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A sailor's haven
Falmouth

Holiday cottages in Falmouth and nearby

The laid-back but lively town of Falmouth is Cornwall’s arty hub, a maritime mecca surrounded by glorious countryside and world-class sailing waters, with gorgeous beaches on the doorstep and a vibrant food and drink scene. During the summer months, its pretty bunting-strewn streets come alive with regattas and festivals that celebrate its maritime heritage and culture, like the international Sea Shanty Festival.

The Fal estuary, named the Carrick Roads, is full of pretty villages, like Flushing, Mylor and Feock. Or choose the Atlantic-facing coastline, which is great for walking and beautiful beaches like Gyllyngvase, Swanpool and Maenporth. When the clouds appear, explore the town’s cobbled streets and independent shops and galleries, enjoy local artisanal foods, or head to waterside restaurants and bustling bars. In fine weather, jump on a ferry to Flushing or St Mawes and tread the coastal footpath, or take to the water on a paddleboard or kayak to sweep around the headlands and discover hidden coves.

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The falmouth guide

Beach near holiday cottages near Falmouth by Forever Cornwall

Sheltered beaches

Cornwall’s south coast is known for its calm waters and sheltered beaches, and Falmouth has some of our favourite coves in the area. Gyllyngvase Beach is a Blue Flag beach and lifeguarded in summer, whilst Castle Beach, slightly further along, is brilliant for snorkelling at high tide when the beach disappears completely. Swanpool and Maenporth, both an easy stroll from the centre, offer plenty of space. All beaches have their individual perks, from Gylly’s popular beach cafe with relaxed decking to Swanpool’s cracking lunchtime cafe with their indulgent ‘hedgehog’ ice creams.

For coastal adventures, take to the seas in a kayak or paddleboard to discover one of the many hidden coves in the area — some totally inaccessible by land so you are likely to find a beach to yourself. When staying in one of our Falmouth holiday cottages, if you’re up for exploring, head along the coastal footpath from Swanpool towards Maenporth and seek out Sunny Cove — a sheltered, sandy beach that often goes undiscovered by both visitors and residents.

A foodie hub

Falmouth is one of Cornwall’s top culinary hubs, its cobbled lanes, bustling high street and waterside terraces packed full of cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars. Not surprisingly for a town with a still-vibrant fishing industry, fish and seafood features heavily on local menus. Head to Harbour Lights in the heart of town for the tastiest fish and chips on the go, sample delicious small plates at the tiny Verdant Seafood Bar, run by a local microbrewery, or head to Indidog for seafood and cocktails on the balcony jutting out over the harbour.

A flurry of wine bars has opened in recent years, including The Orgia Bar & Kitchen, which specialises in natural wines and small plates, and sustainable wine shop and bar, Kernowine. If you’re travelling further afield, don’t miss the award-winning restaurant The Cove in Maenporth with its panoramic views across Falmouth Bay, fabulous seafood at Hooked on the Rocks in Swanpool, or the legendary Pandora Inn, a little gem of a place hidden up Restronguet Creek.

Falmouth working boat, Forever Cornwall

A maritime mecca

Falmouth is steeped in a rich seafaring history. It’s home to the world’s third largest natural harbour, and remains a significant player on the international maritime scene. You can delve into the area’s seafaring past at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, which hosts different exhibits along with permanent favourites — visitors can climb into lifeboats, marvel at the flotilla of boats suspended in the main hall, or head down below sea level to the Tidal Zone where can look out underwater in the harbour.

The town’s maritime past is celebrated with a number of festivals held throughout the year. During the summer, the International Sea Shanty Festival brings together almost 70 sea shanty groups from across the world, whilst the Falmouth Classics, also held in June, is a three-day regatta of racing, parades and events onshore. Falmouth Week plays host to numerous sailing events over a week in August, and, in October, the start of the oyster dredging season is heralded at the Falmouth Oyster Festival. Falmouth’s Tall Ships Race, in which magnificent Class A tall ships race from Falmouth to Spain, returned to Falmouth in the summer of 2023.

Beaches
Bigstock Gyllyngvase Beach In The Summe 1834320

Gyllyngvase

Sheltered from most of the Atlantic swell, Gylly (or Gyllyngvase to give it its full name, meaning ‘shallow inlet’) is a perfect year-round swimming and paddleboard spot, and its rocky reefs on either side are great for snorkeling. Its waters are mostly flat year-round and is lifeguarded in the summer. In 2019 it was awarded Blue Flag status for its clean, safe waters and subsequently awarded a Seaside Award in 2023. This area is perfect for rock pooling; book your very own rock pool safari guide with The Rockpool Project. If you want to venture out on the water, you’ll find paddleboard and Kayak hire on the beach. The award-winning Gylly Beach Café is right on the sand, serving delicious food from its cool, contemporary glass-fronted building. You can pick up a loaf from its bakery next door.

Castle Beach

A slope leads down to a platform lined with colourful beach huts and the Castle Beach Cafe, which sells breakfast and small bites, as well as sourdough toasties, soup and ice cream. The clear waters are great for snorkelling at high tide, when the beach disappears completely; low tide reveals a narrow strip of shingle and sand, and rockpools where children can hunt for crabs. The Gylly Beach Cafe and Bakery is an easy 10-minute stroll away. If you want to try your hand at diving, Dive in Falmouth is a fantastic school and water sports centre based off this beach with a range of courses on offer. 

Swanpool Falmouth

Swanpool

To the west of Falmouth, but still only a 20-minute walk from the centre, Swanpool is a sand and shingle cove backed by a nature reserve, which is home to 100 different species of bird (pick up some bird seeds at the cafe to feed the swans and ducks). It’s not lifeguarded, but it’s a calm spot for a swim or paddle — there’s kayak and bodyboard hire at the watersports centre by the cafe.  The wonderful Hooked on the Rocks seafood restaurant & bar overlooks the nature reserve and beach, whilst the beach cafe sells teas, snacks and ice cream, including the famous Hedgehog, a decadent cone of ice cream, hazelnuts and clotted cream.

Beach near holiday cottages near Falmouth by Forever Cornwall

Maenporth

An easy 30-minute walk along the coast path from Swanpool —and just a couple of miles out of Falmouth — Maenporth has glorious views across Falmouth Bay towards Pendennis Castle. Although it isn’t lifeguarded, this beach is a great choice for families with younger children, with its beachside cafe, soft sand, sheltered waters, and stream running down the beach for paddling and dam building. At low tide, the fascinating shipwreck of the trawler Ben Asdale can be seen. There are also caves further along the beach but check out the tide times before you head off to explore. There’s a fabulous seafood restaurant tucked behind the dunes, too.

Food & Drink
Harbour Lights, Falmouth, Forever Cornwall

Fish and seafood

For the best fish and chips in town, head to Harbour Lights, just off the quay. They only source sustainable, MSC fish, with plenty of Cornish options on the menu. In good weather, take your food down to the quay behind and grab a table outside at The Front, a bring-your-own-food pub. Award-winning Indidog is tucked off the main street, its full length balcony over the harbour has brilliant views of the Fal estuary. Expect delicious fish dishes, small seafood plates and wonderful cocktails and mocktails. This quirky Verdant Seafood Bar basement taproom and tapas bar combines delicious small sharing plates (juicy scallops, crispy monkfish scampi crispy and amazing crab fries) with locally brewed craft beer from Verdant’s own brewery just outside Falmouth. Be prepared to queue in peak season.

Cafes

Top on your list should be Stones Bakery, a bakery shop and cafe at the top of town which does amazing salads, pastries, and all manner of delicious baked goods — a perfect place for a laid-back lunch. Hiding amongst Falmouth’s terraces high above the harbour, deli-cum-cafe Provedere is a good bet for a tapas lunch — it also sells an amazing range of Cornish produce, from cheeses and meats to local wine and beer. If you want to warm up after a swim, the award-winning Gylly Beach Cafe with bakery next door is brilliant. Slightly further along, the Castle Beach Cafe is also popular for its homemade cakes and great coffee.

Places to drink

Housed in one of Falmouth’s oldest buildings, the Chain Locker offers stylish and contemporary dining overlooking the bay. Indulge in award-winning beers, Polgoon wines and expertly crafted cocktails. For something more quirkier, head to Beerwolf Books, a pub tucked away off the main drag that combines beer with, er, books! A flurry of wine bars has opened in recent years, including The Orgia Bar & Kitchen, which specialises in natural wines and small plates, and Kernowine, a sustainable wine shop and bar.

Out of town

There are a number of places to eat and drink a little further out that are worth a mention. Just outside Falmouth, the Verdant Brewing Taproom, located next to their brewery in Penryn, serves authentic wood-fired pizzas alongside their delicious Verdant beer. Watch out for their live music events. Don’t miss the award-winning restaurant The Cove in Maenporth, set behind the sandy beach about a 45-minute walk from Falmouth along the coastal path. With its panoramic views across Falmouth Bay and fabulous fish dishes, Hooked on the Rocks on Swanpool beach, just outside the town, is a wonderful spot for seafood and sundowners. No trip to this patch of Cornwall is complete without a trip to the legendary Pandora Inn, a little gem of a place hidden up Restronguet Creek. It’s got its own mooring if you’re arriving by boat.

Falmouth Local Good Guide

The vibrant university town of Falmouth has a plethora of speciality food outlets, delis, bottles shops and bakeries hidden amongst its winding lanes and pretty terraced streets. There are several out of town breweries and a number of farm shops and markets in the surrounding area, like the brilliant Food Barn at Tregew in nearby Flushing, held every Saturday morning.

Find out more about buying local in with our handy Local Food Guide to Falmouth

Things to do
Bigstock National Maritime Museum 44646640

National Maritime Museum

This multi award-winning visitor centre, housed in a spectacular building on Discovery Quay in the very heart of Falmouth, celebrates the town’s seafaring heritage and is a must for visitors to the area. It’s full of fascinating, interactive displays, from the lofty main hall where a flotilla of full-size boats hang from the ceiling, to the underwater viewing window that looks right into Falmouth’s harbour. Children can sail electric boats in the sail pool, romp around in the soft play, get crafty in the arts area and play with real RNLI equipment. If you buy one ticket, it will be valid for a year, so you can come back again and again!

Pendennis Castle

This impressive Tudor fortress defended Falmouth against invasion for 400 years. It’s a spectacular spot, on a headland at the mouth of the Carrick Roads with stunning views out to sea. Now under the care of English Heritage, visitors can explore the winding stone staircases and gun rooms, and scramble up to the top for panoramic views. Discover underground tunnels where ammunition was stored and experience the castle under attack with an exciting new immersive experience. 

Galleries and arts venues

The award-winning Falmouth Art Gallery is free to enter and has wonderful collections of over 2,000 artworks, from Pre-Raphaelite paintings to local Cornish artists. They have an impressive schedule of exhibitions throughout the year, too. The live arts venue The Poly in the heart of the town has an arts cinema, workshops, exhibitions, talks, music, theatre and a makers guild, and there are also numerous galleries, pottery studios and art shops dotted around the town — we love Inspire Makers, which showcases the work of over 50 local artisans and craftspeople. 

Boat trips

Without doubt, the best way to explore the Carrick Roads is by water. Water ferries criss cross the river between Falmouth and a host of places including, St Mawes, Flushing, the National Trust’s Trelissick and Truro, so you can hop on and off whenever you want and explore the area in your own time. It’s a great way to get to know the Roseland Peninsula, with its pretty villages, secluded beaches and amazing flora and fauna. The Fal Mussel Visitor Card gives visitors unlimited travel by ferry, bus and boat, including the crossing on the King Harry Ferry.

Independent shops and boutiques

If shopping’s on the agenda then Falmouth is definitely the place to go. From clothing boutiques to antiques shops stuffed with intriguing collectables, having a browse in Falmouth’s independent shops will easily absorb an entire day if you let it. Some favourites include: Willow & Stone, which sells beautiful things for the home as well as gifts, stationery, prints and cards; Ludgate Antiques, hidden down a cobbled backstreet; the clothing store Parade selling beautiful clothes; and the Falmouth Bookseller.

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