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13 Things to do in Newquay, Cornwall in 2023

13 Things to do in Newquay, Cornwall in 2023

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There is an abundance of things to do in Newquay, Cornwall, much of it outside and along the coastline. 

When people think of England, surfing doesn’t necessarily spring immediately to mind. However, Newquay in Cornwall is the country’s top destination for catching waves thanks to its many fine beaches and large Atlantic swells. So, let’s discover all of the things to do in Newquay!

There are twelve beaches located in and around the town making it the perfect destination for holidaymakers. From surfing and bodyboarding to swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and more, Newquay is the perfect destination for those looking for some seaside fun.

There are plenty of other wonderful Newquay attractions including stately homes, parks and gardens, museums, bars, restaurants, and clubs.

About Newquay

Newquay is a small port town on the north Cornwall coast in southwest England. It is a popular holiday destination and attracts many young people thanks to its vibrant surf scene.

The town has a population of just 20,300 people. However, this number swells every summer as holidaymakers head for the beaches.

As well as a thriving tourist industry, the town also makes a living from its fishing fleet based at the harbor in the center of town.

Top Tip: If you want to avoid the worst of the crowds, then visit Newquay outside of school summer holidays and half-term.

Let’s dive right in and discover what to see in Newquay!

beaches of cornwall

One of the best things to do in Newquay is just to explore the different beaches and bays.

Awesome Things to do in Newquay

One of the most popular activities in Newquay is to hit one of the many beaches in and around the town. There are twelve in total within easy reach of the center, from busy surf spots to shady coves and bays.

Below we will explore some of the most popular Newquay beaches as well as other top attractions in the town.

1. Fistral Beach

Fistral is one of Cornwall’s most famous surfing beaches and is located just 2km west of Newquay’s railway station. Here you can find the International Surfing Centre; a large complex featuring shops, restaurants, and surf hire.

The beach is patrolled by lifeguards from April to October making it the perfect place for all the family. If you are new to surfing, be sure to pay a visit to the Fistral Beach Surf School which can help you catch that perfect wave!

See the location on Google here

surfing in newquay

Surfing is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Newquay throughout the year. Even in summer, you’ll still want a wetsuit in those cold waters if you plan to stay in for a while!

2. Towan Beach

Towan Beach is located right in the city center and is one of the busiest beaches in town. This dog-friendly beach is popular with families and surfers alike. There is a rope bridge to nearby Towan Island which is a fun thing to do in Newquay if you don’t mind heights!

The proximity of Towan to the town center means there are plenty of nearby cafes and restaurants, and the Blue Reef Aquarium (see below) is just a few meters from the sand.

See the location on Google here

walking along the cliffs in newquay

There are so many beautiful cliffs and walks to enjoy around Newquay.

3. The Island

Visiting “The Island” is one of the more unusual things to do in Newquay. This 70ft high rocky outcrop is reachable by land at low tide, but when the tide comes in it gets completely cut off and is only reachable by a swinging rope bridge.

This rope bridge has won awards for its structural heritage and while it may feel a little frightening to cross, it will lead you to one of the most beautiful houses in Newquay and if you want to splurge, it’s a wonderful place to spend the night. It is truly like having your own island for the night

See the location on Google here

4. Tolcarne Beach

Tolcarne in Newquay Bay is another town center beach and just 100 meters from the railway station. If you simply can’t wait to dive into Cornwall’s clean, blue waters then this is the best place to start. This curved stretch of the bay is over 2km long so you will be sure to find a perfect spot, even on busy days.

Lifeguards patrol Tolcarne from May to September. Like Fistral, there are surf hire shops, cafes, and restaurants. At low tide, there are plenty of rockpools to discover. “Rockpooling” (looking for interesting marine life when the tide goes out) is one of the most fun activities in Newquay for kids and adults alike!

See the location on Google here

surfers in the water

Surfers enjoying the waves in Newquay.

5. Watergate Bay

If you are looking for a vast expanse of beautiful golden sandy beach backed by towering cliffs and sand-dunes, then Watergate Beach is one of the best places to visit in Newquay. The bay is a 15-minute drive or 45-minute walk from the center of Newquay and is well worth a visit for its sweeping ocean vistas.

Watergate is less developed than the town center beaches so for those looking to get back to nature, this is the perfect spot. As with the other beaches, the large Atlantic swells make it great for surfing.

See the location on Google here

6. Admire the Views Around Newquay Harbor

Nothing says “Cornwall” like fleets of brightly colored fishing boats bobbing about in a picturesque harbor, and Newquay Harbor is just such an example. There are lots of pubs and restaurants lining the harbor making it the perfect place to stop for lunch and admire the views.

The Boathouse is a particular favorite for great seafood in a casual setting. They have some seriously fantastic fresh seafood dishes like mussels, crab, and prawns all cooked to perfection and you can sit on a bench right on the beach. It doesn’t get much better than that. They also distill their own gin! It’s well worth a visit.

See the location on Google here

7. Trenance Cottages and Gardens

Cornwall has more than its fair share of fairy-tale cottages dating back centuries, and the Trenance Cottages are no exception. These Grade II listed buildings date back to the 1800s and have been painstakingly restored for visitors.

The cottages feature a small museum, beautiful gardens, and a tea room where you can indulge in one of Cornwall’s famous cream teas.

See the location on Google here

boats in a harbor at sunset

One of the best things to do in Newquay is to get out on the water!

8. Take the Coastal Walk from Holywell to Crantock

One of the best things to do near Newquay is to take the 4.7-mile circular walk from Holywell Head to Crantock Beach. The hike encompasses beaches, coves, caves, rock pools, coastal cliff paths, and undulating meadows full of poppies, primroses and cowslips in summer.

The trail starts at the headland of Holywell Bay, but you can join it anywhere along the route from Holywell, Porth Joke, or Crantock. The route passes by the Bowgie Inn where you can stop for a bite of lunch or light refreshment along the way.

9. Explore the Gannel Estuary

The estuary of the River Gannel, which meets the Atlantic in Newquay is one of the most picturesque places to see in Newquay. With sweeping sand dunes, old cottages, and boats, this natural expanse is also home to a vast array of birdlife.

There are many ways to explore the estuary including on foot, by kayak, or even on horseback. The estuary is within walking distance from the town center and also forms part of the larger Newquay to Crantock walk.

views of the ocean and rocks

One of the many views you’ll discover as you walk along the coast in Newquay.

What to do in Newquay When it Rains

It’s no surprise that the British weather has something of a bad rep. It’s possible you may experience the odd downpour while visiting Newquay’s attractions, so here we will list a few excellent places to visit in Newquay when it rains.

10. Blue Reef Aquarium

No trip to Cornwall is complete without searching for interesting marine life in rock pools where you can find crabs, starfish, anemones and more. If this just whets your appetite for marine biology, then be sure to head to the Blue Reef Aquarium, one of Newquay’s top attractions!

As well as the beautiful displays, there are also hands-on exhibits and daily talks about the local marine life and habitats. You can book tickets online on the official website. The aquarium is in the center of town just by Towan Beach.

See the location on Google here

11. Oasis Fun Pool

Are you desperate for a dip, but the heavy skies are making the beaches seem less appealing? Worry not, for the Oasis Fun Pool is a great way to spend a rainy day in Newquay. With both indoor and outdoor pools, rapids, water flumes and much more, Oasis Fun Pool is a great place for the whole family!

The pool is located within the Hendra Holiday Park but is open to non-guests too. Booking in advance is advised and you can get tickets on the official website.

See the location on Google here

12. Newquay Heritage Museum

The Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum is one of the best free things to do in Newquay and charts the town’s history from the stone age to the present day.

The museum is home to many interesting displays and exhibits with a focus on Cornwall’s fishing heritage, lifeboats and tourism.

Although entry is free, please consider leaving a donation as these are vital for the upkeep of the museum.

See the location on Google here

stairs in newquay near the beach

Things to do near Newquay

If you are spending quite a lot of time in this region, then you may want to head out of Newquay and explore what there is to do nearby. Don’t miss out on this nearby spot.

13. Bedruthan Steps

The Bedruthan Steps are a series of sea stacks stretching out of the north Atlantic between Newquay and Padstow. This dramatic stretch of coastline has been a popular destination since at least the 1800s.

Until 2019 you could descend a steep set of steps from the clifftop down to the beach, but unfortunately, a landslide has rendered this walkway unsafe and is closed until further notice. This in no way affects the dramatic views and Bedruthan is still one of the best things to do around Newquay thanks to its unspoiled coastline.

See the location on Google here

Getting to Newquay

By Car: From London, it’s a roughly five-hour drive to Newquay. Take the M4, M5 and A30. Although, if you are not a fan of motorway driving and want something more scenic, take the A303 followed by the A30.

By Bus: National Express has direct buses (including overnight buses) between London and Newquay. The journey time is around 8-hours and tickets start from as little as £22 ($29).

By Train: There are no direct trains from London to Newquay, but it is possible to make the trip changing in Par near St Austell or Bodmin Parkway. The journey time is around eight hours with the change and tickets start from £66 ($87).

By Plane: Newquay has a small international airport six miles to the east of town. During peak season there are flights to and from the rest of the UK, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, and Spain. Expect to pay around £25 ($33) for a taxi from the airport into town.

Getting Around Newquay

Newquay is small enough to get to all the major beaches and attractions on foot. There are local and national bus services that can take you further afield, and local taxis for short trips.

Places to Stay in Newquay

As Newquay is very much a holiday destination, there is no shortage of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes. From hip hostels, charming holiday cottages to five-star hotels, you will be sure to find something perfect for your stay.

So, I hope we have answered your questions about what to do in Newquay, Cornwall! From surfing and swimming to coastal walks and cream teas, there is truly something for everyone in this charming Cornish holiday town.

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