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The Best Things to See & Do in St Ives, Cornwall

The town of St. Ives, Cornwall is a delightfully warm place, not just because of its pleasant Cornish climate, but because of the simple fact that everything you can see and do in St. Ives is sweet and charming. From the Tate Art Museum to its wide and wonderful selection of independent shops and restaurants, this little Cornish town offers visitors a wholesome and relaxing day out, especially for couples and families.

st ives

A Guide to St Ives, Cornwall

St. Ives is a small Cornish town, situated on the northern coast of the county, and is primarily known for its beaches—where surfing is a popular pastime—but the town is also bursting at the seams with creativity. The town’s Tate Art Museum is only bolstered by its lively local art scene and the sheer selection of thriving independent businesses and small galleries.

Tate St Ives

Much like its sister galleries in London—Tate Britain and Tate Modern—Tate St Ives is a dynamic modern art gallery that offers visitors a wide selection of art from various disciplines. Locals and frequent visitors are fortunate enough to enjoy a rotating selection of exhibitions that changes frequently.

tate st ives

For this reason, visitors to St Ives need to pay close attention to what’s on at Tate St Ives before visiting. Each visit can provide a unique and exciting surprise, and the sheer breadth and scope of art on offer means that there’s something here for everyone. You can check what’s on at the Tate St Ives website.

Porthmeor Beach

Located right across the street from the Tate St Ives building is the town’s gorgeous Porthmeor Beach. This sandy beach stretches across the town’s seafront and is a popular destination for surfers, swimmers, and anyone who enjoys relaxing with a book on a sandy yellow beach.

Porthmeor Beach

From the beach, sunbathers can spy the iconic St Nicholas Chapel nesting atop the grassy clifftop area known as The Island. And because of the snug vibes of St Ives, good food and drinks are never far away. This isn’t a beach that takes pains to arrive at; it is right on the edge of everything. And speaking of great food and drinks…

All That Great Food

If there’s one thing the county of Cornwall is known for, it’s pastries, both sweet and savoury. Cornish pasties are famous across the country, and it’s no surprise that the most delicious and indulgent ones can be found in Cornish towns like St Ives. But it’s not just the pasties that will blow you away. St Ives also has a thriving bakery scene. So many independent businesses offer unique and delectable treats that have become their own local delicacies.

cornish pasties

For example, there’s the St Ives Bakery, located in the heart of the town on Fore Street. This amazing little place sells a unique brand of bun which they call a cruffin: a hybrid croissant and muffin. These incredible little monsters are filled with varies jams and custards.

st ives bakery

Then there’s Fudge Kyst (also on Fore Street): a charming little independent fudge shop. This place has sat on this spot for more than thirty years, making and selling some of the best handmade fudge you’ll ever eat. And, for all your Cornish pasty needs, there’s Warrens, which proudly presents itself as “the oldest Cornish pasty maker in the world”, established back in 1860.

fudge kyst

Beyond its food, St Ives is also known for its outstanding coffee! On Market Place, you’ll find a small coffee shop called Crafted, which offers sit-in and takeaway options. The coffee here is rich, smooth, and divine. And on the High Street, you’ll also find Sea of Coffee, which ties itself beautifully to the nautical aesthetics and history of the town of St Ives.

crafted coffee

Charming Independent Shops

For visitors who love to explore the unique local businesses of a town and avoid the big chains, St Ives is a dream town. So many creative people have built their own beautiful businesses here and seen them flourish.

Several such places exist in a small, secluded courtyard on Fore Street. This courtyard, with its streamers and cobblestones, is a gorgeous little space lined with independent shops, including The Courtyard Tea Room, St Ives Glass Studio, and the James King Gallery.

st ives bookseller

A highlight for bookworms is St Ives’ independent bookshop, appropriately called St Ives Bookseller. This sweet and wholesome bookshop is beautifully decorated, bursting with colour, and sells all the latest hardcovers and paperbacks for adults and children alike.

st ives bookshop

One easy-to-miss shop is Rose Lane, an independent seller of art and antiques. Inside, you’ll find vintage clothing, framed paintings, small pieces of furniture, classic collectibles, and plenty of strange trinkets to decorate your home with. Rose Lane is situated inside an old stone building, adding to that wonderful antique aesthetic.

rose lane
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