When we think of a trip to Cornwall, we probably picture balmy summer evenings by the coast and long warm beach days. Unfortunately the British weather is not all that reliable – even in sunny Cornwall! But the rain doesn’t need to dampen your holiday.
There are plenty of things to do in Cornwall in the rain, from ancient castles and character-packed inns to taking the plunge at a wild swimming spot, uncovering shipwreck treasures or exploring one of the finest collections of modernist art in the land.
Don’t let the rain put you off exploring all the nature that Cornwall has to offer. Getting a bit wet and muddy along the way is all part of the adventure! It’s a chance to bring out your inner child and reconnect with the wild. And that doesn’t mean you have to give up the luxuries either. Options like deluxe glamping enable you to reconnect with nature in style.
So whether you prefer wine tasting, history, tropical flora or thrilling adrenaline activities, Cornwall has it all in spades. Read on to find your perfect place to visit during inclement weather.
1. Explore the Eden Project
Address: Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
Entry fee: Standard adult from £32.50
Since its opening just after the millennium, the Eden Project has firmly established itself as one of the top places to visit in Cornwall when it’s raining. Gorgeous flora from all over the globe can be seen within its iconic biomes.
The Eden Project is located just a few miles from St Austell and is an educational, charitable eco visitor attraction. Its rainforest biome is a favourite among visitors and the 30 acre site takes around four hours or more to explore.
2. Go glamping
If you were planning to reconnect with nature on your Cornwall adventure, why not consider gorgeous glamping accommodation, rather than taking your chances with the rain under canvas?
For added luxury, book accommodation such as a glamping pod with a hot tub for those long, dreamy soaks. What a glorious way to spend a rainy day!
3. Visit Bodmin Jail
Address: Berrycoombe Road, Bodmin PL31 2NR
Entry fee: Standard adult from £12.50
It’s not only the rugged Cornwall’s coastline that can be stormy. The most southwesterly county in England also has an intriguing – and at times rather dark – past. Bodmin Jail is an award-winning, immersive attraction that’s one of the most fun things to do in Cornwall when it’s raining.
Visitors to the historic 18th century jail can follow in the footsteps of the condemned via the 90-minute Dark Walk. This interactive journey clearly demonstrates the links between Cornwall’s past and present.
4. Get learning at Bodmin Keep
Address: The Keep, Bodmin PL31 1EG
Entry fee: Standard adult from £6.00
With around 12,000 historic artefacts to discover, Bodmin Keep is a must for fans of all things military. The imposing 19th century building itself is also an attraction. It was used during World War I as an enrollment centre, and also acted as the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry headquarters.
Allow two to three hours to explore the impressive collection and enjoy the interactive experiences offered. This is one of the best days out in Cornwall when it’s raining for visitors of all ages.
5. Go wild swimming
A glamping holiday is all about connecting with Mother Nature, and one of the top free things to do in Cornwall in the rain is to take a dip in a completely unspoiled setting. There are health benefits too: wild swimming can help fight pain while increasing fitness and immunity, and stimulating your circulation and metabolism.
Swimming in the sea is an obvious choice, but it’s not the only option. You can also take the plunge at one of the River Fowey pools close to Lanhydrock House, dive into a former granite quarry at Carn Marth or take a dip by a waterfall at St Nectan’s Kieve near Tintagel.
Don’t fancy getting in the water? Try paddleboarding in Cornwall as an alternative.
After an invigorating swim in the rain, what better way to round off the day than by firing up the wood burner in a cosy cabin and popping open a bottle of wine to enjoy by the fire.
6. Wine tasting at Trevibban Mill Winery
Address: Trevibban Mill, Padstow PL27 7SE
Entry fee: Tasting from £15.00 per person
Padstow is well-known as a foodie destination, but did you know that you can also sample local vintages at Trevibban Mill winery nearby? Tasting the range of wines and ciders is surely one of the best things to do in North Cornwall in the rain.
You can take a grand walking tour at weekends, or visit between midday and 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday when guided tours are available. Book a table inside or outdoors for stunning views over the sublime Cornish countryside.
7. Explore Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
Address: A3059, next to RAF St Mawgan, Newquay TR8 4JN
Entry fee: Standard adult from £10.50
One of the best things to do in Newquay when it rains is to discover the history of flight at the Aviation Heritage Centre. As pets on leads are welcome, it’s also one of the top pastimes for those seeking things to do in Cornwall in the rain with dogs.
A genuine ex-RAF hangar houses an awesome collection of bomber and fighter planes made between 1940 and 1990. There’s a flight simulator for a thrilling hands-on ride, and as Newquay Airport is next door you can also see modern aircraft taking off and landing during your visit.
8. Seek out Cornwall’s waterfalls
You may associate waterfalls with visits to countries with hotter, more tropical climates, but Cornwall can certainly hold its own when it comes to cascading waters.
The county’s clutch of impressive waterfalls includes Golitha Falls on Bodmin Moor, the Rocky Valley area close to Tintagel, the 100 foot Pentargon waterfall north of Boscastle, the falls of the Luxulyan Valley and Spekes Mill Mouth on the Culm Coast.
Discover nine of the most beautiful waterfalls in Cornwall.
9. Go surfing at FlowRider
Address: Winnard’s Perch, St Columb Major TR9 6DE
Entry fee: Surfing from £25.00 per person
There are few better places on earth to sample surfing than in Cornwall – and there’s no need to worry about the weather. The county’s only surf simulator can be found around six miles from Newquay in St Columb Major.
Anyone aged over eight and who reaches the minimum height requirement of 107cm can take part. Skilled instructors can ensure you’re riding waves like a seasoned pro in no time at all.
10. Have fun at Adrenalin Quarry
Address: Lower Clicker Rd, Menheniot, Liskeard PL14 3PJ
Entry fee: Cliff jump from £12.50 per person
Cornwall activities in the rain don’t come much more thrilling than at Adrenalin Quarry. This visitor attraction has been ‘throwing people off cliffs’ for a number of years now, and also offers a range of other white-knuckle experiences.
There’s go-karts in all sizes, a gravity-defying giant swing, huge inflatables, axe-throwing and of course cliff jumping to experience. For experienced swimmers, a challenging open water course also awaits.
11. Visit the Helston Museum of Cornish Life
Address: Market Place, Helston TR13 8TH
Entry fee: Free
If you’re seeking interesting things to do in South Cornwall in the rain, how about a visit to the Helston Museum of Cornish Life? It’s ideally placed for those holidaying on the Lizard peninsula, or along the stretch of coastline running between Prussia Cove and Porthleven.
The museum is also free to visit, so it’s well worth popping into when you’re in town anyway. All sorts of exhibits are on display, covering everything from gardening and farming in the Cornish countryside to musical instruments and children’s toys.
12. Go to the pub
If the sound of all this activity seems a bit much when you simply want to unwind, why not just enjoy a day at the local Cornish pub? Wherever you’re staying, there’s bound to be a character-packed pub nearby.
Some inns offer more than a mere nod to Cornwall’s stormy, smuggling past, while others offer sea views or are set amongst the windswept expanses of Bodmin Moor. The most famous of all is of course the Jamaica Inn, the setting for Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel of the same name.
13. Explore Lanhydrock National Trust estate
Address: B3268, Bodmin PL30 4AB
Entry fee: Standard adult from £17.00
Lanhydrock Estate is popular with a wider audience than just those who are into wild swimming. The magnificent Victorian Lanhydrock House dates from the 19th century, and the landscaped setting is incredibly photogenic.
Visitors can gawp at the elegant interiors, bike the trails through the estate or wander among the woodland. There’s also a gift shop, tea room and a small garden centre on site.
14. See Lizard Lighthouse
Address: Lizard, Helston TR12 7NT
Entry fee: Standard adult from £4.50
Lizard Lighthouse dates from the mid 18th century, and marks the most southerly point of the British mainland. Exploring this area is one of the finest things to do in Cornwall when it’s raining for adults and kids, and it’s far less touristy than Land’s End.
It may surprise you to learn that the lighthouse was attended by keepers right up until 1998. The flagship Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre was opened over a decade later during 2009, and is packed with engaging displays, interactive experiences and historic relics.
For accommodation near the Lizard Lighthouse, check out The Dairy. A dreamy cabin in Helston, what better way to round off a day of adventuring than with a soak in the hot tub. Arguably even better if it’s raining!
15. Visit the Polperro Heritage Museum
Address: Mawdsley’s Room, The Warren, Polperro PL13 2RB
Entry fee: Standard adult from £3.00
Though it’s small, Polperro Heritage Museum is located in an idyllic fishing village. Spending time in this picturesque location is one of the best things to do in West Cornwall when it rains.
Pretty Polperro is also home to quaint inns, a photogenic cove and some great walking trails. Paying the museum a visit also means putting all this into context, understanding the smuggling and fishing traditions that so defined the county’s past.
16. Stop by the Geevor Tin Mine
Address: Pendeen, Penzance TR19 7EW
Entry fee: Standard adult from £14.25
Known then as North Levant Mine, Geevor produced around 50,000 tons of metal between 1911 and 1990. It was the last site of the St Just Mining District to close, and this area was more abundant in copper and tin mines than anywhere else on earth.
Now, it’s the largest of all the UK’s protected mining sites. As a visitor to the museum you can use interactive displays, view original machinery, take a guided tour, see the Hard Rock collection, try mineral panning, and more.
17. Indulge in afternoon tea
Tasting a traditional Cornish cream tea is not to be missed – and is of course a great way to fill an inclement afternoon. Expect fluffy, freshly-baked scones, richly fruited preserves and lashings of local clotted cream.
There are superb afternoon tea spots all over the county, so you can add dainty finger sandwiches and delicious cakes to the menu if you like. Jam or cream first? Here in Cornwall it’s jam first, while Devonians swear by piling the cream on before adding their preserves.
Discover the best spots for afternoon tea in Cornwall. Or if you don’t fancy heading out, buy some local ingredients and make your own afternoon tea as part of a luxurious glamping experience. We can’t think of many better ways to enjoy cream tea than sheltered in a charming cabin with views out to sea.
18. Explore the PK Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
Address: Eastern House, Porthcurno, Penzance TR19 6JX
Entry fee: Standard adult from £10.00
If you’ve ever wondered how you can communicate so clearly with someone based on the other side of the world, then a visit to the PK Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is a rainy day must for you!
Many of the telegraph cables laid beneath the sea bed were first brought ashore at this site. The village itself also boasts one of Cornwall’s most paradisiacal beaches.
19. Discover the castles of Cornwall
While Tintagel holds the crown as the most legendary castle in Cornwall, there are plenty of other fortresses found here too. There’s St Michael’s Mount, Launceston Castle, Caerhays Castle and Gardens, and many more.
Carn Brea castle even houses a restaurant specialising in Middle Eastern dishes. While the twin castles of St Mawes and Pendennis give Tintagel a serious run for its money in terms of spectacular coastal views.
20. Admire modern art at Tate St Ives
Address: Porthmeor Beach, St Ives TR26 1TG
Entry fee: Standard adult from £10.50
Number one for all art fans on any list of things to do in St Ives in the rain is the Tate Modern. With its beautiful setting and the unique quality of the light, St Ives has long been favoured by creative types.
Barbara Hepworth is of course the town’s most famous alumnus. There is also a dedicated museum here showcasing the artist and sculptor’s modernist works. Note that entry to this is charged separately.
21. Dive into the Shipwreck Treasure Museum
Address: Quay Road, Charlestown Road, Saint Austell PL25 3NJ
Entry fee: Standard adult from £12.50
Though the name is relatively unknown, Charlestown in Cornwall is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also home to a museum housing over 8,000 pieces of loot from more than 150 shipwrecks.
Exhibits include weighty cannon balls, copper ingots, the sole barrelful of coins currently in existence and gold bullion. You can also find out all about shipwreck diving here, learning all about how such treasures have been recovered.
If you’re daydreaming about whiling away some rainy days in a luxury glamping home, book a stay with Unique Hideaways.
With this list of things to do in Cornwall in the rain, you’ll almost be hoping that the heavens do open during your stay!
This post was written in collaboration with Unique Hideaways.