, creating a peaceful atmosphere that enhances your overall experience. Whether you’re admiring the curves and textures of Hepworth’s bronze sculptures or simply enjoying the beauty of the garden, the museum offers a unique and contemplative journey through art and nature.

Visiting the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is a truly immersive experience that allows you to connect with Hepworth’s artistic vision and the natural surroundings that inspired her. It’s an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of one of Britain’s most influential sculptors and gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty and power of art.

Don’t miss: Take a moment to sit on one of the benches scattered throughout the garden and soak in the tranquil ambiance.

Try Watersports at Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach in St Ives is not only a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline, but it also offers plenty of exciting water sports activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, there is something for everyone to try and enjoy at Porthmeor Beach.

One of the most popular water sports to try at Porthmeor Beach is surfing. With its consistent and powerful waves, this beach is a perfect spot for both beginners and advanced surfers. There are several surf schools located right on the beach that offer lessons and equipment rental, so even if you have never surfed before, you can easily give it a try.

If surfing is not your thing, you can also try paddleboarding at Porthmeor Beach. Stand-up paddleboarding is a fun and relaxing activity that allows you to explore the beautiful coastline and crystal-clear waters at your own pace. You can rent paddleboards from the beach or take a guided tour to discover hidden coves and stunning rock formations along the coast.

For those looking for an adrenaline rush, Porthmeor Beach also offers kiteboarding and windsurfing opportunities. Feel the wind in your hair as you glide across the water and perform incredible tricks and jumps. Both kiteboarding and windsurfing are thrilling and challenging sports that require some skill and practice, but the experienced instructors at Porthmeor Beach can guide you through the process and help you master these exciting activities.

If you prefer a more leisurely water sport, you can try sea kayaking at Porthmeor Beach. Explore the rugged coastline, venture into sea caves, and spot local wildlife while paddling along the calm waters. There are guided tours available for those who want to learn more about the area’s history and marine life, making sea kayaking a great option for families and nature lovers.

No matter what water sport you choose to try, Porthmeor Beach offers a fantastic location and everything you need for an unforgettable experience. So, whether you are a thrill-seeker or simply want to relax and enjoy the sea, don’t miss the chance to try watersports at Porthmeor Beach during your visit to St Ives.

Indulge in Cornish Cuisine at a Local Restaurant

While visiting St Ives, one of the best ways to experience the true taste of Cornwall is to indulge in its delicious cuisine at a local restaurant. The coastal town is home to many renowned eateries that offer a range of dishes showcasing the region’s culinary heritage.

One must-try dish is Cornish pasty, which is a savory pastry filled with a mixture of meat and vegetables. These handheld treats are perfect for a quick bite while exploring the town or enjoying a picnic on the beach.

Seafood lovers will be delighted by the fresh catches available at St Ives’ seafood restaurants. Enjoy a plate of locally caught fish, such as hake or mackerel, cooked to perfection and served with a side of chips and mushy peas.

For a taste of traditional Cornish cream tea, head to one of the charming tea rooms in the town. Savor a warm scone topped with clotted cream and jam, accompanied by a pot of freshly brewed tea.

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, there are several upscale restaurants in St Ives that serve creative dishes using locally sourced ingredients. From innovative seafood creations to expertly prepared meat dishes, these restaurants offer a gastronomic adventure.

Don’t forget to wash down your meal with a glass of locally produced cider or ale, as Cornwall is known for its vibrant brewing scene.

Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply looking to immerse yourself in Cornish culture, enjoying a meal at a local restaurant in St Ives is a must-do during your visit.

Take a Boat Trip to Seal Island

If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in St Ives, then a boat trip to Seal Island is a must-do. Located just off the coast, Seal Island is home to a colony of grey seals that can be seen lounging on the rocks and swimming in the surrounding waters.

You can book a boat trip from the harbour in St Ives, and the journey out to Seal Island is a scenic and enjoyable one. As you cruise along the coastline, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the stunning views of the rugged cliffs and crystal-clear waters. Keep your eyes peeled for other wildlife, such as dolphins and seabirds, that may make an appearance along the way.

Once you reach Seal Island, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the seals. The boat will anchor nearby, allowing you to observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat. You’ll have plenty of time to take photos and simply appreciate the beauty of these majestic animals.

It’s important to remember that the seals are protected, so it’s essential to maintain a respectful distance and not disturb them. Your boat guide will provide you with all the necessary information and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and the seals.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply looking to try something new, a boat trip to Seal Island is an activity that shouldn’t be missed during your visit to St Ives. It’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with nature and create lasting memories of your time in this beautiful coastal town.

Relax at Carbis Bay Beach

If you’re looking for a peaceful and serene beach experience, Carbis Bay Beach is the perfect destination. Situated just a short distance from St Ives, this beautiful sandy beach offers breathtaking views of the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Carbis Bay Beach is known for its calm and relaxing atmosphere. The beach is sheltered by the surrounding cliffs, creating a tranquil environment that is ideal for sunbathing and picnicking. The soft golden sand is perfect for taking a leisurely stroll, building sandcastles, or simply laying back and enjoying the warm sunshine.

For those looking for a bit more adventure, Carbis Bay Beach offers a range of water activities. You can rent paddleboards, kayaks, or boats to explore the crystal-clear waters or try your hand at surfing with the help of the surf school located nearby.

After a day of relaxation or adventure, you can unwind at one of the beachside cafes or restaurants, enjoying a delicious meal or a refreshing drink. As the sun sets, Carbis Bay Beach offers a magical and romantic atmosphere, making it the perfect spot for a romantic evening stroll.

If you’re visiting St Ives, don’t miss the opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle and spend a day at the idyllic Carbis Bay Beach. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, enjoy water activities, or simply unwind, this beach is a must-visit destination.

FAQs

What are the top-rated attractions in St Ives, England?

The top-rated attractions in St Ives, England include the Tate St Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, Porthminster Beach, St Ives Harbour, and the St Ives Museum.

What can I do in St Ives, England?

In St Ives, England, you can visit art galleries, explore beautiful beaches, go for a walk along the coastal path, visit the local museums, enjoy seafood at the local restaurants, and take boat trips to see the seals.

Which museum should I visit in St Ives, England?

If you are interested in art, you should visit the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. If you want to learn more about the local history, you can visit the St Ives Museum.

Can I go swimming in St Ives, England?

Yes, St Ives has several beautiful beaches where you can go swimming, such as Porthminster Beach, Porthmeor Beach, and Carbis Bay Beach. Just make sure to check the local tide times and any safety warnings before entering the water.

What is the best time to visit St Ives, England?

The best time to visit St Ives, England is during the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is warmer and there are more outdoor activities and events happening in the town. However, please note that it can get busy during this time, so it is advisable to book accommodation and attractions in advance.

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Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

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