As residents of Cornwall, we’re often asked questions about planning a trip to our wonderful county. Visitors come to Cornwall throughout the year for its beaches, food, walks, views and more, but there’s no doubt that it changes throughout the seasons. So – you know that you’d like to visit Cornwall, but which are the best times to visit?
To ensure that you can get the most out of your holiday, we’ve put together our thoughts on visiting during different times of the year.
Each month of the year in Cornwall offers different things – experiences, weather and climate, things to do, atmosphere, events and even food, so ultimately the answer is that it depends! The most popular time of year to visit is undoubtedly the summer, however there are some regular visitors who who would never choose July or August, so this is not to say that they are necessarily the best. What makes a great holiday for a family will be different to that of a solo traveller or couple, and the tastes, ages and requirements of those holidaying will all play a part too.
Some things that might influence your decision are the price, how busy it will be, whether everything you want to do will be open, and of course the great British weather, which is not always predictable! We’ve taken a look at the county throughout the year to give you an idea of what to expect from a visit during each month.
January might not be your first thought when it comes to months to visit Cornwall, but for those who don’t enjoy busy towns and crowds, it might just be for you. There’s a lot to like about the county at the start of the year – empty beaches, quieter restaurants, and a great choice of accommodation. The weather is a mixed bag and some attractions are likely to be closed for winter, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. Cornwall’s quaint villages look particularly lovely in winter, and stormy weather allows you the chance to sink into the sofa and enjoy time by the fire, or even to get out and experience storm watching. Plus, keen surfers will love the winter waves to be had at many of Cornwall’s surfing hotspots.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for January: 8.96°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for January: 4.34°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for January: 16.35
It’s still the low season in Cornwall in February, but you will often find that some attractions begin to open again nonetheless as the month brings both a school half term and Valentine’s Day. The weather can tend to be quite rainy at this time of year (although it can also surprise you with clear, sunny days!) but there are plenty of wet weather attractions throughout the county; and for those who are willing, winter walks look particularly wild and dramatic at this time of year. Given that it is still a quiet time in the region, prices are good during the month of February. For those determined to seek out a Cornish pasty, the end of the month (usually the week that straddles February and March) brings National Pasty Week.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for February: 9.02°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for February: 4.14°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for February: 13.31
March is an excellent choice for visiting Cornwall, with most attractions open (many of them reopen during the month and even those who have been open all winter are likely to extend their opening hours), but a lack of crowds, who haven’t yet arrived for spring and summer holidays. It may not be warm outside, but the days are looking more springlike with signs of new life, so it’s a great time to layer up and get exploring – especially as it’s still likely to be quiet on the coast. Some council run car parks are free over the winter months until 31st March, so it’s also the last chance to take advantage of this. Plus, St Piran’s Day, the national day of Cornwall, happens on the 5th March each year!
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for March: 10.41°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for March: 5.06°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for March: 12.38
Cornwall starts to truly come alive in April; not only are the flowers beginning to bloom, but almost all attractions are now open after the winter closure period, and the change to summer opening hours will tend to begin from the Easter school holidays. Being slightly warmer than other areas of the UK at this point in the year, April is a wonderful time to visit some of the great gardens the county has to offer, as well as to enjoy watersports and food; beach events will begin to crop up during the month, as well as local food festivals and experiences. We’d recommend Camborne Trevithick Day, a free one day festival in Camborne on the last Saturday in April, and the Port Isaac Shanty Festival, another free event that happens over a weekend in April each year!
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for April: 12.45°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for April: 6.43°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for April: 11.08
With all attractions fully open and the weather starting to warm up, May sees the official start of tourism season in Cornwall, usually from the school half term week. It is busier than the winter months but also the very start of the peak season, so a brilliant opportunity to enjoy longer days, warmer weather and fewer people than at the height of summer. If you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, this could be the month for you; it’s usually a good choice for outdoor activities like walking the South West Coast Path, visiting castles and gardens, and taking boat trips. Be aware that the county is still likely to see a mix of sunshine and showers, and the sea is likely to be very cold!
Events that may coincide with a trip to Cornwall in May are Padstow Town’s fantastic annual May Day celebrations, and Helston Flora Day on 8th May, a yearly celebration of the end of winter that marks the arrival of new fertility and vitality. The town is decorated with greenery and floral arrangements for the occasion and is a great experience for visitors!
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for May: 15.07°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for May: 8.94°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for May: 9.83
As early summer is generally mild and pleasant in Cornwall, June is also a great month for getting out and about. There will be plenty of other visitors around when you visit during this month, but beaches are unlikely to be too packed, and while key spots will attract crowds, there are still clear and peaceful stretches of the South West Coast Path and The Camel Trail to be found. The landscape is lush and green, and spring flowers are still in bloom, so there are some particularly beautiful views to be had; try seeking out the poppy fields near Polly Joke on the West Pentire headland for a sea of red flowers. June is also a prime time for events, with many of the county’s best happening during the month, including the Royal Cornwall Show and the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival, a free nautical music and song festival.
June is also an excellent time for wildlife watching – it’s the best time of year to see puffins near Polzeath, amongst a whole host of other great wildlife spotting opportunities around Cornwall.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for June: 17.45°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for June: 11.51°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for June: 10.10
Pack your summer wardrobe – July is one of the warmest and driest months of the year in Cornwall, and while weather in England is never guaranteed, it often presents a true summer holiday for those visiting the county. Ideal for long evenings spent outdoors and lovely for paddling at the beach, some areas of the coast take on an almost tropical feel. Everything is open and the school summer holidays start, causing it to get busy, particularly towards the end of the month. Large resort towns and popular beaches can get crowded during this time, and places to eat and stay can get booked up quickly, so booking in advance is important.
July also brings with it Stithians Agricultural Show, the biggest one-day agricultural event in Cornwall. The event features an abundance of local traders as well as competitions for everything from livestock to baking and plenty of other things to see and do.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for July: 19.08°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for July: 13.45°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for July: 11.39
If you’re thinking of learning to surf on your holiday in Cornwall, this is the time to do it, with the water temperature mild, the days bright, and the conditions favourable for beginners. August tends to have the warmest weather of the year in Cornwall, and it’s light until around 8:30pm for visitors to enjoy balmy summer nights.
Everything in Cornwall is open during August, since it’s prime time for families, but the summer months can also mean higher prices, crowds, traffic, and fewer options for accommodation, attractions and restaurants. Still, when you’re playing on the sand with the family, greeting fellow hikers on a coastal walk, or feeling the sun on your face as you discover some of Cornwall’s most popular sights, we find that that tends to all fade into the background!
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for August: 19.10°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for August: 13.67°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for August: 12.07
With children heading back to school in September, Cornwall quietens down after the busy peak of summer. It’s a popular month to visit, with those who choose to holiday here at this time of year loving the late summer weather and the reduction in crowds. It’s also said by many to be an ideal time for a dip in the sea, which will have had a few months of sunshine to warm it up! Seasonal dog bans on some beaches may lift during September, so it’s a fantastic month for a beach stroll with your four-legged friend – as well as for walking in general. For those looking for events in the region, the month brings the St Ives September festival, and those who enjoy discovering new places will enjoy the Heritage Open Days during the month, where some of Cornwall’s historic estates and properties open their doors to the public.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for September: 17.66°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for September: 12.07°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for September: 11.52
October is the last month that some attractions will be open in Cornwall, with many shutting for winter after the October school half term. However, there is still plenty to do for those visiting – just watch out for changing opening hours amongst those that are still open. Cornwall in autumn is a special thing, bringing crisp air, the orange and reds of the season and a more relaxed pace to the county, with earlier sunsets and later sunrises for those who enjoy seeking them out. The weather itself is a often a mixed bag, with the potential for sun, rain, wind and almost everything in between, but still often ideal for autumnal walks. Many attractions, including the Lost Gardens of Heligan, put on Halloween events in the second part of the month which are great for families, and foodies will love the Falmouth Oyster Festival.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for October: 14.62°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for October: 9.78°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for October: 15.23
As the start of the low season, November is not one of the busier months to visit – so for those who don’t enjoy the crowds and prefer a slower pace, you might find it a particularly appealing month to visit, especially if you aren’t too worried about the weather. November can include wind, rain and storms, crisp temperatures, and also days of bright sunshine. Many of the bigger attractions will still be open, but if you have something specific in mind it is always best to check their opening hours. Attractions aside, November is ideal for hunkering down in cosy pubs or enjoying the exhilaration of a blustery walk. Remember that it’s also bonfire night at the start of the month, and the fireworks displays from towns on the coast are particularly impressive.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for November: 11.65°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for November: 7.12°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for November: 17.76
For those embarking on a winter trip to Cornwall, December brings festivities to the air along with the cold. It’s the perfect time to seek out a holiday cottage with a hot tub or a roaring fire; the month can include some pretty spectacular storms, and watching them from the comfort of a warm and cosy location can be all the activity you need. The county is undeniably atmospheric at this time of year and offers various festive events and sights; try going to see the Christmas lights at the village of Mousehole, or experiencing ice skating at the Eden Project. For fun and food-filled festivities, head over to the wonderful Padstow Christmas Festival, where you can watch festive demonstrations from renowned chefs, browse for gifts in the Christmas market, and soak up the Christmas spirit.
Average maximum temperature in Cornwall for December: 9.66°C
Average minimum temperature in Cornwall for December: 5.05°C
Average days of rainfall in Cornwall for December: 17.06
Being residents and advocates for our county, we’d have to say: anytime! There is no bad time to visit Cornwall, and the best time for you will vary depending on what you hope to spend your time doing and what kind of holiday you’re looking for.
Cornwall in summer may be perfect for you if you’re looking for a family summer holiday with the best chance of good weather, whereas for those looking to take things at a slow pace and enjoy the pleasure of doing not very much at all, the winter months might offer exactly what you’re looking for.
Our advice would be to consider the type of holiday you want and what you want to fill it with, whether that’s coastal walks, sightseeing, eating, surfing, culture, events and everything in between, as well as the availability, weather and costs you are looking at, and go from there.
Decided on your own perfect time of year to visit Cornwall? If you’re planning a stay and looking for holiday homes in Cornwall, we’re sure we’ve got the one for you, whichever month you choose.
*Weather information taken from Met Office, Newquay Cornwall Airport Climate Station.