Located in southwest Cornwall on the estuary of the River Fal, the pleasant college town of Falmouth is known for boasting the world’s third-deepest pure harbor. From touring the historic Pendennis Fort to the beaches, museums, and shops in the area, tourists will never run out of fun things to do in Falmouth.
Falmouth is a great place to start your exploration of Cornwall, and it serves as a convenient jumping-off point for many exciting day trips. Read on to find out the top places to visit in Falmouth.
1. The Nationwide Maritime Museum
It is likely that going to the National Maritime Museum will be among the best things to do in Falmouth, Cornwall, if you are interested in gaining an appreciation of the city’s long-running connection to the water. The museum is home to many unique exhibits and displays, a boat-building yard, and other features.
The National Maritime Museum can be found on Falmouth’s famous deepwater harbor, the third largest in the world after Sydney and Milford Haven, and is considered one of the best Falmouth attractions for the whole family.
2. Nobska Point Lighthouse
Nobska Light was first lit in 1826 on a rock at the mouth of Woods Hole Harbor; the current 42-foot iron tower dates to 1876. This lighthouse, which has a range of 13 nautical miles, was automated in 1985 and is still operational today.
In the lantern chamber, you may take in one of the best panoramas of the area, which includes Nantucket Sound, Martha’s Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, and Woods Hole. Nobska Point, where the Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds meet, is a stunning location at any time of day
3. Pendennis Fort
The Pendennis Fort was built by King Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. Despite its age, the fortress on a rocky peninsula a few miles east of the city has been extraordinarily well preserved.
Between 1540 and 1542, the stronghold was built to defend England from a possible invasion by troops from France and the Holy Roman Empire. The Pendennis fort, set amid acres of verdant green ground atop a cliff, is one of the most popular attractions in Falmouth for families.
4. Falmouth Strolling Tour
When arriving in a new city, one of many first matters is to go on a walking tour to gain bearings and get a sense of the neighborhood.
This walking tour of Falmouth will take you through the city’s streets and lanes while teaching you about its maritime past, making it an excellent opportunity to get to know the area and its history on the cheap.
5. Old Silver Beach
When it comes to Falmouth’s public beaches, the best is a small sandy cove at the mouth of Herring Brook that looks out across Buzzards Bay and, on the other side, West Island. Located on a gentle slope, Old Silver Beach offers a vast expanse of calm, waist- to thigh-deep water perfect for floating and splashing around. The creek separates the public beach from the private areas, and the sand is soft.
Its banks are home to a significant salt marsh environment, and it serves as a conduit for water from Wing Pond further inland. You might observe some egrets if you stroll down the brook, and if you look closely, you can see hundreds of tiny fish dashing in and out of the water at the brook’s mouth.
Gyllyngvase, the largest and closest beach to Falmouth, is only a ten-minute stroll from the city center. In 2022, Gyllyngvase Beach was one of only eight in all of Cornwall to receive the prestigious Blue Flag distinction for cleanliness and water quality.
Locals refer to this crescent of golden sand as Gylly beach, and it’s an excellent spot for families visiting Falmouth. Beachgoers can take advantage of the many services provided, such as public restrooms, changing rooms, showers, restaurants, shops, gardens, and even lifeguards (from Could to September).
Swanpool Beach and Fort Beach, both in Falmouth, are also great options. Fort Beach has shingles rather than sand, but both are beautiful (one other stunning crescent-shaped stretch of sand).
7. Shipwreck Kayak Journey
Kayaking is one of the best ways to experience the water in Cornwall and Falmouth. Starting at the aforementioned Gylly beach, this two-hour kayaking excursion will take you through sea caves, gullies, submerged reefs, and past historical shipwrecks.
In addition to gaining a new viewpoint on this section of the Cornish coast, you may also be lucky enough to spot seals, dolphins, and other marine species.
8. Falmouth Lifeboat Station
The brave volunteers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) at the lifeboat station in Falmouth are ready to launch at a moment’s notice, regardless of the weather. Falmouth’s lifeboat station is one of the most impressive along the Cornish coast, and it offers free tours, which is one of my favorite things to do.
You can go to the lifeboat station every Tuesday through Friday between 11 am and 3 pm. The lifeboat station gift shop is open for reservations from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (Monday through Friday) and from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (Saturday). The lifeboat station is among the best places to visit in Falmouth, regardless of whether or not you get to see a launch (and among the finest free issues to do in Falmouth too).
9. The Knob
A long, thin peninsula extends westward into Buzzards Bay from Woods Hole at the northern tip of Quissett Harbor. At the day’s end, if the weather cooperates, it’s definitely worth the effort to walk along the causeway to the Knob and take in the spectacular sunset. The view often extends across the harbor, beyond West Island and into New Bedford Harbor.
As you gaze toward the land, you will see the harbor with its many yachts and the majestic houses nestled amid the trees. The beaches along the peninsula range from those open to the surf of Buzzards Bay to those protected by the harbor, which is perfect for families with young children.
10. Eden Mission
One of the best day trips around Falmouth is a visit to the Eden Mission. This massive conservation effort and botanical garden are located in a series of biomes (or biodomes). Take a stroll through a tropical rainforest or the Mediterranean region, uncover hidden worlds, and experience the rush of flying through the air on a zipline.
This is among the finest things to do near Falmouth, Cornwall, for nature enthusiasts, households, and those searching for a new experience. Due to the wide variety of plant and animal life it showcases, this is one of my favorite attractions in Cornwall.