Visiting Newquay – 10 things to see and do

Newquay has a bit of a reputation as being a town full of surfers and stag dos, and its sheer popularity with holidaymakers (it’s the most visited place in Cornwall) sometimes sends people fleeing for the quieter of the Cornish tourist spots.  However, I have had so many fun weekends in Newquay that when Hotel Direct asked me to write a guide to visiting the lovely seaside town, I wanted to make sure I captured all of its hidden gems and places to visit, to convince you not to give Newquay the swerve! The fact that it’s such a popular destination means that it has some amazing restaurants, bars and accomodation, as well as beautiful beaches and lots to do, so I thought I’d compile my top ten things to see and do in Newquay.


001. Fistral Beach

Fistral Beach is the most famous of Newquay’s beaches, and one of the best surf spots in the UK.  It’s a 20 minute walk from the city centre so it’s easily accessible if you’re staying locally.  There’s several bars and restaurants located around Fistral Beach, including a new branch of The Stable restaurant chain that serves pizzas, pies and ciders (Stable are a favourite of mine!)

img credit: the stable

002. Surfing lessons

There are millions (okay, maybe not millions) of surf schools in Newquay and it’s a great place to try surfing as there are so many schools, places to hire equipment and beaches that are fairly consistent for surf.

Try Newquay Activity Centre – they also do coasteering and bodyboarding lessons (but surfing is way cooler than coasteering and bodyboarding, right?)

003. Lusty Glaze

img credit: beachtomato

Lusty Glaze is a horseshoe cove on the outskirts of Newquay, with a beach-side restaurant, tons of activities going on (cliff activities, jet-skiing, more surfing lessons and even beach rugby) as well as spectacular scenery.  Not for the lazy beach go-er though – there’s 133 steps down to the beach…

004. Boardmasters Festival

I went to Boardmasters a few years ago now and ever since I’ve been dying to go back.  Boardmasters offers surfing, skateboarding and BMX competitions, as well as an amazing music festival at Watergate Bay. This year Chase and Status, Bastille and Snoop Dogg are playing – now that’s what I call a line-up! I love the beachy, fun feel of Boardmasters, I’d much rather have sandy toes than muddy wellies!


005. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant

Last time we were in Newquay we had a lovely lunch at Fifteen, a restaurant with stunning views over Watergate Bay.  Fifteen was founded by Jamie Oliver and takes a group of apprentice chefs every year and trains them to work in the restaurant.  They use mainly local foods and the menu changes every day, with set and a la carte menus for lunch and dinner.  We had the set lunch menu and I had mackerel and potato salad, a slice of beef with lentils and salsa verde and strawberry and yoghurt meringue for dessert.  I’d definitely recommend a visit, even just for the stunning views and cool interior, though it is a little pricey (our three-course lunch was £28pp).

jamies fifteen restaurant

006. Café Irie

img credit:

As you can probably tell from the photo above, having a cup of tea in Café Irie is a little like chilling out in a hippie’s living room – full of interesting things to look at, with the smell of chai lattes and yummy vegan food wafting through from the kitchen.  They do amazing breakfasts, fair trade coffee and loose leaf tea and even Cornish cream teas.  A must visit for when you want to escape the

007. Blue Reef Aquarium

The Blue Reef Aquarium is situated on Towan Beach, directly below the town centre.  It’s been a few years since I’ve visited but last time I went I remember it being fairly small (it would take about 1-2 hours to explore the whole aquarium) but it was still a fun place to visit  It costs £10 to get in – a good way to while away a couple of hours if you visit Newquay and it rains (and let’s face it, it’s Cornwall, so there’s a good chance of that happening!)

008. Newquay Zoo

I’ve not been to Newquay Zoo but I’ve heard some good reviews of it from people who have.  The zoo is just outside of the town centre, in Trenance Gardens.  It’s obviously not one of the biggest zoos in the UK so don’t go expecting London or Edinburgh, but there’s still lots to see and do with lots of animals and a picnic area and maze.  Admission is £12.95.

009. Trerice Manor House and Gardens

For people looking for more than just sun, sea and sand, Trerice might be up your street – an Elizabethan Manor House (it’s a National Trust property) with bowling green and gardens.  The gardens are supposed to be beautiful and there’s also a tearooms if you fancy a cup of tea or a pasty! They also do Tudor banquets where you can enjoy a four-course meal and ‘traditional Tudor revelry’ – which sounds pretty fun if you ask me!

010. Padstow 

Padstow is an incredibly pretty little fishing port about half an hour away from Newquay – it’s the perfect place to escape to if you’re staying in Newquay and fancy a slightly slower pace (though it is still a busy spot for tourists!) The charming harbour and multitude of little shops and places to eat make it a great place to visit – check out Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips for a rather yummy lunch spot!

Of course my ultimate tips for Newquay would be – eat a pasty the size of your head, go swimming in the sea, dig your toes into the sand, drink cocktails whilst watching the sunset, have a Cornish cream tea and go for long walks on its rugged coastline.  In my opinion, Cornwall is one of the best places in the world, and Newquay certainly has a lot to offer.

Have you visited Newquay? What are your must-visits?

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