Things to do in St Ives

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St Ives has one of the best beaches in Cornwall

From the newly reopened Tate gallery to wiling away a day on the golden sands: what to do during a break in St Ives

The iconic beach-front Tate gallery has had a £20m refurb – the perfect excuse for a trip to the Cornish seaside

With its postcard-perfect jumble of slate rooftops, winding alleyways and white beaches, all framed against a blue Atlantic backdrop, St Ives is rightly feted as Cornwall’s prettiest port. Generations of artists have been drawn here, and the town is awash with galleries and studios, as well as an enticing array of cafes, bistros, craft shops and salty pubs.

Day 1

What to do

First port of call is the town’s flagship gallery: the fabulous Tate St Ives reopens fully in October 2017 after a £20m refurb and extension.

Overlooking Porthmeor Beach, the gallery focuses on the work of the St Ives School, the collective of artists who worked in St Ives from the 1930s to the 1960s, and included names such as Barbara Hepworth, Terry Frost, Peter Lanyon and Naum Gabo.

More of Hepworth’s work is displayed at her former studio and garden across town, while a little further out, the renowned Leach Pottery produces wonderful, surprising ceramics.

St Ives Tate Gallery is one of the things you must see in Cornwall

Where to Eat

Lunch: For a light bite, you can’t do better than a classic Cornish pasty from local baker Pengenna Pasties; or tuck into a smoky burger with aged cheddar, beetroot and piccalilli from Blas Burgerworks

Dinner: The harbourfront has lots of dining options; enjoy sophisticated seafood at The Alba, crack your own crab at the Rum & Crab Shack or indulge in bistro classics at Porthminster Kitchen.

Afterwards, have a pint at the rustic Sloop Inn, one of Cornwall’s oldest and most famous pubs. An upper deck offers unrivalled views.

Best cafes and restaurants in St Ives

Where to Stay

Popularity brings with it peak prices, so aim to travel off-season if possible. Trevose Harbour House is a cosy, elegant B&B set along a winding backstreet.

Scandi style and sea views are on offer at the smart Primrose Valley Hotel.

The St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa has boutique style and fine views over Porthminster beach.

Best places to stay in St Ives

Day 2

What to do

St Ives is beautiful, but it would be a crime not to explore the surrounding coastline. Sightseeing boats chug out from the harbour to visit local seal colonies, and the town’s trio of beaches – Porthmeor, Porthgwidden and Porthminster – are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Along the coast, the three-mile stretch of sand that runs from Gwithian to Godrevy Towans is quite possibly Cornwall’s finest beach – and a great place to learn to surf.

Eating seafood is one of the best experiences in St Ives

Where to Eat

Breakfast: The tiny Cornish Deli is a great breakfast bet: they do a fine fry-up (meat and veggie options available), plus treats like balsamic-grilled tomatoes with scrambled eggs. For coffee, try the trendy Hub, a diner-style café overlooking the harbour.

Lunch: For homemade tarts, sharing platters, mussels and mackerel pâté, try the stylish Searoom St Ives. Alternatively, treat yourself to a Mediterranean-inspired lunch with a cracking beach view at the Porthminster Beach Café.

Treat yourself: St Ives Brewery has opened its own café where you can try its range of craft beers, including nutty Knill by Mouth and golden Boilers. Even better, head west to the village of Zennor for a night at the renowned Gurnard’s Head, a top-drawer gastropub with a glorious coastal setting. 

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