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St Ives Travel Guide
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St Ives Travel Guide St Ives beach

St Ives Travel Guide

Nestled amid rugged cliffs and turquoise waters, St Ives offers natural beauty, cultural experiences, and culinary delights you won't forget in a hurry. Whether you're an art enthusiast, beach lover, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, St Ives makes for a great UK break.

What you'll find in this guide:

Facts about St Ives

Practical info

St Ives weather

When to visit St Ives

Getting to St Ives

Getting around St Ives

St Ives beaches

Where to stay in St Ives

What to eat in St Ives

Sustainability in St Ives

St Ives for families

Accessibility in St Ives

St Ives for LGBTQI+ travellers

St Ives FAQs

What time zone is St Ives in?


What currency do they use in St Ives?

Pound sterling GBP

What language do they speak in St Ives?

English and Cornish

What power adaptors do you need for St Ives?

Type G

Facts about St Ives

Despite its northern latitude, St Ives enjoys a relatively mild climate compared to other parts of the UK thanks to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. This microclimate allows for the growth of exotic plants and palm trees, contributing to the town's unique charm and lush coastal landscapes.

It's not just the gorgeous beaches you'll want to head to the coast for. St Ives is home to a colony of grey seals, which can often be spotted lounging on rocks near the coastline. Many boat tours and wildlife excursions offer visitors the chance to observe these playful marine mammals in their natural habitat.

St Ives is proud of its Cornish traditions, and every February it hosts the St Ives Feast Day, which dates back to the Middle Ages. The highlight of the festivities is the 'Hurling the Silver Ball' ceremony, where a silver ball is thrown into the crowd and participants compete to retrieve and return it to the mayor. The event is a lively and unique tradition that celebrates the town's heritage.

Practical Info

Culture and etiquette


Tipping is always welcome, especially as it can be very expensive to live in St Ives for locals working in the town.


Smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces including restaurants, bars and public transport.

Language 101

English is the main language spoken in St Ives, as it is in most of Cornwall and the wider United Kingdom. There has however been a revival of interest in the Cornish language in recent years, which you can see displayed in signs, literature and cultural events throughout Cornwall as part of efforts to promote and preserve the language.

Here's a few helpful Cornish phrases if you fancied giving the local language a go.

Hello – Dydh da

Cornwall – Kernow

Thank you – Meur ras

Happy St Piran's Day – Gool Peran Lowen (St Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall)

Bye – Hwyl

Cornwall forever! – Kernow bys vyken!

Port – Porth

Beer and cider – Gwyns ha tasow

The sea – An mor

An unspecified time, later – Dreckly (often used in a relaxed sense meaning 'whenever it happens')

Fine, misty rain or drizzle – Mizzle

What's going on? What's happening? – Wasson

What's the weather like in St Ives?

St Ives, like much of Cornwall, is known for its unique microclimate and atmospheric conditions. It benefits from its sheltered position on the north coast of Cornwall, which helps create a relatively mild microclimate compared to other parts of the UK.

But don't be fooled into thinking it's tropical all the time. Fine misty rain or drizzle, or as the locals call it 'mizzle', is pretty common, so keep a waterproof jacket handy – even in the height of summer!

When's the best time to visit St Ives?

If you're not tied to school holidays, September is one of the best times to visit St Ives. The weather is usually still warm and mild so you can still enjoy days sitting on the beach, plus it is the warmest time of year in the sea so you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

September marks the end of the peak tourist season in St Ives, which means you can enjoy the town's attractions, beaches, and restaurants with fewer crowds and cheaper accommodation. St Ives September Festival is worth visiting too, with live music, art exhibitions, theatre performances, and literary events.

Getting to St Ives

St Ives is easily accessible by car, train or bus from major cities like London and Bristol. The nearest airport is Cornwall Airport Newquay, around 45 minutes away by car.

Getting around St Ives

The best way to explore St Ives is on foot. We wouldn't recommend driving around the town as the roads are very narrow, windy, and steep! Limited parking is available in the town centre, so if you are planning on driving in it's best to come early, or better still consider using public transport.

Best beaches in St Ives

St Ives beach

St Ives is blessed with several beautiful beaches, each with its own unique charm and attractions. Here are some of the best beaches in St Ives.

Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach is perhaps the most iconic beach in St Ives, known for its golden sands, clear waters, and excellent surfing conditions. It's backed by rugged cliffs and offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, making it a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. Porthmeor Beach is also home to the Tate St Ives gallery and several beachside cafes and restaurants.

Porthminster Beach

Porthminster Beach is a beautiful, family-friendly beach with soft golden sands and calm waters, ideal for swimming and paddleboarding. It's backed by lush gardens and offers panoramic views of St Ives Bay and Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance. Porthminster Beach is home to the award-winning Porthminster Beach Cafe, serving delicious seafood and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Harbour Beach

In the heart of St Ives, Harbour Beach is a picturesque sandy cove surrounded by colourful fishing boats and historic buildings. It's a great spot for sunbathing, paddling and watching the comings and goings of fishing boats in the harbour. Harbour Beach is conveniently near the town centre, making it easily accessible for visitors.

Bamaluz Beach

Bamaluz Beach is a small, secluded beach near the St Ives Museum and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. It's a quiet retreat away from the crowds, ideal for relaxing and enjoying the peaceful surroundings. It's also dog-friendly year-round, making it popular with dog owners and their furry companions.

Porthgwidden Beach

Porthgwidden Beach is a sheltered sandy cove nestled between Porthmeor and Porthminster beaches. It offers calm waters and gentle waves, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. It's home to the Porthgwidden Beach Cafe, serving light lunches and refreshments with stunning sea views.


Where to stay in St Ives

You'll find everything in St Ives from luxury hotels with sea views, cosy bed and breakfasts, self-catering cottages, and budget-friendly hostels. Here are a few of our favourites.


St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa. Overlooking Porthminster Beach, this luxury hotel offers stunning sea views, stylish rooms, and spa facilities.

Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate. Just outside St Ives, this elegant hotel boasts beautiful gardens, beach access and luxurious rooms with panoramic views of St Ives Bay.

Guesthouses and B&Bs

Tregenna Castle Resort. This historic castle hotel offers a range of accommodation options, including self-catering apartments and traditional guestrooms, set within extensive grounds with leisure facilities.

The Nook. A charming bed and breakfast in the heart of St Ives, offering comfortable rooms and a warm welcome from the hosts.

Self-catering cottages and apartments

Aspects Holidays offers a wide selection of self-catering cottages and apartments in and around St Ives, many with sea views and convenient access to the town's attractions.

St Ives Holidays. Another reputable agency offering a range of self-catering accommodation, from cosy cottages to contemporary apartments, ideal for families and groups.

Hostels and budget accommodation

Cohort Hostel offers beds in shared and private rooms for solo travellers, families and groups right in the heart of St Ives.

Camping and caravan parks

Ayr Holiday Park. Within walking distance of St Ives, this holiday park offers camping and caravan pitches, as well as glamping pods and static caravans, with on-site facilities including a swimming pool and playground.

Where to eat in St Ives

Cornish pasty

St Ives is renowned for its vibrant food scene, offering a diverse range of dining options to suit every taste and budget. Here are some of the best places to eat in St Ives...

Porthminster Beach Cafe

Right on Porthminster Beach, this award-winning restaurant offers stunning views of the bay and serves modern European cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Dishes include locally sourced ingredients and creative flavours, making it a favourite among locals and visitors alike.

Blas Burgerworks

Blas Burgerworks is a popular burger joint on The Warren offering delicious gourmet burgers made with locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes a variety of burgers, including beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetarian options, all served with homemade sauces and toppings.

The Rum and Crab Shack

As the name suggests, The Rum and Crab Shack specialises in rum cocktails and fresh crab dishes, served in a laid-back and atmospheric setting. Found on Wharf Road, this quirky restaurant offers a taste of the Caribbean in the heart of St Ives.

The Beach Restaurant at The Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate

For a more upscale dining experience, head to The Beach Restaurant at The Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate, overlooking the stunning Carbis Bay Beach. The restaurant serves modern British cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, complemented by panoramic sea views.

The Cornish Deli

The Cornish Deli on Fore Street offers a selection of locally sourced cheeses, meats, and artisanal products, perfect for picnics or grabbing a quick bite to eat. They also serve freshly prepared sandwiches, salads, and pastries, ideal for a casual lunch or snack. It's pricey for a sandwich but the quality is top level.

Moomaid of Zennor

No visit to St Ives is complete without indulging in some homemade ice cream from Moomaid of Zennor. On The Wharf, this beloved ice cream parlour offers a variety of delicious ice cream made with proper cornish clotted cream!

St Ives Bakery

St Ives Bakery on Tregenna Hill is renowned for its freshly baked goods – including traditional Cornish pasties. Their pasties are made with flaky pastry and filled with a hearty mixture of beef, potatoes, onions, and swede and are seasoned to perfection. Veggie options are available too!

The Good Trip Index

The UK ranks 20th on the Good Trip Index

This score is calculated based on Sustainability, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Press Freedom, Quality of Life, LGBTQI+ Rights and Animal welfare

Find out more

Sustainable tourism in St Ives

In St Ives, sustainable tourism is deeply rooted in community engagement and environmental stewardship, with initiatives such as the 2 Minute Beach Clean and Surfers Against Sewage playing prominent roles.

St Ives actively participates in the 2 Minute Beach Clean movement, encouraging locals and visitors alike to spend just a couple of minutes picking up litter from the beaches. This grassroots initiative helps keep St Ives' pristine coastline free of debris, preserving its natural beauty and marine ecosystems. Visitors can easily join in by grabbing a bag and picking up any trash they see while enjoying the beach.

St Ives also has a strong partnership with Surfers Against Sewage, a national organisation dedicated to protecting the UK's coastal areas from pollution. Through beach clean-up events, educational programs, and advocacy efforts, SAS raises awareness about marine litter, plastic pollution, and water quality issues. St Ives residents and businesses actively support SAS initiatives, working together to reduce plastic usage, promote recycling, and minimise pollution along the coastline.


St Ives for families

St Ives is an excellent destination for families, offering a wide range of activities and attractions to suit all ages. First there's the beautuful sandy beaches St Ives is blessed with, perfect for family fun in the sun. Porthminster Beach, Porthmeor Beach, and Porthgwidden Beach are all excellent choices for swimming, building sandcastles, and enjoying picnics by the sea.

While you're on the sand why not have a go at surfing? Several surf schools offer lessons for beginners of all ages, providing equipment and expert instruction to help you catch your first wave. Or embark on a family-friendly boat trip to Seal Island, just off the coast of St Ives. These excursions offer the chance to spot seals, seabirds, and other marine wildlife in their natural habitat, providing an unforgettable experience for children and adults alike.

If museums are more your thing, the Tate St Ives offers a variety of family-friendly activities and workshops, allowing children to explore contemporary art and get creative with hands-on art projects. The museum also has stunning ocean views from its hillside location.

Accessibility in St Ives

St Ives has made efforts to improve accessibility with features like ramps, accessible toilets, and beach wheelchairs. While its hilly terrain presents challenges, many businesses and attractions accommodate people with disabilities. Make sure to plan ahead and ask the attractions you plan on visiting about their accessibility features.

St Ives for LGBTQ+ travellers

St Ives welcomes LGBTQ+ travellers with open arms. Its inclusive atmosphere and stunning coastal views make it a popular destination for LGBTQI+ travellers looking for relaxation and natural beauty. St Ives is hosting its own Pride event in October, which is sure to be a great time to visit.


St Ives FAQs

How many days in St Ives is enough?

The ideal duration for a visit to St Ives can vary depending on your interests, travel pace, and the activities you want to experience. Many travellers find that spending 2 to 4 days in St Ives allows enough time to explore the town and its surrounding attractions, but if you want to properly relax and make the most of what the town has to offer a week is ideal.

What is the nicest part of St Ives to visit?

St Ives offers a variety of picturesque areas to explore. The harbour area is the heart of the town, boasting stunning views of bobbing boats, quaint cottages, and the azure sea. Visitors can wander along the harbour front, watch the fishing boats come and go, and enjoy a meal or drink at one of the many cafes and restaurants overlooking the water.

Porthmeor Beach is popular with surfers and sunbathers, and its golden sands, clear waters, and dramatic cliffs offer breathtaking views and a vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can relax on the beach, take a dip in the sea, or explore the nearby Tate St Ives art gallery. Porthminster Beach is great too, offering soft sands, calm waters, and stunning views of Godrevy Lighthouse. Visitors can relax on the beach, dine at the beachfront restaurant, or take a leisurely walk along the promenade.

Art enthusiasts shouldn't miss the chance to visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. This tranquil oasis showcases the work of renowned sculptor Barbara Hepworth amidst lush gardens and stunning views of St Ives. Or for panoramic views of St Ives and the surrounding coastline, head to The Island. This elevated headland offers walking trails, scenic viewpoints, and opportunities for wildlife spotting. It's a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the town below.

That being said, the hustle and bustle of the town centre is well worth experiencing. Strolling through the town centre, visitors will discover charming streets lined with art galleries, boutique shops, and cosy cafes. The narrow lanes and hidden alleyways are perfect for leisurely exploration, with surprises around every corner.

What is the cheapest month to go to St Ives?

The cheapest month to visit St Ives tends to be during the winter, specifically January and February. During this time, tourism in Cornwall generally slows down, and you're more likely to find lower prices on accommodation.