Umbrellas Up: Things to Do in Cornwall in the Rain

Written by: Eliot Prince

Cornwall is known for its exceptional natural beauty, historic castles, and rugged beaches. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Cornwall is also known for its raininess – and has even been dubbed by some as the “wettest county in England”!

However, there are still plenty of exciting things to do in Cornwall in the rain.

From exploring old, underground caverns at Carnglaze Cavern to visiting covered biodome gardens at the Eden Project, your itinerary can still be packed even with a little drizzle.

If you’re looking into things you can do while Cornwall is drenched in the rain, we’ve compiled a list of places to visit and things to do in Cornwall on a rainy day. You’ll learn about:

  • Close encounters with animals and nature
  • Museum hopping in the county
  • Spooky places to spend time in

Get your umbrellas ready, and let’s explore!

Newquay Zoo

Lion at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall

Newquay Zoo isn’t located far from the centre of Newquay, and is home to almost 1,000 animals including African lions, penguins, red pandas, otters, and armadillos. 

This Cornish Zoo focuses on conservation and education, helping to enlighten the public and promote species conservation. 

Aside from being involved in different wild conservation projects, it’s also a proud part of the Wild Planet Trust.

For entertainment options in the rain, Newquay Zoo also has a children’s playground and other fun activities. 

As the zoo is partially covered, rainy weather shouldn’t disrupt your visit—earning it a spot as one of our top picks for a rainy day out in Cornwall.

Blue Reef Aquarium

shark at blue reef aquarim

Another famous attraction in Newquay that you should definitely visit during a rainy day is the Blue Reef Aquarium.

While the aquarium features a wide array of sea life, the highlight is an elaborate coral reef display housed inside a 250,000-litre tank at the heart of the aquarium. 

The Blue Reef Aquarium houses many exotic marine animals, including black-tip reef sharks, octopuses, and turtles. There’s also a native display that features animals and plants native to the Cornish sea. You can read more in-depth about the top Cornwall Aquariums here 

Tate St Ives

Tate Art Gallery in St Ives

A sister gallery to the Tate Modern in London, the Tate St Ives gallery is part of the world-famous Tate galleries. 

Tate St Ives displays work by British artists with links to St Ives and Cornwall, and has become a centre for preserving and showcasing Cornish art over the years.

Housed within the gallery is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden—an homage to Barbara Hepworth who was an influential figure in Cornish art history. The museum features many of the works that she has created throughout her lifetime.

The Tate St Ives actually has a cafe on-site if you’re fancying a warm cup of tea or something to eat. The cafe has lovely views over St Ives, Porthmeor Beach, and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Eden Project

The Eden Project in Cornwall

The Eden Project is an educational and garden-lover haven located close to the town of St Austell. 

With the main attractions being its bio-domes that are shielded from the elements, the Eden Project is a perfect destination on a rainy day. 

This ecological feat was built on top of the remnants of an old clay mine, and its domes create artificial climates that host many different exotic and native ecosystems. 

The Eden Project is even home to the world’s largest greenhouse, complete with a swing bridge and waterfall! There are also plenty of outdoor walks around the Eden Project if you’re willing to don a rain jacket and brave the wet weather. 

As a testament to its popularity, visitors gave the Eden Project the highest number of votes in a thread discussing the best activities for a rainy day in Cornwall. 

However, a local warned that visitors often flock to Eden during bad weather, so be prepared for some company.

Bodmin Jail

bodmin jail entrance

If you’re looking for a unique experience during a rainy trip in Cornwall, consider paying a visit to Bodmin Jail located at the edge of Bodmin Moor. 

Once a functioning prison from 1779 to 1927, Bodmin Jail has seen 55 executions within its walls. The very last hanging in Cornwall’s history was also carried out here.

If you’re interested in the darker side of history, the Bodmin Jail is a unique museum that has put a lot of effort into providing a memorable time to its guests.

The Bodmin Jail has many different “experiences” that visitors can choose from when buying their tickets. There are heritage tours such as the “Dark Walk” which uses lighting, theatrical effects, and sound to create an immersive experience.

Aside from horror movie nights, the Bodmin Jail also offers a “Paranormal Tour” that starts at 6:30 PM and runs for two hours. This experience is for guests above 16 years old and certainly not for the faint of heart.

For a unique stay, part of the old jail has been transformed into the Bodmin Hotel. If you’re interested, its doors are wide open for you to stay in (if you dare!).

Carnglaze Caverns

 Located near the village of St Neot, the Carnglaze Caverns were once the site of an open cast quarry until they gradually became Cornwall’s first (and only) underground slate mine. 

As the miners dug underground, they formed the three man-made caverns that you can visit here today. 

Fun fact: One of the caverns has been dubbed the “Rum Store” because the Royal Navy once stored their rum there during the Second World War!

Meanwhile, another cavern is now flooded and filled with clear blue water.

If you’re in the mood for an adventurous rainy-day activity in Cornwall, the Carnglaze Caverns may just be the attraction for you. 

Since the experience is largely self-guided and allows you to spend as much time as you please, you’ll be given a safety briefing and a helmet at the start of your tour.

Apart from the caverns, a woodland walk is open for those who don’t mind getting a bit wet. History junkies can also head over to explore the many preserved artefacts from Cornwall’s long relationship with the mining industry.

Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle was one of the many artillery forts built by King Henry VIII in the 1500s. With its strategic location designed to defend the mouth of the River Fal, the Pendennis Castle has witnessed many wars in its time.

Military enthusiasts will love this castle! Not only is it well-maintained, but there are also a variety of indoor exhibits that will teach you a thing or two about Cornish military history.

Although some parts of the castle are uncovered, there’s still plenty of indoor space for a visit on a rainy day.

Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary & JungleBarn Indoor Play Centre

If you find yourself wondering how to keep the kids entertained during bad weather, look no further than Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary & Jungle Barn Indoor Play Centre — a fun, rainy day attraction in the heart of Cornwall.

Time spent here will make your kids forget all about any downpour due to the variety of exciting activities on offer!

For instance, head on to the “Jungle Barn” – an indoor play centre with many different slides, “challenging” soft play, colourful ball pits, and tunnels for your kids to explore and play in during the rain.

Outside, there’s Paradise Park — an award-winning wildlife sanctuary in Hayle, Cornwall that’s home to over 130 different species of birds including penguins, eagles, toucans, and parrots! 

There are also red pandas, red squirrels, miniature donkeys, and other farm animals.

You could stop by to watch the penguins being fed (which occurs twice daily). If your children are lucky (and willing), they can even feed these cute birds themselves! 

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum in Falmouth

Located in Falmouth, the National Maritime Museum is a celebration of seafaring, sailing, and maritime Cornish history. 

The museum has 15 galleries and five floors filled with exhibits and artefacts exploring Cornwall’s relationship with the ocean throughout history. 

The museum has many interesting exhibits including the Edna Mair, a small dinghy that safely held six people afloat in the Pacific Ocean for 38 days. The Edna Mair story is described as one of the most impressive survival stories of the modern age. 

If you’ve timed your visit just right, you’ll be in for a treat with the museum’s major exhibits. 

Previous major exhibits included real and mythical monsters inhabiting the depths and stories aboard the legendary Titanic, so you surely won’t be disappointed.

Wandering the museum’s halls is also quite the experience by itself. A flotilla of small boats looms over you, ranging from those once used by the Inuits to other crafts built for war.

While you can certainly visit the museum during sunny weather, a trip in the rain is also more than ideal!

Geevor Tin Mine

geevor tine mine

What better way to avoid the rain than going underground? 

The Geevor Tin Mine is one of the largest preserved mining sites in the UK. Operational from 1911 to 1990, the mine has played an important role in shaping the Cornish tin industry throughout the years.

Now, the site has been transformed from a functional mine to a historical and educational centre.

The site takes visitors underground to learn about the mine’s history. At Geevor Tin Mine there are mountains to learn about Cornwall’s mining past, and the economic and even cultural impacts it has had on Cornwall to this day. 

As a bonus, there’s also an onsite cafe and gift shop — perfect for a warm cup of tea or coffee and for bringing something nice home.

Shipwreck Treasure Museum

shipwreck treasure museum in Charlestown

Shipwrecks are inherently fascinating because they carry all kinds of tales of survival and tragedy. 

At Charleston, you’ll the Shipwreck Treasure Museum — Europe’s largest private collection of shipwreck artefacts, including the only recovered intact barrel of coins from a shipwreck. 

The museum is home to over 8,000 fascinating artefacts which have been recovered from over 150 different shipwrecks across the globe. 

A visit to the Shipwreck Treasure Museum is also quite an interactive storytelling adventure, especially since the museum offers many different experiences to visitors.

For example, the museum offers the “Shackleton’s Experience” which will take you through tunnels in simulated icy conditions to get a glimpse of the conditions sailors would have endured on these seafaring missions.

With the museum paying tribute to tragic shipwrecks that both Cornwall and the world have witnessed throughout the centuries, it’s the perfect place for a slower (but still valuable and insightful) trip during a rainy day.

Avoid the Bude Tunnel!

inside the Bude tunnel

If you’ve spent a lot of time on Tripadvisor, you may have seen the “Bude Tunnel” as one of the top-rated attractions in Bude. Unfortunately, the tunnel is not the architectural feat it’s cracked up to be (though it’s still an amusing concept. 

In reality, the Bude Tunnel is simply a small, sheltered tunnel that takes you from the Sainsbury’s car park to Crooklets Road in Bude, Cornwall. 

While it’s lit up nicely with Christmas lights during the festive season, there’s not a lot to look at.

Locals have commandeered the space and created a fake attraction page on Tripadvisor. There are now over 1,200 reviews, and the locals have succeeded in making the car park tunnel a top attraction in Bude with a rating of over 4 stars. 

Here’s an example of the kind of reviews locals leave for the Bude Tunnel:

“I traveled a long way to see such a modern day masterpiece. I was not disappointed. Definitely up there with the modern day wonders of the world. Truly breathtaking! We will be back!”

Unfortunately, a few tourists have fallen for the prank and been disappointed, so we’re here to help pare your expectations…

While we certainly wouldn’t count the Bude Tunnel as one of the best rainy-day activities in Cornwall, you may want to stop by, take a picture, and join in on the fun if you’re in the area (and that way inclined).

In Conclusion

All in all, Cornwall is a diverse county with a large variety of things to do on sunny and rainy days

If you’ve woken up to miserable weather, you don’t have to feel the same way—there’s still plenty you can do in the county!

Perhaps you’re interested in some dark history and would like to visit the Bodmin Jail, or maybe you’ve got stir-crazy kids who’d enjoy spending time at a play centre. Whatever suits your fancy, Cornwall has the perfect activity for you.

So grab your coat and umbrella, and enjoy Cornwall in the rain!