Wondering what the top things to do in Newquay are? You need this guide to help you plan a trip to Newquay, Cornwall’s surfing capital.
Newquay has been quietly shaking off its party town image to establish itself as a foodie spot and surfer’s paradise.
Newquay boasts beautiful beaches, surf schools, spas, swish seafood restaurants, vegan brunches and hip coffee shops. It’s an ideal weekend break for those seeking a seaside break in the UK
Things to do in Newquay
Newquay’s is one of the best surfing spots in the UK, with Fistral Beach offering world-class waves to ride.
There are numerous surf competitions and championships here as well as several surf schools, so you can master riding those waves.
There are several town beaches around Newquay with waves good enough to ride.
Surfing in Newquay is said to be best in Autumn and winter. Just make sure you have a decent wetsuit if you are riding the wave in winter.
Surf School Newquay
If you are new to surfing the best thing you can do is book a surf lesson in Newquay, it’s quicker and safer to learn from the surfing pros.
Booking a half-day course will help you learn how to surf in Cornwall safely. Surf coaches will be on hand to help you improve and catch those waves.
Expect to pay around £35 for a half-day surf experience in Newquay.
Fistral Beach Newquay
We spent a morning learning to surf on the quieter, south side of Fistral beach.
Fistral beach is a popular place to learn to surf, it has a sandy, wide beach, it’s near the town centre and is very picturesque.
Most surfing lessons in Newquay will include all your surf gear including wetsuits, boots and gloves.
We had a private surf lesson in Newquay as I have surfed a bit and I was looking for ways to improve my surfing.
Private surf lessons Newquay
The benefit of a booking a private surf lesson in Newquay is that it offers an intensive experience for you and the other person.
Your surf coach will be able to asses your surf level and tailor the lesson to help you improve your current abilities.
In our private lesson, the water was cold, the waves were frothing but I strode in with purpose and a misplaced sense of confidence.
The thing about surfing is that it can try your patience, especially if you are as out of practice as we were.
The best thing to do is to keep going, every time you wipe out, get back on that board and start paddling out again.
Thankfully our instructor was in the water with us giving us tips and tricks on how to best pop up on that board. He was also laughing hysterically at our increasingly hilarious wipeouts. To be fair, so were we.
Newquay coastal walks
Strap on those walking shoes and take a hike around Newquay’s shoreline.
There are plenty of Instagrammable spots in Newquay, as well as plenty of nearby coffee shops and pubs for a quick pit stop.
Newquay has two town walks that are easy to follow with the Newquay Discovery Trail Map.
Look out for numbered stone circle markers embedded in the ground that feature interesting facts about the immediate area.
Newquay’s coastal walks are some of my favourite walking trails in the UK.
One of the Newquay town walking routes will take you around the coastline and historic harbour.
The other route includes a boating lake and gardens. Look out for pretty beach huts, tea shops and plenty of photogenic ocean view spots.
Newquay to Watergate Bay walk
When walking north of Newquay, you can walk virtually uninterrupted to Padstow and beyond, passing through quaint Cornish villages on your way.
You can also follow the Coast Path from Newquay to Watergate Bay, the highlight is that at low tide, you can walk along a mile of sandy beach.
The Visit Newquay Tourist Information Centre has lots of information, maps, books and guides to local walks.
There are also many beautiful Newquay beaches that are perfect for a brisk sea walk.
Slip your shoes off and take a romantic stroll at the water’s edge, as the waves crash and seabirds soar past.
Some of the best beaches in Newquay include:
- Towan Beach
- Great Western beach
- Porth Beach
- Fistral beach
- Lusty Glaze Beach
- Holywell Bay Beach
Watergate Bay to Whipsderry walk
If you head to nearby Watergate Bay there is a lovely Coast Path walk from Watergate Bay to Whipsiderry.
There is also the option to walk along the sandy beach at low tide. Pay particular attention to tide times when walking on the beaches around Newquay.
You don’t want to be cut off from the tide in Newquay. Who wants to be the tourist that needs a coast guard rescue right?
Newquay Aquarium is a small aquarium located right by the ocean. Despite its size, is home to a surprisingly large range of marine life.
The Newquay Bluereef Aquarium has plenty of pretty fish to admire as well as turtles, stingrays and sharks.
Situated on Towan Beach, the Newquay Aquarium costs £9.86 for adults and £7.65 for children when booked online.
Blue Reef Aquarium
There 40 naturally-themed and colourful habitats at the Aquarium, ranging from the Cornish coastlines to tropical waters.
The aquarium also has hands-on exhibits and an underwater tunnel that runs through the aquarium.
It’s definitely worth spending a few hours gazing at colourful corals, crustaceans, sharks and rays. Especially if the weather in Newquay takes a turn for the worst.
If you are looking for gifts for the kids, they have an onsite gift shop selling a range of items. Feeling peckish? They also have a cafe serving hot food, drinks and snacks.
Newquay golf club
Newquay’s golf club offers golf enthusiasts the opportunity to play its scenic 18 hole course whilst looking out over Fistral beach.
Non-members can book a spot in this pretty golfing spot, for an introduction to introduction to Links Golf [the oldest style of golf course], that is suitable for beginners and serious golfers. It’s a great place for seaside golf in Cornwall and the UK.
Newquay golf course
The course is built on dunes and also has a public walkway through the course, should you fancy some golf spectating rather than playing.
The Green Fee rates for 18 holes are £43 on the weekend and £33 on weekdays.
Non-members should book in advance as the course can get very busy on weekends.
Newquay is positioning itself as a real foodie hotspot for those with discerning culinary tastes.
There is a great selection of restaurants and cafes in the area, with a real focus on trendy, independent venues.
Some of the best Newquay Restaurants include:
- The Fish House Fistral
- Harbour Rest Cafe
- Harbour Fish and Grill
- Lusty Glaze Beach Restaurant
- Gusto Grill & Roast
Many venues are also capitalising on Newquay’s beautiful sea views, including Dune Restaurant.
This coastal restaurant serves tasty and vibrant food, complete with a lovely ocean view if you can bag a window seat. It’s a lovely place for fine dining in Newquay.
Fistral Beach restaurant
Typical menu offerings include fresh tagliatelle with scallops and prawns, 8oz pan-fried fillet steak and Curried hake fillet.
A separate Vegan menu is also available that features dishes such as spring vegetable risotto and sweet potato, chickpea curry.
Staff are also on hand to recommend wine pairings and to help you choose a dessert.
This is particularly useful when you are crippled with indecision and are dangerously close to ordering ‘all of the desserts’. Expect to pay around £16-£29 for main courses.
Newquay fish and chips
If you fancy a classic seaside dish of fish and chips there are several good spots in Newquay including Rick Steins Fistral.
They are a casual restaurant, serving top-notch fish and chips in a prime location overlooking Fistral beach.
Francine’s is another fish and chip hot spot, serving massive portions of fish and crispy chips to take away.
It’s one of the best places for fish and chips in Newquay that are reasonably priced.
If you are looking for international cuisine during your stay in Newquay then I would suggest grabbing a table at Pan-Asian restaurant Kahuna.
Kahuna has a great range of vibrant vegetarian dishes, Asian curry dishes, ribs and noodles.
A good selection of wines, beers and spirits are also available from the bar. It’s a rather fabulous place for Thai food in Newquay.
Thai food Newquay
We feasted on chilli beef and a taster plate that included spring rolls, chicken skewers and tempura prawns. The food was really fresh and tasted very authentic.
I tend to find that many Asian restaurants in the UK fall short of the mark when trying to recreate Asian cuisine.
This is happily not the case at Kahuna, the food was superb and completely spot on.
Expect to pay around £12-£16 for main courses and around £8 for starters.
Brew and Tattoo
Coffee lovers should head to the off-beat coffee shop and tattoo parlour The Brew and Tattoo for a specially blended coffee, delicious slice of cake or to get yourself inked.
This independent venture is a little slice of hipster paradise with delicious coffee and decor that screams ‘Pinterest goals’. It’s one of the best places for coffee in Newquay.
Coffee shop Newquay
Kick back and relax with a brew in an uber-cool setting with upcycled furniture and features.
If you are feeling brave, you can even book in to get a tattoo in their custom-built tattoo parlour upstairs.
If like me, tats aren’t quite your bag [I basically have zero pain threshold and a fear of needles], you can always just pop in for a coffee and a scrumptious homemade cake.
When in Cornwall it is imperative that you try a Cornish pasty. Pop into The Cornish Bakery for a mouthwatering selection of award-winning, handmade Cornish pasties.
Typical fillings include Beef and stilton, cheese and onion, Pork, apple and cider and sweet potato and feta.
We thought their pasties were very filling and totally moreish, my favourite was definitely the Thai Chicken! Its a great place for Cornish pasties in Newquay.
Where to stay in Newquay
There is a huge range of budget hotels, spa hotels, B&B’s and self-catering accommodation in Newquay. There is something to suit everyone’s budget in this cool surf town.
Some of the best hotels in Newquay include:
- The Headland Hotel & Spa
- Legacy Hotel Victoria
- Blue Reef Lodge
- Reef Island Lodge & Apartments
- Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa
Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa
If you can’t spoil yourself when you are on holiday, when can you? We stayed at the very swish Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa, an indulgent adults-only spa hotel with magnificent ocean views.
Staff will greet you with an arrival drink and information on the spa facilities, hotel restaurant information and reservations. It’s one of the best spa hotels in Newquay.
Fistral beach hotel and spa adults only
This sophisticated hotel has an aurora of calm thanks to its child-free policy.
You can sip wine in their contemporary, ocean-facing Bay Bar, with only the murmur of adult conversation filling the room.
You may as well order another glass of pinot and back in the serenity and lack of responsibilities, you have earnt it darlings.
Fistral beach hotel rooms
I would strongly recommend booking an ocean view room for maximum indulgence and glorious views.
These rooms offer beautiful sea views from the bedroom and the bathroom, where you can soak in a freestanding bath whilst watching the waves roll in.
Our room had very modern and unfussy decor, with white linen and the occasional splash of nautical colour.
The spacious room also featured the usual amenities you would expect of a decent hotel. The rooms have coffee making facilities, flat-screen TV, mini-fridge and luxurious ESPA toiletries.
The room tariff also includes full access to Fistral Spa, the hotel’s luxurious spa that has a pool, fitness and spa facilities.
Unwind in the steam room and pool or pamper yourself with a range of treatments. Some of the Fistral Spa treatments include aromatherapy back, neck and shoulder massage, luxury ESPA facial and exfoliating salt and oil scrub.
Fistral beach hotel and spa deals
Hotel guests also receive a 10% discount on treatments, so there is no excuse not to spoil yourself.
It is one of the best spa hotels in Cornwall and is an amazing place for a seaside break.
Dining options at the hotel include the excellent Dune Restaurant for dinner and ocean view dining.
Or maybe pop to the Bay Bar for lunch and drinks. The emphasis is on quality local produce, with seafood featuring heavily on the menu.
Expect to pay around £175 for a sea-view room at the hotel during high season and around £150 for a standard room during the same period. Bed and breakfast and spa deals at Fistral beach hotel are also available.
Newquay certainly has a wide range of drinking establishments on offer, ranging from beach view bars, traditional pubs and swanky bars.
Many bars have spectacular sea views and also serve food throughout the days.
There are lots of bars in Newquay with sea views and many of them cater to different crowds.
One of the best var sea views we experienced was from the terrace of Walkabout, the Aussie themed chain bar that houses sports screens and stag dos.
We spent a sunny afternoon sat outside sipping white wine and looking out across the ocean.
Honestly, Walkabout is not normally an establishment I frequent in my hometown or on my travels.
I tend to find them rather rowdy, with poor lighting and sticky floors. Having said that, this particular Walkabout is worth a visit for its open-air seating area. It has the most picturesque views of Newquay.
Belushi’s Bar Newquay
If you are looking for a lively beach bar then Belushi’s bar has a fantastic cliff-top beer garden, there’s also an extensive pub grub menu as well as live music and DJs every weekend.
If you are looking for a more relaxing spot to sup a pint in then the C-View Bar is a chilled-out spot with sea views and stylish surroundings.
Barefoot at the beach Newquay
Another chic beachside bar is Barefoot At The Beach, serving craft beers, wines, gins and cocktails, with ocean views to admire.
Their rather slick bar menu includes Cornish crab salad, Woodfired veg, goats cheese, candied walnut pizza and Local mussels with apple & cider sauce.
Tom Thumb Bar Newquay
If you fancy splurging on carefully crafted cocktails then Tom Thumb Bar shakes up some seriously cool concoctions. Some of their cocktail offerings include Japanese Cherry Martini, Barrel-Aged Rum Old Fashioned and Mango Bellini .
It’s a cosy and inviting spot for a cocktail or three and the staff really know their stuff, so don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations.
Weekend in Newquay
Overall I found our trip to Newquay to be more relaxing than I anticipated. I was pleasantly surprised at the chilled out, surf culture that appeared to be prevalent.
There are so many things to do in Newquay we couldn’t possibly squeeze it all in on a long weekend. We will definitely have to come back and explore more.
It seems that the town has revived itself from stag-do central to a hipster, foodie spot.
What did you think of my guide to top things to do in Newquay? Would you visit this uber-cool surf town? Let me know in the comments below.
Planning your trip to Newquay
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- Get the best destination recommendations from TripAdvisor
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Disclaimer: Our stay at Fistral Beach hotel and spa was complimentary. All views remain my own as usual. This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission but come at no additional cost to you. By clicking these links you are supporting Pip and the City and helping to keep the content free.