Falmouth, a town of close to 25,000 people in Cornwall, UK, is the perfect seaside destination for a short, or long stay. I was able to spend a whole month in Falmouth in November and experience so much of what the community had to offer – and I still didn’t get to see everything. There are far more things to do in Falmouth than there are hours in the day.
Whether you are spending a weekend, or a whole month in Falmouth, you’ll want to experience the many sites, restaurants, and experiences available. Though it is a touristy town, there is also a small university, and a year-round population that lives in Falmouth, so it doesn’t’ feel overly touristed. I would highly recommend visiting in the shoulder or off-season. The weather was still in the 10-15 degree Celsius range in late November, and there is rarely any snow, so it is still easy to get around. Sitting out on patios for a coffee with coats and hats on is not uncommon! Here is the ultimate list of things to do in Falmouth, so you don’t miss anything!
Visit the National Maritime Museum Cornwall
The National Maritime Museum is a must-see whilst in Falmouth. Situated right on the water, climb up the viewing tower for a real sense of the town. Visit the special exhibits, and play at being a search and rescue worker. On the weekend, you can even race little boats in the pool inside the museum. Remember – your ticket is good all year, so if you’re in Falmouth for a while, you can go back as often as you like.
Have a Cornish cream tea
Cornish cream tea is – unsurprisingly – all the rage in Cornwall. The COrnish believe that the warm scone is topped first with jam, then with clotted cream (if you head up to Devon, they have some different opinions on the matter). Any cafe will likely serve you cream tea, but the one at Hotel Meudon is top notch.
Eat a Cornish pasty
When in Cornwall… The Cornish Bakery is a small chain of cafes in Cornwall, and the cheese and onion pasties are well worth the money. When you’re heading out on the train for the day, there’s nothing better than taking one of these flaky hand pies with you for the journey.
Climb Jacob’s Ladder
Named after a businessman who commissioned the stairs to connected his properties to his businesses, Jacob’s Ladder is a set of 111 steps coming up from the town square. Funny enough, in Truro, Nova Scotia, at Victoria Park, there is also a set of stairs called Jacob’s Ladder – perhaps a small connection! Once at the top, you’ll be in a little neighbourhood, with a good view of the town and can quickly find your way back to the main streets.
Have a cheese board and some wine at Kernow Wine Bar
Kernow Wine Bar was one of my favourite spots in Falmouth. This little hole in the wall bar is modern and cute, with friendly staff and some very good cheeses. A perfect place to head to by yourself or as a couple and share a plate of local cheeses, meats, fruits, and of course, wines.
Paint some pottery
Head to Star Glazers in downtown Falmouth for a calming afternoon making art. They also offer special event evenings, to give a chance to meet other locals, and have a beverage with your pottery!
Marvel at the array of products at Trago
Trago is a giant semi-discount department store by the Maritime Museum. It’s a fun spot to shop for souvenirs, rain boots, groceries, or just marvel at all the stuff they’ve managed to pack in there.
Walk the harbourside boardwalk
Take a walk by the water near the Maritime Museum, or at the boat launch in the centre of town.
Visit Swanpool Beach
Swanpool Beach is in a more residential area of town near, not surprisingly, a pool filled with swans. Check out the mini golf course while you’re there!
Enjoy afternoon tea at Hotel Meudon
I cannot recommend highly enough having afternoon tea at the Hotel Meudon, and taking a walk around the beautiful, almost tropical gardens. If you get to the hotel via the South West Coast Path, you can approach the hotel through the garden right off its own beach.
Poke around all the cute shops
Falmouth is full of tasteful and cute independent shops for you to poke around in during your stay.
Eat tapas at Bodega 18
Friendly service, and some funky tapas that I hadn’t tried before in a lovely spot on the high street.
Visit the library
I love visiting libraries whenever I am in a new place, and the library at Falmouth is no exception.
Surf or swim at Gyllyngvase Beach
In Cornwall, open water swimming is popular all year round, and the temperature of the water apparently is nicest in the late fall (I did not test this theory). Take a swim, or join the surf group for a lesson, at Gyllyngvase Beach. Stop at the cafe after to warm up with a coffee and a sandwich on the balcony.
Visit the free art gallery
Also in the library building is Falmouth’s free art gallery, with both modern and traditional art, and programming for schools and children.
Have burgers and cider at Pennycomequick and watch the locals
Pennycomequick was my favourite restaurant in all of Falmouth. They have delicious vegetarian dishes, a very pleasant and modern English pub vibe, and lovely servers. Clearly it’s a locals’ spot, and if you’re going to eat later on a Friday or saturday, reserve ahead of time.
See a film or some art at the Poly
The Poly is Falmouth’s major cultural centre, comprising cinemas, art studios, galleries, and a bar/cafe. Take a look at the their website for films and other events that are taking place, and join the locals in enjoying the arts of Cornwall.
Have lunch at The Shed
With a cute patio overlooking the water, the fish sandwich at The Shed is the best I’ve tasted.
Visit all the charity shops and find the perfect coat and boots
Second hand charity shops are found on every corner in England. Need a coat for the changing weather? Visit a charity shop. Need a new book for the rest of your holiday? Check a charity shop. Need to leave something behind because you’ve shopped too much and now your belongings won’t fit in your suitcase? A charity shop can help.
Walk the South West Coast Path to Maenporth
The South West Coast Path is a walking trail that covers much of Cornwall. From Falmouth, you can follow the path all the way to Maenporth, a small community with another white sand beach just a few miles outside the town. Maenporth is also home to the Hotel Meudon, so it makes for a nice walk to the restaurant there.
See a film at Phoenix Cinema
This five-screen cinema is built in a very cool building on a side street in Falmouth, near Kimberly Park. The Poly shows independent films, but you can catch the blockbuster hits at the Phoenix.
Eat donuts from Great Shakes!
At least three times I visited the lovely donut man at Great Shakes! for mini sugar-coated donuts to take home. This was a major trip highlight. Also, the staff are very helpful and friendly and will tell you where else to visit in Cornwall.
See a rugby match
I didn’t actually watch a match, but my AirBnB was so close to the pitch that I felt like I was there. Nearly every weekend there’s a match on, so head up the hill to the rugby field and take in this brutal sport.
Visit Kimberly Park
Located close to the centre of town, Kimberly Park has its own ponds and coffee cart, and is always full of people walking their dogs. I continued to marvel at the existence of palm trees in an area that felt so much like Canada!
Walk to Penryn
Penryn is the little village near to Falmouth. It has its own set of shops and restaurants, and a nice view of the river. It’s about a 30 minute walk from downtown Falmouth.
Visit the Falmouth University campus
I always find it interesting to see what other university campuses are like. Falmouth University is connected to the University of Exeter, so it’s quite small, but if you pop onto campus you can find some public art displays and get a sense of the university vibe.
Ride the bus to Truro or another community
Cornwall recently revamped its bus system, so now there’s a double decker bus nearly everywhere you would want to go. It’s so easy to board, tap your credit card, and travel around the area there’s no reason not to! We took the bus to Truro, which is where Hall for Cornwall is located, and some of the larger shops. But the bus can also reach many of the smaller communities that have lots to offer.
Look at all the galleries in town
Along with the Poly and the free art gallery, there are lots of independent galleries throughout Falmouth, each with a different style for you to visit.
Visit the ladies at Rieker and maybe buy some shoes
I came home with far more pairs of shoes than I left with, and it’s all due to the lovely ladies at Rieker on the high street. This is what vacation is for.
Walk around at dusk and visit the shops when the light is nice
Falmouth is very sweet in the evenings. At Christmas time, the town hangs lights everywhere. At dusk, you can watch the sunset over the water. The cafes stay open late, and the restaurants are just opening up. Perhaps a good time for a cheese board…
Go to a choir
Choirs in England are plentiful, and many operate on a drop in basis. In Falmouth, there are at least three options: The Good Afternoon Choir, a community Gospel choir, and the Sing Falmouth group. It’s a great way to meet locals and have different conversations, and see how choirs operate differently in this part of the world.
Run with the Falmouth Runners
The Falmouth Runners meet several times a week for trail runs and conditioning sessions. The group is open to anyone to join. I didn’t get to run with them during my time, but their regular Facebook posts gave good ideas for trails and areas that one might like to explore. If running is your thing, this would be a great way to get to know some new locations in Cornwall.
Take the Pendennis Castle Walk and visit the Historic Site
Pendennis Castle is a recognized historic site in Falmouth, so you have to pay a fee to enter. But you can also take a beautiful walk around the grounds and to the fortresses on the water, and look across to St. Mawes. The walk back along the South West Coast Path goes by these cool swings, and then spits you out on the beach.
If you only have 24 hours in Falmouth, check out this post for the highlight package
Walk along Castle Beach
Castle Beach is smaller than Gylly Beach, and best for hunting for rocks or walking along the sand. It’s located very close to the castle, so makes for a nice walk back into town.
Go to Tesco and buy funny sweets and pre-made meals
Canadian grocery stores could learn a thing or two from Tesco, the UK grocery store chain, that has mastered the art of single-serving, microwavable meals. Also – a sticky toffee pudding that you heat in the microwave for 30 seconds is genius.
Go to the film fest
In the fall, Cornwall hosts a significant film festival, with lots of films shown at the Poly.
Visit the bookshop
Falmouth Booksellers is beautiful independent bookshop right on the high street. The books in England just look prettier than the ones in Canada…
Go to a yoga class
There are several studios in Falmouth, so if you’re feeling stiff after that long transAtlantic flight, head out for some stretching.
Have 2-for-1 pizzas at The Stable
The Stable is a cute restaurant on the far end of the high street, and on certain nights each week does 2-for-1 pizzas. Try one of their festive specials and if it’s warm, sit out on the water to enjoy the view.
Have Sunday roast
Nearly every restaurant in Falmouth serves up Sunday roast, so don’t leave without trying your fill. Even the vegetarians get to enjoy!
Take the Falmouth-Flushing ferry
If you read the online reviews of this ferry, some will suggest that the ferry captain lacks something in the way of customer service. That may be so, but it is a lovely view across the water nonetheless, and it only takes about 7 minutes, so one can probably put up with the slightly less than stellar customer service for that period of time. I walked from Falmouth to Flushing, and then took the ferry back. This was not a great plan – the road to Flushing is not at all safe for walking on. You might consider taking the bus to Flushing or taking the ferry both ways. It’s well worth it for the view of the harbour and the town.
Eat lunch at Indidog
Indidog is the best spot in Falmouth for meals with a view. They’ve built the restaurant right on the water, with enormous windows to look out onto the river. The food is fantastic – this was one of the best lunches we had in Falmouth.
Can you see something I missed on the list? Let me know in the comments!