Top ten things to do in Newquay
Newquay is one of Cornwall’s most famous holiday spots, and for good reason. It’s got everything you could need for a seaside town retreat — not only does the dramatic coastline boast ten stunning beaches within less than eight miles of the town, there are wildlife centres, festivals, rejuvenating spas and National Trust properties, too. Here’s our pick of the top ten things to do on holiday in and around Newquay.
Catch some surf
Newquay is a mecca for seasoned surfers, but the variety of beaches means there’s a wave for everyone, no matter your skill level. For beginners, learning to surf at the sheltered Towan Beach right next to the picturesque harbour is a great way to start. If you’re ready to move on to the bigger stuff, magnificent Fistral with her long dunes and rocky headlands won’t disappoint when the swell gets big. And, for swimmers and bodyboarders as well as surfers, beautiful Crantock is a little paradise away from the hustle and bustle of Newquay town.
Eat and drink
World class surf has brought with it a multitude of cultures to the town, with Australian, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese restaurants strung along the streets. There’s also a lively street food restaurant in Newquay harbour. There are some fabulous seafood restaurants at Fistral beach, such as The Fish House and Rick Stein’s Restaurant where dishes are inspired by fish brought in on the local day boats. Emily Scott’s restaurant in neighbouring Watergate Bay has magical bay views and serves up delicious seafood and an ethical approach to cooking. Don’t forget to check out all the amazing local food offerings too; from amazing vineyards and breweries to bakeries, bottles shops and fantastic farmers’ markets, Newquay produces an incredible variety of local food and drink.
See our Local Food Guide to Newquay
Meet the animals
Newquay has Cornwall’s largest zoo, home to hundreds of species of animals large and small. It’s a brilliant place for a rainy day, and a great way to keep the little ones entertained when the weather’s not up to much. The zoo is within walking distance of the town, so you can leave the car behind. If sea life is more your thing, Newquay’s Aquarium is the best (and driest) way to get close to marine wildlife. It’s home to exotic and local species, holds daily talks and feeding demonstrations, and boasts an underwater tunnel offering the best views of these aquatic inhabitants.
Chill at Lusty Glaze
On the outskirts of Newquay is the award-winning beach of Lusty Glaze. Flanked by high cliffs, it’s a sheltered and secluded spot, with a brilliant watersports and adventure centre right on the sand offering paddleboard, surf and abseiling lessons. There is a fabulous cafe and restaurant on the beach serving up great food; don’t miss their popular live music ‘sundowner sessions’ in summer and ‘woodburner sessions’ in winter.
Visit National Trust’s Trerice House and Gardens
Step back in time on a visit to this exquisite Elizabethan manor house and garden. You can book a tour around the house to see its full period features in all their glory and learn about the interesting history of this stately home. The gardens are a perfect place to unwind with a book, and the house is only a 15-minute drive from Newquay so you can easily fit this in during a busy holiday.
Indulge in a spa day
Fancy a day away from the waves? If it’s relaxation you’re after, Newquay has several day spas within a short distance of the town. The adults-only Fistral Spa overlooking Fistral beach has a heated indoor pool, hot tub and steam room and has various packages on offer, from a rejuvenating half-day spa with facial and mud cocoon to a ‘twilight and dine’ package which includes dinner at the award-winning restaurant. Alternatively, the Headland Hotel & Spa, slightly further north, offers a range of treatments and spa days, from massages to facials and hot stone treatments; its new Aqua Club is a complex of six pools plus sundeck and restaurant — well worth paying extra for.
Go to a festival
If you’re looking for a reason to pop down, why not hinge it around one of these events? The biggest music and surf festival in Cornwall, Boardmasters Festival continues to bring people in their thousands. Foodies will love Newquay Fish Festival with stalls, cooking demonstrations, music and craft stalls, all located along Newquay’s quay. Or if beer’s more your thing, head to Newquay Beer Festival for tastings of over 50 beers from across Cornwall and the UK, plus delicious food and live entertainment.
Hit the beach
Along Newquay’s coastline there are ten incredible beaches (seven of which are within walking distance of the town). Most of them are at least half a mile long — some even bigger at low tide — providing plenty of space to explore. Lifeguards cover most of these beaches from March through until September and you’ll be able to watch the surfers harness the Atlantic rollers from the shore. Whichever sandy stretch you choose to relax on, you’ll be spoilt for choice – and the best thing is, regardless of where you choose to lay your towel, you are never more than ten minutes from a shop, cafe or restaurant.
Explore tiny coves
Discover secret coves along this beautiful stretch of coastline — Polly Joke is a particularly special one — or walk amongst the fields of scarlet poppies that bloom on the cliffs between Holywell Bay and Crantock in the summer. Walk out to one of many of Newquay’s headlands and watch for blowholes — a particularly spectacular experience when the wind whips up the crashing waves below. Or wander a little further along and walk the coast path to the dramatic Bedruthan Steps — if you wait until dark you’ll be treated to some wonderful starry skies.
Explore further afield
With numerous world-class beaches in the surrounding area, Newquay is perfectly suited to those who want to explore. Holywell is famed for its towering dunes and iconic twin rocks off the coast, which have been featured in BBC’s Poldark; with no settlements in sight, this beach feels wonderfully unspoilt for a popular holiday destination. About four miles north of Newquay, this is a westerly facing beach with vast golden sands and great surf. There’s a lot of space, so you won’t be fighting for a spot on the beach.