The quaint, artsy Cornish town of St Ives is one of the UK’s most special and unique seaside holiday destinations. St Ives has everything to offer holiday makers including several excellent beaches, coastal walks, tasty eating options and a great local arts scene. People have been coming to St Ives to spend their holidays for decades and the city does a fair trade in tourism. In the 1970s artists flocked to the town due to low rents, inspiring scenery and feeling of tolerance and many artists began their careers in the town. Today St Ives is something of a mecca for both arts fans and artists alike. In this guide we’ll be running through the best things to see and do in St Ives – read on!
Where to stay in St IvesSt Ives is full of holiday accommodation as well as hotels and hostels to suit every budget. Why not consider renting a typical St Ives cottage and experience what it is like to live in this pretty Cornish town? Check out Wimdu’s selection of accommodation in St Ives – we have seaside cottages, guest rooms for rent and holiday apartments in St Ives that we know you’re going to love!
- St Ives was named ‘best seaside town’ in the Guardian newspaper in 2007!
- The Sloop Inn pub on the harbourside first opened its doors in 1312!
- St Ives is named after St Eia, an Irish princess!
- The county of Cornwall has the longest coastline in the UK – it’s 433 miles long!
Things to see and do in St Ives
BeachesOne of St Ives’ biggest draws is the awesome selection of beaches that are all within walking distance of the town centre. Portmeor Beach is perhaps the best beach and stretches along the north side of the town. It’s a great place for surfing and the beach receives some fairly impressive sized waves from the Irish sea. You can hire surfing equipment on the beach during the summer. At low tide it’s possible to see the old boiler engine of a large ship that was shipwrecked off the coast of Cornwall! Next to the beach is the famous St Ives hill known as ‘the island’ which has a small chapel perched on top of it. People enjoy walking up the hill to admire the view of the town from the top.
Porthminster Beach is a smaller beach on the east side of the town that is popular with families. Porthminster has a row of classic colourful beach huts that hark back to the 1960s. Carbis Bay lies opposite St Ives harbour and is next to the train station. It’s also popular with tourists and a nice waterfront path links the town with this beach.
Galleries and MuseumsSt Ives has several excellent large galleries and museums, as well as countless smaller art galleries dotted throughout the town. The Tate Gallery St Ives is perhaps the most well-known art gallery in the town and overlooks Porthmeor Beach. The building is beautifully designed and displays an ever changing range of artwork from local and international artists, sculptors and video artists. You’ll need to allow a couple of hours to see everything and don’t forget to admire the views out to sea!
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is well loved by all who visit and displays the works of renowned local artist Barbara Hepworth. The museum is actually located in the artist’s own home and workshop, which makes visiting it even more special! The garden is a joy to walk around, despite being small, and Hepworth’s sculpture’s work very well in this context. The St Ives Museum is another great museum to visit and is located close to Porthgwidden beach. Entry is just £2 and the museum focuses on the history of St Ives, the people and the various exciting shipping related stories.