For years, Ben has talked about taking me to St. Ives in Cornwall, England. He used to live there back in the day for a couple of years. St Ives is (so far) the prettiest place I’ve seen in England and the water on the coast is so clear and blue, you wouldn’t really guess it’s in England at all.
Ben took this photo!
Ben was really excited when this year his family decided to do their holiday in St. Ives! His mom, sister (Emma), her husband (Craig), his brother (Josh), and his girlfriend (Tamsin), as well as his little bro (Max), were all there. It was a fun and boozy time as always with them!
Getting to St Ives
You can take the train to St Ives from London, no problem. I suggest downloading an app like rome2rio to find the best routes with public transportation.
You can also drive which is what Ben and I did. We rented an adorable mini cooper from Sixt (I’ve used them for my past few car rentals and like them). We drove from Ben’s hometown, Tonbridge. If you drive, you might pass Stonehenge! I had no clue we would and was really surprised to see it. Check that off the list, haha.
When to visit St Ives and How to find a hotel in St Ives
St Ives is SO popular and beautiful that it can get crowded. We went on a bank holiday weekend, like everyone else there. The crowds themselves weren’t that big of a deal. The problem we faced was trying to find a hotel online before going. There aren’t many actual “hotels” in St Ives and actually because it’s such a small town with little lanes and everything, it’s more B&Bs. The B&B’s are really cute and charming, so I recommend booking one instead of the hotels.
Ben’s family had booked a house before we knew we were going, so they stayed in a really cute place that had three bedrooms, booked through this site which has a lot of homes in St Ives listed. Ben and I got a small B&B nearby.
When you search major booking sites, these little B&B’s won’t pop up though, so what we did was search for them on Google Maps. Funnily enough, the one I found, Downlong Cottage, Ben had stayed at in the past and knew exactly where it was. We called them and made the booking on the phone and Ben did a money transfer through the bank to hold the booking. We paid 46 GBP per person, per night. This is way less expensive than a hotel room or any of the larger B&B’s we found on booking sites. A lot of the smaller B&B’s you’ll find, won’t have online booking so just call them from Skype.
Another thing to keep in mind during peak travel times to St Ives is that with it being such a small town, it can be hard to get a table at restaurants. Some take bookings, so if you have a big party, definitely call ahead. But a lot don’t and you might have to check a few places before you find a table. Thankfully, there are so many tasty restaurants here it’s unlikely you’ll end up having a bad meal.
What to do in St Ives
The best thing to do in St Ives is, of course, the beach! You might be thinking “but it’s freezing”, yes, it is – and English people don’t care. They swim in wetsuits and sit on the windy beach in jeans and sweaters. Not gonna lie, it’s totally crazy lol but we got lucky and had some sun so I actually got a tan and even burnt a little. Even in the sun, the water was way too cold for me to get in.
Some of the crew did go surfing (with wet suits) but I chickened out. For one, it was cold, and two, it was smaller white water waves which I suck at and I knew it would be annoying to probably only catch one wave while freezing my butt off. Instead, I played photographer for them. There are a few beaches in St Ives, and the best beach for surfing is Porthmeor, which is pictured here.
We also rented out little motor boats, which was Ben’s sister’s idea. You can rent them for 75 GBP for 90 minutes (I *think*). They don’t go fast and you have to stay within a zoned area; it’s great for kids. We took fishing equipment which was an absolute failure. You rent these at the Harbor.
If you like photography, there is a really great viewpoint up at the top by where the buses stop. It’s not much of a walk at all. Here are some photos from it, overlooking the harbor below.
St Ives is actually known for art, and people come here to go to the Tate Art Gallery which we didn’t make time for. You can also check out the Minack Theatre, which is an open-air theatre. A lot of people recommended I check out the Eden Project which is a big biosphere housing rainforest flowers and such. We didn’t have time for it and Ben had already visited this, so didn’t go. There are some other activities like a little theme park called Flambard’s Experience, an arcade, and a Maritime Museum.
Ben lost his phone the first night, so we had to go to nearby Penzance to get him a new one. We passed St Michael’s Mount, which is an island but it was a little gloomy so my photo didn’t turn out great:
With the rest of your time, you can DRINK cuz why not!? and you can wander around the cute little roads. There are shops, but I didn’t think anything was cute enough to go in. It was mostly knickknacks and housewares.
Food in St Ives
In St Ives, there are a few things you have to try: a Cornish Pasty, fish n chips, fudge, scones with clotted cream and jam (or cream tea). You’ll see shops for this stuff all over the place!
For drinks, you can go the Sloop but it’s sometimes too crowded because it’s the most popular, so if so, you can go to Upper Deck, just behind which has some views of the sea, too.
You definitely have to have an English breakfast while here! Our B&B (and I think most) will offer this included in your price.
The best meal we had was at Porthgwidden Beach Cafe. I got the crab linguini and it was delish – sadly, I’d already had about a bottle of wine so wasn’t focused enough on eating haha!
We also tried the Rum and Crab Shack because it had great reviews, but I thought the BBQ ribs were weird (it was an odd cut of meat, not typical ribs) and had a strange sauce. Can’t say I recommend it much!
Ben and I went to Seafood Cafe one night which was really good. You order your drinks, then go up to the counter and pick out the meat or fish you want and order your food at the counter. We had mussels, steak, and fish n chips. We wanted to go to Blas Burgerworks because Ben used to eat there when he lived here but never found the time.
St Ives has a lot to offer and it’s definitely somewhere I’d go back to. I think some days there are really nice waves as well, so it would be cool to man up a bit and try surfing here next time! Have you been to St. Ives? Tell me your favorite places there in the comments!
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‘Love this post Rachel.
I haven’t yet been to Cornwall, but St. Ives has a lot to recommend it, and is very busy over the summer months. ‘Love the photography!
I’ve just got back from Blackpool, and indeed nobody cares about how cold the weather may be. Our motto: Just jump in!