Cornwall. Wild coastline, white-sand beaches and cloud-scraping cliff tops made for hand-in-hand walks, picturesque picnics and frolicking in the waves together. Then there are romantic sea-view restaurants, artisan delights, a plethora of activities on land and sea, and a smattering of romantic locations where you can hide away in a boutique bolthole for two.
Whether you want to escape for a long weekend or a week-long holiday, whisk your lover away to one of our favourite places to stay and visit in Cornwall for couples.
Our top destination for couples needs little introduction. A foodie haven beside the sea, this Padstow’s pretty harbour town is home to a cluster of fine-dining spots helmed by celeb chefs including Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth. But there’s so much more to do than woo your lover over oysters picked from the estuary in view, eat fish landed by the local fleet and other gastronomic delicacies plucked from the surrounding coast and countryside.
Hire bikes and freewheel along the Camel Trail, pausing at Camel Valley Vineyard to sample the award-winning ‘Cornwall’ Brut bubbly. Step out along the South West Coast Path to pristine beaches, sea pools and striking viewpoints, and hop aboard a boat trip to come face-to-face to wildlife from seals and seabirds to sunfish and dolphins. Or you might prefer to browse the boutiques and galleries, then kick back with a locally-distilled gin and tonic, watching the boats chug in and out of the harbour from Greens.
Less on the radar than Cornwall’s superstar destinations, St Issey is a rural Cornish holiday haven, made for couples who want to sink into the scenery and slip on their walking boots to explore the rolling countryside on the fringes of the more popular beach locations. Sitting on the ancient pilgrimage route of the Old Saint’s Way, there’s no shortage of hikes from your front door, and you’re also close to the creeks and inlets of the Camel Estuary if you want an adventure under paddle power.
Still within easy reach of vibrant Padstow and the coast, this traditional village is like stepping into the Cornwall of yesteryear, with its historic church that dates back to Norman times, a manor house and a centuries-old pub where you can toast your Cornish getaway over a pint of locally-brewed ale and a plateful of proper pub grub.
You’ve probably seen the picture-postcard fishing village of Port Isaac on telly – as the fictional Port Wenn in Doc Martin, on the set of Poldark, or in the blockbuster movie Fishermen’s Friends. With narrow lanes and historic fishermen’s cottages tumbling to the harbour’s edge, all hemmed by some of the most staggering coastal scenery on the North Coast, it’s a romantic location, to say the least.
If you lace up your hiking boots and tackle the undulating terrain past Port Gaverne and onto the remote beach hamlet of Tregardock, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most eye-popping views in Cornwall – which really is saying something given the competition. Or, you might prefer to take it all in from a seat at one of Nathan Outlaw’s award-winning restaurants, where you can dine on just-caught seafood prepared by one of the region’s greatest chefs.
Cradled by rugged coastline at the gateway to the wild, western toe of Cornwall, St Ives is a former artists’ colony and fishing village that’s become internationally renowned for its art, food and seaside scenery. With its white-washed fishermen’s cottages now converted into swanky apartments nudging the harbour and beaches, it’s a mecca for couples looking for a fusion of art and culture, pearly beaches and pumping surf, eye-popping coastline and award-winning restaurants.
Take a twirl of the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, hit the surf or spectate over a cocktail by the sea, and step out into wave-hewn territory to work up an appetite for pasties and ice cream or Michelin-starred dining with a view.
Sandwiched between Penzance and Lamorna, Mousehole (Mow-zul) was dubbed the loveliest village in Cornwall by Dylan Thomas, and – despite its diminutive proportions – we think his accolade still stands today. Steeped in maritime heritage and once the territory of smugglers and salty seadogs, its good looks and boat-loads of charm make this harbour-side hamlet an idyllic location to cuddle up and soak up the surroundings. Take a seat on the sun deck at the Old Coastguard Hotel, where you can watch the sun-dappled sea with a fine wine in hand, keeping your eyes peeled for seals basking just offshore on St Clement’s Rock. You can take a boat trip out to get a closer look, if you like.
Head west along the coast path through the enchanting Kemyel Crease Nature Reserve to Lamorna Cove, or, you’re only 2.5 miles from the bohemian market town of Penzance, where you can walk along the only promenade in Cornwall, swim in the art deco lido and geothermal pool and admire the sea-wrapped fortress of St Michael’s Mount.
Overflowing with Mediterranean charm, St Mawes is the hangout of yachties, beach lovers and A-list celebs that come here to hide away. Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton has long been a beacon of its beachside elegance; a must-visit whether it’s for a Cornish cream tea with a view, or to fill up on sumptuous seafood a pebble’s throw from the sea. Nestled on the Roseland Peninsula, there are smugglers’ coves, craggy headlands and verdant farmland to explore hand-in-hand.
Take in the romance of it all at St Mawes Castle, castaway on a ferry to Falmouth, snorkel off St Anthony’s Head and seek out the foodie phenomenon of The Hidden Hut for an alfresco feast with your toes in the sand.
Steeped in the literature and legacy of Cornwall’s favourite author, in the chic maritime town of Fowey you’ll be swept away by the romance, mystery and beauty behind Du Maurier’s tomes. Wander cobbled waterside streets, browse the boutiques, sip fine wine and watch the boats go by, or hoist your sails for a maritime adventure.
Perhaps the most romantic walk is around Gribbin Head to Menabilly Estate – the inspiration for Manderley in Du Maurier’s Rebecca. If you’re keen to join her fan brigade, come here during the annual festival that brings together literati, artists and musicians. Or, at any time of year, find a quiet spot to yourselves when you hop on the ferry to Polruan and follow the coast path to the dreamy Lantic Bay and Lansallos Beach.
Located halfway between Padstow and Newquay, Mawgan Porth is a laid-back enclave with surfing and beach life at its heart. Check in with Kingsurf for a private surf lesson for two, then explore the low-tide nooks and crannies of the beautiful beach, and indulge in ‘fizz and chips’ beside the waves at Catch Seafood Bar and Grill.
Head over the cliffs to watch the sunset at Bedruthan Steps, with its tremendous sea stacks rising from the golden sands, then lay back and enjoy the spectacle of the starry night skies in one of Britain’s best star-gazing locations.
From cosy cottages beside the sea to intimate coastal apartments and holiday homes for couples, we’ve got a range of self-catering properties perfect for a romantic retreat. Check out our favourite accommodation for couples in Cornwall, discover the top things to do in Cornwall for couples and treat your partner to some quality time for two.
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