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Newquay has everything you could want in a cheap British beach holiday. With brilliant beaches, accommodation for all budgets and loads of fun activities, there’s a reason it’s one of Britain’s most-loved coastal towns.
Eternally popular with families, surfers and pretty much anyone who loves the beach, Newquay sits on a stunning stretch of Cornwall’s North Atlantic coastline. All sea cliffs and sandy bays, its surrounding beauty is the main reason happy travellers keep coming back, year after year.
Sure, it’s not everyone’s cup of cream tea – the raucous nightlife and souvenir shops can be a turn-off for some – but Newquay doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a classic bucket-and-spade resort town built for tourism. For a week or two of fun by the sea, you can’t really beat a staycation in Newquay.
With beaches, surfing, arcades, amusements and more, Newquay doesn’t really do boring – which is probably why it never seems to lose its mass appeal, year after year. Whether you’re travelling with kids or as a couple, a staycation in Newquay can be as relaxed or as active as you like.
Best things to do on a weekend break
You can’t visit Newquay, one of Britain’s most iconic surf towns, without testing yourself out on the waves. In these parts, it’s a rite of passage.
Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before, there are plenty of local schools in the area, such as Quicksilver Surf School and Fistral Beach Surf School, who run classes for young kids, teenagers and adults.
Besides surf and sand, weekend breaks in Newquay are perfect for walking. Blessed with beautiful surrounds for miles either side, you’ll find sea cliffs, sandy beaches and tucked-away coves. The town sits on the South West Coast Path, so it’s easy to head out on a spectacular walk.
Best things to do for families
Aside from the obvious (that’s surf lessons and the beach), Newquay is jam-packed full of stuff to keep the kids occupied. Like all good British seaside towns, there’s a healthy amount of amusement arcades dotted around the seafront – so stock up on those coppers before you arrive.
For more non-beach activities, there’s swashbuckling fun abound at Pirate’s Quest, a live-action, interactive adventure show about Cornwall’s pirate past. Feeling a little wild? Get up close to the king of the jungle at Newquay Zoo, or go looking for Nemo at the Blue Reef Aquarium.
Best beaches in Newquay
A half-mile stretch of golden sand backed by Cornish cliffs, Fistral Beach is Newquay’s biggest and best known. Famed for its awesome waves, Fistral draws surfers in their thousands every year and hosts some of the biggest contests in British surfing.
Closer to the town centre, you’ll find Towan Beach, a very popular spot during the summer, and nearby Tolcarne Beach, which is perfect for a bit of bodyboarding action. For something a little quieter, head to Porth on the eastern fringes of Newquay or, around three miles out of town, Watergate Bay Beach, which is popular with families and surfers.
Best restaurants and bars in Newquay
From pub grub and fish and chips to trendy bistros, Newquay’s got plenty of options for a good feed.
If seafood is your thing, you’ve come to the right town. Try any one of Harbour Fish and Grill, The Fish House or The Lusty Gaze Beach Restaurant. Planning a long day out in the surf? Fill up first on the all-day breakfast at Bodhi’s Beach Cafe and Bistro.
For drinks, try either the Central Inn or the Fort Inn, two modern pubs in the centre of town. Tom Thumb, meanwhile, is one of the Newquay’s best independent bars and comes with a lofty rep for cracking cocktails.
Best attractions in Newquay
The Huer's Hut, high up on the headland above Fistral Beach, might be the most curious attraction in Newquay. A relic from the town’s pilchard fishing heyday, the huer would watch out for arriving shoals of fish, and cry out to alert Newquay’s fisherfolk. Hike up to the hut for awesome coastal views.
For more history, head out to Trerice, a 16th-century manor house with wonderfully preserved period interiors. If you’re visiting with kids, combine it with a ride through Lappa Valley on a miniature steam train. If nature’s more your thing, check out the Bedruthan Steps, a tiny National Trust beach known for its granite sea stacks.
With white-sand beaches, pretty fishing villages and a footpath that hugs a dramatic, craggy coastline, Cornwall's got all the ingredients for the perfect summer break. Discover the best of it here.Read moreabout 10 of the best places to visit in Cornwall