When you think of holidays in Cornwall, it’s likely you’ll be imagining endless dreamy days at the beach. Of course, there are plenty of wonderful beaches to discover, but there is so much more to enjoy in this beautiful county than pristine sand and sparkling seas.
Whether you’re visiting as a couple or planning family holidays in Cornwall, there is something for everyone. The best news of all is that many attractions will cost you absolutely nothing to visit. You can plan your whole holiday itinerary to match your budget without ever having to compromise on fun.
To help you narrow down the list as you plan your itinerary, we’ve created a shortlist of a dozen fantastic free days out in Cornwall. This gives you a great taste of the kinds of adventures you can have without breaking the bank.
If you fancy getting out on your bicycle during your holidays in Cornwall, you couldn’t ask for a better route than The Camel Trail.
This surfaced, virtually level multi-use path follows a disused railway line through beautiful woodland and linking lovely Cornish towns. Most of the 18mile route is traffic-free making it perfect for the whole family.
With no need to complete the whole route, make your bike ride as long or short as you like and enjoy getting out together in the fresh air.
If you need to hire equipment there are plenty of bike hire shops at Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin.
Get back to nature in the diverse and refreshing Cardinham Woods. About 30mins from Tregoad, this beautiful forest is well kept and offers four walking trails, three cycling trails, a play area and picnic area.
Plus, if you like to take your best canine friend along with you during your caravan holidays in Cornwall, Cardinham Woods also makes a nice change of scenery for walkies and dogs are welcomed on site.
There is a fee for parking.
This spectacular series of waterfalls along the River Fowey is a stunning place to visit whatever the weather. If the rain has dampened your beach plans, it’s likely the waterfalls will be even more impressive than usual. So, pop on a raincoat and head inland!
Although it is likely you’ll be distracted by the water, pay attention to the beautiful oak woodlands that surround you during your walk as well. Golitha Falls is a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
If you’ve ever seen Poldark, you’ll know that mining is an extremely important part of Cornish heritage. Although the last working tin mine closed in 1998, you will still notice plenty of disused engine houses throughout the county.
At Heartlands, you can find out more about this fascinating part of Cornwall’s story while enjoying the 19 acre Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. There’s something for everyone and the mining museum and exhibition, gardens, and adventure playscape for kids are free.
National Trust owned Lanhydrock woods are the perfect place to get on your bike. There are a range of routes for every ability, including a ‘skills area’ to practice on the forest terrain before heading into the woods.
The routes are well marked and well kept, ensuring a fun day out for everyone. Will you play it safe on the beginner-friendly Green track, test your skills on a moderate trail with rollers, jumps and banked corners or take on a real challenge at The Saw Pit dual slalom race track?
There is a charge for car parking (National Trust members park for free). Bike hire is available on site and there is a nice café, too.
If you fancy uncovering some myths and legends during your Cornwall caravan holidays, what could be more exciting than visiting Merlin’s Cave? Popular legend says that King Arthur was conceived and grew up at Tintagel Castle (which can be visited for a fee). However, beneath the castle and only accessible at low tide, is Merlin’s Cave where the famous wizard is said to have lived.
Whether you believe the story or not, this 330ft long cave through Tintagel Island makes for an exciting adventure.
This diverse, 865 acre country park is on the Rame Peninsula and offers visitors a beautiful place to explore and plenty to discover. Overlooking Plymouth Sound and the River Tamar, you are spoilt with stunning views but there are also several different gardens and the 16th century house itself to visit.
Most of the park can be enjoyed for free but there are also plenty of paid-for activities to add to your trip if you’re feeling adventurous. From archery to Segway and survival training, there’s something to keep everyone occupied.
The park itself is free to visit but there is an admission fee to the house. Additional activities incur a cost.
Family holidays in Cornwall would not be complete without spending some quality time some rock pooling. There is so much to discover and learn for young and old! So, grab a bucket and head to the shore.
Hannafore Beach is a great location for rock pooling and in easy reach of Tregoad. If you’d like some expert guidance, The Cornwall Wildlife Trust also runs rockpool safaris and rockpool rambles throughout the year, as well as beach clean ups.
If you’re a fan of Cornwall caravan holidays, it’s a fair bet that you love spending time in the great outdoors. For anyone who can’t get enough of nature, Bodmin Moor is rugged, beautiful and makes for a great day out.
Rough Tor is an ideal destination if you’re thinking of heading to Bodmin Moor. There are a few nice circular routes to choose from and you could even incorporate Brown Willy, Cornwall’s highest summit, into your walk. Rough Tor is particularly interesting as it has a logan stone (or large, rocking stone), Neolithic tor enclosure and Bronze Age hut circles to spot.
Head to Truro, Cornwall’s only city, and visit The Royal Cornwall Museum. Jam-packed with interesting exhibits covering local history through to artefacts from around the world, there is plenty to interest visitors of all ages.
While you’re in Truro, why not explore a little more? You won’t be able to miss the stunning cathedral, and shopping or window shopping as you wander the partially-pedestrianised streets is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Entry to the museum is free for under 18s. Adult tickets, which include an annual pass, cost £5.00.
This tidal island in Mount’s Bay makes for a wonderful day trip. At the top of the mount you cannot miss the impressive castle which became the home to the St Aubyn family in the 1600s. Their descendants still live there today, but they welcome you in to look around and discover the history of the site.
The island is reached by crossing the unusual cobbled causeway at low tide or catching a boat from Marazion. Once you’re there, explore the village, meander the steep paths, delve into the Mount’s legends and enjoy something unforgettable together during your family holidays in Cornwall.
St Michael’s Mount is co-run with the National Trust and members visit for free. There is an entry fee to the island for other guests. If you catch the ferry, there is an extra fee (National Trust members are not exempt).
Although caravan holidays in Cornwall often include multiple trips to the beach, if you fancy a day away from the sand, consider visiting Trenance Gardens in Newquay. These beautiful gardens have something for everyone, with gorgeous rose bushes alongside magnificent old trees and a few playgrounds. Why not pick up a free Tree Walk booklet from Visit Newquay Tourist Information Centre to help guide your visit?
Next to the gardens is a boating lake, so don’t forget the duck food! There are also plenty of additional paid-for activities nearby including on-site tea rooms, tennis centre, miniature railway, zoo and crazy golf.
There is so much to do during your Cornwall caravan holidays, it can be difficult to narrow down the list! With plenty of fantastic places to visit for free, it’s easy to keep your holiday on budget without compromising on fun.
Hopefully, this list of free days out has helped inspire you as you plan your break. For even more ideas, head to our guide to Cornwall attractions. You’ll see there’s plenty to keep you busy whatever your budget and whatever the weather!