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Top places to live in Cornwall Falmouth

This laid back, pretty waterside university town has an arty feel and has an attractive town centre, surrounded by beautiful Cornish countryside. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.


Popular with students and creatives and their families, Falmouth (or Fal to the locals) has a long-standing maritime history and culture. The town centres around the world’s third largest natural deep-water harbour and is surrounded by areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as a number of beautiful beaches. Falmouth offers coastal living with the benefit of being in a large (for Cornwall) town with amenities, university and period properties – although, as we mention with most coastal places in Cornwall, the nicest options will cost a packet.


The high street is full of places to drink and eat, including many independent cafes and restaurants. Highlights to look out for include the tiny but delectable Seafood Bar from Verdant microbrewery (who also make good beer), Restaurant MINE, the Water’s Edge restaurant and working boat pub at The Greenbank Hotel, The Wheelhouse Crab and Oyster Bar, and the Provedore trattoria and takeaway, which also does pop ups. Beerwolf Books in Bells Court just off Market Street is a quirky shop offering, um, beer and books.

Just down the road you’ll find the warehouse Origin cafe at Penryn and if you head the other way out of Falmouth you’ll get to Michael Caines place, The Cove at Maenporth, followed by the lovely silver service restaurant at Hotel Meudon. Inland, we like the Potager garden café where food grown on site is served up in the greenhouse restaurant.

Pub-wise you’ll find everything from student favourites right the way up to gastropub the Star & Garter in the town itself, with great cocktails, food and views. Out of town, head south to the Helford where you’ll find the Ferryboat Inn at Helford Passage. 


The high street in Falmouth is packed with independent Cornish businesses including Finisterre, Botanical Atelier, and plenty of vintage and antique shops as well as the usual (Cornish) high street offerings. Falmouth also has a good number of supermarkets and amenities, bakeries, grocers and even two Tesco Express, one at each end of the high street (hey, everyone needs a pint of milk now and again?).


In the town itself you’ll find the Discovery Quay, a new development which is home to the superb National Maritime Museum and guarding the entrance to the harbour is Pendennis Castle. The town beaches of Gylly and Castle are popular – you’ll find everyone from kids to SUP fans and wild swimmers making the most of the coast here. 

Catch the ferry from Falmouth to the Roseland where you’ll find St Mawes on the otherside of the harbour, or head south, where there are beaches like Maenporth, and then the Helford – another area of Outsanding Natural Beauty with plenty of walking and water sports (perfect for a canoe trip). With its oak wooded banks and sub-tropical gardens of Glendurgan (not open all year) and Trebah, there’s tons to do for all ages.


Terraced properties made up the the most sold properties in Falmouth in 2020, costing an average of just under £300,000, with the average property costing £355,664, which is up 20% on 2018. Detached properties on average cost over £500,000 with waterside costing significantly more.


4 bed double bay fronted stone terrace house on the market for £1.25m with Lillicrap Chilcott.


St Mary’s Catholic Primary School has an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating and there are a number of primaries which are rated ‘Good’. For secondary, there is Penryn College – as well as options in nearby Truro, where the independent offering includes Truro SchoolTruro High School for Girls and preps include Truro Prep and Polwhele House School, up to year 9. State school-wise in Truro, St Mary’s C of E is an Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’ primary and Penair and Richard Lander, both secondary, are rated ‘Good’.


Falmouth Art Gallery might be small but it puts on some excellent and sometimes surprising exhibitions. We are looking forward to Freud, Minton, Ryan: Unholy Trinity when it opens later this month. Falmouth is also known to be the “events capital of Cornwall” where ‘Fal’ weeks include the annual oyster fest, a sailing celebration and most recently annouced, Falmouth Book Festival in October, where local authors taking part include Dawn French, who has been Chancellor of Falmouth University since 2015.


It takes around half an hour on the train from Falmouth to Truro, where you can pick up a mainline train and be in London Paddington in just over four and half hours. Driving to London takes longer as you have to factor in the frankly not very good road up to Truro, but it’s still very accessible to the west and north west of Cornwall.

View the full Top 200 Best Places to Live

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