Falmouth, a beautiful town situated on the south coast of Cornwall, is the perfect destination for a holiday or short break. This historic university town is brimming with fun activities, great food, and some of the most beautiful beaches in England. If you're a regular visitor or a first-timer, here are 27+ top things to do in Falmouth Cornwall.
Among the many attractions that can be found here, visitors often enjoy exploring the impressive Pendennis Castle, immersing themselves in the informative National Maritime Museum, and lounging on the town's sandy beaches.
For the more adventurous, options such as climbing Jacob's Ladder, visiting great gardens, or embarking on scenic boat trips are just some of the highlights that can be found in this beautiful part of Cornwall.
Whether it's a family trip, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure, Falmouth offers something for everyone. Read on to find out more!
Historical attractions, museums & galleries in Falmouth
Pendennis Castle is a historic fortress located on a rocky headland in the town. It was built by King Henry VIII in the 1540s as part of his Device programme to protect against invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire. The castle played a vital role in defending the Carrick Roads waterway at the mouth of the River Fal, and has been used for military purposes throughout the centuries, including during the English Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, and both World Wars (my Grandad was stationed in Falmouth during World War 2). Today, Pendennis Castle is owned by English Heritage and is open to the public as a popular tourist attraction.
Visitors to Pendennis Castle can explore the castle's rich history through a range of exhibits, including interactive displays, audio-visual presentations, and guided tours. The castle's highlights include the Tudor gun deck, which offers stunning views of the surrounding coastline, and the Half Moon Battery, which was constructed during the English Civil War and features a collection of historic guns. The castle also hosts a range of events throughout the year, including reenactments, concerts, and family-friendly activities.
📍 Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4LP
Opening Times: Summer 10 am - 5pm, Winter 10 am - 4 pm
Ticket Prices: Adult £12.80, Child £7.60
St Mawes Castle
Another of Henry VIII's Tudor castles, St Mawes Castle is one of the best-preserved of Henry VIII's coastal artillery fortresses, and the most elaborately decorated.
Part of a chain of forts built between 1539 and 1545 to counter an invasion threat from Catholic France and Spain, St Mawes would have guarded the important anchorage of Carrick Roads alongside Pendennis Castle.
Visitors can take the St Mawes Ferry from Falmouth to St Mawes (across the Fal estuary), which provides an all-year-round service to over 162,000 visitors and commuters a year.
📍St Mawes Castle, Castle Drive, St Mawes, Nr Truro, Cornwall, TR2 5DE
Opening Times: Summer 10 am - 5pm, Winter 10 am - 4 pm
Ticket Prices: Adult £7.80 Child £4.70
National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Discover Cornwall's maritime history at this fascinating museum located on Discovery Quay.
The National Maritime Museum aims to enrich people's understanding of the sea and Cornwall through its exhibitions and collections. The museum's exhibitions programme brings new and diverse perspectives to maritime issues, highlighting their relevance to the present day. The museum's collection includes over 50 vessels, including boats, yachts, and canoes, as well as a range of maritime art, maps, and charts.
The museum also offers a range of events and activities throughout the year, including talks, workshops, and family-friendly activities. With its fascinating exhibitions (its major exhibition currently is Pirates - Explore Beneath the Surface) and stunning collections, it's a must-visit destination for anyone interested in maritime history and culture.
📍NMMC, Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3QY
Opening Times: 10 am - 5 pm
Ticket Prices: Adults £15.50, U18 £7.75, U5 Free
Explore the historic Falmouth Harbour, where you can watch tall ships and enjoy a cream tea at one of the many nearby cafes. The natural deep-water harbour is one of the largest in the world, making it a popular destination for boating enthusiasts and maritime aficionados.
The harbour area boasts a variety of restaurants, pubs, and bars, offering everything from fresh seafood to traditional Cornish fare. Many of these establishments also provide picturesque views of the waterfront, so it's a great place to sit back and relax.
Falmouth Art Gallery
Located in the town centre, Falmouth Art Gallery is an ideal place to explore local art and culture.
The gallery's collection includes over 2,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures, with a particular focus on British art from the 19th and 20th centuries (including works by famous artists such as Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Charles Napier Hemy, and Dame Laura Knight). The gallery also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing the work of both established and emerging artists.
The gallery is wheelchair accessible, and there are disabled parking spaces available nearby.
📍 Falmouth Art Gallery, Municipal Buildings, The Moor, Falmouth, TR11 2RT
Opening Times: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 10am - 4 pm, Wed & Sat 10 am -1 pm.
Ticket Prices: Free entry.
The Poly (also known as the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society) is a vibrant, multi-purpose art centre and community hub with a 180 capacity theatre, a state-of-the-art pottery, a variety of exhibition and meeting spaces, a fully licensed cafe/bar - as well as a shop featuring the best in local art and design.
Established in 1833, The Poly has a rich history of promoting the arts, sciences, and local industries in the region. With its diverse array of events, exhibitions, and educational opportunities, The Poly remains a significant cultural hub for visitors and locals alike.
📍 The Poly, 24 Church Street, Falmouth, TR11 3EG
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday - 10.00am - 5.00pm
The Killigrew Monument (Grade II listed), is a historic landmark that commemorates the influential Killigrew family, who played a significant role in the development of Falmouth during the 17th century. The monument stands as a testament to the family's impact on the town and its maritime heritage.
The Killigrew Monument is close to the waterfront and Falmouth's bustling town centre. It's easily accessible on foot and offers an opportunity to delve into the town's rich history and maritime heritage. The monument is located near other points of interest, such as the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Pendennis Castle, and the picturesque Falmouth Harbour, making it a convenient stop during your exploration of the town.
Falmouth University, located in Cornwall, England, is a leading creative institution offering a range of arts, media, design, and technology courses. Established in 1902 as the Falmouth School of Art, the university has grown and evolved over the years to become a renowned center for creative education in the UK. Visitors can take a historical walking tour of this renowned institution, founded by the Fox family.
The university maintains strong connections with the local community and often collaborates on various projects, including art installations, performances, and workshops. Keep an eye out for events or initiatives involving the university during your visit to Falmouth.
📍Falmouth Campus, Woodlane, Falmouth, TR11 4RH
The Princess Pavilion is a year-round live music venue and theatre complex offering a wide programme of entertainment, complemented by the stunning Gyllyngdune Gardens and vibrant Garden Cafe.
The Princess Pavilion was originally built in 1910 as a concert hall and tea room, designed to provide entertainment and leisure activities for the people of Falmouth and the surrounding areas. Over the years, the venue has evolved, hosting a diverse array of events, including live music, theatre performances, and community gatherings.
In recent years, the Princess Pavilion has undergone refurbishment and modernisation, ensuring that the historic venue can continue to serve as a cultural hub for Falmouth while preserving its architectural charm and heritage.
📍Princess Pavilion, 41 Melvill Road, Falmouth, TR11 4AR
Opening Times: Daily 10 am - 5 pm
Beaches & nature
One of the most popular beaches in Falmouth, Gyllyngvase Beach offers golden sands and crystal-clear waters. This beach is particularly suited for families, thanks to its Blue Flag status, signifying high water quality and safety standards. There are several facilities on the beach, including award winning Gylly Beach Cafe and public toilets. Gyllyngvase Beach provides ample opportunities for various water sports such as swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
It's a 15-minute walk from the centre of town and is also linked via the South West Coastpath to Swanpool Beach and Nature Reserve.
📍Gylly Beach, Cliff Road, TR11 4PA
Trebah Garden is a stunning 26-acre sub-tropical garden that descends to its own private beach on the Helford River. Renowned for its remarkable plants, lush landscape, and year-round beauty, Trebah Garden is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil escape.
The garden was initially developed in the early 19th century by Charles Fox, a member of the prominent Quaker Fox family of Falmouth. Charles, an avid horticulturist, created the garden by taking advantage of the mild Cornish climate and the sheltered valley's unique microclimate, which enabled him to grow a diverse range of exotic plants from around the world. Over the years, the garden changed hands several times and underwent various stages of development, including a period of neglect during World War II.
In 1981, the Hibbert family purchased Trebah Garden and embarked on a significant restoration project to revive its beauty. The garden was opened to the public in 1987, and since then, it has become a popular attraction, welcoming thousands of visitors each year.
Trebah features a network of winding pathways and trails that guide visitors through the garden's diverse plant collections, including rhododendrons, magnolias, hydrangeas, and numerous exotic species.
The visitor centre provides information on the history of the garden, its plant collections, and the ongoing conservation efforts. It is also home to a gift shop selling a range of locally made products, gardening items, and souvenirs.
The on-site restaurant, Trebah Kitchen, offers a delicious selection of homemade meals (the braised pork goulash is a must-try), snacks, and refreshments, using locally sourced ingredients.
📍Trebah Garden, Mawnan Smith, Near Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5JZ
Opening Times: Saturday - Wednesday from 10 am
Ticket Prices: Adult £16.50, Child £8.25, U5's Free
Swanpool Beach, located on the outskirts of Falmouth, Cornwall, is a picturesque, family-friendly beach known for its golden sands, calm waters, and stunning coastal scenery. Swanpool Beach offers a range of activities and facilities, making it an ideal spot for a day out by the sea.
It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its unique brackish lagoon, Swanpool Lake. The lake is home to various bird species and other wildlife, making it a great spot for birdwatching and nature walks.
The beach offers a range of facilities for visitors, including public toilets, a beachside café, and a car park. The Swanpool Beach Café serves delicious snacks, ice cream, and refreshments, and is well-known for its quirky ice cream flavours from Callestick Farm.
Swanpool Beach is connected to the South West Coast Path, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the beautiful Cornish coastline. You can walk along the scenic coastal path to the neighboring Gyllyngvase Beach or head in the opposite direction towards Maenporth Beach.
📍Swanpool Beach, Swanpool, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5BG
South West Coast Path
Explore the stunning South West Coast Path, stretching from Falmouth to the Roseland Peninsula, for breathtaking views and scenic landscapes.
Accessible at low tide, this hidden gem is perfect for rock pooling and exploring. With its mixture of sand and shingle, Castle Beach offers a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere compared to some of the larger, more crowded beaches in the area, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful day by the sea.
Castle Beach is connected to the South West Coast Path, allowing visitors to explore the stunning Cornish coastline with ease. The walk to Pendennis Point offers breathtaking views of Falmouth Bay and the surrounding area.
📍Castle Beach, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4NZ
Offering stunning views of Falmouth Bay and the surrounding area, this is one of the best places to take in the beauty of coastal Cornwall.
There is a little fort, known as Little Dennis, built into rocks close to high water point, which can be seen in the photo below.
Its strategic location and natural beauty make it a popular destination for visitors looking to take in the breathtaking scenery, explore local history, and enjoy a leisurely coastal walk.
📍Pendennis Point, Falmouth TR11 4WZ
Glendurgan Garden is a beautiful and historic garden owned by the National Trust. Set within a tranquil wooded valley, the garden spans over 30 acres and features a remarkable collection of subtropical plants, exotic flowers, and mature trees. Glendurgan Garden is a popular destination for nature lovers, families, and those seeking a peaceful retreat.
One of Glendurgan's most famous features is its 19th-century laurel maze, which provides a fun challenge for visitors of all ages. The garden also offers several walking trails that lead you through its diverse plant collections and stunning landscapes, including a beautiful wildflower meadow.
The on-site tea house provides a selection of homemade cakes, snacks, and refreshments, as well as hot and cold drinks. It's a lovely place to relax and refuel after exploring the gardens.
📍Glendurgan Garden, Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5JZ
Opening Times: 10 am - 5 pm Daily (although sometimes closed on Mondays so check the website)
Ticket Prices: Adult £11. Child £5.50, Family £27.50
Queen Mary Gardens
Queen Mary Gardens, is a beautifully landscaped public garden that lies adjacent to the popular Gyllyngvase Beach. Named in honour of Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, the gardens were officially opened in 1912 and have since become a peaceful oasis for both locals and visitors to enjoy.
The garden is located just a short walk from the popular Gyllyngvase Beach, making it a perfect place to escape the beach crowds and enjoy some tranquility amidst the vibrant plant life.
📍Queen Mary Gardens, Cliff Road, Falmouth, TR11 4LX
AK Wildlife Cruises
AK Wildlife Cruises offers a range of wildlife cruises, allowing visitors to explore the stunning coastline and observe the local marine wildlife. The cruises are led by experienced guides who provide informative commentary on the local ecology and wildlife.
The company's most popular cruise is the three-hour wildlife cruise, which takes visitors on a journey around Falmouth Bay. The route is never the same! The boat heads out to sea and either east or west along the cornish coat to see what wildlife they can find!
If for any reason the weather becomes too rough to leave the Carrick Roads and head offshore, they still continue with trips but head back up the Carrick Roads and explore the wonderful and wildlife-rich Fal river estuary instead.
📍AK Wildlife Cruises, Premier Marina, North Parade, Falmouth, TR11 2TD
Ticket Prices: 3 hour wildlife cruise Adult £58 Child £44
Events & festivals
If you're visiting in October, don't miss the annual Falmouth Oyster Festival, held along Church Street with the beautiful backdrop of Falmouth harbour, which celebrates the town's connection to this delicious seafood.
A highlight of the festival is the Oyster Shucking Competition, where participants race against the clock to open oysters in the fastest and most efficient manner. It's an exciting spectacle that draws crowds and adds to the festival's lively atmosphere.
With its origins as a local sailing regatta dating back at least as far as 1837, Falmouth week (held in August) is an opportunity for sailors and landlubbers to enjoy the many daytime and evening events in the picturesque seaside town of Falmouth in Cornwall.
You can expect family-friendly activities in the heart of Falmouth town on The Moor, with everything from a 40-foot Victorian carousel, alongside an eclectic market and buzzing atmosphere! The regatta is organised by the Port of Falmouth Sailing Association (PoFSA) which is a partnership of Falmouth’s six local sailing clubs.
Sea Shanty Festival
The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival is a vibrant and lively festival, usually held in June, brings together shanty singers, musicians, and visitors from all over the world to celebrate the rich maritime heritage and musical traditions of the region.
The heart of the festival lies in the numerous live performances taking place across various venues and stages throughout the town. Visitors can enjoy a diverse range of sea shanties, maritime songs, and folk music performed by local and international groups, creating a unique and spirited atmosphere.
The festival is organised by a dedicated team of volunteers and raises funds for local charities, such as the Falmouth RNLI Lifeboat. By attending the event and supporting the performers, visitors are also contributing to these vital community organisations.
More outdoor activities
Prince of Wales Pier
The Prince of Wales Pier is a prominent landmark and important transport hub in Falmouth. Located in the heart of the town, the pier, built in 1903, extends into Falmouth Harbour, offering stunning views of the surrounding area.
The pier is a major departure point for ferries connecting Falmouth to various destinations, such as St Mawes, Flushing, and the Helford River. Visitors can enjoy scenic boat rides while exploring the beautiful coastline and nearby towns and villages.
📍 Prince of Wales Pier, Falmouth, TR11 3DF
Falmouth Town Walking Tour
Falmouth Uncovered Walking Tours offer visitors a unique and engaging way to explore the charming coastal town. Led by knowledgeable and passionate local guides, these walking tours delve into the town's rich history, maritime heritage, and hidden gems, providing an unforgettable experience for history buffs, curious tourists, and even regular visitors.
They currently run 2 tours (between April and October), a history tour (taking place on Wednesdays and Sundays 11 am - 12:30 pm) and a Horrors of Falmouth Ghost tour running on Friday evening between 6 pm - 7 pm.
Booking tickets online is recommended but not necessary. Refer to the website for tour starting points.
Custom House Quay
Custom House Quay has a rich maritime history, as it once served as the heart of Falmouth's shipping and trading activities. The historic Custom House building, built in 1813, stands as a testament to the town's seafaring past.
The Quay now features a range of restaurants, cafés, and pubs, offering a diverse selection of food and drink options. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, traditional Cornish fare, or international cuisine, all while taking in the scenic waterfront views & bustling harbour.
📍Custom House Quay, Falmouth, TR11 3JT
Tee off at Falmouth Golf Club, which boasts stunning views of the surrounding coastal scenery.
Established in 1894, the club has a rich history and tradition, providing an excellent golfing experience for visitors of all skill levels. Visitors are welcome to play at Falmouth Golf Club, with competitive green fees available throughout the year.
📍 Falmouth Golf Club, Swanpool Road, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5PR
Rainy Day Activities
- Visit the National Maritime Museum Cornwall - This museum is a great place to learn about Falmouth's maritime history, and it has plenty of indoor exhibits that are perfect for a rainy day.
- Explore Falmouth Art Gallery - This gallery has a large collection of art from local and international artists, and it's a great place to spend a few hours on a rainy day.
- Watch a movie at the Phoenix Cinema - This independent cinema shows a variety of films, and it's a great place to escape the rain and enjoy a movie.
- Have a pint at a local pub - Falmouth has plenty of cosy pubs where you can relax with a pint and some good company on a rainy day. Some popular options include The Chain Locker, The Front, and The Seven Stars.
If you have a car
The iconic Eden Project is a 50-minute drive away. Or, why not take a day trip to Flambards theme park, a family-friendly theme park just a 20-minute drive from Falmouth.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, Falmouth is a family-friendly destination with plenty of activities suitable for all ages, including beautiful beaches, theme parks, museums, and gardens.
Some beaches in Falmouth have seasonal dog restrictions (typically from Easter to the end of September), while others are dog-friendly year-round. It's best to check the specific rules for the beach you plan to visit.
The summer months (June to August) are the most popular time to visit Falmouth due to the warm weather and range of outdoor activities. However, the town has plenty to offer year-round, including festivals, museums, and gardens.
Yes, there are several attractions within a short drive from Falmouth, including the Eden Project, St Ives, and the Roseland Peninsula.
Falmouth's town centre is generally accessible, with flat, paved streets and ramps for wheelchair users. Many attractions, restaurants, and accommodations offer accessible facilities. However, some beaches and coastal paths may be more challenging for those with mobility issues due to their natural terrain.
The largest and most popular beach in Falmouth, Cornwall is Gyllyngvase Beach. It is a sandy beach with clear water that is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
Falmouth: A Recap
With so many fun places to explore and activities to enjoy, Falmouth truly has something for everyone. Whether you're interested in history, the arts, or simply soaking up the sun on one of the town's beautiful beaches, you're sure to have a great day in this picturesque coastal destination. So, pack your bags and get ready to discover everything that Falmouth has to offer.
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