Photo by Benjamin Elliott  –  Link

St Ives


It's not an exaggeration to say that that St Ives, Cornwall, is perhaps one of the most beautiful fishing villages in the whole of the UK. Surrounded by aquamarine waters worthy of a tropical island, it boasts beaches made up of pristine white sands, a perfectly picturesque harbour, and narrow cobbled streets lined with quaint cottages. Even when the tide is out, an occurrence that makes most ports look a bit sad, it's still picture perfect - there's a good reason it's been a darling of the art world for so long. Now also offering independent shops and restaurants galore, and with a small fishing fleet still operating, St Ives has managed to retain its traditional charm despite being a popular holiday destination. If you're in Cornwall, this one of those places you really need to see. 

The St Ives Arts Scene

For over 150 years now St Ives has been attracting artists and other creative types, drawn by the stunning town, the rugged landscape, and the fact that its geographical position offers an impeccable quality of light, making it perfect for outdoor painting. It's no surprise, then, that some of the most well-known names in art chose to make their home here, including Romantic painter William Turner and sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

Between the 1940s and 1960s St Ives also became a hub for modern and abstract British art, leading to those working within this set to be given the moniker the 'St Ives School'. Today, the town's arts scene continues to thrive, and it is home to the Tate St Ives, one of the four main museums of the iconic Tate art institution.

Food and drink

Make no mistake about it, St Ives is heaven on earth for foodies - from fish caught that day to creamy Cornish ice cream, there's a lot to tuck into. For a breakfast that won't disappoint, get yourself to the Scoff Troff Cafe in Market Place. With all meals created using fresh and local produce, their fry ups are far above anything you'd find in your usual greasy spoon, and their breakfast omelettes are legendary. Expect to have to wait a little while for a table, but you can take that as a good sign.

After a morning spent playing in clear waters of Porthmeor beach, wander over to Porthmeor Cafe for a spot of lunch. Don't worry, you won't have to walk far as it actually sits on the sand. Afterwards, order a Cornish cider and sit in the sun and relax for a while, watching the people play on the beach. This would be a great moment to treat yourself to an ice cream, but be warned, the seagulls here are notoriously bold and infamously greedy so be prepared to defend it with all you might.

For dinner, head to the St Ives Harbour Hotel, which sits on the clifftop high above the white sands of Porthminster Beach. Make sure you go before sunset, as its restaurant looks out onto unbeatable views of the bay; you'll be able watch the waves crash in and the boats bobbing past while tucking into locally caught crab linguine, with glass of wine in hand. Just perfect. 

Top tips:

  • St Ives gets very, very busy on a warm summer day. If possible, try to visit slightly out of season - June or September would be the perfect time. 
  • If you're not staying in the town itself then leave the car at your accommodation and take the train, changing from the mainline at St Erth. The train ride from St Erth to St Ives takes just under half an hour is stunning, mostly running right alongside the beautiful coastline.

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