Newquay’s laidback vibe, outdoor activities and sublime beaches have lured nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and sun chasers for decades. With a host of wonderful things to do in Newquay and the surrounding area, get ready for one of England’s premier holiday hotspots.

By - Mark | Last Updated - 21 Nov 2023 | Go to - Comments & Questions

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Perched on the cliffs of the southwestern coast of England, Newquay is the surf capital of the UK, captivating visitors with its laidback atmosphere. As the sun descends over a string of vast, sweeping beaches, Newquay seamlessly transitions into the party capital of Cornwall.

With buzzing nightlife, a hot café scene, kid-friendly attractions, outdoor activities and good transport links, Newquay has firmly established itself as one of Cornwall’s most sought-after destinations.

From surfing lessons to coasteering adventures, day trips to foodie havens, or tranquil hikes along scenic clifftop trails, Newquay delivers some of the finest things to do in Cornwall.

This Newquay guide includes all the top attractions for your beachside retreat, plus some excellent day trips to a few of Cornwall’s other gems.  


THINGS TO DO IN NEWQUAY

01. FISTRAL BEACH

02. TOWAN BEACH

03. COASTEER

04. NEWQUAY TOWN

05. COASTAL PATH

DAY TRIPS FROM NEWQUAY

06. WATERGATE BAY

07. BEDRUTHAN

08. PADSTOW

09. WEST PENTIRE

10. ST AGNES

NEWQUAY, CORNWALL

Newquay is a coastal town located on the southwestern coast of England in the county of Cornwall, around 250 miles from London (see our guide: best things to do in London.)

As a popular destination for a seaside escape, there’s a wide selection of self-catering holiday cottages in Newquay. Enjoy the surf lifestyle, golden beaches and dramatic coastlines with all the comforts of your own pad.

Newquay has its own domestic airport and train station making it easy to get to your next great UK getaway.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


THINGS TO DO IN NEWQUAY

As a popular seaside destination, Newquay has plenty to keep you entertained. Here are our favourite things to do in Newquay.

1 – SURF AT FISTRAL BEACH

Fistral Beach is one of the premier surfing destinations in the country. Facing westerly, towards the mighty Atlantic Ocean, dependable waves make it a reliable location for good quality surf. It’s also an excellent wide stretch of beach with plenty of facilities.

The good thing is you don’t need to be an expert to surf here. Fistral Beach Surf School provide lessons for individual or groups year-round and cater to all age ranges and levels of ability.  

Even if you don’t surf, come here for dusk, grab a drink on the outside terrace, and watch the surfers cut through the waves as the sun drifts under the horizon. 

Facilities at Fistral Beach — The Fistral Beach complex has several restaurants including Rick Stein Fistral, The Fish House and The Pasty Shack. The Stable specialises in pizza, pies and cider. Toilets and hot showers are available throughout the year.  

PARKING | FISTRAL BEACH

There is a decent size car part at Fistral Beach open from 8 am to 12 am | Costs – 1 hour – £2.20 | 2 hours – £3.80 | 3 hours – £6 | 5 hours – £8.50 | 12 hours – £12 | 14 hours – £15

2 – LAZE ON TOWAN BEACH

If Fistral Beach is for surfers, Towan Beach is for families and sun worshippers.

Tucked behind a rocky headland and protected by Towan Head, the calmer waters provide safe swimming for young families and small waves ideal for novice surfers.

It’s also a great spot for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, or for simply relaxing on one of Newquay’s best beaches.

At low tide the soft sand stretches as far as the eye can see, connecting a 2-mile stretch of beach.

The most iconic feature on the beach is Jago’s Island, a tall rock stack with a house on top connected to the mainland by a suspension bridge.

PARKING | TOWAN BEACH

The Fore Street Short Stay Car Park is centrally located and about 10 minutes’ walk to Towan Beach | Location – TR7 1LP | Hours – 9 am to 6 pm | Cost – £4.40 for up to 2 hours.  

3 – COASTEER ON THE GAZZLE

Coasteering is an adventure activity exploring the rocky coastline where you’ll scramble across rocks, leap into deep water pools, dive off cliffs and navigate through hidden gullies. It’s an exhilarating experience and one of our favourite things to do around Newquay.

The best place to go coasteering in Newquay is the Gazzle Peninsula, a rocky headland wedged between Fistral and Towan Beaches. This section of the coast has caves, arches, ledges and cliffs to test your skill and your nerve while taking in spectacular views.

Organised coasteering experiences last around 2 hours and include the use of a wetsuit, helmet, life jacket, and a qualified guide who will lead you through the best spots, safely.  

DETAILS | COASTEERING

No prior experience is necessary, but you need to be over 12 years old, have a reasonable level of fitness and know how to swim. Advance booking is required.

BOOK A COASTEERING ADVENTURE

4 – EXPLORE NEWQUAY TOWN CENTRE

While the beaches might be the initial drawcard, Newquay town centre has a relaxed holiday vibe with several revamped hotels, a flourishing restaurant scene and a new focus on wellness.

Here are a few great things to do in Newquay town centre.

  • Visit the Blue Reef Aquarium which has 40 themed habitats with freshwater turtles, a creepy caiman and a deepwater tunnel to walk through.
  • Go to Newquay Zoo, a registered charity aimed at conserving wildlife and protecting rare and endangered species.
  • Book a rejuvenating session at the Fistral Spa with full-day packages including the use of the pool and spa facilities as well as a 120-minute treatment.
  • Have a quality coffee at the Roasting Room on Bank Street
  • Grab a drink at the Fort Inn, a lively bar in one of the best positions in Newquay overlooking Towan Beach

5 – WALK THE SOUTHWEST COASTAL PATH FROM NEWQUAY TO WATERGATE BAY

The South West Coast Path stretches over 600 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset. Along its winding journey it passes the wilds of Exmoor, the beach-strewn shores of Devon, and the stunning Jurassic Coast. Some of its finest scenery is right next to Newquay. 

From Newquay town centre, the hike to Watergate Bay takes about 1 hour 30 minutes.

Walk Details — The first thirty minutes passes through the town, stopping to overlook a string of pretty beaches. The trail then heads into the countryside, clinging to the edge of dramatic cliffs with the Atlantic on one side and sheep-strewn fields on the other. Just as it passes the Hangout Café it descends to the stunning beach of Watergate Bay.

Returning — You can hike back the way you came (marked purple on the map above) or, if you time your journey to return around low tide, you can avoid the section in town and walk along the sand via Lusty Glaze Beach, Tolcarne Beach, Great Western Beach and Towan Beach.

Watergate Bay to Newquay Bus — If you don’t want to walk back, it’s 15 minutes back to Newquay on the number 56 bus.

DAY TRIPS FROM NEWQUAY

Newquay is well located to explore the central northern section of Cornwall. These are the best day trips from Newquay (in our opinion) and can be done with a car or via public transport.

6 – WATERGATE BAY

There are few finer surfing beaches in the UK than Watergate Bay. Facing southwest towards the Atlantic rollers, the gently sloping sandy beach and consistent swell is a mecca for wave-riding enthusiasts looking to experience one of the best adventure activities in the UK.

We had our first surf lesson with Wavehunters at the Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay, who did a great job at getting two complete amateurs riding our first waves into shore.   

If the wind is up and the waves not playing nicely, kitesurfing is another great option. Atlantic Riders offer beginner, intermediate and gifted rider lessons in either 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 tuition.

If you don’t want to hit the waves, Watergate Bay is a beautiful location near Newquay with a chilled, party atmosphere. Come for sunset, and watch the surfers catch the last few waves of the day.

How to get to Watergate Bay from Newquay – 1 hour 30-minute walk along coastal path (see above), 10-minute drive, or 15 minutes on the number 56 bus followed by a 5-minute walk.

7 – BEDRUTHAN ROCKS

Just north of Newquay, one of the best things to do in Cornwall is to photograph the majestic Bedruthan Rocks.

Pounding surf has split several enormous rocky stacks away from the main headland, leaving them stranded in the sea. Legend has it that a giant called Bedruthan used the giant stacks as stepping-stones to shorten his journey across the bay.

Today, they make a great focal point for a photo on a hike around the headland. At high tide, the rocks rise out of the sea, but at low tide the bases are surrounded by sand. 

Footpath to the Bedruthan Rocks — Unfortunately, the main footpath down from Carnewas was blocked by landslides in 2019 and 2021 and is currently closed. There is another path down to the beach a little further north but if you decide to use it, you need to consider the tide times carefully. It’s not possible to return when the tide rises and people regularly need to be airlifted off the beach having underestimated the speed of the tide.  

How to get to Bedruthan Rocks from Newquay – Bedruthan is a 20-minute drive from Newquay. Alternatively, it’s around 35 minutes on the number 56 bus to Mawgan Porth followed by a lovely 30-minute walk along the cliffs.

8 – PADSTOW

Before famous chef Rick Stein arrived in Padstow in 1975 and opened The Seafood Restaurant, it was little more than a quiet fishing village with a pretty harbour surrounded by country strolls.

As Rick Stein’s notoriety rose and chefs like Paul Ainsworth opened Paul Ainsworth at No.6, the town became a destination for foodies around the country.

Today Padstow’s narrow streets and pretty harbour are often rammed with tourists and restaurants generally have queues streaming out the door. It still has some charm, but you certainly won’t have the place to yourself.

To make the most of Padstow we highly recommend booking a restaurant in advance rather than strolling around looking for somewhere. It’s also a little quieter early in the morning.

How to get to Padstow from Newquay – It’s a 35-minute drive from Padstow to Newquay, or 90 minutes on the number 56 bus (it can be quicker to get the 95 bus and change at Padstow Fork to the number 11 bus).

9 – CRANTOCK & HOLYWELL BAY, WEST PENTIRE

Just across a narrow inlet from Newquay, the West Pentire headland has three pristine beaches.

Crantock Beach — Backed by dunes which are criss-crossed by paths, Crantock Beach is a large expanse of golden sand that feels a mile away from the busier pace of Newquay. There’s a toilet in the car park and in summer months a van sells refreshments from the car park.  

Polly Joke Beach — A little further around the coast, Polly Joke Beach is a small cove completely untouched by commercialism. Its turquoise waters, funnelled by two headlands, lap at pristine sands. It’s a delightfully quiet spot in Cornwall.

Holywell Bay — Backed by 60-foot dunes with cliffs on either side, Holywell Bay is a gloriously sheltered beach and a great place to chill for the day. There’s a toilet in the car park and St Agnes Ices sell snacks from April to October. More details are in our guide to the best hidden gems in Cornwall.

WEST PENTIRE HIKE


A great day trip from Newquay is to walk the South West Coast Path from Crantock Beach to Polly Joke Beach, and then on to Holywell Bay. The entire hike takes about 1 hour to 90 minutes with plenty of great places to stop for a swim.

Either return the way you came or use the number 85 bus to complete the circuit.

How to get to Crantock Beach & Holywell Beaches from Newquay – Both Crantock Beach and Holywell Beach have National Trust Car Parks (both 15-minute’s drive from Newquay). The number 85 bus leaves Newquay and stops at Crantock (25-minutes) before heading onto Holywell Beach (a further 10 minutes) enabling you to walk one way and get the bus back.

10 – ST AGNES HEAD

South of Newquay, the St Agnes headland has some of the finest scenery in Cornwall. The ruins of old mines stand above heather and gorse-clad cliffs that drop into turquoise oceans. Dotted with wildflowers in spring and a swathe of purple in late summer, this most beautiful stretch of coastal path conceals two well-kept secrets.

Firstly, Wheal Coates is a well-preserved mining ruin built into the cliffs, whose structure stands in stark contrast to the countryside that surrounds it.

Secondly, Porthtowan Tidal Pool is a walled-off pool under the headland that is only revealed a few hours either side of low tide. It’s one of the best places to visit in Cornwall, with a dramatic setting and a cool spot to have a soak.  

ITINERARY | ST AGNES HEAD

Take a walk around the headland stopping at Wheal Coates then take a dip in Porthtowan Tidal Pool. Relax on the beach then grab a beer from the Blue Bar. Finish with dinner at the Tap House.

How to get to St Agnes from Newquay – St Agnes is a 30-minute drive from Newquay, or 50 minutes on the U1A Coast to Coast bus.

WHERE TO STAY IN NEWQUAY

As one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the UK, Newquay has no shortage of accommodation options. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly holiday, a dog-friendly cottage or a hideaway for two, Aspects Holidays offers a wide range of self-catering holiday cottages in Newquay and across Cornwall.

With such a spectacular landscape, treat yourself to a cottage with sea views in Cornwall, making the most of the county’s best assets.

If you’d prefer to be close to town, browse the list of perfectly positioned cottages in Newquay to start planning your trip.

HOW TO GET TO NEWQUAY

By Car – Newquay is roughly a 3-hour drive from Bristol and a 5-hour drive from London or Birmingham.

By Train – On weekends direct trains run from London Paddington to Newquay (via Exeter and Plymouth) taking just over 5 hours. On weekdays it may require 1 change.

By Faster Train — There are also faster trains (3 hours 45 minutes) that arrive at Bodmin Parkway Train Station which is a 30-minute taxi drive from Newquay. Alternatively, you can hire a car from Bodmin for the duration of your trip.

By Air – Newquay has a small domestic airport with arrivals from across the UK including London, Manchester, Belfast, and the Isles of Scilly. It’s a 15-minute cab ride or 25 minutes on the number 56 bus from the airport to Newquay town centre.

GETTING AROUND NEWQUAY

The quickest way to explore the area around Newquay is by car. It allows you to get further quicker. However, in peak summer months the roads can be very busy, and you will need to get to the premium locations early to grab a parking spot.

NEWQUAY BUS ROUTES

At the centre of a good bus service that runs up and down the coast, Newquay is one of the best towns in Cornwall to visit without a car.

WHEN TO VISIT NEWQUAY

PEAK SUMMER (JULY & AUGUST)

The two hottest months of the year in Newquay are July and August, when average high temperatures reach 20°C. The warm weather coinciding with UK school holidays makes it a very popular destination for summer vacations. The beaches are in their prime, all the outdoor adventure activities are running, and the whole town is a buzz.

SHOULDER SEASONS (MAY & JUNE / SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER)

The shoulder months around summer can be an excellent time to visit Newquay. The crowds are greatly reduced and there is still a chance of some fine weather with average highs ranging from 15 to 18°C.

In spring, wildflowers dot the cliffs making for some wonderful hiking and in early autumn the hills are glowing with purple heather. September, in particular, can be a great time to visit Newquay as the water is still a warm 15°C.

WINTER SEASON (NOVEMBER TO APRIL)

In winter average high temperatures drop to around 6°C and much of Newquay shuts down. But if you are looking to hike the coastal path and explore the dramatic cliffs in peace and quiet, it’s a very relaxing time to visit.  

This guide was produced in partnership with Aspects Holidays.

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