Looking for inspiration for things to do in Newquay for your next visit or stay that are less touristy? Here are my top recommendations (+ these don’t require driving anywhere!)
For those who aren’t from Cornwall, Newquay always seems to be the one famous town that every has heard of, or maybe visited at some time in their childhood. It’s definitely our most popular town, and therefore does tend to get VERY busy during summer with tourists and locals alike.
As a Cornish local, I’ll admit that I typically try to avoid the crowds in Newquay during July and August, but aside from the summer chaos, I always have a great time whenever I do visit. There is SO much to do here, no matter what type of thing you’re interested in, or what age you are, especially if you focus on the lesser known activities and avoid the tourist traps…
Why is Newquay so popular?
Newquay is a bustling seaside town, and has earned its place as one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK for several reasons.
Firstly, the surfing! In the 1960s when surfing came to the UK, Newquay really found its feet as a surfing paradise. The laid back surf culture is unavoidable here! There are a number of beautiful golden sand beaches with super clear waters, and great surf spots, dotted around the lively town centre, with plenty of surf schools and hire shops.
Another reason Newquay has become so popular is the lively nightlife too (which other parts of Cornwall can miss!), plus a number of tourist attractions that pull crowds in from all over the country. But there is so much more to be discovered in this town!
Is Newquay good for a night out?
Newquay definitely has the best range of options for a night out in Cornwall. It has more clubs and bars than any other town, and lots of events happening throughout the year.
Obviously if you’re used to London or big city nightlife, Newquay is going to be a very different vibe. But in comparison to other towns in Cornwall, it offers the best choice for places to go and things to do on a Friday or Saturday night for sure!
It’s home to Boardmasters festival every summer which adds to the bustling nightlife too.
What can you do in Newquay besides surfing or clubbing?
If you’re not into surfing, and you don’t want to go clubbing, Newquay still has LOADS to offer in terms of things to do, for all ages and all interests. From coast walks, kayaking, and adventure days, to shopping, spa days and cocktails! The typical tourist attractions will pop up on Google, but in this post I wanted to share my recommendations as a Cornish local.
10 lesser known things to do in Newquay
Chill out at an independent coffee shop (eg. Box & Barber)
Newquay is filled with plenty of quirky independent shop and irresistible little cafes (if you know where to look beyond the high street favourites), and one of my favourites has to be Box and Barber. Delicious coffee, tasty treats, and chilled surf vibes all round!
Try a coasteering adventure
One of the best days out I’ve had in Newquay was with Cornish Wave on one of their adventure days. I’d never been coasteering before, but climbing along the cliffs and jumping into the ocean along the coastline with the team was SO much fun. I would definitely recommend this for the adrenaline seekers!
Treat yourself to a luxurious spa day at The Scarlet or Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa
The Scarlet is well known throughout Cornwall for being one if its most luxurious hotels, with the most amazing indoor & outdoor spa areas. It definitely makes for a memorable spa day! It’s located at Mawgan Porth though, and I’ve tried to keep this list to include only places that don’t require a car or transport from Newquay town centre. You could walk to Mawgan Porth, although it would take a while – so this might be something that require a bus or taxi!
Meanwhile Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa is actually located next to the town, so doesn’t require any transport. Their GAIA spa treatments & massages are some of the best I’ve EVER experienced!
Walk or paddle along the Gannel estuary
The Gannel estuary is a beautiful spot going from Newquay town along to Crantock Beach. For nature lovers, the estuary is a wildlife haven and home to a wealth birds. Due to the salt marshes along the estuary, rare species are attracted here including little egrets. You can also enjoy a relaxing estuary SUP tour too, if you’d prefer to paddle down the river!
Attend a silent disco at Fistral Beach Bar
For the ultimate laidback surfy vibes, you can’t beat Fistral Beach and the Fistral Beach Bar. I love it here, and throughout summer they host some awesome outdoor carnival and Ibiza themed events out on their decking overlooking the sea, as well as awesome silent disco nights too.
Enjoy a spectacular coast walk
There are so many gorgeous coast walks around the Newquay area, so you’re really spoilt for choice. Take a beautiful walk along the coast path from Newquay town centre (approx. 1 hour 20) to Watergate Bay, or walk around the dramatic Pentire headland (30 minutes) with a stop for coffee at Lewinnick Lodge.
Pretend you’re on holiday with cocktails at The Boathouse
The Boathouse in Newquay is a food market and bar located on the beach on Newquay harbour and has quickly become my favourite spot! It’s hidden away from the main town and sits on the sand, with decking and plenty of delicious street food vendors and tasty cocktails. It genuinely feels like being abroad on holiday here!
Sweat it out in a clifftop sauna
Soak up the stunning views while you sweat inside this gorgeous wooden mobile sauna, perched on the edge of Watergate Bay cliffs. This is available from 14th September until 1st October at Olla Hiki Sauna.
Explore the magical coastline… from on the water
Newquay’s coastline is spectacular, and is wonderful to view from the coast path. However, if you want to really get stuck in, why not explore via a ‘Jet Ski Safari’ with Cornwall Waverunner Safaris? Or grab a snorkel, don a wetsuit and have an underwater adventure off of the headland. This is a wildlife haven and there is a resident seal in the harbour in Newquay. If you aren’t comfortable going alone and need some guidance, there are lots of tours locally. There are even kayak and snorkel tours so you get the best of both worlds. The spider crabs are amazing!
Indulge in a private wine tasting at The Bottle
The Bottle is a cute little wine shop and deli hidden away in the streets of Newquay town, and is the perfect stop for an evening tipple OR why not get a group of friends together for a private wine tasting?
Where to stay in Newquay
Luxury hotel in Newquay: Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa
Looking out directly over Fistral beach, Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa is one of my favourite hotels in Cornwall! If you love a laid-back yet luxury feel, with plenty of chilled beachy vibes, this hotel is for you. It has stunning modern bedrooms with sea views, an incredible fine dining restaurant, and some of the best spa treatments I’ve ever had.
Unique & quirky stay in Newquay: The Colonial at Tolcarne Beach
This is one of the quirkiest hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and definitely a magical spot if you want to stay directly on the beach, with colonial themed rooms and suites, beach huts and cabins and more. The Colonial also has a great restaurant with tasty brunch options, and lobster BBQs throughout summer!
Budget friendly stay in Newquay: Holiday Parks & Campsites
There are plenty of holiday parks and campsites dotted around Newquay. We recently stayed at Trenance holiday park in one of their glamping pods which was lots of fun, and is walking distance to Newquay town centre (they have lots of tent camping spots too).
*Some of these experiences I have previously been ‘gifted’ or hosted for free in exchange for a review in the past, but I am not obligated to include them in this blog post. I am only sharing my genuine opinions and things I’ve loved!