Situated in the southwest of England, Cornwall benefits from a warmer climate, beautiful coastlines, rolling fields, and plenty of things to do for all the family. Whether you are looking for walks, relaxing days out, something more adventurous or to explore British history – Cornwall has plenty to offer! Not only that, but there are lots of free things to do in Cornwall, so if you are on a budget, you can still keep yourself and your family entertained! Or if you just fancy a cheaper day out then look no further!
Heartlands is a free World Heritage Site situated near Redruth in Cornwall. Filled with 19 acres of exhibitions, interactive sculptures, gardens, craft studios and a huge adventure playground, you really will find something for all the family here. There is plenty of space for outdoors activities including the playground, picnic areas and ponds, but also indoor space that is perfect for when the weather is less cooperative! You could easily spend a full day here and still have more that you haven’t had time to see and do!
POSSIBLE COSTS: Although Heartlands is free to enter and most of the activities are free, there are additional things that you can pay for if you should so wish. These include special events, the cafe and the market.
Beaches and the South West Coastal Path
The Cornish beaches and coastal paths have to come high up on our list of free things to do in Cornwall. No matter whether you are a big family, a couple or visiting on your own, you will be able to enjoy the beaches of Cornwall day after day! With the weather on your side you could be forgiven for thinking you are actually in another country, with the golden sands and clear blue seas! Many beaches are dog friendly and link to walks over the adjacent countryside, such as the South West Coastal Path, giving views of not just the sea, but cliffs, woodland and masses of wildlife too!
Let’s not forget as well, that many of the beaches in Cornwall are known for their perfect surfing conditions. So if you are keen to get out on the waves, whether with a surfboard or bodyboard or even just swimming, then you can be sure that Cornwall will have a beach for you.
Some of our favourites include Whitsand Bay, Godrevy Beach, Praa Sands Beach and Penhale Sands – although we can assure you that there are many more, so no matter where you are planning on staying in Cornwall, there will be a beach for you!
POSSIBLE COSTS: Many of the beaches will have free local parking although some you will have to pay for. There are also ice cream vans and cafes/pubs located near most of the more popular beaches in Cornwall for if you forget to bring along your own refreshments and lunch!
The Royal Cornwall Museum
Admittedly The Royal Cornwall Museum is only free for children (with paying adults), but this does make it much cheaper than many other days out that you will find! Plus there is so much to see and do in the museum that you will find yourself spending the day here without really having to spend any extra money on other things. There are artifacts and archaeological finds that allow you a chance to explore the history of Cornwall. You will also find many free activities for children both young and old throughout the year.
St. Michael’s Mount
Picture the well-trodden, medieval causeway, the surrounding changing tide and the 17th century castle….St.Michael’s Mount really is one to visit. The walk over to the castle and the harbourfront is free, but you do have to pay a small price if you want to actually go into the castle and the grounds. If you check the tide times then you can walk over to St.Michael’s Mount along the original causeway – the view in front of you really is quite something! Plus there’s no need to panic if you get stuck over there with the tide, as the ferry only costs £2 for adults and £1 for children to get you back to the mainland!
POSSIBLE COSTS: If you are wanting to go inside St.Michael’s Mount and see the gardens then you will have to pay.
The Camel Trail
Snaking through the countryside from Padstow all the way to Wenfordbridge, the Camel Trail is a well maintained, multi-purpose route that is suitable for anyone that is wanting to walk, cycle or horse-ride through the countryside. The disused railway line allows you to enjoy fields, the estuary and so much more! There are numerous places that you can join and leave the trail so you do not have to tackle the full 18 miles, plus some villages along the way if you are wanting to stop for a look around. The fact that this route is so well maintained also makes it perfect for anyone with less accessibility or with a pushchair!
POSSIBLE COSTS: If you are wanting to complete the trail by bike but left yours at home then fear not! There is Cycle Hire available for a reasonable price! There are also a number of cafes in villages that are situated by the trail, so if you are wanting to stop for some lunch along the way then this is an option for you.
Bude Sea Pool
Bude Sea Pool is a fantastic free thing to do in Cornwall! The pool is part-natural and part man-made, created in the 1930s by the cliffs to create a safe place to swim away from the strong currents of the sea, but also still providing you with the natural feeling of being in the sea! Plus the views surrounding the pool are fantastic! The pool is open to anyone and everyone, whether you are a family with inflatables and snorkels, a newbie surfer wanting to practice those skills or even a scuba diver!
POSSIBLE COSTS: Bude Sea Pool is free and open for most of the year, however the pool is run by volunteers who appreciate any donations that are given to help keep this fantastic attraction going!
Roskilly’s Dairy Farm
Ever wondered what being a dairy farmer actually consists of? Well a visit to Roskilly’s will leave you certain that it involves beautiful open fields, friendly dairy cows…..and a lot of ice cream! Roskilly’s is a working dairy farm that is free to visit, allowing you to watch the daily milking between 8.30 and 10.30 in the morning from the viewing gallery. Not only that but it gives you an excuse to start the day with ice cream for breakfast – as it would be impossible to say no to some homemade ice cream whilst you are there!
POSSIBLE COSTS: Visiting the farm and the cows is completely free, but your willpower will determine whether this is a completely free day out! The ice cream and restaurant are both hard to say no to – you’ve been warned!
Last but most certainly not least is the walking routes that are on offer in Cornwall. There are any number of parklands and estates with acres of grounds to explore, such as Mount Edgcumbe Country Park (which has 800 acres of grounds alone), the Godolphin Estate and the Princess Pavilions. These sites include farmland, more formal gardens and the Princess Pavilions even has a hidden tunnel down to the beach!
Not only this, but there are many routes and trails around Cornwall that are completely free to enjoy! Cardinham Woods has four walking trails and three cycle trails, plus plenty of spots for picnics or exploring with all the family throughout the day! If you are wanting something more challenging then we would recommend a hike up Rough Tor – Cornwall’s highest hill – so that you can enjoy the views of the surrounding Cornish countryside and the Fernacre stone circle!
If that isn’t enough to persuade you to get out walking then why not consider the Golitha Falls? This nature reserve is a beautiful spot that takes you alongside the river, with plenty of opportunities for stepping stones and exploring (plus a more manageable route for those wanting an easy stroll). Once you reach the falls themselves there are plenty of spaces for a picnic and a rest before you head back down.
POSSIBLE COSTS: Parking is free at this site but there is often food available if you didn’t get a chance to pack your own and are feeling peckish after the walk!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are the World Heritage Sites in Cornwall free to visit?
Yes! There are over 30 World Heritage Sites in Cornwall that are all worth a visit! Including mining, gardens, buildings and landscapes, there will be something for all the family and most of the sites are completely free!
Are all the beaches dog friendly in Cornwall?
No – although most of the beaches in Cornwall are dog friendly, there are some that aren’t, so it is important to check first before you are visiting. Some of our favourite dog friendly beaches in Cornwall include Mawgan Porth, Prussia Cove Beach, Lantic Bay and Holywell Bay Beach.