Top 10 things to do in Falmouth

Street near holiday cottages inFalmouth by Forever Cornwall

Laid-back but lively, Falmouth is Cornwall’s creative hub, a thriving, maritime town surrounded by glorious countryside and world-class sailing waters, with gorgeous beaches on the doorstep and a vibrant foodie scene. Its cobbled, bunting-strewn streets are packed with independent boutiques, galleries and artisan food shops, whilst the waterfront is lined with bustling bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next trip to Cornwall, here are our top 10 things to do in Falmouth.

Discover art and culture

Home to Cornwall’s top university known for the arts, design and media, Falmouth is populated by a forward-thinking, youthful crowd that keeps the town buzzing year round. The streets are lined with art shops and galleries, as well as creative spaces such as Inspire Makers, which showcases the talent of over 50 Cornish craftspeople. The brilliant Falmouth Art Gallery is free to enter and has an ever-changing programme of exhibitions, as well as events and workshops throughout the year. 

Delve into the town’s maritime history

Bigstock National Maritime Museum 44646640

Home to the world’s third deepest natural harbour, Falmouth is a busy working harbour and is steeped in a rich maritime history. You can delve into the town’s maritime past at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, which hosts different exhibits along with permanent favourites throughout the year. The town’s seafaring past is also celebrated with a number of festivals held throughout the year, including the International Sea Shanty Festival, Falmouth Classics, Falmouth Week and the Falmouth Oyster Festival. Don’t miss a trip to the impressive seaside fortress of Pendennis Castle, which defended Falmouth against invasion for 400 years — there are trails, exhibitions, collections of weaponry and cannons, panoramic coastal views, a soft play for younger visitors and cafe. 

Catch a live show

There are some brilliant venues in town that have a packed programme of music and cultural events. One of the best is the Cornish Bank, a vibrant live music venue putting on gigs and events every night of the week; they also host the annual Wanderfal Festival in spring. Also in the centre of town, the theatre and cultural centre called The Poly has a packed programme celebrating the arts, from talks and comedy to film, music, theatre and workshops for families. The Princess Pavilion is a community events venue in the beautiful Gyllyndune Garden with year-round live music and theatre events. 

Eat out

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. For seafood, 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 Seafood Bar, or Indidog for seafood and cocktails on the balcony jutting out over the harbour. There are also plenty of cool cafes — we love Stones Bakery at the top of town — and restaurants celebrating cuisines from around the globe, from South African to Turkish to Japanese.

Browse Falmouth’s indies 

The streets are full of quirky shops to browse, from vintage clothing and antiques caves, to stylish shops specialising in interiors and sustainable lifestyle products. Some of our 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.

Visit sandy beaches

People on holiday near Falmouth holiday cottages by Forever Cornwall, South Cornwall

It’s not often you see such a vibrant town within strolling distance of several gorgeous beaches, but Falmouth has some of our favourites in the area. Gyllyngvase Beach (known locally as Gylly) is a ten-minute walk from town and has Blue Flag status and is lifeguarded in summer — it’s also home to the cool, glass-fronted Gylly Beach Cafe right on the sand, with bakery next door. 

Castle Beach is great for snorkelling at high tide, when the beach disappears completely. Swanpool is a sand and shingle cove backed by a nature reserve and has a cracking cafe plus kayak hire and the wonderful Hooked on the Rocks seafood restaurant overlooking the beach. Maenporth, reachable via the coastal path from Falmouth is home to the the brilliant Falmouth Surf School with watersports hire, kids’ club, surf lessons for the over 50’s and beach yoga.

Discover Falmouth’s sandy beaches

Places to drink

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. The Chain Locker offers stylish and contemporary dining in one of Falmouth’s oldest building, whilst Beerwolf Books, a pub tucked away off the main street, cleverly combines beer with books!

Seek out a festival

Throughout the year, Falmouth hosts a huge number of events and festivals spanning literature, sport, food, Cornish heritage and maritime history. By the time summer rolls around, Falmouth’s festivities are in full swing with Falmouth Week at the beginning of August, the International Sea Shanty Festival and the Falmouth Classics.

Autumn heralds the start of the oyster dredging season and the Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates the native Fal oyster with four days of feasting and festivities for all the family. Bookworms won’t want to miss October’s Falmouth Book Festival, which brings together an amazing line-up of poets, authors and storytellers to the town to celebrate the joy of books.

Get out on the water

With so many beaches in the town, there’s are plenty of opportunities to get out on, under or in the water. On Gylly beach, children will be able to sign up to Rockpool Safaris and learn all about the creatures living on the beaches, or head underwater with diving instructors on a range of PADI courses. In nearby Swanpool, the brilliant watersports centre by the cafe offers a range of activities, from sailing, canoeing and paddleboarding to coasteering, raft building and windsurfing. Round the headland in Mylor, visitors can sign up to paddleboarding and kayaking trips with Falmouth River Watersports.

Slightly out of town

There are some brilliant places to visit, eat, and things to do slightly out of town. For restaurants, don’t miss the award-winning The Cove in Maenporth with its panoramic views across Falmouth Bay, the fabulous seafood at Hooked on the Rocks in Swanpool, or the legendary Pandora Inn, a little gem of a place hidden up Restronguet Creek. There are two beautiful gardens — the National Trust’s Glendurgan Gardens and Trebah Garden — just a few miles away, whilst the beautiful sailing waters of the Carrick Roads — the four-mile stretch of water on the upper reaches of the Fal Estuary linking Falmouth and Truro, with tributaries, creeks and narrow inlets — offer some spectacular scenery particularly around Mylor and Restronguet Creek.

Find out about all of Falmouth’s festivals and events.

Have a look at some of our lovely holiday cottages in and around Falmouth.