St Ives, Cornwall is a picturesque seaside town which is famous for its surf beaches and art scene. From sparkling blue waters and golden beaches, to cobbled streets and whitewashed cottages, St Ives isn’t lacking when it comes to views. Whether you want to be active or lay back, there are plenty of things to do in St Ives to make the most of the town.
St Ives and its art scene
The beautiful scenery of St Ives has attracted artists to its shores throughout history. Particularly during the late 19th century, many renowned artists made St Ives their home due to the quality of light and the climate, including Barbara Hepworth, Turner, Henry Moore and Whistler. It now has a name for being an esteemed art centre and there are many galleries and studios around town. The Tate St Ives opened in 1993 and overlooks Porthmeor Beach. Another notable gallery is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. The studio and garden are kept in the same conditions as when she lived there for 26 years. Her tools and materials remain untouched and the garden features some of her favourite sculptures that she placed there herself. The New Craftsman Gallery is an important gallery for local Cornish art. Established in 1962, the gallery showcases artwork by emerging and established Cornish artists, as well as contemporary crafts. The Penwith Gallery is home to the Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall. The extensive building covers three public galleries, sculpture area and archive.
These are some of the best known galleries. Whatever art you’re a fan of, you’ll be spoilt for choice in St Ives, as there are over 30 local shops and galleries to visit.
Things to do in St Ives
St Ives is known for the quality of its beaches. Porthminster Beach is perfect for families. It’s sheltered, has golden sands and when the tide is low, the shallow waters are ideal for paddling. There are plenty of facilities as well. Porthmeor Beach is another popular choice. The beach faces the Atlantic so it’s a great spot for surfing and there are a few places to eat as well. St Ives Harbour Beach is the town’s central beach. This is a sandy, family-friendly beach and is dotted with restaurants, cafes and bakeries. For a smaller beach, head to Porthgwidden Beach which is tucked under the Island. It’s very sheltered, lined with beach huts and is a lovely choice all year round.
Take a boat trip to Seal Island
Seal Island is a rocky island 3.5 miles off the coast and its name comes from the population of Atlantic grey seals that live there. There are plenty of boat trips running from the harbour that take you seal spotting. As tours have been running for decades, the seals are used to the boats and will appear undisturbed by them. If you’re lucky you might also get to see sharks, dolphins, porpoises and a wide range of sea birds.
Take a coastal walk
There are several coastal walks you can take around St Ives to appreciate the beautiful surroundings. The St Ives to Carbis Bay walk is an easy, two mile route perfect for the whole family and offers views over St Ives Bay. For a more challenging walk, the St Ives to Zennor walk starts at Porthmeor Beach and carries on for six miles. There are more climbs and drops as you pass wild scenery and pebbly coves. The St Ives to Lelant route is a 4.5 mile level walk which is great for four-legged friends and has plenty of stunning scenery.
St Ives Bay Line
If you’d rather sit back and enjoy the views, a trip on the St Ives Bay Line is a good shout. The journey starts at St Erth and sweeps along the coast path to St Ives, passing the scenic Hayle Towans Beach and Carbis Bay. Our top tip: when you get on at St Erth, find a seat on the right hand side of the train for the best views.
Try Cornish snacks
No trip to St Ives would be complete without sampling the many traditional Cornish delicacies. From signatures like stargazy pie and Cornish yarg, to favourites like Cornish pasties and cream tea, there are plenty of dishes to try – just remember to spread the jam on first before you add cream! Some popular places to get traditional Cornish food in St Ives are Olives Cafe, St Ives Bakery and The Cornish Deli.
Places to Stay in St Ives
Pedn Olva Hotel
Rising above the southern shores of St Ives Harbour and Bay is the Pedn Olva Hotel. As well as light and airy bedrooms, the hotel also offers a fantastic restaurant and bar, terraces and an outdoor heated swimming pool.
Set in St Ives’ cobbled old town, the Anchorage is a beautiful bed and breakfast dating back to the 1730s. The B&B has comfortable rooms and modern amenities, and also serves breakfasts made with locally sourced produce. The Anchorage is within close walking distance to all the attractions.
The Olive Branch
The Olive Branch offers comfy rooms and a friendly service. There are a selection of doubles, twin rooms and single rooms, and the majority of them have sea views. Set in an Edwardian townhouse a few minutes walk from the harbour, the Olive Branch is close to local amenities.
Places to Eat & Drink in St Ives
One Fish Street
This fish restaurant serves an eight course tasting menu using the best local produce. Menus change daily depending on what the catch of the day is and can range from oysters to dory to hake.
Porthmeor Beach Cafe
Porthmeor Beach Cafe is located below the Tate, right by the sea. It’s a great place to stop by for breakfast and lunch, but is particularly popular for beachside tapas and cocktails at sunset. The menu consists of contemporary dishes with plenty of vegetarian options.
Porthminster Kitchen serves Cornish style cuisine with an Asian and Mediterranean twist using fresh local seafood. It emphasises not using gluten and dairy as the backbone of their food, so it’s a great choice for people with dietary requirements. The restaurant boasts terrace dining with views across the water.
In & Around St Ives
Cornwall Riding Academy at Wheal Buller Riding School
Wheal Buller Riding School, Buller Hill, Redruth, Cornwall, TR16 6SS