Best Things to Do in St Ives

Between the beautiful coastal scenery, sweeping beaches and quaint harbour, you can easily understand why St Ives is often considered to be one of the best holiday destinations in the whole United Kingdom, let alone just Cornwall. And with winning The Best Seaside Town award at the British Travel Awards twice in the last few years, one thing you can be sure of is that you’ll enjoy any break in St Ives. To give you a helping hand, we’ve tracked down some of the best places to go and things to do in the town to get the best from your holiday.

Barbara Hepworth Museum

barbara hepworth museumBarbara Hepworth Museum by Herry Lawford / CC BY 2.0

You might not know it but St Ives has something of a reputation as an art haven, and over the years it has played host to many celebrated artists. One of the most famous of these was the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, who called St Ives home from the late 1940s through to her death in 1972. She created many of her most famous pieces throughout this period and her studio remains open to this day as a museum; it contains some of her greatest work and is the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet afternoon.

Prices: £6.60/£5.50 concessions

Opening Times: March-September 10.00–17.20 (last admission 17.00) October-February 10.00–16.20 (final admission 16.00)

Contact:; 01736 796 226; 

Tate St Ives

tate st ivesTate Gallery St Ives by Thor / CC BY 2.0

Continuing with the arty theme, the Tate St Ives is one of the four Tate Galleries in the world. The Tate regularly features an array of exhibitions and events that showcase the works of some of the greats, both past and present. But it doesn’t stop there, there’s also a variety of activities aimed at those taking a break in St Ives, including activity trails, games of I-Spy in the gallery, and even workshops on the beach - so make sure you try these out while you’re there.

Prices: £8.25/£6.60 concessions

Opening Times: March-September 10.00–17.20 (last admission 17.00) October-February 10.00–16.20 (final admission 16.00)

Contact:; 01736 796 226; 

Want to visit more galleries during your stay in Cornwall? View our list of the 10 best galleries in Cornwall.

St Ives September Festival

If you happen to be in St Ives during the month of September, there’s one thing to be sure of: you won’t be struggling to find something to do. That’s because September brings with it the return of the annual festival that dates back to 1978. With well over 300 different events in the pipeline, ranging from comedy performances to live music, story-telling sessions and workshops, there’s something for everybody. The festival runs for a couple of weeks beginning around the middle of September, and is held at various locations around the town, making it the perfect way to learn about the rich culture of St Ives.


The Leach Pottery

Leach PotteryBernard Leach Pottery Studio by Thor / CC BY 2.0

Founded in 1920 by the renowned potters Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, the Leach Pottery is one of the most famous studios in the whole of the UK. The studio houses a team producing some of the finest pieces in the country. With various exhibitions and residences throughout the year, you’ll be able see a number of masterpieces. Alternatively, you could step back in time with a look around Leach’s original studio which remains untouched to this day. If you fancy having a go yourself, you’ll want to try out one of the courses on offer, where you can learn from the masters themselves.

Prices: Adults £4.50, concessions £4.00, accompanied under 18s go free.

Opening Times: March–October, Monday-Saturday 10.00-17.00, Sundays 11.00-16.00. November–February, Monday-Saturday 10.00-17.00

Contact:; 01736 799703; 

St Ives Museum

You may be wondering what there is to do in St Ives should the rain start to fall? Well, you could always pop into the local museum and get to grips with some of the fascinating local history and culture. Found right in the centre of St Ives’ old fishing community, known as the Down-Long, the museum is a must see for any visitor. What’s more, the museum has recently undergone a renovation making it much easier for the less mobile to access.

Prices: Adults £2.00, Children £0.50

Contact: 01736 796005; 

Take a Trip Out to Seal Island

In times gone by, St Ives was one of the main fishing centres on the north coast of Cornwall, and had a fleet of boats operating out of the harbour. Nowadays, this fishing fleet might have shrunk somewhat, but there are still a number of boats that know St Ives as their home - one example being the Dolly P from St Ives Boats. You can charter the Dolly P for fishing excusions, trips out to Godrevy Lighthouse or the very popular visit to Seal Island. Also known as the Western Carracks, Seal Island is the rocky home to a colony of grey seals and a variety of interesting seabirds and wildlife.

Prices: Seal Island Trip – Adults £12.00, Children £10.00

Contact:; 0777 300 8000; 

If you like animals that much then there are a range of sanctuaries for you to visit and you can find them here. 

Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor BeachPorthmeor Beach by Matt Brown / CC BY 2.0

Let’s be honest, no holiday to Cornwall is complete without a trip to the beach, and St Ives has got one of the best going. Porthmeor Beach is one of Cornwall’s finest and is truly deserving of its Blue Flag status. Throughout the summer months it’s patrolled by lifeguards, giving you reassurance if you're visiting with children. There are a number of facilities, including restaurants, cafes and toilets all right on the seafront. If you’re planning on taking the pooch with you, they are more than welcome on Porthmeor outside of the high season. There is a ban that runs from Easter through to October though, so if you're visiting in the summer months you might want to try Bamaluz beach and Lambeth Walk beach, which have no restrictions on dogs.

Contact: 793 366;

Grab an Ice Cream

Ice cream parlour in St Ives©

When you’re at the seaside there’s nothing better than tucking into a good ice cream. Moomaid of Zennor’s parlour on Wharf Road, is right on the seafront. Flavours range from classic vanilla to orange & mascarpone - and then there's the famous Moomaid Mess. All of the ice cream is made at the Moomaid farm just down the road at Zennor, so it’s as fresh as you can get; just remember to keep your eyes peeled for any seagulls – they’ll have your ice cream before you know it!

Opening Times: 10.30am to 5.30pm daily

Contact: 01736 799603; 

There's plenty to keep you occupied on your break in St Ives, but make sure you take a look through some of our other guides below if you fancy going a bit further afield.

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