St Ives is a charming seaside town with a picturesque fishing harbour, located in Cornwall, England. Approximately 275 miles from London, St Ives is a great destination for a road trip to the British seaside. In this post, learn more about planning a weekend in St Ives, Cornwall, with recommendations of where to go and places to eat.
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Weekend Break in St Ives
We lucked out with sunny weather and clear skies to enjoy St Ives’s gorgeous coastline on a weekend break from London. St Ives is a pleasure to explore by foot, whether you are exploring the beaches, browsing the shops at the town centre or enjoying the lively atmosphere at the harbor.
Our favourite places to spend time during our summer weekend in St Ives were Porthmeor Beach, Porthminster Beach and St Ives Harbour.
Located just below the Tate St Ives, Porthmeor Beach is a soft, sandy beach and popular surfing spot.
Porthmeor Beach has plenty of facilities that include a café, surf school, restrooms and beach rentals.
The water looks very inviting, but it is freezing and wetsuits (which can be rented at the beach) are highly recommended!
Located at the opposite side of St Ives, Porthminster Beach is great for families with young children thanks to its calm, protected waters.
Only a ten minute walk from the town centre, Porthminster Beach is also very conveniently located, with a train stop and nearby car park.
There are a number of facilities at Porthminster Beach, including a beach bar and café, restaurant, ice cream parlour and chalets to rent.
We had dinner at Porthminster Beach Café (read on for more details and photos), which we can highly recommend the restaurant.
St Ives Harbour
Along the coastline of St Ives are bright, beautiful gardens. This fantastic view overlooking St Ives Harbour is at a lookout point between Porthminster and the town centre.
The beach at St Ives Harbour is a popular spot for families during the day to enjoy being by the water.
The coastline views are beautiful from St Ives Harbour, looking towards Porthminster Beach.
St Ives Harbour is bustling with activity in the evening, with shops, cafes, restaurants, an arcade and art galleries along the waterfront.
St Ives Town Centre
The independent shops and art galleries at St Ives town centre are a pleasure to explore.
We found some great souvenirs, including a children’s book set in St Ives, The Little Sea Dragon’s Wild Adventure by Helen Dunmore.
We also purchased lovely handmade glass bowls by local artist Jo Downs at her shop in St Ives. Jo Downs is one of the world’s most respected fused glass designers.
St Ives Restaurants
Porthminster Beach Café
Porthminster Beach, Carbis Bay, St Ives TR26 2EB | www.porthminstercafe.co.uk
One of the best restaurants in St Ives is Porthminster Beach Café, with its fantastic oceanfront location overlooking Portminster Beach. The restaurant is very family friendly and the food and atmosphere are excellent.
Mr. G ordered the whole baked Dover sole, served with roasted garlic butter, fresh lemon, tiger prawns and baby leeks. Little T had a plate of fish and chips off the kid’s menu.
I ordered the Cornish prime beef fillet and rib (served separately below), served with a tasty oxtail hash, burnt onion, Bordelaise sauce, ripped Yorkshire and fried turnip.
The Seafood Café
45 Fore Street, St Ives TR26 1HE | www.stivesseafood.co.uk/the-seafood-cafe
Located in the heart of the St. Ives town centre, the Seafood Café offer a selection of fresh local seafood, prime Cornish meats and free range poultry dishes.
You can make a selection from the display cabinet and add your choice of side order and sauce from the blackboard.
Seafood Café also offer a menu of starters, light lunches and main dishes. Mr. G had a plate of grilled halibut with potatoes, which was a simple dish with great flavour.
Little T had fish and chips off the kid’s menu. Children’s menu options at Seafood Café also include Cornish fish pie, chicken goujons and sausage and mash.
9 High Street, St Ives TR26 1RR | www.pengennapasties.co.uk
For the drive back to London, we bought several Cornish pasties from Pengenna Pasties in the town centre. The pasty is Cornwall’s signature dish, steeped in Cornish history, and usually filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.
Pengenna has a great selection of beef, lamb and vegetarian pasties. Their range of flavours include Traditional Steak, Steak and Stilton, Lamb, Vegetable, Cheese and Onion and Vegan pasties.
Moomaid of Zennor
Street-an-Pol, St Ives TR26 2DS | www.moomaidofzennor.com
One of the best dessert places in St Ives is the Moomaid of Zennor ice cream parlour, serving delicious luxury Cornish ice cream. Moomaid of Zennor make their ice cream at their family run dairy farm perched on the hills between Zennor Hill and the Atlantic Ocean.
Flavours at Moomaid of Zennor include traditional favourites such as Cornish Clotted Cream and Honeycomb, along with unique flavours like Limoncello Lemon Curd and Salted Caramel Praline. Do stop by Moomaid near St Ives Harbour for scrumptious ice cream and keep an eye out for greedy, relentless seagulls!
I hope you have found this Weekend in St Ives post helpful! We had a wonderful time in St Ives and fell in love with the beautiful town, sandy beaches and picturesque coastline.
Where to Stay in St Ives
St Ives is a pleasure to walk around, and I would recommend choosing a hotel close to town to make the most of it. An ideal location for a St Ives hotel or holiday rental is within walking distance to Porthminster Beach, St Ives Harbour and Porthmeor Beach.
If you are close to any of those places, you can easily walk between the main beaches as well as the shops and restaurants of the town centre.
Check prices and book a hotel on Tripadvisor.com
The hotel we stayed at on our weekend break was the St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa overlooking Porthminster Beach. While the hotel had a fantastic location, we were disappointed with the service and the small, dated room that was not worth the price.
To give you an idea about the road trip to Cornwall, it was about a 7 hour drive from London to St Ives on a Friday afternoon. We followed Google Map directions that had us driving through Bristol, and we kept getting stuck in traffic and arrived much later than we expected.
Nearly all restaurants were closed by the time we arrived in St Ives (around 9.30/10pm)! Heading back to London on Sunday, we stuck to the carriageways and the drive back was a much easier 5 hour road trip with hardly any traffic along the way.
England Travel Inspiration
Looking for more inspiration for the summer holidays in England? Find ideas for day trips and weekend breaks from London with these round-up posts;
This weekend in St Ives Cornwall post was updated on 31 July 2023 with more photos and updated visitor information.
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