There’s no shortage of things to do in Cornwall over winter, from storm watching to visiting its best attractions without the crowds. And if you love to hike, the winter walks here boast views just as good as those in summer, but with more peaceful trails.
The best part of visiting Cornwall in winter? Warming up in a welcoming pub after adventuring. With local ales, home-cooked grub and open fires, cosy Cornish pubs are the perfect antidote to those bracing winter walks. To help you choose your toasty bolthole, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites... Take your pick and prepare to snuggle up.
Zennor, St Ives TR26 3DE
Everything a proper pub should be, this gem is worth a visit to Cornwall’s Atlantic coast. Seated between St Ives and St Just, it’s the perfect place to switch off and unwind, taking in the rugged, awe-inspiring landscape – one that has changed very little over the centuries. Plus, it’s dog friendly to boot!
Its rustic interior, with stripped wooden floors, ancient maps on the walls and log fires only makes this beloved pub even more appealing, as if the range of ales, cider and top-notch grub wasn’t enough. Speaking of which, the Michelin recommended food is cooked to order and the menu is tweaked daily, depending on what's available locally. A typical supper at this time of year might include pig cheek, serrano ham croquette and celeriac to start, followed by pheasant breast, creamed sprouts, pheasant leg, ham hock and blue cheese pie, finished with a generous bowl of sticky toffee pudding.
As for afterwards? It’s got to be a stomp around the coast. The neighbouring walk from Zennor to St Ives is hard to beat. This 6.5 mile route does feature the odd clamber, but the views are worth it. Over the 3-hour walk you'll spot historic mill houses and walk past Pendour Cove, which is linked with the Cornish tale of the Mermaid of Zennor and as you approach St Ives you'll see Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance. While exploring west Cornwall, check out their sister inn, The Old Coastguard, in Mousehole's iconic fishing harbour where more unbeatable grub with sea views await.
Zennor, St Ives TR26 3BY
With the wilds of West Cornwall as its backdrop, is there any wonder why Zennor boasts not one, but two deliciously cosy pubs? Oh yes, when it comes to stomping along the South West Coast Path, nothing motivates us more than collapsing into a plump and slightly worn armchair by a roaring fire, pint in hand (obviously).
The Tinners Arms has been a safe harbour for coastal wanderers (and their salty sea dogs) since the 13th century, giving it plenty of time to perfect the toasty atmosphere we all crave when the winds howl and the seas crash against the weather worn cliffs. An open fire helps any rain-spattered coats to dry while the low-beamed ceiling provides a cosy atmosphere you can’t quite bear to leave.
And why would you? With a bar stocked with all your Cornish favourites and a menu that boasts Sunday lunches and pub classics from ham, egg and chips to warm chocolate brownie, you’ll have everything you could need or want - including some live music from time to time!
Restronguet Hill, Creek, Falmouth TR11 5ST
The Pandora Inn boasts an award-winning menu and an excellent location - you can even arrive by boat! A traditional 13th century thatch with panelled walls, snug alcoves, low wooden ceilings and log fires, the building itself is rather special and definitely lends itself to a cosy visit. Named after the Pandora, a naval ship sent to Tahiti to capture the mutineers of Captain Bligh's Bounty, you’ll find charming maritime mementos throughout.
There are plenty of places to eat throughout too. The ground floor of the pub is filled with cosy nooks and corners, while the outside tables on the pontoon are hard to beat when it comes to views.
There are plenty of tempting treats on offer at this time of the year, perfect for windy afternoons spent hunkered over a full plate. Start with the likes of baked breaded Geverik goat’s cheese with an apple and cider chutney and toasted focaccia, then tuck into a cornfed chicken supreme with bacon jam, beetroot dauphinoise potato, tender stem broccoli and mushroom cream for mains. And, for the sweet toothed, finish off with a ginger and treacle steamed pudding with a cinnamon crème anglaise - perfection!
It's dog friendly and afterwards you can head along the creekside path, which is perfect for winter walks. If you’re partial to a bit of wildlife watching, head to the nearby Devichoys Wood Nature Reserve, an ancient woodland with two choices of circular trails. Lookout for the great spotted woodpecker, the lesser horseshoe bat and otters.
Bridle Way, Quintrell Downs, Newquay TR8 4PD
If you're looking for a dog friendly traditional pub on the North coast of Cornwall, you can't beat The Two Clomes near Newquay. The whitewashed pub boasts a warm atmosphere, and beside the crackling fire is the ultimate spot to snag when it comes to winter feasting.
If you’re looking for a winter warmer, you simply can't beat the Sunday roast for a hearty and seasonal feast. The homemade Yorkshire puds are highly regarded (for very good reason!) and for pudding it has to be the blueberry and custard tart. Afterwards, you can enjoy a refreshing walk along one of Newquay’s beaches, or if the weather is dramatic, enjoy storm watching from a safe spot near Fistral. If you've got little ones with you, spend some time at Lappa Valley - they'll love boarding the steam train and when you get there you’ll find endless activities to keep kids entertained, including a large soft play for rainy days.
Quay Road, Polperro PL13 2Q
Smack bang between ancient fisherman cottages and the beach, you’ll find the award-winning Blue Peter Inn, a fabulous spot if you’re looking for top notch food with views. And if you’re looking for somewhere cosy to warm up after a refreshing coastal walk, we can’t think of a better spot. With its traditional stone walls, friendly atmosphere and roaring fire, this 16th century pub is the place to enjoy a pint on the south coast.
At this time of the year we'd be plumping for their signature crab linguine with handpicked Cornish white crab, or the famous Blue's beef burger, which comes with caramelised red onion, blue cheese and hand cut chips. And that's before you even contemplate the daily specials board! And with an ‘endless supply’ of Bonios behind the bar, it’s safe to say your dog will be a fan too.
If the weather is on your side, the 3-mile walk to Lansallos Beach is a fabulous way to expend some energy - although we also love a wet and windy wander! Alternatively, once you're done exploring Polperro, the larger town of Looe is less than five miles away with plenty of glittering amusements and traditional seaside fun.
Mitchell Hill, Truro TR1 1ED
The Rising Sun sits on Mitchell Hill, a medieval route from the city of Truro. It's out of the main hubbub of the city and the charming lanes and cathedral views are hard to beat. The 200-year-old building features quaint low ceilings with exposed wooden beams, beckoning for cosy evenings.
During the winter months, typical dishes can include scallops, salt-baked celeriac, apple and hazelnuts before a loin of West Country beef, pomme anna, pancetta, beer pickled onions and red wine jus. For pudding, you can opt for a mascarpone, strawberry and sherry trifle or go all out with the warm chocolate tartlet, cherry ice cream and brandy cherries. The roast dinners are also highly recommended and add soul-warming comfort to the visit.
Dogs are welcome in the bar and Adit room, but not the restaurant. Let the team know when booking so they can snag you a suitable table and get the dog treats at the ready.
Afterwards, why not catch a show at the Hall for Cornwall or, if it's daytime, learn about the heritage of the county with a trip to the Royal Cornwall Museum. The cobblestone streets, independent shops, and cosy cafés found throughout Truro also provide endless opportunities for a wintery gander.
Helford Passage, Falmouth TR11 5LB
If you're looking for an idyllic location, you'd be hard pressed to beat the Ferryboat Inn, which enjoys sweeping views across the timeless Helford Passage. Seated in a pristine cove with direct access to the beach, you can explore the coast and enjoy plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities from the warmth of the historic inn.
The Inn is 300 years old and today focuses on its farm to table philosophy, which is reflected in the seasonal menu. Think sage and pumpkin risotto with wild mushroom and kale, or mackerel tacos with slaw, sriracha and burnt lime. The roasts on Sundays are especially popular and typically include a choice of roast beef, pork or nut roast, each served with accompaniments, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, red cabbage and greens.
The pub is dog friendly and perfectly suited for walks. Alternatively, it's not far from Trebah Garden, a subtropical oasis that’s been rated among the 80 finest gardens in the world. There are a range of events throughout the colder months, from frosty footprints and a New Year's Day brunch to portrait classes.
The Slipway, Rock, Wadebridge PL27 6LD
The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Paul and Emma Ainsworth (it’s their fifth spot in North Cornwall) and scooping 9th place in the country wide Top 50 Gastro Pub Awards (The Mariners was the highest ranked pub in Cornwall), this award-winning spot is guaranteed to fill you with soul-warming joy during your visit.
The pub has its very own Seasons menu, showcasing the best ingredients Cornwall has to offer at any time of year. Tuck into chargrilled Campaillou rye sourdough, aged balsamic and extra virgin olive oil before enjoying dayboat Cornish Monkfish, mussels, brown shrimp butter, garlic, parsley, lemon and lime, and pangrattato. As for a seasonal pud that brings comfort by the spoonful, it's got to be the three apples and blackberry crumble that comes with caramelised walnuts and vanilla custard. Dogs are welcome on the whole ground floor of the pub (a maximum of two per table) and will love snoozing surrounded in the toasty warmth from the log fires.
After exploring Rock, hop aboard the ferry that will take you over the River Camel and into Padstow. It operates throughout the year, though there are no Sunday crossings during the winter months. In Padstow, the National Lobster Hatchery is a wonderful place to visit and discover their important (and adorable!) marine conservation work.
St Kew, Bodmin PL30 3HB
Cornwall’s second representative at the Top 50 Gastro Pub Awards (coming in at 36), St Kew Inn has more than earned its reputation as a cosy Cornish pub. Traditional Cornish stone, flagstone floors, roaring log fires and a warren of cosy dining areas, this much-loved freehouse has been celebrating the art of cosiness since 1460. Today, you’ll also find an equally tempting focus on jolly good, seasonal food.
While the big garden is the perfect spot for summer sprawling, inside it's all about a roast by the fire. And your pup can join you too, as dogs are welcome throughout.
In winter, you can expect to start with wood fired foraged mushrooms, celeriac, wild chervil, chive emulsion or ember baked beetroot, goats curd and chimichurri. Mains include Porthilly mussels, smoky cider apple sauce, fries and sourdough, or smoked brisket pie, ember roasted greens and rich gravy. They also do a 'from the fire' special each day - how does smoked bacon loin, charred spring green, toffee apple and cider sauce sound?
Just a few miles from St Kew, you’ll find the traditional fishing village of Port Isaac, home to the TV series Doc Martin and folk music group The Fisherman's Friends.
Cadgwith, Helston TR12 7JX
Situated on the Lizard Peninsula, you'll find the 300-year-old Cadgwith Cove Inn just waiting to wrap you in an ancient and oh-so warming embrace. It's just one minute from the harbour, making it an excellent stopping (or starting) point for a winter coastal walk. Plus, it's dog friendly too.
The menu is subject to change, but includes the freshest seafood dishes, from monkfish curry to local lobster. Head down on a Friday night and you might be lucky enough to hear some sea shanties (joining in is a must!) while the fire lends its warming glow to the cosy inn.
Afterwards spend some time exploring Cadgwith, which bills itself as "a tiny fishing village forgotten by the 21st Century". Take in the thatched cottages built out of serpentine rock sloping down to the sea, dotted with colourful fishing boats. The cove itself has two small beaches. Geology enthusiasts can head north of the village to 'The Devil's Frying Pan' where you'll find a huge 200-foot-deep hollow in the cliffs from where a sea cave collapsed in.
Has all this talk of cosy Cornish pubs got you in the mood for a winter storm watching break in Cornwall? Explore our collection of charming cottages in Cornwall, just perfect for a winter escape.