Visit Cornwall

Discover Cornwall's unique wildlife and places

Visit Cornwall

Chun Quoit sunset by Ben Watkins 

Welcome to Cornwall!

Find your holiday inspiration in Cornwall, with picturesque countryside views, hidden coves and over 400 miles of stunning coastline to explore on your visit. As one of the best places in Britain for wildlife watching, you can expect to see a rich variety of marine life, including sharks, seabirds and globally-rare grey seals that frequent our shores. On land, we have an exceptional array of wild creatures, many of which can be spotted on our 57 nature reserves. From beautiful butterflies to rare, colourful birds and beavers that are back after centuries away – we’ve got it all!

Whether you’re here for a day, weekend or week, we want to make sure your trip is jam-packed with wild adventures! There’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy Cornwall’s amazing wildlife, but it’s vital that our enjoyment doesn’t take precedent over the safety and wellbeing of the animals that we encounter. That’s why we ask you to give nature space and to leave only footprints during your visit. By avoiding disturbance and being mindful of your impact on the environment, you’ll be able to have incredible encounters with nature whilst helping us to safeguard Cornwall’s wildlife and wild places for generations to come.

 Top five Cornish wildlife encounters Be a wildlife hero!

Wild places to visit

Wherever you are in Cornwall, there’s a wild haven nearby for you to discover. From ancient bluebell woodlands to breathtaking wildflower meadows and even an offshore island to visit – there’s something for everyone!

Have a wild day out at our nature reserves

Cornwall Wildlife Trust owns or manages 57 nature reserves across Cornwall covering over 5,500 acres (2,000 hectares). Collectively, these nature reserves support all of Cornwall’s diverse habitats and are a haven for some of the rarest and most endangered species in the county.

Find a nature reserve near you

Experience a virtual day trip below…

We’ve created an immersive, interactive 360-degree virtual experience which takes in six Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserves and projects, helping you to decide where to pay a visit during your time in Cornwall! From dawn to dusk, you travel through Cornwall’s wild places, taking in the sights and sounds of our reserves in full high-definition quality. Simply press play and drag your finger or mouse on the video to look around.

Help us to put Cornwall’s nature into recovery

We hope you enjoy Cornwall and its wildlife on your visit. We want to create safe havens in which wildlife not only survives but thrives. We must act now to make this a reality and can only make this possible with your help.
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Our top five Cornish wildlife encounters

We want you to make the most of a wild day, weekend or week here in Cornwall, but please be aware that many wildlife species are under increasing pressure from human activity and therefore need our help and respect. Remember to give wildlife space and time, observe from a distance and avoid actions that may scare, startle or panic them.

Chough on the cliffs at Penhale Ben Watkins

Cornish Chough on the cliff, Image by Ben Watkins

Cornish Chough

Spot iconic seabirds on the coast of the Lizard Peninsula, including gannets, guillemots, shearwaters and one of Britain’s rarest birds – the Cornish Chough. As the only crow with a red bill and red legs, the all-black Chough is easy to identify. Despite being extinct as a breeding bird in Cornwall for many years, a tiny population has recently returned to nest here. It was known as the ‘Crow of Cornwall’ and appears on the Cornish coat of arms, so you shouldn’t leave without attempting to see one!

Find out more about choughs

Common dolphins off of Port Isaac - Adrian Langdon

Common Dolphins off of Port Isaac, Image by Adrian Langdon

Dolphins and Grey Seals

Discover beautiful coastal wildlife from the clifftops! Grab your binoculars and watch harbour porpoises and dolphins making a splash throughout the year. You might see common dolphins or our resident pod of bottlenose dolphins that are very sociable and known for their ‘bow-riding’. Grey seals can also be found around our coastline – at sea or hauled out on beaches or offshore rocks. The UK is home to nearly 40% of the world’s population of grey seals, so make sure to watch them from a safe distance and avoid disturbing these globally rare animals.

Find out more about dolphins

Beaver at the Cornwall Beaver Project

Beaver at the Cornwall Beaver Project, Image by Nick Upton

Beavers

Visit the once-extinct beaver at the Cornwall Beaver Project HQ. These ‘ecosystem engineers’ have been transforming the landscape down at Woodland Valley Farm. Join us on an organized guided walk around this unique reserve to see what the beavers have been building, including the first beaver lodge in Cornwall in over 400 years! Visitors can see beaver dams in the daylight, then sit until dusk to try and glimpse these incredible animals as they emerge.

Find out more about beavers

St Piran's Crab by Adele Morgan

St Piran's Crab, Image by Adele Morgan

St Piran’s Crab

Head out at low tide to the rockpools around Falmouth and Mount's Bay to find a remarkable species of Hermit Crab. The St Piran’s Crab was rediscovered in Cornwall in March 2016 on one of our Shoresearch Cornwall surveys after a gap of almost 50 years. Following a hugely popular national vote on BBC Springwatch, the red-legged creature was named the ‘St Piran’s Crab’ after the Patron Saint of Cornwall. They have red antennae and equal size claws, unlike other hermit crabs, which makes them easily recognizable.

Find out more about St Piran's Crabs

Common blue butterfly perched on a flower

Silver-studded blue butterfly, Image by Ben Watkins

Butterflies

Watch butterflies flutter by at our Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserves. Head out to our Upton Towans nature reserve or Penhale Dunes (which the Trust also helps to manage) to see the rare silver-studded blue butterfly and dark green fritillary butterfly. A walk at our Churchtown Farm Nature Reserve on a sunny day in the summer will also reveal many butterflies, such as peacock, red admiral, comma and small tortoiseshell. Make sure to check the weather forecast beforehand – sunshine and light winds are the best conditions for spotting these beautiful creatures.

Find out more about butterflies

Take a little bit of Cornwall away with you

Loved your visit to Cornwall? Find the perfect gift to take home in our online shop and help Cornwall’s wildlife at the same time! We have great gifts for every occasion and budget, from eco-friendly clothing to calendars and lots more. All profits go directly towards protecting wildlife and wild places in Cornwall.

Be a wildlife hero!

No matter where you’re staying in Cornwall, whether on the coast or inland, you can take action to help our wildlife and wild places to thrive and put Cornwall’s nature into recovery. Here’s how…

Help us to put Cornwall’s nature into recovery

We hope you enjoy Cornwall and its wildlife on your visit. We want to create safe havens in which wildlife not only survives but thrives. We must act now to make this a reality and can only make this possible with your help.
£
LEARN MORE

Your guide to Cornwall's dolphins and porpoises

Cornwall is among the best places in the UK to see these charismatic creatures. Find out where to see them in Cornwall, why they're threatened and actions you can take to help protect them. 

Find out more

Bottlenose Dolphin, Image by John MacPherson/2020VISION