While Newquay might be best known for its surf beaches, there is plenty more to this vibrant seaside town than just its crashing waves.
Wander around the picturesque harbour, stroll along the scenic cliff top paths, or enjoy a spot of shopping in one of the many independent boutiques in town.
And if you are coming to Newquay for the beaches and the surf, then you already know you’re not going to be disappointed there.
With mesmerising Blue Flag beaches with crystal clear waters, hip surfer beaches bludgeoned by the North Atlantic, and family-oriented beaches with long stretches of fine, golden sand.
Newquay is a place where you can enjoy a never-ending choice of celebrity-endorsed beachside restaurants, fantastic outdoor walks, National Trust houses, a bustling beach town and thriving nightlife.
If you’re ready to explore everything on offer here, then let’s get into my “fun things to do in Newquay Cornwall” travel guide.
The History Of Newquay, Cornwall
Newquay has a long and storied history dating back to the days of the Roman Empire. The town was first settled by the Celts back in the Iron Ages, who named it “Tintagel,” meaning “fortified town on a cliff.”
Later, Newquay became an important trading centre during the Roman occupation of Britain.
After the Romans had left, William the Conqueror invaded England and in 1067 built a castle overlooking the town. Newquay continued to grow throughout the medieval period, and by the 1600s it had become a thriving fishing port and an important stopover point for maritime trade.
In the Middle Ages, Newquay was known for its shipbuilding industry, and many of the town’s historic buildings date back to this period.
In 1801, the population of Newquay was just over 1,000. But by 1901, it had grown to nearly 10,000.
Today, Newquay is best known for its surfing beaches, although it still retains its heritage as a working port. With its lively atmosphere and wealth of things to see and do, it’s easy to see why Newquay is such a popular tourist destination.
Now, onto the best things to do in Newquay, Cornwall…
19 Fun Things To Do In Newquay, Cornwall
1. Visit Fistral Beach
Fistral Beach is, without a doubt, the most famous and popular beach in Newquay. This world-renowned surf spot has hosted numerous international surfing competitions and is a mecca for surfers from all over the world…and it’s right here in the UK!
Whatever your experience level, there are waves and breaks here to suit everyone, making this a fantastic spot to to get stuck in with a board underarm.
Even if you don’t surf, Fistral Beach is well worth a visit. With its stunning views and beautiful golden sand, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular beaches in Cornwall.
Sit back, slow down and relax, whilst the surfers do their thing out in front as you watch. Bring a picnic, take some drinks, and let the day slowly pass you as you unwind the day away under the sun.
If you’re feeling active, there are plenty of other things to do on Fistral Beach here in Newquay. You can go bodyboarding, paddleboarding, or even try your hand at coasteering.
Want to experience the extreme sport of coasteering? Explore the shore as you climb, cliff-dive and swim on this guided tour. Save your spot here
And when you’re finished playing in the waves, you can relax in one of the beachside cafes or bars and enjoy a well-deserved ice cream or cold drink.
How To Get Here: Fistral Beach, Newquay
2. Take A Surf Lesson
Believe it or not, the UK has some pretty famous surf spots, and Newquay is home to several of them. Fistral Beach, Tolcarne Beach, and Mawgan Porth are all right up there and definitely worth checking out if you’re keen to get back on a board.
Fistral Beach is perhaps the most well-known of these, as it has been the site of several surfing competitions. There are a whole host of surf schools around Newquay, all offering beginners the chance to ride their first wave.
Whether you fancy dipping your toes in for just an hour or two or diving right in with a crash course with paid accommodation that fills a full week, there’s going to be a school here that’s just perfect for you.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or you’ve surfed before and just want to brush up on your skills, there really isn’t a better place in the UK to get out onto the water than surfing in Newquay.
I’d recommend going for a lesson with one of the local surf schools even if you are experienced, as they’ll be able to give you the best advice on where to go and what the conditions are like. They’ll also provide you with all the equipment you need, so all you need to do is turn up and enjoy yourself.
You’re in one of the best places to surf in the UK…it would be rude not to try it out once right…
3. Explore Newquay Zoo
Newquay Zoo is a great day out for all the family. Home to over 140 different species of animals, it’s one of the largest zoos in Cornwall.
There are plenty of things to see and do here, with regular talks and feedings taking place throughout the day. You can also get up close and personal with some of the animals with the zoo’s animal encounters experience, including lemurs, meerkats, otters and more.
One of the highlights of Newquay Zoo is definitely the Lemur Woods – an enclosed area where you can walk amongst these playful primates. It’s a really unique experience and one that you won’t find at many other zoos in the UK.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, then Newquay Zoo is definitely worth a visit. With its great selection of animals, talks and feedings, you already know it’s going to be one of the most fun things to do in Newquay for families and little ones.
Insider Tip – It’s cheaper to buy your tickets in advance online than it is at the entrance of the zoo, so don’t forget to book yours from the official website.
Official Website: www.newquayzoo.org.uk
Entrance Cost: Online price £16.35 adults, £12.30 children
How To Get Here: Newquay Zoo, Trenance Gardens, Newquay TR7 2NL
4. Visit Porth Beach
Porth Beach is one of Newquay’s most popular beaches. It’s a lovely, family-friendly beach just 3km to the north of Newquay town.
It’s a little river estuary nestled between the rocks! Because it is so sheltered from the waves, little surfing takes place here, but it’s well worth a visit due to the picturesque beach views. It really is a little slice of paradise.
Not forgetting The Mermaid pub that’s right on the beach that serves up great pub grub all day long, with great views and live music in the evenings.
On the north side is the ancient “Porth Island,” which is worth a stroll all the way to the end. From this notorious point, you have an excellent view of Newquay and the north Cornish coast, making you feel like you are on the outer reaches of civilization.
And if the waves are coming in strong, then you’ll want to check out the famous Porth Blow Hole working its magic!
If you are driving here, there is all-day parking at the Porth Beach car park for just £5.80
How To Get Here: Porth Beach, Newquay
5. Explore Trerice
Trerice is a beautiful Elizabethan manor house located in Newquay, Cornwall. The house was built in the 16th century and has been owned by the National Trust since 1953.
Visitors can explore the stunning gardens, or take a guided tour of the house to learn about its fascinating history.
There is also a well-kept historical garden, which was created in 2013. The Elizabethan-style formal knot garden is at the rear of Trerice and has an orchard with a variety of fruit trees. It’s magnificent to take a walk through, particularly during the summer months when everything is in full bloom.
Trerice is also home to a number of events throughout the year, including open-air theatre performances and art exhibitions.
Whether you’re looking to explore Cornwall’s rich history or simply to enjoy a day in the great outdoors, Trerice is an ideal destination. No visit to Cornwall would be complete without a trip here, and one of the best places to visit in Newquay for some open, green space and a touch of history.
How To Get Here: Kestle Mill, Newquay TR8 4PG
6. Visit Crantock Beach
Newquay’s Crantock Beach is well known for its picturesque setting and its wide range of activities. The beach is situated on the north coast of Cornwall, between Newquay Bay and the River Gannel.
It is a popular spot for swimming, surfing, windsurfing and kayaking, as well as for walking, sunbathing and picnicking.
The sea gentle slopes away here too making it reasonably safe to swim in, but you will still need to be careful when the waves are a little larger.
The beach is also home to a number of rock pools, which are perfect for exploring at low tide. There are several cliff-top walks in the area, providing stunning views out to sea.
Crantock Beach is truly a place for all seasons – in winter it is a beautiful place to take a brisk walk, and in summer it is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the sunshine.
There is a car park close by too making it perfect to drive to with the whole family, and you have the Bowgie Inn Pub overlooking the beach which serves up tasty food and refreshing drinks throughout the day and late into the evenings.
How To Get Here: Crantock Beach, S W Coast Path, Newquay TR8 5SD
7. Visit Watergate Bay
Watergate Bay is a beach a little further north of Newquay Town, less than a 15-minute drive away. The beach is very well known for its dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, and incredibly scenic views.
The beach is enclosed by a high cliff that descends into a valley where there are several small beachfront settlements with surfboard rentals and eateries.
The surf breaks are also great here, drawing in surfing enthusiasts from all over, with it being exposed to the full force of the North Atlantic. There is plenty of beach and surf spots for everyone though, with its fine golden sand stretching for over 2 miles.
There is also plenty of opportunities for walks along the cliff tops or beachcombing which I can’t recommend enough. Well deserving of its place on this list and one of the best places to see in Newquay, Cornwall.
Watergate Bay is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike and is definitely one of the best beaches in Newquay for surfers, hikers and families alike.
How To Get Here: Watergate Bay
8. Walk The South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path is a National Trail in England that runs for 630 miles (1,014 km), from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Poole Harbour in Dorset.
The trail is one of the UK’s most popular walking routes, with over 3 million people visiting each year.
The path follows the coastlines of some of England’s most stunning scenery, including the Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks, the Isles of Scilly, and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
Obviously, you are not here to cover the full stretch of this famous path, but you can at least enjoy part of this rugged coastline of Newquay (or other parts of Cornwall) since you’re visiting the area. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and one of the best things to do in Newquay with a dog or for couples!
9. Explore Newquay Harbour
Newquay Harbour is a bustling hub of activity. This picturesque harbour is located in town and is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, activities and sea safaris.
The town sprawled up around this enclosed little harbour, which has been in operation since 1439. It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century when the harbour really expanded, as it became a hub for exporting rich deposits of mineral ore to the south of Wales where it was smelted.
Today, visitors can take a stroll along the harbour wall, enjoy some fishing, or relax at one of the many cafes and bars.
There’s also a variety of different activities on offer, from boat tours, sea safaris and fishing trips to kayaking and surfing lessons.
Whether you’re just looking for a nice place to explore under the sun or enjoy some adventure, You’ll definitely be able to find a few fun things to do in Newquay whilst you wander through.
How To Get Here: Newquay Harbour
10. Explore The Gannel Estuary
Newquay’s Gannel Estuary is a special place where the River Gannel meets the North Atlantic Ocean at Crantock Beach.
The estuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including ducks, geese, herons and swans. You can also find crabs, lobsters, and fish in the pools of water here too which the kids usually love.
The banks of Ganel Estuary are also a great place for a spot of birdwatching, so keep your eyes peeled for little egrets, godwits and redshanks.
During high tide, the Gannel Estuary becomes flooded again and you’ll have to cross banks using one of the handful of footbridges. But even these are flooded if the tide is high enough.
During the high tide, the estuary is a beautiful and serene place to go kayaking, sailing, and windsurfing. Keep an eye out for salon, seabass and trout swimming in the shallows, and if you’re lucky, you might even see dolphins!
How To Get Here: Gunnel Estuary, Newquay
11. Towan Beach
Towan Beach is one of Newquay’s most central beaches and is a great place to come for a swim, sunbathe or paddle in the waves.
The beach is located just next to the town centre, making it easily accessible for everyone. It’s also a really popular spot for surfers as there are some great waves to be had here.
If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk up to the headland for some stunning views of the coast. On a clear day, you might even be able to see all the way out to Lundy Island!
You’re spoilt for choice with food and drink options too, so take your pick from the many restaurants, pubs and cafes dotted all around the town centre. Highly recommended, and definitely one of the best places to see in Newquay.
How To Get Here: Towan Beach, Newquay TR7 1DU
12. Stretch Out With Some Yoga
Oceanflow Yoga Studios is a fun, friendly yoga studio located in Newquay, Cornwall, with grandiose views looking out over the world-famous Fistral Beach.
Get involved with a yoga lesson or two, practice your breathing techniques or master the art of meditation. There are plenty of classes on offer here, and a holistic way to introduce some mindfulness into your days in Newquay.
All experience levels are welcome so you can book into a class that isn’t going to intimidate the hell out of you.
And if yoga isn’t your thing, why not just get involved in the regular events they hold at Fistral beach, including silent discos and specialist workshops.
1-hour in-person yoga classes, inside or outside, are just £10, with other classes, courses and events available throughout the week. Check availability and book your spot at their official website oceanflowyoga.co.uk.
13. Indulge In The Famous Cornish Pasties
First of all, you can’t visit Cornwall without having tried a traditional Cornish Pasty. And if you’re looking for one of the best in town, then you’ll want to sniff out Morris Pasties Gover, one of my favourite places to eat in Newquay for a quick bite.
They make for the perfect snack on the go and are superb for bringing along to the beach with you for the day – along with other bakery bits from Morris pasties Gover – so make sure you squeeze the time in to grab a Cornish Pasty or two during your visit here.
How To Get Here: Morris Pasties Gover, 3 Gover Ln, Newquay TR7 1ER
14. Enjoy A Coasteering Experience
Coasteering is an exhilarating activity that combines elements of climbing, swimming, and jumping. It offers a unique way to explore the coastline and provides an adrenaline-pumping rush that is unlike any other experience.
Newquay is one of the best places in the world to try coasteering, thanks to its dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and plentiful marine life.
The activity is also perfectly suited to Newquay’s surfer culture – it’s the perfect way to get a taste of what surfing is like without having to brave the waves.
Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline fix or a new way to explore the coast, coasteering in Newquay Cornwall is an experience you’ll never forget.
15. Visit Huer’s Hut
Huer’s Hut is a historic building located on the headland at Towan Beach just north of the harbour.
The earliest records of this location mention a hermitage formerly inhabited by monks who would light a beacon to warn passing ships of the rocks at the foot of the cliff back in the 14th century.
Later it was used as a lookout point for pilchard fishermen, who used it to spot schools of fish in the water below.
Nowadays, Huer’s Hut is open to the public and offers stunning views of Newquay Bay. It’s a great spot for a photo opportunity and definitely worth the short walk up from the Newquay Harbour.
If you’re interested in discovering a little piece of Newquay’s history, then Huer’s Hut is definitely worth a visit, so add it to your ‘places to see in Newquay’ shortlist.
How To Get Here: Huer’s Hut, King Edward Cres, Newquay TR7 1EN
Best Things To Do Near Newquay, Cornwall
16. Visit The Japanese Garden
In an exquisite Cornish environment, The Japanese Garden in Cornwall is a realistic Japanese garden design. It’s the ideal meditative location to unwind the mind and let go of unwanted tension through thinking & reflection.
The Japanese Garden is an artistic, natural beauty that combines plant and natural element shaping and styling. It’s a haven of tranquillity with a wide variety of plants and water features where visitors can appreciate the wonder of nature in a serene, relaxing setting.
With free parking and plenty to see in this beautiful and serene garden, it’s well worth the short 20-minute drive out to reach here. Highly recommended…it’s something a bit different and one of the more unusual things to do in Newquay for couples and families.
How To Get Here: The Japanese Garden, St Mawgan, Nr Newquay TR8 4ET
17. Visit The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre is a living museum which celebrates the rich aviation heritage of Cornwall, England. It truly is a unique museum, packed full of experiences, information and quite possibly the friendliest members of staff ever.
The centre is located on the former WWII Royal Navy airfield of Culdrose and is home to a number of vintage aircraft, including a Sea Hawk jet fighter and a Wessex helicopter.
The museum houses a collection of aircraft, artifacts, and documents that chronicle the history of aviation in Cornwall. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits on their own or take part in guided tours. The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre also offers a variety of educational programs for children and adults.
Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits on their own or take part in guided tours. The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre also offers a variety of educational programs for children and adults.
There are also a number of simulators and interactive exhibits, making it the perfect place for aviation enthusiasts of all ages.
Whether you’re a seasoned pilot or just starting out, the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre is sure to have something for you and definitely one of the best places to visit near Newquay during your trip.
18. Visit The Lappa Valley Steam Railway
The Lappa Valley Steam Railway is a heritage railway in Cornwall, England and is always a winner with the little ones. The seven-mile-long line runs from Newquay to East Looe and passes through the picturesque countryside of the Lappa Valley and is just a 15-minute drive from Newquay.
The railway is operated by a team of dedicated volunteers and offers a variety of different experiences, including Thomas the Tank Engine days, heritage steam trains, and diesel trains.
There are also a number of special events throughout the year, such as Santa Specials and Halloween trains.
The Lappa Valley Steam Railway is the perfect place to take a step back in time and experience Cornwall’s rich railway history. It’s also great for kids and one of the best places to visit near Newquay for families with children.
How To Get Here: St Newlyn East, Newquay TR8 5LX
19. Explore The Goss Moor National Nature Reserve
Just a half-hour drive from Newquay and you will reach the picturesque Goss Moor National Nature reserve. It covers over 5,000 acres and it is a fantastic place to get away into the wilderness for walks, picnics and wildlife watching.
The name “Goss” is said to be derived from the Celtic word “cors” meaning a marsh or boggy area. The moor has a long and illustrious history, with legends of King Arthur using Goss Moor as his hunting grounds.
As a special area of conservation, Goss Moor is absolutely streaming with wildlife. If you’re lucky, you can spot foxes, badgers, deer, and otters. It is also home to 28 species of butterfly, 18 types of dragonfly and over 70 species of birds including the Cornish moneywart, yellow century and small red damselfly.
Hike the countless, winding country paths or hire a bike and explore the many miles of cycle tracks.
Whatever you want to do, Goss Moor is definitely one of the best places to see near Newquay and in Cornwall and shouldn’t be missed off your travel itinerary.
How To Get Here: Goss Moor National Nature Reserve
Looking for other fun travel guides for the UK? Check out my other UK travel blogs…
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- 16 Fun Things To Do In Chester, Cheshire
- 19 Unmissable Things To Do In Blackpool, Lancashire
- 20 Best Things To Do In Poole, Dorset
Best Things To Do In Newquay, Cornwall
- Fistral Beach
- Surf lesson
- Newquay Zoo
- Porth Beach
- Crantock Beach
- Watergate Bay
- South West Coast Path
- Newquay Harbour
- Gannel Estuary
- Towan Beach
- Oceanflow Yoga Studio
- Cornish Pasties
- Coasteering experience
- Huer’s Hut
- The Japanese Garden
- The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
- Lappa Valley Steam Railway
Best Free Things To Do In Newquay
- Fistral Beach
- Porth Beach
- Crantock Beach
- Watergate Bay
- South West Coast path
- Newquay Harbour
- Gannel Estuary
- Towan Beach
- Huer’s Hut
Is Newquay worth visiting?
Absolutely! Newquay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cornwall and for good reason. There’s so much to see and do, from exploring the stunning coastline, and hitting the famous surfing breaks, to visiting historical landmarks and museums. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday or an action-packed, adrenaline-fueled adventure, Newquay is the perfect place for you.
What are the best things to do in Newquay?
Some of the best things to do in Newquay include visiting the Cornish Aviation Heritage Centre, taking a ride on the Lappa Valley Steam Railway, exploring the Goss Moor National Nature Reserve and spending a day at one of Newquay’s many beautiful beaches.
What is Newquay best known for?
Newquay is best known for its surfing beaches, including Fistral Beach which is one of the most famous surf spots in the UK. Newquay is also popular for its lively nightlife scene and beautiful, rugged coastline, as well as the many museums and attractions, close by.
Is Newquay safe?
Yes, Newquay is safe. However, as with any tourist destination, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to keep yourself safe. For example, don’t leave your belongings unatttended on the beach and be cautious when walking alone at night. Following these simple guidelines will help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip to Newquay.