Located on the beautiful south coast of Cornwall is the historic seaside town of Falmouth. Boasting a sub-tropical climate, award-winning beaches and gardens, this vibrant arty town has an array of top places to eat and drink and events going on throughout the year.
It’s easy to see why Falmouth is so popular with holidaymakers and why it’s frequently named as one of the best and happiest places to live in the UK. We can 100% vouch for this as we moved from the Midlands to Ponsanooth, a village on the outskirts of Falmouth in 2007 and we love living here.
My wife Jodie Shaw is a Falmouth Estate Agent and has shared some really great tips, especially coffee shop recommendations in Falmouth!
Here’s our Luxury Cornwall guide on things to do in Falmouth along with our own personal recommendations including the best places to eat and where to stay.
Falmouth is a mecca for stand up paddleboarding and one of the best places to SUP in Cornwall. Watersports is one of the most popular things to do in Falmouth including SUP, kayaking, sea swimming, snorkelling and sailing.
The Fal Estuary is the third largest natural harbour in the world and the area known as the Carrick Roads extends 4 miles from Black Rock to Turnaware Point with nowhere being less than 1 mile wide. Its huge expanse of sheltered water is accessible in all weathers and at all states of the tide. Mylor which is 5 miles from Falmouth is very popular with the boating and sailing community. Mylor Yacht Harbour offers one of the finest marina locations on the south coast of Cornwall. The most successful sailor in Olympic history learnt his trade in these waters, local hero Sir Ben Ainslie.
Award-winning beaches is another reason why Falmouth is popular with holidaymakers. Gyllyngvase or Gylly Beach as locals call it is a Blue Flag beach and a real hive of activity. Home of Gylly Beach Cafe which by day is a chilled beach café and by night a buzzing restaurant to enjoy good food with a great atmosphere.
For those looking to hire a paddleboard then WeSup have got you covered located right on Gylly Beach next to Gylly Beach Cafe.
In the summer months, the coastline from Castle Beach to Gylly Beach has a real Californian vibe to it, hence being known as Falifornia. On calm days this whole area is perfect for swimming and stand up paddleboarding and when the occasional swell rolls in the waves become popular with body boarding and surfing.
Castle Beach located next to Pendennis Castle and Pendennis Point makes for excellent rock pooling and at high tide it’s a fantastic location for snorkelling and popular with divers.
Around the corner from Gylly beach you’ll find Swanpool, a sandy cove which is another popular spot for water-sports. You can hire SUP and kayaks from Elemental.
We recommend you walk the scenic coastal path from Gylly beach to Swanpool and when you’ve reached Swanpool you can enjoy a well deserved refreshment at Hooked on the Rocks, one of our favourite restaurants in Falmouth. The clue’s in the name, it’s all about seafood and it’s location perched above the rocks at Swanpool Beach, with a laid-back vibe, several terraces and stunning views. Much of the shellfish comes from the bay and crab and lobster are cooked to order. You must try the local scallops!
Two miles along the coast from Swanpool you’ll find Maenporth, a peaceful haven with shallow crystal clear waters. This is another popular spot for watersports and home of The Cove restaurant, another picturesque spot to enjoy the real flavour of Cornish ingredients.
LOCAL BOAT / FERRY TRIPS
A fantastic way to see Falmouth from a different perspective is from the water with various boat and ferry companies operating on the Fal River. We recommend heading over on the ferry to the picturesque town of St Mawes, travelling through areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, spotting local fishing boats and wildlife makes for a magical experience.
PUBS, CAFES & RESTAURANTS
Falmouth is a foodies dream with a wide range of exquisite eateries with the freshest local produce and seafood. From fine dining restaurants, cafes, cosy pubs, weekly markets, little one-stop fresh food shops, fish and chips, pasties, Falmouth has everything foodies could dream of.
Here are a selection of our favourite restaurants in Falmouth –
Not far from Falmouth is the Helford Passage where you’ll find the Ferryboat Inn which is such a beautiful spot.
Nearby in Mylor is the cosy Pandora Inn which is located in a spectacular setting on the edge of Restronguet Creek. Parts of the Inn date back to the 13th Century complete with flagstone floors, low-beamed ceilings (watch your head!), thatched roof and pontoon where you can enjoy great food and drink on the water.
Falmouth boasts many different independent coffee shops serving great coffee and treats ranging from vegan goodies and buttery pastries, to granny’s homemade cakes. Here’s a selection of our favourite coffee shops in Falmouth –
For coffee on the go we recommend the horsebox of Dough an Dowr located next to Queen Mary Gardens and Gylly Beach.
Falmouth’s events calendar is always spectacular, from The Sea Shanty Festival, Tall Ships Race, Falmouth Week and Falmouth Oyster Festival to name but a few.
There’s never a lull in Falmouth’s annual calendar. Be it beer festivals, music event, foodie fairs, sea shanty celebrations or sailing regattas, every month equals a lively town diary. Keep up to date with what’s going on in Falmouth here.
The Princess Pavilion located in between Castle Beach and Gyllyngvase Beach on the oceanfront plays host to music, food, drink and community events throughout the year and is nestled in the multi-award winning public garden Gyllyngdune.
Closer to the heart of the town is the vibrant Events Square which has a whole host of must-try restaurants along with festivals and events running throughout the year.
The award-winning National Maritime Museum Cornwall is a great place to visit for all ages with interactive stories of the sea, smuggling and explorers, and your own space to re-imagine the events that came before us. And be sure to head to Falmouth Art Gallery for one of the leading art collections in Cornwall.
GARDENS / PARKS
Falmouth boasts many peaceful and colourful gardens, only a short distance from town. There is Kimberley Park, Fox Rosehill Gardens, Gyllyngdune Gardens and Queen Mary Gardens. A little further afield situated on the Helford is the privately run Trebah Garden where the most recent version of The Secret Garden was filmed. Next door is the popular National Trust Glendurgan Garden. Both gardens meander down to the river Fal and boast exotic and native plants.
Close to Mylor Bridge, Enys Gardens is considered to be one of the oldest gardens in Cornwall with an impressive, relatively recent Georgian house built in the 1830’s.
HISTORY & PENDENNIS CASTLE
Falmouth is known for its deep natural harbour on the Fal Estuary which is the deepest in Europe and one of the deepest in the world. Falmouth’s world significance grew as it was appointed as the Royal Mail Packet Station in 1688. For over 150 years, the Packet Ships carried letters and news to and from different corners of the growing British Empire.
Falmouth has a rich heritage and history of pirates, sailors, and famous names including Henry VIII, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin and Daphne Du Maurier. You’ll find nautical tales and never-told secrets hidden all around Falmouth.
Falmouth is the birthplace of the classic ‘The Wind in the Willows’, by Kenneth Grahame, that originally began as a series of letters sent to his son. The first of these were written at the Greenbank Hotel located on the water’s edge and mentioned below in our recommended luxury places to stay in Falmouth.
Falmouth has been the start or finish point of various round the world record-breaking voyages. In 1969, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to single-handedly sail around the world in his yacht Suhaili. Taking 313 days, Falmouth was chosen as his port of departure and arrival. Dame Ellen MacArthur followed suit in 2007. She became the fastest person to do so then, with a time of 71 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes.
Pendennis Castle is a popular tourist attraction and whether you walk around the moat or into the imposing castle itself, you’ll be astounded by its views, history and location.
Take a wander down the old high street through the heart of the town towards Discovery Quay and you’ll pass an assortment of independent Cornish businesses including Finisterre, Botanical Atelier, and plenty of vintage and antique shops as well as the usual (Cornish) high street offerings with boutiques selling hand-made wares, books, eclectic homewares, vintage clothing and nautical supplies. Oh and not forgetting some of the world’s best pasty shops!
Falmouth also has a good number of supermarkets and amenities, bakeries, grocers and even two Tesco Express, one at each end of the high street.
WHERE TO STAY
St Michaels Resort – luxury hotel in Falmouth located opposite award-winning Gylly Beach, this superb contemporary hotel boasts an award-winning restaurant, luxury spa and a Health Club with a 20 yards swimming pool.
Endcliffe (sleeps 3) – luxury holiday apartment on Falmouth sea front boasting enviable sea views.
Dawn Catcher (sleeps 8) – luxury Famouth harbourside apartment offering unrivalled views and location with not 1 but 4 balconies!
Greenbank Hotel – luxury hotel Harbour with panoramic and traditional charm
Zawn Haven (sleeps 10) – luxury holiday cottage in the heart of Falmouth with sea views.
Olju Lodges (sleeps 6) – luxury glamping pod with hot tub in the peaceful countryside on the outskirts of Falmouth.
Mill House, Boskensoe Barns (sleeps 8) – ultimate luxury home stay on outskirts of Falmouth in Mawnan Smith with hot tub.
GETTING TO FALMOUTH
If you plan on taking public transport, you’ll be pleased to know that Falmouth is well connected to the rest of the UK.
Nearest airports to Falmouth, UK
The closest international airports to Falmouth are; Newquay (30 miles), Exeter International Airport (106 miles, Bristol (166 miles) and Bournemouth (184 miles).
Getting to Falmouth by train
Falmouth is well served by trains with journeys from most cities in the UK requiring a change at either Exeter or Truro Stations. It takes around half an hour on the train from Falmouth to Truro, where you can pick up a mainline train and be in London Paddington in just over four and half hours.