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Campsites in Cornwall – Recommended by the Cornwall experts

Campsites in Cornwall

From the craggy, Atlantic-bruised cliffs of the seaside to vast Bodmin Moor and the tin mine-dotted countryside, Cornwall is undeniably one of the most picture-perfect places to go camping in the UK. Whether it's a secret garden hideout with just a handful of tent pitches or a family-friendly farm overlooking the sea, you can guarantee there'll be a campsite in Cornwall to suit your needs. So blow up that beach ball, pack the flip-flops and take a pick from our selection of the very best places to stay. It's time to go camping!

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Camping in Cornwall

Cornwall is almost the perfect family camping holiday location with big beaches, cute fishing villages, Cornish pasties and clotted cream ice-cream. As this is one of the UK's most popular destinations, the campsites in Cornwall are extremely well run, and many are set up as large holiday parks. Our selection of campsites avoids the larger places though, plucking instead for the best independent campsites in Cornwall and glamping in Cornwall that goes that extra mile to give you the perfect camping holiday. Whether you're looking for a peaceful tent pitch in the Cornwall countryside, a family campsite by the beach or a Cornish glamping haven with bells, whistles and some extra homely comforts, we're sure we'll have something to suit.

Whether you want to kick back on the nearest beach or explore the rugged wilderness of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall offers ample activities to any camper. For the latest ideas on what to do in this far flung corner of England's south west, you can go to the Visit Cornwall website or, once you've pitched your tent and slipped on the sandals, you could flip flop your way to the nearest tourist information centre instead. Most campsites will have plenty of information about up-coming events and local places to eat and drink, too, while campsite owners and wardens are always happy to lend advice.

Popular Places to Visit

There’s a little bit of everything in Cornwall and, whether you’re looking for a tiny smuggler’s cove with a cute, old harbour village or a vibrant party town, you’ll probably be in luck. In summertime, the county is far busier with holidaymakers than the rest of the year, when things quieten down and the settlements take on a more tranquil and subdued feel. But for local pubs, seaside galleries and pleasant village cafés the time of year hardly matters.

Newquay is arguably Cornwall's most famous town. A seaside resort, but also a working fishing port, the fish and chip shops here will always have a fresh catch to serve up, while the bars and restaurants do a busy trade late into the summer nights. It has a reputation as a bit of a party town and is the surf capital of the North Cornwall coast, yet it manages to be both trendy and also a great place for families too. Bordered by seven miles of glorious sandy beach and backed by beautiful scenery, it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular to go camping in Newquay.

If you’re a camper that simply wants to escape, however, there are certainly more secluded spot. The most intrepid should take a trip out to the Isles of Scilly, located some 25 miles off the coast of mainland Cornwall. These culturally unique cluster of islands is almost entirely car free and is reached via ferry or teeny tiny plane, with inter-island ferries hoping between the islands once you get there. There’s a wide range of outdoor activities and water sports there but, above all else, it’s a place to revel in the isolation and enjoy the feeling of being on a tropical island without the need to pack your passport.

Back on the mainland, the Lizard Peninsula offers one of the furthest reaches of South West England and is flanked by superb sandy beaches on both sides, while Land's End is famously the most south-westerly point on the mainland altogether. The wonderful town of St Ives, meanwhile, is renowned for its art scene – be sure to visit the Tate St Ives, which also includes the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gallery inside – and Padstow, Rock and Penzance are all popular too for their culture and cuisine. Elsewhere on the coast, Bude, Fowey, Looe and Port Isaac are other names that trip of the tongue and are among the top spots to visit on any camping trip.

Visiting Cornwall isn’t all about the coast, though. While the beaches and bays steal the headlines, it’s worth retreating inland to the peace and quiet of Bodmin Moor, vast expanse of heather and moorland that’s a boon for walkers and hikers. Climb the two summits, Brown Willy and Rough Tor, for incredible views across the area and all the way back towards the sea.

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Camping on the Coast

Looking for a seaside campsite? With over 300 miles of coastline to explore, Cornwall is unsurprisingly considered the best place to be in the UK for kicking back on the sand and enjoying days beside the sea. Whether you want to go camping on the North Cornwall coast or you think of yourself as more of a south coast kind of camper, we're confident there will be a place to pitch that's right for you. Here at Cool Camping we pride ourselves on picking out the very best locations – we've got a fistful of best-selling guidebooks to show for it – and when it comes to Cornwall, camping near the sea is often high on most people's to-do lists.

From Bude to Perranporth in the north or from the windswept Coastwatch station at Rame Head to the tranquility of the Helford River in the south, this is a coastline of variety and beauty. Exposed to the full brunt of the Atlantic, the north coast of Cornwall is generally considered to be the wilder part of the landscape. Rocky headlands and great dramatic scenery dominates, while beaches are tucked in bays and coves. In the south, meanwhile, there’s generally a calmer feel to the place. It’s a pretty coastline, known as the Cornish Riviera and more frequented by family campers than the swell-seeking surfers.

Wherever you are, however, beaches, bays and bluffs produce an epic back-drop for the well-known and much-loved South West Coast trail, while Cornwall's beaches are proud to claim themselves as some of the best for watersports in the whole of the UK. While North Cornwall is England’s surfing capital, there are plenty of other options too, with sea kayaking, windsurfing, body boarding, coasteering, sailing and jet skiing all on offer, depending when and where you go.

The best bit about the Cornish coast, though, is that there are plenty of campsites that slope right onto the beaches. So bring your bucket and spade and forget long journeys in the car. Cornwall is the county that lets you get right up close to the coast and really embrace the sea breeze and the big surf. Feel the sand beneath your toes as you traipse across dunes back to your tent and build epic sand-castles as the sunsets before hurrying home for an evening campfire.

Getting excited just thinking about it? Browse our recommended campsites today – from family-friendly favourites to secluded spots for adults – and discover a world of incredible independently run campsites and pitches in Cornwall where you can pop up your tent, park your campervan or generally just kick back and enjoy the sun.

Family Camping in Cornwall

Campsites in Cornwall are always a real hit with the kids. And we should know. We've been out and about with tiny tots and written multiple family-focused guidebooks about it – and every time our little ones give Cornwall two big thumbs up. Why? Well, for starters theres the proximity of most campsites to the coast (see above) but also a wealth of other family-friendly activities besides.

No longer reliant on the weather to flaunt its charm, Cornwall boasts an array of landscapes and attractions for all seasons: Marvel at mega stars like the Eden Project or be seduced by the maritime ambience in waterside villages littered with trendy shops, cafés and family friendly pubs that welcome children of all ages. The beaches, the blue skies, the old tin mines and the ancient smugglers' haunts, Cornwall is a land full of mystery and intrigue that will enliven the imaginations of your children. Many campsites are on family-run farms where children can get hands-on with the animals, while some are tiny tent-only campsites in gardens where little'uns can safely run free away from cars. Almost all campsites in our list, meanwhile, will provide you with marshmallows for the campfire and a clotted cream ice-cream for your walk to the beach. What more could you want than that?

One of the best things, too, is that, as such a popular camping destination, you'll never be the only one taking the kids on holiday to Cornwall. The upshot? Think campsites full of kids, where one child becomes instant friends with another even though they've never met and both live hundreds of miles away. Yes, these are the kind of places campsites in Cornwall are. Places where kids can be kids and make friends before you've even pitched the tent. Places where space is never at a premium and ball kicking and frisbee throwing are all part of the fun. Places where surf-boards are available to borrow and buckets and spades are almost obligatory. The only tough bit? Getting them in the car and heading home until next summer.

Glamping in Cornwall

Don't have your own tent? Don't worry. There are heaps of fantastic glamping sites available to book on the Cool Camping website, ranging from high-end luxury yurts and family-sized safari tents to simple, summer bell tents and winter-worthy shepherd's huts that are open all year round. So if you fancy glamping in Cornwall, take a browse and find the accommodation that's right for you. It's not just standard glamping accommodation that's on offer either. We've been out and about exploring and have been staggered by the range of unique places on offer. Quirky treehouses have blown our minds, while we've also found craftsmen converting horse-boxes or transforming old shipping containers into remote glamping getaways. Whatever you're searching for, the best places will be here on the Cool Camping website. So take a look now and discover your next glamping adventure in Cornwall today.

Tent Camping in Cornwall

Traditional, back-to-basics camping of old is still the way to go for most people when it comes to camping in Cornwall. And, thankfully, while glamping is booming and caravans are as popular as ever, there are still plenty of tent-only campsites in Cornwall that are bucking the trend. After all, many campers still want a simple, cheap place to pitch the tent that has a natural feel and no man-made obstructions diluting the camping experience. As ever, here at Cool Camping, tent campers get our full support! If you're looking for a tent retreat you've come to the right place. From flat, seaside campsites to inland hideaways that avoid the busiest summer crowds, we've got a whole selection of campsites that are perfect for tent campers. Small, secluded and focused on canvas, these campsites will often welcome campfires and favour ample grassy space over the likes of all-weather tarmac pitches and areas for static caravans. Sound like your cup of tea? You've come to the right place.

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Cornwall's Top Attractions

The Eden Project hardly needs any introduction and, since its opening for the millennium, has become a staple for most visitors to Cornwall. The sight of the massive biomes as you approach the site is awesome and, inside, they’re a fair treat two. The twin indoor ‘biomes’ – Rainforest and Mediterranean – are fascinating and sit on the land like giant space-age structures. There’s plenty going on in the ‘outdoor biome’ as well, with some 32 acres of garden containing almost 2000 plant species to explore.

Yet while the Eden Project gets all the hype, there are plenty of smaller horticultural attractions for those on the hunt for interesting flora (or a good space for children to go wild among the undergrowth during family holidays). The Lost Gardens of Heligan are a particular highlight and 26-acre Trebah Gardens, a sub-tropical wonderland, is also great for family days out. Adults might also like a tour of the Camel Valley Vineyard where the grapes happen to make a lovely local speciality!

For a mix of seaside views and high-brow culture, take a trip towards the furthest point in Cornwall and enjoy a stop at the open-air Minack Theatre. Despite its amphitheatre-like architecture, it was actually built in the 1930’s but has all the rugged appeal of any ancient space. Dug into the cliff-side, this outdoor theatre puts on spectacular shows throughout the summer, all with the stunning backdrop of the Atlantic blue. Evening shows are usually timed so that you also have the awe-inspiring sight of the sunset as the actors or musicians perform. It’s not to be missed.

For animal lovers, family-friendly Newquay Zoo is always popular and Porfell Wildlife Park is great for families. Though arguably more rewarding is to ditch the exotic species and enjoy the local wildlife instead. The Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre is perfect for this. Look out for native species such as fallow deer, badgers and the rare Scottish Wildcat, along with the otters, of course.

Finally, for most, its the beaches and that natural spaces that are the real attraction (often all connected via a walk on the South West Coast Path). For the adventurous, these coastal capers can be turned up a notch by getting involved in some of the local water sports. Whether it’s renting a surfboard and taking lessons with a local school or taking coasteering trips where you can jump off cliffs and plunge into wild swimming holes, there’s plenty to get the blood pumping. Try the Adrenalin Quarry near Liskeard for a good place to start – fly on the long zip-wire, glide on the giant swing and traverse frighteningly high rock ledges around the former quarry.

A Fascinating History

The birthplace of King Arthur and pock-marked with standing stones and stone circles from even older times, Cornwall is a county awash with intriguing history. It was at Tintagel Castle that King Arthur was reputably born and, today, campers can still visit these mysterious ruins that nestle among the cliffs just above Merlin’s Cove. From there, it’s a short stroll to the site of his final battle, too, where King Arthur's stone commemorates the occasion. There are other allusions to Cornwall’s dramatic past, too. Not least famous St Michael's Mount, the ancient island settlement that can be reached across a causeway at low tide and is a must on any Cornwall holidays. Launceston Castle, Restormel Castle and Falmouth’s impressive Pendennis Castle offer yet more turreted family fun, to name but a few, while the likes of Truro Cathedral, built between 1880 and 1910, show an even grander side of the local architecture.

It’s not all stately buildings and grand posturing, though. Cornwall’s industrial heritage is equally rewarding to discover. Many of the county’s old tin mines are today open to the public or visible to walkers who hike the off-beat footpaths. National Trust-owned Wheal Coates, near St Agnes, is particularly well known, largely since it is so jaw-droppingly photogenic, set against a backdrop of vast blue ocean and atop impressive cliffs.

From truly ancient monuments, such as Iron Age hillforts and Neolithic stone circles to these more modern tin mining structures, you can really trace Cornwall through the ages. It has a visible, tangible history that is a delight to explore and, indeed, be a part of as one of the modern day visitors and contributors to this land.

Our Top 10 Things To Do In Cornwall

  • Build a sandcastle fort before when the tide comes in.
  • Rent surfboards or taking surf lessons for the very first time.
  • Walk a cliff-top section of the South West Coast path.
  • Discover the incredible flora of the world famous Eden Project.
  • Catch a sunset play at the Minack Theatre.
  • Cook local farm shop food over a crackling campfire.
  • Explore the ancient treasures of St. Michael's Mount.
  • Uncover history with a tour of Cornwall's old tin mines.
  • Taste the local tipple at St Austell's Brewery.
  • Hike to the top of Brown Willy (and snigger at the mountain's name).

Cornwall Travel Information & Blogs

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