It was definitely love at first sight when I first saw St Ives. How could I not succumb to its charms? A town right by the sea with white washed walls, wee cobblestoned alleys, cafes and bakeries galore, art galleries and hanging flower baskets abounding…all things to make the heart sing.
I believe you will be just as enamoured when you go. ???? That said, allow me to share some tips for an even more enjoyable visit.
Just spending the day? Whether you are walking down from the top car park or coming from the train station, my advice is to have no particular agenda. Simply ‘get lost’ in the beautiful little streets. Let yourself meander and find quirky shops and cafes by accident. This town just begs to have its hidden treasures explored.
But if you like order, there is definitely a list of places I could suggest. For instance, because you’re in Cornwall, you’ll have to try a Cornish pastie. I have tasted these wee half-moon delights from a few different places, but my favourite would have to be the traditional beef and potato one from Cornish Bakehouse on Fore Street. While you’re at it, add a Cornish cake (like a scone with attitude) for dessert.
Enjoy art? Then treat yourself and visit the beautiful Tate Gallery. There you will be able to happily explore the works of modern British artists (and back to the 1500’s) whilst enjoying the beautiful sea views this museum offers.
On a smaller scale, step into the Whistlefish gallery/shop near the harbour, where there are lovely prints and greetings cards of Cornwall and St Ives to purchase.
My children will want me to tell you to check out Moomaid of Zennor Ice Cream Parlour – found on St Ives Harbour on Wharf Road (try the Shipwreck flavour if you like uber sweetness and gooey caramel:).
Walk up to St Nicholas chapel on the promontory and take in the beautiful views of the sandy beaches, glass green waters and the village itself. It is uncertain when this little building was constructed, but the most probable dates go back to the 14th century. Not just for worshipping, St Nicholas chapel was used by smugglers to check for Revenue men and the same officers used as it a look out for smugglers! Quite the exciting past for a place so small. The smuggler days are long gone and the worship services are back – Thursday mornings during the summer (please check for times).
Something to bear in mind if you are bringing a four-legged friend…not all of St Ives’ beaches are dog friendly during the summer months. Please check here to find ones that welcome pooches year round.
If you are staying north of St Ives and don’t fancy driving there to find a parking spot, you may consider a train. Your journey begins at the St Erth Park & Ride (there is a car park fee of £2.30-£3.70 depending on what time you there). The tickets are £4 for an adult, £8 for a group ticket or £10 for a family ticket.* (Dogs go free on the train: up to two per person) This ticket allows you to travel back and forth to St Ives as many times in the day as you would like. Taking the train also avoids your having to walk down from the main car park in St Ives or using the more costly car parks in the village.
Oh, St Ives! It’s the hidden alleys, sea views of turquoise waters, quirky street performers and historic charm everywhere you look that will easily make you fall in love too. I know you will be back again and again.
Happy Cornish Travels!
Fancy visiting another sweet Cornish village while you’re here? Have a peek at charming Port Issac.
* Prices/locations applicable Summer 2020, please do check current prices