Exploring Newquay: A Travel Guide to Cornwall's Coastal Gem

Discover Newquay's top attractions, travel tips, and hidden gems

If you are new to Newquay, we can assure you that you will enjoy this vibrant seaside town. Nestled along the rugged coastline of Cornwall, Newquay has a well-deserved reputation as a premier destination for surfers, beach lovers, and families seeking adventure and relaxation. Here, you will find sandy beaches, aquamarine waters, outstanding surfing, amazing walks, family-friendly fun, and much more. In this guide to Newquay, we seek to share some of what makes this town such a popular place to visit. 

Welcome to Newquay

Until the 15th century, this fishing port town was called Towan Blystra. At that time, the Bishop of Exeter gave permission for the building of a new quay, and the rest is history. Fishing is no longer the primary industry here, though you will see a fishing boat or two in Newquay Harbour. Surfing is one of the main attractions now, and the laidback surfing culture is perfect for a seaside holiday. In addition, you can enjoy water sports, coastal exploration, and a host of outdoor activities. The nightlife is lively, too, and that makes for quite a draw. If you visit in July or August, you should expect chaotic crowds, but as long as you steer clear of summer’s height, you will certainly enjoy the time you spend enjoying all that Newquay has to offer. When is the best time to visit? Some people prefer September, when the summer crowds have gone and the whole area feels more relaxed. The shoulder seasons of May and June or September and October are arguably the best time to visit, when the pace is slower than summer, and the weather is comfortably mild. If you are not visiting for the beach, but just to hike the rugged coastline, winter also has a certain charm. 

Newquay: Things To Do

  • Newquay Beaches, Surfing, and Water Sports: Newquay is the indisputable surfing capital of the UK. Fistral Beach, with its high cliffs and sand dunes, is the favourite for surfing competitions, but it is also a wonderful place for families to spend a beach day enjoying the water and building sandcastles. It is not the only gorgeous beach in Newquay, though, and the secluded cove of Lusty Glaze Beach was named ‘Beach of the Year 2017’ by both The Times and The Sunday Times. Kite surfers enjoy Watergate Bay, three miles from Newquay, and this beach also has safe swimming areas for families with little ones, where there are rock pools to explore, and the family dog is welcome. Bedruthan Steps, Porth, Tolcarne, and Great Western are also beaches worth a visit. Because Newquay is such a popular place for surfing, it is easy to find surf lessons and gear for hire. Newquay Activity Centre is a good place to start, with lessons in all sorts of outdoor activities, including surfing, kayaking, coasteering, and paddleboarding.


  • Family-Friendly Activities: This family-friendly area offers a wealth of attractions and activities for all ages. Of course, there are children who will spend days on end enjoying the beaches, but if yours get restless and want something else to do, you do not have to worry about them ever being bored. One great place for a day away from the beach is Trenance Leisure Park, where there are playgrounds and parks, crazy golf, pitch and putt, a miniature railway, and beautiful gardens to wander. Here you will also find Newquay Zoo, Heron Tennis Centre, and Newquay Leisure world, with a swimming pool, children’s fun pool, and a fitness centre with classes to take. 

  • Outdoor Adventures: Surfing is far from the only outdoor activity you can enjoy in Newquay. Here, you can experience hiking, cycling, and other adventure sports as you explore Newquay’s natural beauty. The South West Coast Path runs around the headland and behind Fistral Beach on its way to the rocky cliffs of Pentire. A little further north, you will find Trevelgue Head/Porth Island, which was a major hub of civilisation in the prehistoric ages, as far back as the Mesolithic period. You can walk as much or as little of the coast path as you like, as it runs all around Newquay. There is also the beauty of the Gannel estuary to enjoy, whether you wish to take a stand up paddleboard down the river or cross it on the footbridge at low tide. Coasteering is an exciting activity, giving you an adrenaline rush while you climb along the cliffs and jump into the water. 

Newquay: Places To Visit

  • Top Newquay Attractions: The beaches are a huge draw, as is the South West Coast Path, but there is plenty to do when you want a change of pace. 

    • The Newquay Zoo: Perfect for animal lovers, the zoo has over 130 species in its location amongst Trenance Gardens. Not only is it an interesting, enjoyable, and educational place to visit, but it is a registered charity that supports education, scientific research, and conservation efforts around the world. 


    • The Blue Reef Aquarium: Overlooking Towan Beach, this aquarium has over 40 displays, housing a wealth of marine life in an environment that evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the sea. There are also feeding displays, rock pool workshops, and informative talks. Perhaps the most spectacular element of the aquarium, however, is the coral reef display at its centre, housed within a 250,000-liter ocean tank with exotic tropical species including blacktip reef sharks, a rescued loggerhead turtle, brightly coloured reef fish, and a gigantic southern stingray. 


    • The Eden Project: It is about a 30 minute drive from Newquay, but the Eden project is Cornwall’s most interesting and largest attraction, so it is well worth the side trip. It has plenty to enjoy, with a rainforest biome and Mediterranean biome housed within its domes and an outside botanical garden with native plants and wildlife. There is also an on-site restaurant with delicious foods, and the site holds special events on major holidays as well as hosting a series of live music concerts in the summer. 


    • Dairy Land Farm World:  If you have children between the ages of two and 10, Dairy Land Farm is a wonderful place to take them if you need something different to do. Farm-themed activities like tractor rides will delight them, as will the outdoor trampolines, and in wet weather, the massive indoor play area is sure to keep them occupied. 


  • Hidden Gems: Off the beaten tourist paths in Newquay, you will find delightful ways to enjoy the town the way the locals do. Independent coffee shops, cafes, and shops abound, and so do some truly memorable spas. The Fistral Beach bar is a laidback surfy venue, with decking that overlooks the sea. Another fun place to have a cocktail is the Boathouse in Newquay, a food market and bar tucked away from the main town, sitting on the sand at of the beach at Newquay Harbour. You will enjoy dining in Newquay, as it has become a hotspot for foodies over the last few years, so there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars to discover. Rick Stein Fistral, on Fistral Beach, is a good place to indulge in Cornish fish and chips, as well as international delights. The Boathouse in the harbour offers freshly-caught seafood and shellfish, and The Beached Lamb Café offers burgers as well as options for vegetarians and vegans. If you want a feel-good dining experience, check out Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in Watergate Bay, where the profits all go back to the Cornwall Food Foundation.


Practical Information for Visiting Newquay

Travelling to Newquay is easy, with a train station and bus station within walking distance of most parts of town and the Cornwall Airport only six miles away. Once you have made your way to town, you can explore by foot, rent an e-bike, or easily park, as long as the school holidays have not overwhelmed the town. When it is not a school holiday, there are car parks all over Newquay. Try to get to your parking spot before 11am, though, and do not bring a roof box, as almost all of the car parks have height barriers. 

Make Your Newquay Stay Unforgettable with Together Travel

When you are ready to visit Newquay, Together Travel has amazing accommodation options. Near Fistral Beach we offer stylish self-catering apartments, some dog-friendly, near all that Newquay has to offer. If you prefer to stay in our two bedroom holiday home overlooking the Gannel Estuary, you will be perfectly situated to enjoy both the lively town of Newquay and the golden, tranquil sands of Crantock beach. Just a short distance from Fistral Beach, the property has many activities within walking distance, including Trenance gardens, Newquay Zoo, splash pool and local riding stables. No matter where you are traveling in the UKTogether Travel Co. is here to bring your holiday dreams to life. All across the UK, we have luxurious, comfortable, unique properties located wherever you want to be. Find out how we can make your trip amazing by contacting our expert concierge team at +44(0)1625 416430 or emailing us for more information.