11 Unmissable Things to Do in Falmouth [& Places to Visit!]

Written by: Eliot Prince

When you’re visiting the Cornish seaside town of Falmouth, it may be difficult figuring out what to do and where to go. 

Luckily, because there are so many Falmouth activities available, you’re guaranteed to find something for everyone!

There are museums and castles for historians and families, art galleries for the creative types, and adrenaline-pumping activities for those who fancy the outdoors — you name it, Falmouth has it.

In this guide, we’ll explore this quaint town and take a look at:

  • What to do in Falmouth, 11 different activities in the area, and what to expect of them
  • The types of people who will enjoy these activities.

Ready? Let’s head off!

National Maritime Museum

National maritime Museum Falmouth

The year 2023 marked the 20th birthday of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC). The occasion celebrates a charming, relatively-young museum that received England’s first full Museum Accreditation award in 2020!

Graced by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in February this year, the NMMC showcases the Kiwi – a 14-foot sailing dinghy gifted by the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1948 to then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. 

From March 31 2023 to December 2024, the museum will hold a “Pirates” exhibition conveying the experiences of 18th-century pirates. 

The exhibit will feature Treasure Island where you and your family can meet Long John Silver and dance with Horatio Pugwash, all through digital immersion!

NMMC is far from boring when it comes to entertaining children, especially with its focus on “interactive play and learning” through the photo opportunity at the podium. 

There’s also a life-size lifeboat, life raft, and jet ski, Treasure Island play zone, and ship bridge simulation in the Nav Station!

NMMC also features a play area for eight-year-olds and younger to climb, as well as a café and gift shop for breaks. 

Whether you’re an avid historian, bringing your family, or want to try an unconventional date location, NMMC is a great choice that’s accessible by car, bus, train, boat, and ferry.

Once you navigate your way to the NMMC glass door entrance, simply find your way to a friendly volunteer at the welcome desk (wearing a dark uniform and lanyard) to start your tour!

Pendennis Castle

pendennis castle outside

Open every day during peak seasons from 10 am to 5 pm (only until 4 pm during off-peak seasons), the mid-16th century Pendennis Castle has a moat-like depth surrounding the structure that you can only truly appreciate in person. 

For the infrequent visitor, tickets for adults cost £11.30 while those for children cost £6.80. If you’re a single parent (or two parents) taking up to three children, you can get a family discounted price of £18.10 or £29.40, respectively. 

If you think you’ll visit the castle — or the other 400-plus English Heritage historic sites — more than once a year, make sure to check out the rather affordable annual membership with English Heritage! The prices vary depending on whether you’re visiting alone or with family.

At this castle, feel free to explore Fortress Falmouth, incredible Tudor, Napoleonic, and Victorian weaponry in the Field Train Shed; the Half Moon Battery, and Tudor Keep where you’ll be immersed into a scene that depicts the castle under attack! 

Winding up the spiral staircase to the top of the castle, you’ll be swept away by the magnificent coastal view over Falmouth; you may even catch a glimpse of St Anthony’s Lighthouse! Do you recognise the 19-metre lighthouse featured on the 1980s Fraggle Rock TV series? 

A hidden tip for those who also want to visit St Mawes Castle: you can travel across the bay (or walk or drive) to the Custom House Quay, then take the 20-minute ferry across instead of driving the loop for almost an hour! 

Boat Tours

Boat tours in Falmouth

Boat services and tours available in Falmouth include the seasonal Enterprise Boats, year-round King Harry Ferry and Flushing Ferry, and the Place Ferry that runs between April and October. 

Running every day of the week throughout the year, King Harry Ferry is a car ferry (bike-friendly too!) with bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and a top-deck viewing area. 

The ferry leaves on the hour from the Feock side (ten past, half past, and ten to the hour, from the Philleigh side), then every 20 minutes, and transports people from St Mawes and the Roseland to Feock, Truro, and Falmouth. 

In winter, King Harry Ferry has a final departure time of 7:20 pm from the Philleigh side and 7:30 pm from the Feock side. 

In summer, the last ferry is at 10 pm from the Feock side and 10:10 pm from the Philleigh side. Spring and autumn’s last departure times are 9:20 pm (Philleigh side) and 9:30 pm (Feock side).

Make sure you have contactless payment for this ferry! For a car, it only costs £7 for a single or £10 for a return trip – allowing you to save on petrol.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

falmouth paddleboarding

If you fancy yourself as more of an outdoorsy person, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is available in Falmouth! 

Elemental UK runs private one-to-one lessons at £30 for one hour for up to £115 for an entire day. A group of two to eight will be charged £20 per hour, up to £65 for the day. 

Cheaper still – if you gather a group of nine or more, one hour costs £18 and a day’s worth is £60!

There are other tuition options, as well as simple board hires (no lessons) for £15 per hour. 

Another great SUP organisation is Falmouth River Watersports. With 10 different rental options, you can rent boards for three to six hours (or even for a few days) — all from £35. 

For lessons, hourly group lessons are available for £25 and a per-hour hour private lesson for £40.

Falmouth River Watersports also manages tours that last between two to three hours. Book in advance and arrive at least 15 minutes before your session, and you can rent any equipment you don’t have on hand. 

A unique selling point of this SUP is that it’s dog-friendly. So, feel free to bring your furry friend on a walk to the beach and then hop on a paddleboard with them! 

Falmouth Art Gallery

Inside falmouth art gallery

Falmouth Art Gallery is free to enter and open every day (except Sunday) from 10 am to 4 pm (1 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays). You can get to the gallery by car, train, or bus to The Moor. 

The gallery also houses wheelchair/pushchair-friendly bathrooms and baby changing areas, and it’s a dog-friendly location too! 

Spring 2023 will see two new exhibitions: “Unfamiliar Territory”, which explores the changes in the Cornish landscape, and “Trace”, which displays artwork by the Discover Arts Falmouth group that represents those with physical and medical challenges alongside their carers. 

The gallery also occasionally hosts events, which are always free. Some of the events that have been previously held are yoga & breakfast, creative workshops, children’s storytelling, environmental films, and botanical drawing and medicine. 

If you want to participate, make sure to book as there are limited spaces!

You may be an art connoisseur or just pretending to be one (we won’t tell!), but either way, Falmouth Art Gallery is an particularly great destination for art lovers, historians, and couples alike.

Glendurgan Garden

Glendurgan gardens overview

About 15 minutes away from Falmouth by driving is one of Cornwall’s best gardens to visit, the Glendurgan Garden is open daily (except on Mondays) from 10:30 am to 5 pm, with the last entry into the garden at 4 pm. 

In this tranquil space, feel free to explore the cherry orchard surrounded by snowdrops and Lent lilies from February to March or bluebells from April to May. 

The tulip tree, Holy Bank (an area with trees that have religious connotations), Camellia walk, and Manderson’s Hill — a cathartic woodland walk that overlooks the garden’s maze — are other areas to venture into and share beautiful moments in nature. 

For families, children can play with the Giant’s Stride, a rotating rope swing, or learn about the first school opened by the Fox family in 1829 before running through the cherry laurel maze to find the thatched summer house central to the maze (hint: palm trees delineate the four maze corners)!

From the 1st to the 16th of April 2023, there will be an Easter trail coinciding with the garden’s hours. Each child will cost £3, which covers a chance to find a Rainforest Alliance chocolate egg (alternatives available) once you complete 10 hidden challenges!

To accommodate families, Glendurgan Garden allows pushchairs and baby back carriers, has baby-changing areas, provides high chairs in the tea house, and permits trained assistance dogs. 

Trebah Garden

Trebah gardens lake

Trebah Garden is a 16-minute drive from Falmouth, open from 10 am until 4:30 pm from Saturday to Wednesday with the last garden entry being 3:30 pm. 

In the sub-tropical themed garden, you can find hydrangeas, rhododendrons, bamboo, gunnera, the UK’s tallest recorded living champion trees – and even a Koi pond!

Entry into the garden is free for children younger than five years old, £7.50 for children between five and 15, and £15 for an adult. 

Take note! There’s a disability entry rate of £7.50 and the garden has level access from the car park to The Visitor Centre (and throughout), Garden Shop, cafe, and the seated area outdoors. 

However, if you need a manual wheelchair, Trebah advises against taking the steep garden route. 

If you’re coming to the garden by yourself for your weekly natural de-stress, check out Trebah’s workshops including sun printing, jewellery making, and expressive painting! 

Trebah Garden has a dining area, Trebah Kitchen, which opens from 10 am to 4 pm, with a final order for hot food at 2:30 pm. 

The garden is also dog-friendly (last year, they had 9,057 pups visit), so you can add it to your stopover list if you’re travelling with a four-legged family member!

Take a Walking Tour of Falmouth

When it comes to official walking tours, Falmouth Uncovered runs two main tours: the History Tour and the Ghost Tour. Both tours run from April to October, and the organiser recommends that you book tickets online to make sure everything goes smoothly! 

The Falmouth Uncovered History Tour takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays from 11 am to 12:30 pm, charging £16 for adults and £10 for children. The Ghost Tour occurs on Fridays from 6 pm to 7 pm with a price of £10 for adults and £8 for children. 

Climb Jacob’s Ladder

Jacobs ladder entry sign

If you need a good dare for the family member who keeps falling asleep on your shoulder during the car ride to Falmouth, why not suggest Jacob’s Ladder

It’s only 111 steps…easy, right

If you go at night, you can still climb the staircase thanks to the innovative introduction of LED lighting strips to the underside of the handrails. Fortuitously, there’s also an area halfway to take a break if you need one. 

The attraction is named after Jacob Hamblen, the businessman who had the stairway built to connect his property to his nearby business. Nowadays, the ladder connects Moor and Vernon Palace.

Eat Seafood

Seafood restaurant in Falmouth

Being a coastal town, you might expect Falmouth to be dotted with fresh seafood restaurants — and you’d be correct! 

If you fancy a place to dine on a fresh catch, Hooked On The Rocks is a highly recommended spot by the locals.

At Hooked On The Rocks, you can try dishes such as whole Falmouth Bay crab with garlic herb butter, wild prawns tossed in a spice blend of garlic butter, miso, chilli, sesame, and coriander, and forever classic fish & chips caught from Cornish waters. 

If you want to try your hand at sustainably sourcing your own seafood, you could always forage at Pendennis Point where the rocks are decorated with mussels and shrimp hide in the rockpools!

Go Shopping

Shops in Falmouth

In regard to shopping in Falmouth town, the assortment of shops lining High Street to Arwenack Street, Events Square, and NMMC are your best bet! Here, you can find a variety of clothing, fashion accessories, homeware, books, a butchery, and outdoor clothing and equipment stores.

One of the visitor favourites has to be the Falmouth Bookseller, with its “good and eclectic range of books”. The shop is open between 9 am and 5:30 pm on Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 am to 4 pm on Sundays. 

Other notable shops include Fannie & Fox, which hosts numerous sculptures, paintings, and other creative works, as well as Vintage Warehouse13 — a vintage clothing and furniture shop that dates from the sixties to nineties and leaves people with “a distant nostalgia” and adoration as each item’s history is carefully explained. 

Final Thoughts on Things to Do in (and near) Falmouth

Either in your own company or that of your friends, lover, and family, there are so many things in this quiet town to cater to all hobbies and types of people. 

The bustling range of activities is complemented by the different places to visit in Falmouth, making for a well-rounded and satisfying experience!

Whether you decide to try SUP with your dog, find a new piece of art to frame on High Street, or wander the idyllic meadows of Glendurgan Garden, we’re sure you’ll find something to love about Falmouth apart from its Cornish charm!