Short break holidays in Cornwall

While some Cornwall devotees love the buzz of summer beach days, others find their brand of bliss in wide-open spaces without the crowds. If you’re in the latter camp, booking your short break in St Ives in autumn, winter or spring could be savvier than you think. This is not just because prices are more favourable and roads are quieter, but also because of the microclimate this far west. As a result, crisp blue-sky days aren’t as rare as you might think. Now we come to think of it, there are a whole host of good reasons to book your St Ives holiday cottage in the quieter months.

Dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall

Let’s make no bones about it, there’s no greater joy than seeing your dog on a deserted beach. Besides all the other benefits of travelling out of season, the fact that dog restrictions on Cornish beaches lift between autumn to late spring is reason enough to book your short break in St Ives. Currently, pooches whose owners adopt best practices can treat all of St Ives’ beaches as nature’s playgrounds between 1st October and 14th May (some even later into July). At Orange Roofs, we manage many beautiful dog-friendly cottages in St Ives and for lots more information on dog-friendly places to visit and eat, read our St Ives Holiday Guide. For more specific information on when dogs can have fun on beaches, read our informative article.

Top tip: Just as a Cornish cream tea is the highlight of your holiday, so too is a wagtastic ice cream for dogs. You’ll find an increasing number of dog-friendly cafes open all year round in West Cornwall. Many go the extra mile with ice cream nutritionally adapted for dogs (just look out for ‘Scoop’s’). Dogs are united in agreement; it’s never too cold for ice cream.

Explore the great indoors: museums and attractions open all year round

Have you ever thought how incredible it is that such tranquil places on the Cornish coast have had such huge impact globally? Who would have thought Porthcurno beach would mark the spot where the very first telegraph cable was laid in 1870. It connects England to India in just one minute – the whole story told at PK Porthcurno. We spent a really enjoyable morning sheltering from the weather inside PK Porthcurno, read about our experience here. And that St Ives, one of the furthest reaches south west of the UK,  is a hub of creativity that the most eminent of art spaces – Tate – put roots down? With just a few exceptions, these and many other landmark attractions such as the Eden Project are open throughout the winter months. They host new events and exhibitions ensuring that frequent visitors get a fresh perspective every time.

Top tip: If dark nights and stormy seas put you in mind of The Dark Side, there’s much to fire the imagination in Cornwall. We love the olde-worlde Shipwreck Treasure Museum in Charlestown or for the plucky, break up your journey west by stopping at Bodmin Jail, chills and thrills on tap.

Photo Credit: Rikard Osterlund

The Tate St Ives. Photo Credit: Rikard Osterlund


Shipshape christmas shopping at the Cornwall Makers’ gift fair

How’s your Christmas to-do list looking? Don’t tell me, all under control apart from gifts for the folks who appreciate craftmanship. Well, if a box of Quality Street or novelty socks simply won’t make the grade, a pre-Christmas trip to the Cornwall Makers Festive Fair between 3rd and 5th November is a must. Now in its fifth year, the event – which takes place at Penryn Campus near Falmouth – has become quite the fixture on the what’s on in Cornwall calendar. It is known for its beautiful curation of Made-In-Cornwall gifts and homewares from coast-inspired jewels and ceramic tree decs to scents, statement lighting and on-trend prints. With cocktails and live music kicking off the opening night, it’s quite the seasonal soirée.

Top tip: While your diary’s out, make a note that Father Christmas arriving in St Ives on a fishing boat promises to provide a memorable spectacle on 13th December. Also, don’t miss the legendary Mousehole Harbour lights gradually illuminating the pretty fishing village from 11th December (no lights on the 19th).

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

 Cosy places to eat around St Ives in winter

Whoever said “it’s far too cold to eat outside” has obviously never been to the gorgeous Porthmeor Beach Café in St Ives. Each of the outdoor tables are enclosed in individual pod shelters meaning you get a unique al fresco dining experience just one step from the sand. The horseshoe-shaped pods seat up to 8, have overhead heaters and blankets to boost your own thermals. As a result, you’ll be super cosy as you tuck into the Mediterranean-vibed menu as waves crash in. Just be sure to book as far in advance as possible; not surprisingly it’s a popular spot! If firmly-indoors-thank-you-very-much is more your thing and you’re drawn to the cosiness of an open log fire with your pint, you’ll find a roarer at the Lifeboat Inn in St Ives, the Logan Rock in Treen, and the Tinners Arms or Gurnards Head in Zennor.

Top tip: Many pubs in Cornwall only dish up their Sunday dinners outside of the summer season, but if there’s just one thing better than a roast on the coast, it’s adding in a windswept walk to make you feel like you’ve earned the indulgence. Our edit of the best pub walks in Cornwall is right here.

Warm waters, salty seas: where to swim and surf in Cornwall beyond the summer

So long as you’re wetsuited, booted, and up on your swim safety and tide times, you don’t have to restrict yourselves to the summer months to enjoy an invigorating sea-swim in Cornwall. The density of dry-robes down here all the evidence you need. If you prefer your swimming to be more bath-like than biting, pop Penzance in the satnav and head to its Jubilee Pool. In addition to its cold-water pool (separating the men from the boys!), the beautifully restored art deco lido now has a geothermal section meaning you can loll about in your cozzie in 30-35 degrees thanks to a warm water source dug deep down in the rocks below. Just a few paces away, booking up a sauna slot at Rising Embers afterwards completes an experience to rival any spa day.

Top tip: If you really want to go the extra mile blending in with the locals, it’s got to be surfing. Surf central is Gwithian Beach on St Ives Bay, or to cut your teeth, there’s a year-round surf school on St Ives’ Porthmeor Beach. Wipeout!

Photo Credit: Nick Pumphrey 

Photo Credit: Nick Pumphrey

Cornish gardens all year round

After summer’s blooms and autumn’s foliage you’d somehow think that there would be little point visiting Cornwall’s gardens over the winter, right? Well actually, no, think again. At Trebah Garden – that’s the one near Helford Passage with the Monet bridge and its own private beach – you’ll find bamboos, Christmas Box, Witch Hazel and Shrubby Honeysuckle adding colour and interest to the famously subtropical valley. Over at the bucket-list Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey, an alluring Night Garden runs from 17th November to 2nd January. For young and old alike, it’s a beautiful, mile-long festive walking trail illuminating the gardens and woodlands with magical art installations and lanterns, bringing to life not just the flora and fauna that Cornish nature gifts us but Heligan characters too.

Top tip: Small in size but huge in stature, one of Cornwall’s must-see gardens is the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden tucked away in St Ives’ maze of fishermen’s streets. Open all year round (with just the odd closure), you can contemplate her signature curves outdoors, feel her spirit in her studio and learn about her fascinating life and works in the indoor display. Read about our visit to the Barbara Hepworth and St Ives museum here.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Cobbled streets, twinkly lights, cottages with log burners… we might be biased but we still can’t think of a cosier place than St Ives in Cornwall for a short break in autumn, winter or spring. And with two great incentives to come down at this quieter time of year, we’re sure you’ll agree. Firstly, short breaks become available from October (meaning that at many properties you can come for just 3 nights), and then of course there’s the significant savings you’ll make: prices in November, early December, January, February and March are normally a whopping 70% cheaper than peak summer weeks. Same house, same town, small spends.

Top tip: Take the gorgeous and super special Lahaina for example, a week in August is £3,087 which may be a bit too much, but, come and stay for 3 nights in November or early December for a special occasion and the price is just £933. Or maybe, if you want to be beachside, take a look at 20 Barnaloft – a week in the summer is £2,765 but a 3-night stay just before Christmas is £678. Penhallow is the definition of luxuriously cosy and a mid-week stay during the quieter months is just £750. Same house, much more affordable rates!

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