The best things to do in winter in Cornwall

We love Winter in Cornwall, and reckon it might just about be the best time of year to visit. Catch a good day and you’ll experience the freshest and clearest air that the UK can offer, and see Cornwall at its most dramatic and majestic. It’s a well known secret locally that winter’s when the fun is had. So if you decide to make Cornwall your winter port of call, here’s our list of the top 12 things you should be doing to make the most of the season!

An empty beach in winter in cornwall with clear blue skies reflecting into a pool on the beach
You'll often have the beach to yourself in winter

Go the beach
It’s no surprise that this tops our list. At any time of the year Cornwall is all about the beaches, and with over 300 to choose from, winter is a great time to introduce your wellies to the sand. With the crisp air, vivid colours. wild waves and lack of crowds, the beaches take on a different form in winter. Nothing beats wrapping up warm and going for a walk along an empty beach… and finding a nice cafe for a hot chocolate to reward yourself afterwards!

Woodland walks 
Cornwall has some fantastic woodlands, and as the autumn ebbs into winter, leaving the trees bare, they take on a magical, almost monochrome quality. It’s a great time for spotting wildlife. Robins are plentiful at Tehidy Woods, and we also love winter walks around the Trelissick estate and Argal lake, the latter of which you can catch all kinds of wintering wild foul, swans and heron. 

Watch a storm 
In winter, mother nature brings drama to the shores of Cornwall on a frequent basis, and Cornwall has some of the best storm watching hot spots in the UK. There’s nothing quite like standing on the safety of land and watching the fury of the ocean unleash itself against the cliffs, or bring the sea sweeping violently up beaches that look like millponds in the calm of summer. Just remember that if you do go storm watching, please take care! 

Huge winter storm waves hit Porthleven in Cornwall, the water washes over the harbour and onto the sea wall
No wonder Porthleven is one of the UK's stormwatching hotspots

Hike the Southwest coastpath
We’ve talked elsewhere about how Cornwalls panoramas and visibility are at their best during winter, and there’s probably no better place to enjoy the views that Cornwall has to offer than from its 422 miles of coastpath. Add to that the moving scenery that is conjured by the Cornish weather and you’ll have a feast of memorable hikes to choose from on your visit. Remember, we’ve hiked all over Cornwall so are happy to recommend hikes for all abilities and weathers during your stay with us!

Cornish Christmas and New Year
Christmas in Cornwall is special. Whether you’re visiting the lights of Mousehole, the Christmas markets in Falmouth or Truro, or just having a blow out in the fresh air over the festive season, Cornwall has a bunch of lovely spectacles which guarantee a memorable time. We recommend going to see The Rogue Theatre who do an annual Performance in the Woods at Tehidy which is both unique and magical by equal measure. Meanwhile you can catch Father Christmas at Trelissick throughout December where they also light up the woodland for a purely enchanting sight. At New Year you can watch the fireworks over Falmouth and the join hundreds of others for a New Year’s Day swim at Gyllyngvase Beach… it’s sure to cure even the most severe of hangovers!

Go for a surf 
Many of Cornwall’s best surf beaches look like surfer soup during the summer, with throngs of riders competing for waves in the lineup. However it’s actually during the winter that the surf is at its best, with consistent ground swells hitting the coast from deep out in the Atlantic. Even for beginners, winter is a good time to surf, with many surf schools remaining open, but also with less clients meaning that you’ll get more focussed lessons. Of course, winter being winter, just make sure to bring a wetsuit… and hood, and gloves and boots!

Surfer in winter in cornwall with cliff in the background and mines on the cliffs
Get barrelled in some chilly waves

Pubs! 
Let’s face it, in the depths of winter on a cold, wet day, there’s nothing quite like pitching up in a friendly pub and whiling away a couple of hours enjoying an open fire and a view. Cornwall has a bunch of pubs with both of these. So if there’s a storm raging outside, grab a pint, and bite to eat and watch the action unfold outside!

Indoor activities 
You might have noticed that most of our suggestions are things to be done outdoors, and we certainly thing that getting out and about will get you up close to the best of Cornwall in winter. But if the weather does take a turn for the worse then winter is a great time to visit some of Cornwalls many attractions… minus the crowds! It’s also worth bearing in mind that during the winter many attractions know that they need to cater more to the local market that have stayed away during the summer. Therefore many of them put on events and offers to bring people in. Eden for example has ice-skating every year which is always a real hit!

Stargazing 
We’ve mentioned the crisp air right? Well, that plus the long nights mean that winter is the perfect time for some stargazing. Cornwall even has one of the UK’s only designated ‘dark sky zones‘ making it a must go destination for lovers of the night sky. But even for those with a more casual approach to stargazing, Cornwall’s low levels of light pollution, and wide open spaces mean that there’s loads of opportunities to catch glimpses of satellites, meteors, planets and stars with the naked eye… you can often see the Milky Way at near the horizon during the cooler months. At Cornish Vistas, because of our rural location we’re blessed to have access to some wonderful night skies (and we have a fire pit to keep you warm whilst viewing.

Stars and galaxies seen above a Cornish beach on a clear winter night
Clear air + dark skies = epic stargazing

Take some photos
We’ve mentioned that the scenery in Cornwall is epic during the winter, right? And that there’s no crowds? Well, add those two factors together and what you get is a wonderland for photographers. It doesn’t matter if you want to snap away on your iPhone, or compose the perfect landscape with your pro rated DSLR, your Cornish winter muse will be the perfect subject for those Instagram-able images. 

Go for a swim
Brace yourself. If you’re one for wild swimming then surely the ultimate challenge is a winter dip. But with water temperatures rarely dipping below 9°C at their coldest, the water isn’t actually that bad… it’s more the race back up the beach that you need to brave!

Stay in
We’ve probably exhausted you with our suggestions, but with all that getting out and about it’s easy to forget that winter is also a great time to hunker down, turn on the telly, and enjoy some festive hits or just have a bit of Netflix and chill. So if you just want to relax, or if it’s too wild outside to venture beyond the front door, we’ve got you covered. With wide reaching countryside views you can watch the winter action unfold from your window!

A comfortable yellow sofa facing roaring fire inside a traditional Cornish cottage in winter
Enjoy a cozy winter in Little Avalon

Cornish Vistas holiday cottages near Falmouth are perfect setting for your visit to Cornwall. Just 10 minutes from the centre of Falmouth and some of Cornwall’s best beaches, you can choose from ‘Little Avalon’ our 1850s labourers cottage, or ‘The Pigsty’ our converted barn.