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With its scalloped bays and winding cobbled streets, St Ives has been inspiring both artists and holidaymakers since the 1800s.

Originally a busy fishing port, the town sits on the rugged coast of Cornwall’s Penwith Peninsula facing glorious St Ives Bay.

It’s a lively, engaging place and very much on the map when it comes to the arts. A stroll through the town’s picturesque streets will yield many an interesting find. Bookshops and boutiques, cafes and independent galleries – there’s plenty to while away your days on holiday, and that’s before you’ve even made it to the beach.

Top holidays in St Ives

Culture and history

The arts in St Ives

With its dramatic seascapes and a certain quality to the light, artists have been drawn to this corner of Cornwall since the late 1800s. St Ives itself became a centre for the arts in the 1920s when artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo set up their studios here.

The presence of the Tate St Ives right on the seafront is testament to the town’s artistic pedigree. Peruse its modern art galleries and then head to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and sculpture garden to see works inspired by the Cornish land and sea.

Crafty types can visit the Leach Pottery and museum with its Eastern-influenced aesthetic, while history buffs can tour St Ives’ historic churches – the Chapel of St Nicholas dates back to before the 14th century.

Things to do

The most south-westerly estuary in the UK is a haven for birdlife: head to the RSPB Reserve of Hayle Estuary in the spring or autumn and see hundreds of migrating terns and wading birds, while a summer visit might reward you with a sighting of an osprey. Continue further along the coast to reach Land’s End where you can look out to Longships Lighthouse and even the Isles of Scilly on a clear day.

Another classic Cornish experience is catching a show at the Minack open-air theatre, carved into the cliffs of Porthcurno. Lace your boots or grab a bike and follow the trails of the Mineral Tramways, climb to the top of the 260-year-old Lizard Lighthouse, head down into the historic tin mine of Poldark or see the tropical gardens of Tresco Abbey… you’ll soon discover west Cornwall has plenty to entertain you for a good few weeks.

The beaches of St Ives

St Ives’ golden beaches are lapped by nigh on tropical turquoise waters (in the right light, of course), and there are so many to choose between. Rent a beach hut and set up camp for the day in the sheltered cove of Porthgwidden, take a dip in the calm waters of Porthminster or stroll along Porthmeor beach at sunset and watch the surfers catch a wave.

If you’re in the mood for a leg stretch you might like to hit the South West Coast Path, taking a scenic cliff walk from Porthminster to nearby Carbis Bay. Whatever you choose, be sure to make plenty of time for ice cream and pasties – the top priorities for any holiday to Cornwall!


Pound -

Despite being part of the European Union, Britain has resisted adoption of the Euro and still retains Sterling as its currency.


Clocks read the same in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.


Mains voltage is 230 volts AC (50 cycles) and sockets take 13-amp plugs with three rectangular pins.


Leaving around 10% of the bill is normal in British restaurants where a service charge has not been added to the bill. Taxi drivers also expect a small tip, especially in London.


There are no serious health threats to people holidaying in the UK.


Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places.

Places in St Ives

The Cornish Coast

Carbis Bay Hotel & Spa