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From ancient castles shrouded in mystery to the culinary delights of the Cornish Pasty, there are plenty of amazing experiences in Cornwall that you definitely won’t want to miss.

It’s a county packed full stunning scenery and friendly people – but it can be easy to miss out on the most authentic local experiences in Cornwall if you’re not travelling with a local.

Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered – here are our top five essential experiences to get you under the skin of this amazing sea-side region.

Surf into the Sunset

surfer riding the waves at sunset

Cornwall is a county deeply connected to its coast-line. No matter where you go, you’ll always catch a whiff of the salty sea air, and any café or restaurant you find will offer a sampling of the finest British sea-food, caught fresh that morning.

But if you want to really experience this defining element of Cornwall’s character, you should get up close and personal. Since the 1960s, surf schools have been popping up on beaches across the county, and the area has become famed for its surfing. Rent a board and get to know a friendly local while enjoying a Cornish sunset, and discover just how important the sea is to this area.

Make a Cornish Pasty

cornish pasties

If you’re looking for an awesome experience in Cornwall, look no further than the iconic Cornish Pasty.

Over the years, it’s become a bit of an art form – in fact, there’s a whole society dedicated to its protection, and to ensure it’s being made right. Beef skirt, potato, onion, swede, and seasoning to taste – add anything else, and it’s not a pasty. And of course, it has to be crimped into the iconic D shape.

Sounds complicated? Don’t worry, there are plenty of places across the county that will show you just what it takes to make a proper pasty.

Uncover Legends at Tintagel Castle

coves and rocky walking paths in Cornwall

This is simply one of the most spectacular historic sites in all of the UK, and an awesome experience in Cornwall.

The settlement, dating back all the way to the 5th Century AD was home to Bishops, Earls, and Kings. Perched precariously, half on the mainland, and half on a rock-outcrop protruding into the sea, the only way to access the main part of the castle now is via a new rope bridge. Legend has it that this was where the story of King Arthur was conceived, and strolling around this island with views out over the sea, you can easily feel that sense of myth, magic, and legend.

Get Lost in the Lost Gardens of Heligan

sculpture of sleeping giant

Dubbed by the times as the garden restoration of the Century, the Lost Gardens of Heligan are in fact one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets. In fact, the secret was so well kept, their existence was lost to time until the end of the 20th Century, when they were re-discovered by two locals out on a stroll. At that point they had remained hidden for over 100 years, being finally forgotten during the First World War.

Now, they make up one of the most amazing experiences in Cornwall – famed for their nationally significant collection of Rhododendrons, and artwork old and new dotted around the site. It also houses the UK’s only outdoor jungle!

Beat the Sea to St Michael’s Mount

St Michael's Mount in Cornwall

Time your visit to St Michael’s Mount. Whilst you can reach the island by boat, by far the more exciting route is via the tidal causeway. At low tide, the waves retreat to reveal glistening cobblestones that have been lying in wait for hundreds of years.

On most days, there are only a few hours where the cobbles are visible, so make sure you check the tide times. Walking through the sea as the waves part around you, looking up at this ancient castle that keeps watch over its lonely island is one of the most unforgettable sights in all of Cornwall.

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