St Austell: The Complete Visitor Guide

Written by: Ben Pike

Despite being one of the largest towns in Cornwall, you have probably never heard of St Austell. At first glance, it lies very none assumingly almost just plonked in the geographical centre of the county. It definitely wouldn’t top any ‘must-visit’ list and if you google it, you probably won’t be shown a single image of the actual town itself.

I know, I’m not exactly selling it here. But bear with me…


Is EXACTLY why you should go there!!!

St Austell is about as Authentically Cornish as you get!

The lack of tourists means everything from less traffic to less local distaste for ’emits’ (Cornish for tourists). It’s MUCH easier to find a room at a hotel or a table at a restaurant. The streets WON’T be crowded and the vibe will be GENUINE slow-paced Cornish day-to-day life.

And on top of all that… 


Compared to almost anywhere else in Cornwall, that during the high season will be squeezed to bursting with tourists, and prices rocket as availability dives. St Austell is reserved solely for the locals and those who take a step off the oh-so-beaten ‘Emit’ path.

Oh, and that’s without mentioning its famous 160-year-old Cornish brewery and its proximity to the world’s largest indoor tropical rainforest, ‘The Eden Project’.

As well as the Cornish Alps, formed out of what were the world’s largest China clay mines of their time, and the UNESCO world heritage site, Poldark. The filming location of the British Netflix series Poldark. 

Around St Austell

First things first, let’s get our bearings. St Austell is located in the heart of Cornwall, a place where pasties reign supreme, and clotted cream flows like water. But enough about the local delicacies, let’s focus on the town itself.

It’s a town of two halves. On one side, you have the old town, where you’ll find its charming historic buildings, quaint shops, and the famous brewery. On the other side, you have the new town, where you’ll find the modern shopping centres, supermarkets, and all the other delights of modern life.

If you’re looking to explore the old town, start at Fore Street, the main street that runs through the heart of the area. Here, you’ll find a delightful mix of independent shops, cafes, and restaurants. The street’s a bit narrow, so be prepared to dodge the occasional delivery truck or wayward cyclist.

From Fore Street, head down to the White River Place shopping centre, where you’ll find all the modern amenities you could ever need. It’s like stepping into a different world, where everything is shiny and new. You can even catch a movie at the local cinema, famous for its comfy reclining couches and waited service.

How to Get to St Austell

With its central position St Austell is pretty dam accessible no matter how you choose to get here. The main Cornish roads lead almost straight to it, there’s a train station direct from the North of the country, and Newquay airport is just over the hill (Cornish Alps).

Driving: St Austell is easy to access by car, and the A30 and A38 are the major roads that connect the town to the rest of the country. If you’re coming from the north, take the M5 to Exeter, then follow the A30 until you see signs. If you’re coming from the east or west, take the A38, which runs from Plymouth to Bodmin

Train: St Austell has its own railway station, which is served by trains from London Paddington, Bristol, and Plymouth. You can also take the train to nearby stations like Bodmin Parkway or Truro, then catch a connecting train or bus to St Austell if the tickets seem to come up cheaper.

Bus: There are several bus services that connect St Austell to other towns and cities in Cornwall, as well as the National Express services from cities like London, Bristol, and Birmingham. The main bus station is located in the town centre, near the White River Place shopping centre.

Flight: The closest airport is in Newquay, which is about 20 miles away. The airport serves several domestic and international flights, including regular services from London, Manchester, and Dublin. From the airport, you can hire a car or take a taxi to St Austell.

What to See and Do in St Austell

Ah, St Austell – it’s not exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of top tourist destinations. But don’t let its unassuming exterior fool you – this town has plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. 

From the otherworldly Eden Project to the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Austell’s attractions may not be as famous as the Ol Cornish Pasty, but they’re at least as tasty. 

And let’s not forget about the charming Charlestown Harbour, the St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, and the many outdoor adventures to be had in the surrounding area. 

So come and explore – you may not find crowds of tourists, but you will find plenty of quirky and unique experiences that will leave you feeling enchanted and surprised.

The Eden Project

eden project wide shot

This world-famous attraction is a must-visit for anyone who loves nature. Built in an abandoned China clay pit, The Eden Project is testament to just what we can do if we really put our minds to it. From an old derelict mud hole to a chunk of lush tropical rainforest, THIS truly is a man-made wonder of the world!

So, get ready to ‘leaf’ all your troubles behind and enter this jungle paradise. With plenty of photo ops, delicious food in the large central restaurant, and even concerts and sometimes ice skating (depending on the time of year).

St Austell Brewery

If you’re a fan of beer this place is brew-tiful. Take a tour of the facility, sample some of their award-winning ales, and soak up the friendly atmosphere. You’ll be surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of the brewing process. You’ll learn about the traditional methods that have been used for generations to create their award-winning beers, and you’ll get a chance to sample some of their delicious brews. Whether you’re a fan of hoppy IPAs, smooth lagers, or rich and malty ales, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. And if you’re feeling peckish, their onsite restaurant serves up tasty local fare to complement your drink. 

St Austell Market House 

Built in 1844 you can step back in time at the St Austell Market House, where you’ll find a treasure trove of local history and culture. From the stunning architecture of the building itself to the eclectic mix of stalls selling everything from homemade crafts to fresh produce. But don’t be fooled by its old-world charm – the Market House is a vibrant hub of activity, with events happening throughout the year.

The Wheal Martyn Museum

This fascinating museum is dedicated to the history of China clay mining in Cornwall. Explore the exhibits, learn about the local industry, and marvel at the impressive machinery on display. 

But don’t worry – it’s not all dusty artefacts and historical facty-facts. With interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside, the Wheal Martyn Museum is a fun and engaging experience for all ages. 

The Cornish Alpes

st austell cornish alps

With the biggest deposit of China clay anywhere in the world, by the early 90s Cornwall was producing some 50 per cent of the world’s demands and exporting something in the region of one million tonnes yearly. Now, for every tonne of white powdery goodness they pulled out of the ground, they would also remove 5 tonnes of waste material which needed to be dumped somewhere…


We have the Cornish Alpes.

A moonscape of white peaks and emerald lagoons. Now a popular hiking and cycling destination. There are also several museums in the area if you’re keen to learn more.

Eating and Drinking

When it comes to eating here, you won’t need to break the bank to enjoy a delicious meal. In fact, the prices here are so reasonable that you might start to wonder if you’ve somehow stumbled into a parallel universe where food doesn’t cost you your left t..urgh, Toe.

Whether you’re looking for hearty pub grub, fresh seafood, or something a little more exotic, you’re sure to find it here at a fraction of the cost you’d pay in other parts of Cornwall. So go ahead and treat yourself to that extra side of chips or that tempting dessert – Both your taste buds and your wallet will be sated.
Here are a few of our favourites…

The Polgooth Inn 

This charming country pub serves up hearty pub fare and local ales. With a roaring fire in the winter and a lovely beer garden in the summer, it’s a cosy spot to enjoy a meal.

Peckish Fish and Chips

No visit to Cornwall is complete without indulging in some classic fish and chips, and Peckish is one of the best places in St Austell to do so. Their portions are generous and their fish is always fresh.

Gusto deli bar

If you’re looking for a quick bite or a takeaway lunch, Gusto is the place to go. They serve up delicious sandwiches, soups, and salads, as well as freshly baked bread and pastries.

The Spice Merchant

For those who crave spicy, flavourful Indian cuisine. With a menu featuring classic curries, tandoori dishes, and vegetarian options, there’s something for everyone.

The Square

This cosy bistro serves up classic British dishes with a modern twist. The menu changes regularly based on what’s in season, so there’s always something new to try.

El Huichol

This Mexican restaurant is a hidden gem in St Austell. The menu features authentic Mexican dishes like tacos and enchiladas, and the bright and colourful decor will transport you to the land of the ‘Sombrero’.

Sam’s on the Beach 

This seafood restaurant is located as the name suggests, right ‘on the beach’ in nearby Polkerris, and offers stunning views of the ocean. With fresh seafood dishes and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

Where to Stay

Looking for a place to stay in St Austell? Don’t worry, you won’t need to embark on a quest to find a mythical unicorn to get a good night’s sleep here. Unlike other parts of Cornwall where accommodations can be as elusive as a leprechaun’s pot aa’ shiny stuff, St Austell has plenty of options to choose from even in the height of summer.

The Bugle Inn

traditional Cornish pub boasts a cosy and welcoming atmosphere, with a roaring fire in the colder months and a beer garden for those sunny summer days. The pub offers a wide range of local and regional ales, ciders, and spirits, as well as a menu of delicious home-cooked food using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. They also host live music events and quizzes, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to gather, socialize, and enjoy a taste of Cornish hospitality.

The Grange

Originally built in the early 19th century as a private residence, it was later converted into a hotel and now offers luxury accommodation for guests. It boasts a stunning and spacious garden, complete with a pond, fountains, and flowers. The interior is elegantly decorated with antique furnishings and art. There’s also a restaurant serving delicious local and international cuisine, a bar, and a spa offering massages and beauty treatments. 

The Cornwall Motel

This budget-friendly motel offers comfortable rooms and a convenient location close to St Austell’s top attractions. The on-site restaurant and bar make it a great spot for a casual meal and drink.

They also offer a shared lounge and kitchenette for guests to use. The motel’s location provides easy access to the town centre and nearby attractions such as the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. 

YHA Eden Project

If you’re travelling on a budget, this hostel located on the grounds of the Eden Project is a great option. The hostel offers dorms and private rooms, and guests have access to the Eden Project after hours… What better a way to avoid the crowds!

Carlyon Bay Camping Park

The park offers a variety of camping and caravan pitches, including electric hook-ups and serviced pitches for those who need them. There are laundry facilities and a well-stocked shop for groceries and camping supplies, a heated outdoor pool, playgrounds, and sports facilities. The park is located near the beautiful Carlyon Bay beach.

The Cornwall Hotel

This elegant hotel is set in 43 acres of lush gardens and features an outdoor pool, spa, and restaurant. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the hotel’s location is perfect for exploring the surrounding countryside.

Shopping in St Austell

Shops in St Austell

For a unique and quirky shopping experience, head to White River Place, where you’ll find a variety of independent shops and boutiques selling everything from handmade gifts to vintage clothing. For more mainstream shopping, there’s also a large shopping centre with big-name brands like H&M and TK Maxx. And for a taste of local flavour, be sure to check out the St Austell Farmers’ Market, where you can pick up fresh produce and artisanal goods.

Surrounding Area 

Places to visit near st austell

For a bit of seaside charm, head to the nearby fishing village of Mevagissey, where you can wander through narrow streets and admire colourful boats bobbing in the harbour. If you’re looking for adventure, hop over to the coastal town of Fowey, where you can go kayaking, paddle boarding, or even take a boat tour to spot dolphins and seals. For a taste of history, there’s the nearby town of Charlestown, where you can explore the historic harbour and see tall ships from around the world. And for a slice of natural beauty, be sure to check out the Goss Moor National Nature Reserve, where you can hike through stunning landscapes and spot rare wildlife. 

So, whether you’re looking for seaside charm, outdoor adventure, or a nibble of history, there’s plenty to squeeze in.

St Austell – A Taste of Real Cornish Life

A place where locals pride themselves on their love of pasties, pints, and a good old-fashioned chinwag. Whether you’re exploring the historic clay pits or taking a stroll through the picturesque gardens, there’s a sense of charm and tranquillity that pervades this town. But don’t be fooled by its quaint exterior – St Austell also has a vibrant arts scene, with live music and theatre performances that will leave you tapping your toes and humming a tune for days.

Come for the scenery, stay for the community, and leave with memories that will last a lifetime.