Insiders Guide To Falmouth
A laidback uni town with a vibrant cultural scene, Falmouth consistently ranks among the best places to live in Britain. From the high street populated by indie shops, eateries and galleries to the packed calendar of festivals and events, it’s easy to see why locals and students love it here.
Whether you live in Cornwall or are travelling from further afield, here are some of our Falmouth favourites…
Stylish Boutique B&B – Highcliffe
This surprisingly affordable five star Bed & Breakfast will make your stay in Falmouth one to remember. Its light interiors and elegant decor are perfect if you are looking for somewhere to relax and unwind after a day out exploring. All 8 rooms are styled individually, from singles to the roomy penthouse suite, though all are chic and very comfortable, with luxe touches such as Molton Brown toiletries and Egyptian cotton bed linen.
Breakfasts are made to order using local ingredients and if you’re feeling particularly lazy you can prearrange for it to be delivered to your room. Prices for a double room start from £72 during low season.
Rustic Seafood Bar – The Wheelhouse Crab & Oyster Bar
This rustic little crab and oyster bar is a hidden pearl tucked away down a little alley from Falmouth’s main shopping street, and serves freshly caught seafood straight from the quay. While limited to five dishes – oysters, crab, scallops, mussels and prawns – these are all exceptional and piled high. The atmosphere is warm and inviting; a perfect spot for eating with your gang, enjoying what many say is Cornwall’s best seafood. But be sure to book in advance, The Wheel House is extremely popular!
Modern British Cuisine – Oliver’s
You’re in for a gastronomic treat at this well-known Falmouth restaurant that offers fresh-off-the-pier fish, hand-cut prime Cornish steaks and other mouthwatering dishes just up the old high street. Ken has been a chef for over 30 years and has previously worked with Gordon Ramsey among others, while his wife Wendy has been a hotel manager at one of Falmouth’s most popular hotels for over 23 years. Together they offer fine dining and extraordinary service, and are happy to adjust or prepare their dishes to suit any dietary needs.
Cool Central Café – Good Vibes
This characterful, town-centre cafe doesn’t stray from its name, offering a friendly atmosphere and menu of fresh and colourful dishes (incl. lots of veggie/ vegan options) for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Their signature sandwich – the best in town IMO – is generously filled with homemade smokey hummus, smashed avocado, pickled ren onion and mixed leaves. Add a fresh smoothie or artisan coffee and you’ve got a flavour-packed lunch that will keep you buzzing all afternoon.
Traditional Greek-Cypriot Fare – Stavros
An authentic taste of the Med in Cornwall! This friendly Falmouth restaurant will remind you of holidays. Choose from a long list of Greek Cypriot specialties, including Stavros’ own personal favourite, the Meat Meze – which includes 20 sharing dishes, over four courses. It’s is a true Mediterranean experience, the only difference, says Stavros, is that in Cyprus you’d be eating outdoors. They also offer up (and often share) a free shot of Ouzo or a little glass of Metaxa Greek brandy with guests upon departure. Yamas!
See the best of Falmouth’s beaches by starting at Maenporth, a sheltered cove just to the south of the town. Take the path behind beachside restaurant The Cove and follow the coastal path that quickly rises taking in stunning views of the cliffs above. On a clear day you can see The Lizard in the horizon from here. Look down and you may see the remains of the wreckage of Scottish trawler Ben Asdale, from 1978. Once you reach Swanpool Beach, you can take a detour round the nature reserve (home to ducks and swans), or you can continue on the coast path to Blue Flag Gyllyngvase Beach. This isn’t too long a walk, about 4-5 miles, so it’s great for kids and dogs and you’ll end up at Gylly Beach Café, a gorgeous lunch or coffee spot that has echoes of the Med on sunny days.
Fancy more of a rural ramble? Argal Lake is situated in a picturesque and peaceful valley close to Penryn. The circular walk takes you through flower-filled meadows and woodlands for about 2 miles. Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome and there’s a rustic children’s play area on the site too. If you fancy a bite or just hanging out for a bit, there is a little pop-up kiosk ‘Wild Vibes’ run by the team behind Good Vibes, serving all your favourites from the café!
Pirate-themed Rum Bar – The Brig
A personal favourite for fun and cocktails in Falmouth (and they’ve just opened in Truro too). This pirate-themed bar – at the harbour end of the high street – boasts a trove of rums from round the world and is easily identified, by the skull and crossbones hanging by the door. The bar itself is in a basement, so once you walk down the stairs, it’s much as you might imagine the bowels of a pirate ship. The decorations and the menus are all maurader-inspired, as is the cocktail menu. My faves, me hearties, are the Dragon Boat or if you like your beer – you can’t beat the Blazing Sails.
Historic Harbour-view Gastropub – Star & Garter
Located in the heart of Falmouth, this historic pub is part and parcel of the town’s nautical heritage. There’s a bar area and a dining room with great views of the harbour and across to Flushing. Get there for Happy Hour when cocktails are 2 for £10 – from 4-7pm on weekdays – and all day on ‘Dirty Mondays’, when there’s a menu of smokey, meaty treats to soak them up. Every week there is a new cocktail special to try, oh, and don’t forget to say hello to Olive, the resident French Bulldog. Every chic bar has one!
Eclectic Interiors – Willow & Stone
You can find this Muddy Award winning interiors shop up the road from the harbour, selling contemporary home decor and stylish gifts that don’t cost the earth. They have a particularly large collection of period-inspired door knobs and ironmongery for the home as well as an eclectic lighting range, enamelware, ceramics and prints. I especially love the unusual and arty stationary, cards and accessories, which make brilliant gifts. Founder Sarah Willshaw started Willow & Stone back in 2005 and there is now an online outlet too, shipping their beautiful pieces all over the world.
Hip Plant Emporium – Toro
Seeking beautific botanicals for your home? Make a beeline for Toro Studio, in Old Brewery Yard, off Falmouth’s Old High Street. Selling the hottest houseplants of the moment, from rare succulents and delicate ferns to air plants and parlour palms, they can also furnish you with handy advice on how to keep them alive. Toro’s well-followed Insta feed will give you an idea of what’s on offer as well as providing plenty of inspiration, to help you create serene, plant-filled spaces of your own. They also host botanical drawing workshops with several dates lined up over the summer.
Community-focussed Yoga Studio – Falmouth Yoga Space
At this warm and welcoming studio in the centre of town there are classes that suit every level, as well as sessions that introduce more traditional practices such as kirtan and yoga nidra. If you are new to yoga you can try their ‘intro pass’ for £10, which gives you one class a day for a week, otherwise classes cost £8 individually or £60 (£55 for students) for a 10 class pass and £65 (£60 for students) for a monthly unlimited class. Browse their website to see the extensive range of styles they offer – including privates, men-only, therapeutic yoga and even yoga teacher training, for all you aspiring pros.
Serene Spa Experience – The Linen Rooms
Now for a little indulgence! Merchants Manor Hotel’s holistic boutique spa is the place to retreat to for a good pamper. Set in stylish surroundings, The Linen Room’s specially designed treatments include techniques from around the world and use luxurious Temple Spa products, inspired by the Mediterranean. A choice of ‘spa day’ or ‘stay’ packages include use of the pool and fitness suite and a meal or afternoon tea in the hotel’s award-winning Rastella restaurant.
Holistic Wellbeing – Rebalance Organic Reflexology
Melanie Allcott is a passionate and expert therapist, offering organic reflexology treatments from her peaceful, private treatment room with view across the water to Flushing, just a few minutes walk from the old high street. Snuggle under a blanket for your pressure-point, foot and lower leg massage in which Melanie will use organic balms with beautiful natural scents and ancient techniques to help you achieve your wellbeing goals.
Seafaring Heritage Centre – National Maritime Museum
Did you know that we know more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the sea? This museum celebrates our relationship with the sea and hopes to enrich people’s understanding of it. Exhibitions highlight current issues through interesting perspectives and share stories of maritime objects collected from around the world. Located on the Discovery Quay in Falmouth, this museum ploughs all admission fees back into the museum for further development, preservation and conservation of the Cornish maritime heritage. However, if you pay once you get free entry for the rest of the year! The mudlets love it here.
Historic Falmouth Fort – Pendennis Castle
This castle was created for national defense under Henry VIII, between 1539-47, as one of few artillery forts to be circular for 360 degrees defense. For 400 years it watched over the Carrick Roads, an important dock in the River Fal estuary, and defended it from enemies invading England. Today you can explore its history through displays and exhibitions and they also host events for children during most school holidays to bring the history to life.
Safe South Cornwall Beach – Gyllyngvase
Gyllyngvase Beach is a popular family beach, only 10 minutes from the centre of town and is a great choice for a day out with the kids. The water here is usually calm, making it safe for swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking (look up Gylly Adventures) and at low tide there are plenty of rock pools to explore. Being a town beach, it also benefits from decent toilet and changing facilities, a great cafe and kiosk and often bouncy castles during the summer months.
Award-winning Gardens – Kimberley Park
This seven-acre park is named after the Earl of Kimberley, who leased the parks to the Borough of Falmouth. It is a calm green oasis to enjoy with your family for a stroll, picnic or play. The beautiful ornamental plants and trees in the park have helped Falmouth win several ‘Britain in Bloom’ awards and there is also a brilliant, lottery-funded play area local kids love. To get there you can walk from the town centre, which takes about 5-10 minutes. Dogs on leads are welcome.
Vintage-inspired Bar – Dolly’s Tea Room
This tea room has the best of both worlds, as it transforms from a cosy café by day to candlelit wine bar by night. Dolly’s is known for its vast array of gin and the quirky way they serve it, in gorgeous tea pots, cups and saucers. The decór in this Georgian space is very much vintage-inspired, a traditional tea room, with a piano and chapel chairs and reclaimed tables, scattered with books and fashion mags. It is also very dog friendly, with its own resident pooch.
Family-friendly Art Space – Falmouth Art Gallery
Falmouth Art Gallery is easy to find as it is located on the centre of town, on the upper floor of the Municipal buildings. The gallery has a lively exhibition and events programme, changing exhibitions regularly – rotating works from their permanent collection alongside major museum loans, work from local artists, community groups, school children and students. Their art collection is large and eclectic for a small museum and there is a ‘limelight wall’ within the entrance gallery, is open to all aspiring and professional artists. Very family-friendly, they host regular workshops and events for children as well as a popular community education programme.
Charity Arts Venue – The Poly
This charity-run arts venue can be found in the heart of Falmouth and hosts an eclectic mix of art exhibitions, films, live performances, lectures and workshops. They are also guardians of significant collections of heritage archives relating to Cornish history and the works of artist Henry Scott Tuke. Expect everything from intimate gigs with internationally renowned performing artists to The Cornish Film Festival.
Music Venue in Lush Gardens – Princess Pavilion
This year-round live music venue and theatre puts on a wide programme of drama and live music, including performances from major international stars, such as Ed Sheeran and The Kaiser Chiefs. Set in four acres of beautiful formal gardens, it’s a special setting for concerts and events. Gigs are regularly added to the programme, so keep an eye out for the latest news.
Cheese and Wine in Wonderland – Chintz Symposium
A cheese and wine bar with imagination. The owners of ‘The Chintz’ – self-confessed Cornish reprobates – say to expect the unexpected from their unique bar (housed in a former dental surgery). The kooky decor – mismatched paintings, books, reclaimed furniture and surprising details – is inspired by Alice in Wonderland and the menu of carefully sourced cheese, charcuterie, dips and bits, is designed for sociable dining.
The Pub/Bookstore Hybrid – Beerwolf Books
For me, the best pub idea in the world, celebrating the fine traditions of beer and books! It seems that people agree, as it was voted ‘Britain’s Coolest Pub’ last year. It is a fascinating place to be both during the day and evening, with its quirky furniture and interiors and you will often see people reading at a table for one – a local brewery beer the best company. Beerwolf also hosts regular gigs and events, serving up a drinking experience that’s a little out of the ordinary.
Words: Amanda Stave