things to do in st ives

Last Updated on: 3rd July 2024, 10:41 am

As a professional journalist, I have traveled to many places, but one town that has stolen my heart is St. Ives. Nestled on the stunning Cornish coastline, St. Ives is a jewel in the UK’s tourism crown, offering visitors a unique experience unlike any other. If you are planning a trip to the United Kingdom, make sure to visit St. Ives, where you can enjoy a range of activities that cater to all interests and tastes. From breathtaking beaches to world-class art galleries, St. Ives is the perfect destination to create unforgettable memories.

St. Ives is known for its incredible scenery and picturesque town, attracting visitors from all over the world. Whether you’re looking to relax, learn about local history, or indulge in delicious cuisine, St. Ives has something for everyone. During my recent trips to St. Ives, I’ve discovered some of the town’s hidden gems, and I’m excited to share them with you.

In this guide, I will take you through the best things to do in St. Ives, whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or with family. Keep reading to discover some of the town’s must-see attractions and experiences, such as exploring the town’s beaches and galleries, taking a stroll along the coastal path, or indulging in Cornish cuisine. See for yourself why St. Ives is one of the UK’s most popular destinations by planning your own adventure.

Things to do in St. Ives

1. Explore the Beaches

Crystal clear waters, golden sands, colorful beach huts – St. Ives has it all. It’s no wonder that the beaches here are a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in the sun or want to try some water sports, there are beaches to suit every taste.

Porthminster Beach is a family-friendly option, with its wide expanse of sand, calm waters, and excellent facilities. It’s perfect for swimming and paddling, and you can also rent beach huts, deck chairs, and windbreaks. (beaches in st ives)

Porthmeor Beach, on the other hand, is known for its excellent surfing conditions. The waves here are perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike. The beach is also a great spot for sunbathing and relaxing, and you can hire sun loungers, deck chairs, and parasols. (st ives beaches)

Harbour Beach is a small, sheltered cove that’s perfect for families with young children to explore. It’s not as busy as some of the other beaches, but it has plenty of charm. You can hire kayaks and stand-up paddleboards here, or just relax and enjoy the stunning views of the harbor and St. Ives Bay. (beaches in st ives)

beaches in st ives

Whichever beach you choose, make sure to take in the breathtaking scenery and enjoy the fresh sea air. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and some sunscreen, and prepare for a day of fun in the sun. St. Ives is a charming seaside town with a wealth of activities to offer, much like other coastal destinations such as Hastings.

2. Visit the Tate St. Ives

tate st ives

If you’re a lover of modern and contemporary art, the Tate St. Ives is a must-visit attraction in St. Ives. This prestigious gallery has a particular focus on artists inspired by the Cornish landscape and presents works from a wide range of diverse exhibitions. Admire the impressive architect-designed building and browse the extensive collection housed within.

Explore the artistic marvels of the exhibitions on display at the Tate St. Ives during your stay and be sure to stop by the shop to indulge in some unique souvenirs. Any art enthusiast is guaranteed to leave the gallery fulfilled and inspired by its rich and varied showcase of modern, contemporary art.

3. Wander through the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

As I strolled through the picturesque streets of St. Ives, I couldn’t resist a stop at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. This stunning museum is home to the works of one of Britain’s most influential sculptors, Barbara Hepworth. Her abstract sculptures are displayed in an idyllic outdoor sculpture garden that complements the works perfectly.

The serene surroundings are a fitting tribute to Hepworth’s affinity with nature and the local landscape. I was particularly struck by the juxtaposition of the smooth bronze sculptures against the rough-hewn granite rocks that towered above them.

The museum provides a fascinating insight into the life and artistic process of Hepworth, with exhibitions showcasing the progression of her work throughout her career. The museum also shines a light on the Cornish artists’ colony in which she lived and worked during her most productive years. For those who love exploring history and culture, St. Ives has much to offer, similar to Ilfracombe, another town rich in heritage and artistic experiences.

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

“The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is a must for art lovers seeking a unique cultural experience in the heart of St. Ives.”

4. Take a Stroll along the Coastal Path

As an avid walker, I highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll along the breathtaking coastal path in St. Ives. Whether you prefer a short walk or a longer hike, there are plenty of walking trails in St. Ives that offer picturesque views of the sea and countryside.

You can choose to walk along the path in either direction and enjoy the stunning scenery at your own pace. The coastal path in St. Ives is well-marked, making it easy to navigate, and is suitable for both experienced hikers and those new to walking trails.

If you’re lucky, you may even spot some local wildlife along the way, such as seals or dolphins. And don’t forget to pack a picnic to enjoy in one of the many scenic spots along the route.

An energizing hike along St. Ives’ coastal path is the perfect way to get some exercise while taking in the natural beauty of the town.

And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even join an organized walking tour along the coastal path to learn more about the history and culture of the area.

Coastal Path St Ives

Overall, walking along the coastal path in St. Ives is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the stunning landscape of the area and experience the natural beauty of the town.

5. Explore the St. Ives Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the history of St. Ives, a visit to the St. Ives Museum is a must. This museum is a treasure trove of information about the town’s past, and a great place to spend an afternoon.

The museum is housed in a charming old building, and the exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including the town’s rich maritime heritage, local crafts and industries, and the famous artists who lived and worked in St. Ives in the early 20th century. The displays are well-presented and informative, making it easy to lose oneself in the rich history of the town.

One of the highlights of the museum is a detailed model of St. Ives Harbour, which showcases the town’s longstanding relationship with the sea. Visitors can also see a collection of old photographs and artefacts, providing a glimpse into life in St. Ives in days gone by.

Whether you’re a local history buff or just looking to learn more about this charming seaside town, the St. Ives Museum is well worth a visit. Stop by and discover the fascinating stories and rich heritage of St. Ives. Art enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the local galleries in St. Ives, just as they would in Reading, which boasts a vibrant arts scene.

6. Enjoy Water Sports and Activities

If you’re looking for an active adventure, St. Ives offers a range of water sports and activities. Try your hand at surfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding in the clear waters of St. Ives Bay. Get the adrenaline pumping as you ride the waves and take in the stunning views of the Cornish coastline.

If you prefer something a bit more relaxing, why not join a boat tour? Explore the picturesque coastline and spot some of the local wildlife, such as seals and dolphins. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature-lover, there’s something for everyone. Nature lovers can indulge in various outdoor activities in St. Ives, much like those available in Peterborough, which offers beautiful parks and nature reserves.

“Had the best time surfing in St. Ives! The waves were perfect and the instructors were so friendly.”
– Sarah, London

7. Visit the Leach Pottery

If you’re an art lover, the Leach Pottery should be on your list of must-visit places in St. Ives. This pottery has a rich heritage and is named after renowned potters, Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. During your visit, you’ll have a chance to explore the working studios and gallery showcasing contemporary ceramics.

Admire the intricate designs and learn more about the history of pottery in St. Ives. The pottery also offers visitors the opportunity to create their own ceramic pieces under the guidance of expert potters. Take home a unique piece of St. Ives as a memento of your time here. You don’t have to be an expert to create something beautiful.

“The Leach Pottery is a great place to observe the craft of ceramics. It’s inspiring for anyone interested in art, especially pottery.” – James, London.

8. Indulge in Cornish Cuisine

During your visit to St. Ives, I highly recommend exploring the local cuisine. With plenty of restaurants in St. Ives to choose from, there is no shortage of delicious options to satisfy your hunger.

One of the must-try dishes in Cornwall is the traditional Cornish pasty. These savory pastries are typically filled with minced beef, potato, turnip, and onion, wrapped in a pastry crust. They are perfect for a quick lunch or snack on the go.

If you’re a seafood lover, be sure to taste the fresh catch of the day. Local fish such as mackerel, hake, and bass are popular options, often accompanied by chips or salad.

For a more indulgent treat, don’t miss the chance to try a cream tea. This classic Cornish dish consists of scones, jam, and clotted cream, accompanied by a pot of tea. Many cafes and restaurants in St. Ives offer their own unique twist on this classic dish.

And for a truly unforgettable dining experience, head to a restaurant with a stunning sea view. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a delicious meal while taking in the beauty of the Cornish coastline.


After exploring the charming seaside town of St. Ives, I can undoubtedly say that it’s a must-visit destination in the United Kingdom. The golden beaches, fascinating art galleries, and unique cultural experiences make this town a gem on the Cornish coastline.

Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or beach bum, St. Ives has something to offer everyone. I highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll along the coastal path or indulging in some delicious Cornish cuisine. And don’t forget to visit the Tate St. Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Leach Pottery for an enriching cultural experience.

Plan your adventure in this picturesque town and create memories that will last a lifetime. You won’t regret it.


What are some of the best things to do in St. Ives, UK?

Some of the best things to do in St. Ives, UK include exploring the beautiful beaches, visiting the Tate St. Ives art gallery, wandering through the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, taking a stroll along the coastal path, exploring the St. Ives Museum, enjoying water sports and activities, visiting the Leach Pottery, and indulging in Cornish cuisine.

What are the top beaches to visit in St. Ives?

The top beaches to visit in St. Ives are Porthminster Beach, Porthmeor Beach, and Harbour Beach. These beaches offer stunning views of the coastline and are ideal for relaxing on the golden sands or trying out water sports.

What can I expect to see at the Tate St. Ives?

At the Tate St. Ives, you can expect to see a variety of modern and contemporary art exhibitions, with a particular focus on artists inspired by the Cornish landscape. The gallery showcases an impressive collection and offers a unique cultural experience.

What is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden?

The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is a cultural attraction that displays the works of renowned British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Visitors can explore the tranquil outdoor spaces where her sculptures are displayed and gain insight into Hepworth’s life and artistic process.

Are there any walking trails in St. Ives?

Yes, St. Ives offers a beautiful coastal path that is perfect for walking. This well-marked trail allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area and enjoy breathtaking views of the sea and countryside.

What can I learn at the St. Ives Museum?

At the St. Ives Museum, you can learn about the town’s rich maritime heritage, explore exhibits showcasing local crafts and industries, and discover the history of the famous artists who were drawn to St. Ives in the early 20th century.

What water sports and activities are available in St. Ives?

In St. Ives, you can try your hand at surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and other water sports in the clear waters of St. Ives Bay. You can also join boat tours to explore the stunning coastline and spot marine wildlife such as seals and dolphins.

What is the Leach Pottery in St. Ives?

The Leach Pottery in St. Ives is a renowned pottery studio that pays homage to the rich pottery heritage of the area. Visitors can learn about the famous potters Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, explore working studios, and browse a gallery showcasing contemporary ceramics.

What kind of cuisine can I find in St. Ives?

St. Ives offers a range of delicious Cornish cuisine. You can indulge in fresh seafood, traditional Cornish pasties, cream teas, and more. There are also plenty of restaurants to choose from, some with stunning sea views.