The sun has set on summer in Cornwall, and the cooler autumn months are upon us. It isn’t all bad, though. Autumn by the coast has its own unique beauty- crisp sea air, hazy amber sunsets, unruly waves and quieter beaches.
This calmer season is a great time to be in Cornwall, providing a chance to make the best of what the Cornish coastline has to offer without the crowds. Plus, the water temperatures remain relatively mild throughout autumn, meaning you can still get in the ocean.
Here are our top things to do in Cornwall this autumn and winter:
Walk the South West Coast Path
Pull on the wellies and wrap up warm to experience Cornwall’s long low-tide beaches at their best. With the waves whipped back by the wind, sea foam flying, a cool mist setting over the horizon and the moody winter weather lighting the sand silver, a Cornish beach in autumn and winter is a sight to behold.
Cornwall is home to 360 miles of coastal trails, leaving you spoilt for choice in where you can wander. Whether you choose to explore the rugged north coast and its dramatic horizons or the tropical south coast with its sheltered coves, you’re sure to seek out something special.
If the weather isn’t looking promising, head for cultural cover. From art and craft in Newlyn, to pottery and sculpture in St Ives and galleries and museums galore, Cornwall's artistic centre is easily accessible to all.
Step out of season and wander tropical biomes at the Eden Project, marvelling at spiky cacti; admire contemporary paintings and installations at the Tate St Ives; delve into Cornwall’s world of mysticism and folklore at the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle. Whatever your tastes and interests, Cornwall is abundant in cultural attractions.
Dive into watersports
Fancy getting in amongst the elements, learning a new skill and having fun? Don’t let the cold weather put you off, just grab a good quality wetsuit and you’re good to go.
The Cornish ocean is great for all sorts of water activities, from its world-famous surfing beaches to flat estuaries perfect for paddleboarding. Head to Newquay Activity Centre where you can try out a vast array of watersports, including beginner’s surf lessons, kayak tours, coasteering, snorkelling and even giant super SUP tours!
The sessions are perfect for all abilities, from complete newbies to seasoned surfers, and they run throughout autumn and winter, so take the plunge. All that activity is guaranteed to warm you up, if nothing else!
Make a weekend of it
If you’re keen to spend as much time in the waves as possible and want a more immersive experience, why not book a bodyboarding or surfing weekend retreat?
You can find weekends at Women and Waves, a female-run surf society, or Bodyboard Holidays, a company specialising in bodyboard retreats. These trips are an excellent way of improving your skills and meeting like-minded people, and run throughout autumn and winter.
Indulge the body and soul at Women and Waves’ Newquay Surf Retreat, with a yoga class and sunset Paddle and Prosecco included, or get your heart pumping on a Bodyboard Holidays Newquay Weekend, guaranteed to improve your watersports skills. Check them out below to view their upcoming weekends.
If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, no problem! You can still admire the beauty of the ocean from the sidelines. The Cornish coast never fails to surprise with its unpredictability and unique swell patterns, so head out to the cliff tops to see the conditions alter as the new season sets in.
Watch crashing waves strike the rocks or be surprised by pleasantly calm water. Whatever the weather, Cornwall has many vantage points for wave watching and the ocean is always a sight to behold. Why not grab a camera and try your hand at coastal photography?
Taste the ocean
Cornwall is home to many excellent seafood restaurants, and with a supply of fresh fish readily available along its coastlines, it doesn’t come as a surprise. Visiting over autumn and winter means you can sample some of the county’s best cuisine before the queues begin to form, and you can secure a table at eateries that are often fully booked in summer.
You may even be able to dine al fresco if the weather is right! Some great scenic spots are the Atlantic Terrace at Sands Resort Hotel, offering a range of modern Mediterranean dishes, crisp wine and a sea view, or The Fish House at Fistral which serves up indulgent fish dishes on the shorefront.
Enjoy the festivities
Whether it's a spooky woodland walk at Halloween, a firework display mirrored in the ocean below on Bonfire night or a roam around one of Cornwall’s many lively Christmas markets, autumn and winter are host to many annual holidays that can be enjoyed by the coast.
Cornwall’s array of towns and villages may look small, but they sure know how to party! There are various events held over the autumn and winter months, from mini festivals to exhibitions. Keep an eye on Visit Cornwall’s events calendar to see what’s on.