Newquay is home to some of the best beaches in the UK and is one of the top surfing destinations in the world. Situated on the beautiful north coast of Cornwall, it’s easy to see why it’s long been a hugely popular holiday destination.

    Equally as loved by families and groups of friends alike, it’s bursting with kid-friendly attractions, great outdoor activities, stunning scenery and a lively nightlife. You’ll never be short of things to do in Newquay, but if you’re planning your first visit to the Cornish hotspot, here are some of the best attractions to add to your bucket list.

    What are the best things to do in Newquay?

    1

    Fistral Beach

    Catch a wave like a pro

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    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Fistral Beach is exposed to Atlantic swells that are as consistent as they are dramatic. Whether you’re a nervous beginner or an experienced pro, this west-facing surf beach delivers. Locals tend to congregate at the northern end of the beach to enjoy steep and fast waves. Advanced surfers often tackle the fickle Cribbar, where waves break perilously close to the rocks. 

    Cut your teeth in the middle of the beach where things are a lot more predictable. Leave an hour or 2 either side of high or low tide for reliably uniform lines of white water (excellent for novices) and the gently rolling waves that give intermediates an achievable challenge.

    Location: Newquay, UK

    Map

    photo by a.froese (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    2

    Lappa Valley Steam Railway

    Family activities and traditional steam trains

    • Families
    • Adventure

    Set off on a journey through Cornish woodland on the Lappa Valley Steam Railway – one of the best days out in Cornwall. There are 10 special engines in different sizes, from a 15-inch gauge railway, right down to a fun-sized train running on a 7¼-inch gauge.

    Be transported into a hidden valley where you can make multiple stops along the way. There’s a boating lake with canoes and pedalos, crazy golf, loads of play areas, woodland walks, and even a maze. Take a look at Cornwall’s largest mine engine house – make sure to visit the gift shop and tearoom while you’re there. Ticket prices give you access to all activities at Lappa Valley Steam Railway.

    Location: Lappa Valley Steam Railway, St Newlyn East, Newquay TR8 5LX

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm (opens on Saturdays and Sunday from November to March)

    Phone: +44 (0)1872 510317

    Map

    photo by Chris Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Trerice

    A historic Elizabethan manor in the Newquay countryside

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    Take a break from the lively atmosphere of Newquay town centre and unwind in the tranquil surroundings of Trerice Manor House. This beautiful Elizabethan home has remained largely unchanged over the years, allowing you to step back in time on a journey through history.

    Wander through the charming rooms of the manor, with its ornate gables and original furnishings. Then, explore the picturesque grounds and developing knot garden before finding a peaceful spot for a picnic. There’s a shop selling gifts and plants, a second-hand bookshop and a restaurant on-site, too. 

    Location: Trerice, Kestle Mill, Newquay TR8 4PG, UK

    Open: Daily from 10.30 am to 5 pm (opens on Saturdays and Sunday from November to February)

    Phone: +44 (0)1637 875404

    Map

    photo by Alastair Campbell (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Newquay Zoo

    The biggest zoo in Cornwall

    • Families

    Enjoy a fun day out for all the family at Newquay Zoo, home to the only lions in Cornwall. This non-profit attraction is one of the largest charities in the county, putting all the profit straight back into the zoo and its conservation projects.

    The zoo is home to hundreds of rare and exotic species, plus some more familiar faces in the on-site village farm. Visit the skinks, toads and snakes in the Tropical House, hang out with the sleepy sloths and watch the keepers feed the big cats. You can even have up-close encounters, helping to feed the penguins and meerkats.

    Location: Newquay Zoo, Trenance Gardens, Newquay TR7 2NL, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm (closed at 4.30 pm in winter)

    Phone: +44 (0)1637 873342

    Map

    photo by Airwolfhound (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    5

    Blue Reef Aquarium

    Home to exotic marine animals from across the world

    • Families
    • Photo

    The Blue Reef Aquarium is conveniently located right next to Towan Beach, offering a look into exotic sea creatures from various parts of the world. The aquatic exhibit is home to 40 habitats, from tropical coral reefs to the depths of the ocean.

    Enjoy close-up encounters with a giant Pacific octopus, admire vibrant reefs, and walk through an underwater tunnel. With the Spotters Guide, kids can identify amazing marine life in the aquarium. You can visit the Blue Reef Nurseries to get a glimpse of newborn fish, rays and sharks.

    Location: Towan Promenade, Newquay TR7 1DU, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1637 878134

    Map

    photo by Nilfanion (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    South West Coast Path

    Walk its entirety or part of this legendary hiking trail

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    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The South West Coast Path is excellent if you’re seeking the gorgeous landscapes of Cornwall and the tranquillity of nature. The long-distance trail meanders along the coastlines of Cornwall and Devon for more than 1,000 km. The route near Newquay is particularly scenic. 

    Beginners and families can get take in Cornwall’s coastline at the 1.2-km Bedruthan Steps walk. This leads to a magnificent viewpoint looking over colossal rock pillars. For a more challenging experience, tackle the 11-km section between Mawgan Porth and Constantine Bay. You get to spot seabirds, see the craggy coastline and fields of wildflower.

    Map
    7

    The Japanese Garden

    Unwind in this lush garden complex

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo

    The Japanese Garden offers a glimpse of East Asia for those exploring the English coastal town of Newquay. Set in an idyllic Cornish setting, the 1-acre space is carefully curated with different types of trees, flower beds, ponds, and bridges. Explore on a gravel path that winds through the landscaped garden.

    The Japanese Garden is worth visiting any time of the year. Hundreds of flowers bloom in the summer, while autumn brings the fascinating change of the leaves' colours. You’ll find a tree nursery and a shop that sells Japanese gifts and bonsai trees. 

    Location: St Mawgan, Nr Newquay TR8 4ET, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1637 860116

    Map

    photo by Anthony Volante (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    Gannel Estuary

    Discover local wildlife and panoramic views

    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Gannel Estuary is an extension of Crantock Beach, a shoreline that borders both the ocean and the River Gannel. Many species of birds can be spotted on the shallow grounds, including godwits, plovers, and whimbrels. Penpol Creek is an excellent location to observe wildlife, as marine birds flock here to feast on stranded shellfish. 

    The boatyard at Tregunnel Hill is the best lookout point over the Gannel Estuary. It’s also a jump-off point for a scenic kayak ride on the River Gannel. You might run into a couple of hikers since part of the South West Coast Path aligns with the riverbank.

    Map

    photo by Thomas Tolkien (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm

    An apple-themed amusement park and distillery

    • Families
    • Food

    Step into the world of apples at Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm, an estate that comprises an entire adventure park around its apple farms. The staff runs a vintage tractor through the apple orchard, making it a popular activity for families.

    At the apple press, you can watch how apples turn into juice and enjoy a tasting session. Head to the Old Bottlery and Mowhay Tea Room for a classic Cornish cream tea or cyder-battered fish and chips. The grownups can sit down for a pint or cocktail at Barrel Bar, sip on samples in the cider cellar, or join a tour through the distillery.

    Location: Penhallow, Truro TR4 9LW, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1872 573356

    Map

    photo by Lewis Clarke (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    Pirate’s Quest Newquay

    A swashbucklin’ live pirate experience

    • Families

    Embark on an immersive, walk-through adventure with a real pirate as you discover the history of piracy in Cornwall. Pirate’s Quest Newquay allows you to experience realistic scenes and incredible special effects in an authentic 360° atmosphere. Explore 18th-century streets and mystical caves using your treasure map to complete your quests. It's suitable for the whole family, but only the brave will dare enter the Scare Section.

    Many special events take place at Pirate’s Quest throughout the year and you can even book parties and celebrations there. It's a good idea to book your tickets well in advance. 

    Location: Pirate’s Quest Newquay, 22 St Michael’s Rd, Newquay TR7 1RA, UK

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +44 (0)1637 873379

    Map
    Huub Lakerveld | Contributing Writer

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