The town of St Ives in Cornwall is a hub of cultural activity and it’s a glorious holiday destination, repeatedly voted the best seaside town in the UK. With its picturesque harbour, sandy beaches and galleries and exhibitions, St Ives has so much to offer to visitors, from traditional seaside activities to sightseeing, shopping and world-class art.

 

Beach Life

One mile east of St Ives is the northeast-facing Carbis Bay Beach. This is one of Cornwall’s top five beaches, with a 2013 Blue Flag rating. It’s sheltered and peaceful and so ideal for families. Edged with a mile of sandy beach, the sea here is a glorious turquoise shade and is great for swimming in. The Carbis Bay Hotel owns the beach, and here you can take a break from the sun with an afternoon Cornish cream tea.

You’ll find Porthminster Beach a short walk from the centre of St Ives. This is a crescent-shaped area of sandy beach with a fabulous view across the bay to Godrevy Lighthouse, the inspiration for Virginia Wolfe’s pioneering novel “To The Lighthouse”. Again the waters are calm here, which means the beach is great for families with young children. Nearby is the award-winning Porthminster Beach Café, where you can enjoy delicious, locally-grown and sourced produce.

Porthmeor Beach is also close to the centre of St Ives, and attracts both swimmers and surfers. This popular stretch of sand is close by to the Tate St Ives Gallery and holds a Blue Flag award, reflecting its water quality and sound environmental management.

The smaller St Ives Harbour Beach is a great stopping-off point from exploring the town centre. Take a break, enjoy the harbour view, sample an ice cream, but watch out for hungry seagulls!

 

A Town for Culture and Discovery

St Ives is an area of quite stunning natural beauty, which explains why it’s been attracting artists since the mid-19th century. JMW Turner was an early visitor. Since then it’s become a true artists’ colony, with numerous galleries. It’s also home to Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The Tate St Ives opened here in 1993 and the gallery marks St Ives’s importance as a centre of art on the international stage. It’s also home to many significant works from the St Ives School of painting, dating from the mid-1800s to the present.

The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is an exhibition space for the work of one of Britain’s most important twentieth-century artists. It was originally the location of Trewyn Studios, where Barbara Hepworth worked and lived with her husband the artist Ben Nicholson from 1939 onwards until she died in 1975. A selection of Hepworth’s key bronze, stone and wood sculptures is on display here, along with archive material consisting of drawings, sketches and notes.

St Ives town centre is also great for chance discoveries, with its maze of  cobbled streets and old fishermen’s cottages. You’ll also come across plenty of independent shops and galleries, and interesting places to eat.

St Ives is a busy holiday town, but it retains a magnetic charm, combining a very Cornish heritage with an almost tropical feel.