Falmouth – The Complete Guide

Written by: Eliot Prince

Lovely, contemporary, lively, friendly. All words that are used to describe Falmouth.

And I have to say I agree with all of them. It’s a super fun town to visit on holiday or even live here if you’re moving to Cornwall.

It’s really got an awesome mix of heritage and modernness (that’s a real word, trust me). It’s not a huge place but it’s packed with things to do and friendly people. You can enjoy tranquillity, tuck into freshly cooked food, and enjoy a big adventure day out. 

If you’re considering coming to Falmouth or have already made plans, then there’s great news for you – you won’t regret it!

So with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Cornish seaside town, what to expect, and several insider tips.

Around Falmouth

Falmouth high street

Falmouth is a town located in the southwest of Cornwall. Situated on the River Fal, it has a population of approximately 25,000 people. Falmouth is renowned for its beautiful coastline and its maritime history. It has been an important port for centuries and is home to Falmouth docks, which is the deepest natural harbour in western Europe. 

This sense of history and seafaring still runs through the core of the town. Plus the vibrant University of Falmouth brings youthful artsy energy to the area. This makes it a popular spot to visit or base yourself in Cornwall with tons of fun activities, fresh tasty restaurants, and bustling nightlife. 

Adding to this, there is something to explore for everyone, such as wandering the town’s historic streets, taking a boat ride around the harbour, hitting the beach, or getting lost along the coastline. Or take in famous pieces of history at Pendennis Castle or the National Maritime Museum.

Truth is: Falmouth is a lovely town, and it’s perfectly walkable. The streets are lined with quaint shops and cafes, and the harbour is always buzzing with activity. There’s also a great sense of community here – everyone is always out and about, chatting and smiling. It’s the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll, stop for a coffee, and people-watch. Falmouth definitely has its own unique charm, and I absolutely this place!

How to Get to Falmouth

Falmouth train station sign

While there are many ways to get to Falmouth, driving and taking the train are two of the most straightforward options. 

Driving to Falmouth is simple, as it is well-connected to the rest of the UK via a network of highways. The journey takes approximately 5 to 6 hours from London. The M5 motorway provides access to the south west. Then once you reach Exeter you can take the A30 dual carriageway toward Truro. The final stretch around the outskirts of Truro and onto the A39 which delivers you directly into Falmouth.

If you’re looking for a more scenic route, taking the train is a great option. The journey takes approximately 5 hours from London. You can jump on the direct London Paddington to Truro train. This route stops at other hubs like Reading, Taunton, Plymouth and Exeter. Then change at Truro for the last few minutes to Falmouth station. The route through Cornwall provides stunning views of the countryside and coastline. 

Falmouth to truro train sign

In addition, coaches run from across the country including London, although this can take upwards of 9 hours. You can find great deals on tickets for less than £40! Plus Cornwall Airport in Newquay allows you to fly in domestically – then you’ll need to make the final journey by road, car, or local bus.

No matter how you choose to get to Falmouth, once you arrive you’re sure to enjoy your time in this beautiful town.

What to See and Do

The cool thing about Falmouth is that there’s SO much going on. You can take your pick of historical tours, outdoor activities, events, or a good walk in nature.

  • Visit the Maritime Museum: If you want to learn the history of the town then The Maritime Museum. The museum also has a variety of interactive exhibits, making it a fun place for all ages. Take a stroll through maritime heritage, understand the inner working of the RNLI, or discover long lost deep sea creatures. All before stopping by the gift shop for a souvenir of your trip.
National Maritime Museum in Falmouth
  • Explore Pendennis Castle: Pendennis Castle is a medieval fort located on the outskirts of Falmouth. It’s cuts an imposing shadow across the bay, sitting proud on the headland. The castle has a fascinating history and is well worth a visit. There are also stunning views back over Falmouth Harbour from the castle walls.
Pendennis castle from a distance in Falmouth
  • Take a boat trip: As you have probably gathered, Falmouth sits on the coast so it’s time to explore the sea. There’s no shortage of boat trips available. Whether you want to go fishing, sightseeing, or just enjoy being out on the water. You can even enjoy a cruise up the river Fal towards Truro!
  • Visit the beach: No holiday is complete without a day (or several days) at the beach. Whether you want to relax on the sand or try standup paddleboarding, you can walk down to Gyllygvase beach. The water is usually calm and tranquil in the bay. Plus you can grab a beer, coffee, or lunch from the nearby establishments. During winter months you might find a little surf swell too!

Looking for even more ideas? Read our list of unmissable things to do in Falmouth!

Where to Stay

Greenbank hotel from across the Falmouth bay

Falmouth is a stunning Cornish holiday destination, and it’s no wonder that hotels here are in high demand. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Firstly, Hotels can fill up quickly during the summer. Secondly, being privately run, many of the hotels in Falmouth are on the smaller side

If you want to make the most of the stunning views, it’s worth opting for a hotel with sea views. Wondering where to start your search for accommodation? The Greenbank Hotel overlooks Falmouth harbour with an outdoor swimming pool and terrace. The Royal Duchy Hotel is a short walk from the town centre, Pendennis Castle, and the beach. Or for a real treat check out Merchants Manor Spa with more stunning views along with an indoor heated swimming pool and spa to relax in.

Take a deep dive into the best places to stay in Falmouth for the real low down!

You’ll also find any number of AirBnB (and similar) apartments and houses to rent within the town. This adds an eclectic choice of unique homestays such as peaceful tiny homes and Cornish cottages. 

For outdoors lovers, a number of campsites are nestled into the green countryside outside of town. These aren’t located within walking distance but provide a true escape. Try Menehay Farm Touring Park or Penance Mill Farm, or Penrose Wild Campsite.

Eating and Drinking

I can’t get enough of the food and nightlife in Falmouth. It’s one of the few places in Cornwall that has a real buzz in the evening throughout the year. Having a local university brings a real creative and ever-changing mix to the town.

verdant seafood bar

Falmouth is home to a wide variety of restaurants and bars, so you’re sure to find something to your taste. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, then start with seafood which is locally caught and fresh into the kitchen. The Verdant Seafood Bar tops the list. The small eatery can easily be missed if you’re not looking for it. Small tapas plates mean you can pick and choose among your group, complemented with banging beers for the Verdant brewery. (Also a good stop for a drink). 

Indidog is right on the waterfront with a casual vibe serving fresh seafood from lobster to weaver fish, plus delicious cocktails (try and grab a table on the waterside deck). Elsewhere, both Hub Box and The Meat Counter serve up their epic burgers, Bodega 18 cooks up tapas, and Boo Koos serve big mouthwatering Tex-Mex dishes. Jump over to our guide to the best places to eat in Falmouth for in-depth review of all of these and more!

Take a walk through the town and you’ll find pub bustling with easy going food and local drinks. For music and dancing follow your ears to find the night’s hotspot (or head the other way if you want a quiet watering hole…)

Shopping in Falmouth

Shops in Falmouth

The town centre is mainly pedestrianised, so it’s easy to get around, and there are plenty of coffee shops. if you need to take a break. Whether you’re looking for a new outfit, a special gift, or just a browse around, you’ll find your style. We’re talking high-end fashion to independent boutiques to surf shops. It’s one of the go-to shopping locations in Cornwall.

Trago Mills is a particular local shop to spend far too long inside – “An old style department store that has the weirdest stuff in it”.

Trago Mills sign on window

For groceries, small stores are dotted throughout town to pick up quick supplies. Adding to this Lidl and Sainsbury’s supermarkets sit out on the outskirts towards Penryn.

Surrounding Area

Kynance Cove

There’s dozens of beaches and quiet coves for an adventure. Particularly if you head towards the Lizard Peninsula (most southerly point on the UK mainland.) Kynance Cove is a particularly stunning place for a fun beach trip with cave and mermaid pools appearing at low tide. Adding to this, Porthleven is a real treat as you meander along the historic harbour, stop for a bowl of fresh moules, and feel soft sand in your toes on the enormous beach.

Falmouth is situated on the south coast of Cornwall making it easy to explore further along the coast and westward. Although, it’s about a 40-minute drive to big famous surf beaches like Perranporth or Newquay.

You can quickly get to Truro, the only city in Cornwall, on the train or a 15-minute drive. This makes for a nice day out with sights like the famous Truro Cathedral to explore here before a coffee stop and a poke around Lemon Street Market.

Truro Cathedral

Falmouth – History, Beaches, Eateries, and Adventures

Falmouth is everything you could want for a Cornish holiday destination -including freshly baked pasties. 

It’s got a younger energetic vibe compared to a lot of places while retaining its historic roots. This means you can feel the walls of old castles and learn seafaring history in the morning. Then spend an afternoon in the sun at a sandy beach and on the water. And finish your day with a real tasty meal, a cocktail, and a dance.