- Introduction to St Austell
- Brief history of St Austell
- Climate and best time to visit
- Transportation to and within St Austell
- Top Attractions in St Austell
- The Eden Project: An overview and visitor guide
- The Lost Gardens of Heligan: History and what to see
- Charlestown Harbour: Description of attractions and activities
- St Austell Brewery: History and tour opportunities
- Where to Eat in St Austell
- Overview of local cuisine
- Top restaurants: Reviews and recommendations
- Affordable local eateries
- Best pubs and breweries
- Accommodation Guide
- Luxury hotels in St Austell: Reviews and recommendations
- Mid-range accommodation: Overview and visitor guide
- Budget-friendly stays: Hostels and guest houses
- Unique stays: Cottages and bed and breakfasts
- Outdoor Activities and Adventure Sports
- Hiking and Trails: Detailed guides
- Water sports at local beaches: Information about where to go and equipment rental
- Cycling routes in and around St Austell
- Bird watching opportunities
- Shopping in St Austell
- High street shops: What to expect
- Local markets: An overview
- Speciality and gift shops: Famous local crafts and souvenirs
- Nearby shopping destinations
- Nightlife in St Austell
- Top pubs and bars: Reviews and location
- Live Music Venues: What to expect and where to go
- Local Festivals and Events for night-time entertainment
- Safety tips and travel advice for night-time
- Cultural Experiences in St Austell
- Museum visits: Overview of museums and exhibitions
- Art galleries: Spotlight on St Austell’s art scene
- Historical sites and buildings: An itinerary
- Cultural festivals and events: A calendar and brief descriptions
Introduction to St Austell
Brief history of St Austell
St Austell, situated on the south coast of Cornwall, was named after the 6th-century Cornish saint Austol. It was, for many years, a small market town until vast deposits of white clay were found in the mid-17th century. With the discovery, St Austell grew into an important mining centre. Its skyline spangled with the white pyramids of china clay waste. However, as demand and profitability dwindled in the late 20th century, the mining industry saw a decline, giving way to a more diversified economy. Today, tourism forms a significant part of St Austell's growth and development.
Climate and best time to visit
St Austell enjoys a mild oceanic climate, with cool, wet winters and mild, somewhat damp summers. It's relatively rainier compared to the UK overall, yet affords several sunny spells, particularly in spring and summer. The best time to visit St Austell typically falls between May and September when days are longer and warmer. However, those favoring quieter trips might prefer spring and autumn. Remember to pack some rain gear no matter when you go, just in case!
Transportation to and within St Austell
St Austell, well connected by roads and rails, is easily accessible. Buses and trains from major UK cities stop here, with national services like National Express. The closest airport is Newquay, less than 15 miles away. Inside St Austell, public transportation includes local bus services, taxis and cycling routes covering the town and its scenic landscapes. The town also offers good pedestrian facilities making it a walkable town. Make sure to explore its world renowned Eden project and Charlestown historic harbor for a true flavor of Cornwall.
Top Attractions in St Austell
The Eden Project: An overview and visitor guide
The Eden Project, often dubbed the 'Eighth Wonder of the World', is a must-visit attraction in St Austell. Consisting of massive biomes housing tropical and Mediterranean environments, this world-renowned venture is insightful, educational and entertaining. Visitors can explore stunning plant collections, witness innovative architecture, and participate in exciting activities. The Eden Project also offers excellent dining options, shopping facilities, and hosts special events throughout the year. Pay a visit today for an unforgettable vibrant, multi-sensory experience.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan: History and what to see
Once the seat of the Tremayne family, the Lost Gardens of Heligan were rediscovered in the late 20th century after falling into neglect. Today, the gardens beautifully showcase Victorian horticulture, with over 200 acres to explore. Take a walk through the jungle garden, witness unusual species in the Lost Valley and marvel at the stunning flora in the Northern Gardens. Don't miss the unique 'Mud Maid' and 'Giant's Head' sculptures, found nestled amongst the greenery. Throughout the year, the gardens host interactive exhibits, making it a must-visit in St Austell.
Charlestown Harbour: Description of attractions and activities
Charlestown Harbour, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a time capsule to a 19th-century port. With its untouched Georgian architecture and working square-rigged ships, visitors can feel like they've stepped back in time. The site has been used for several film and television programmes, adding to its appeal. The harbour offers the opportunity for sailing experiences on board one of the majestic tall ships. Visitors can also explore the Shipwreck Treasure Museum nearby, displaying salvaged shipwreck treasures from over 150 wrecks. It's a must-visit for maritime history enthusiasts.
St Austell Brewery: History and tour opportunities
Established in 1851, St Austell Brewery is an iconic part of St Austell's history and Cornwall's largest independent brewer. Its history is a fascinating journey of innovation, growth and enduring love for brewing. Today, the brewery offers guided tours where you can learn about the brewing process, explore the old Victorian tower brewery and sample some award-winning beers. Perfect for any ale enthusiast or history lover, it's an essential part of any St Austell visit. Make sure to check tour availability in advance.
Where to Eat in St Austell
Overview of local cuisine
St Austell offers a charming mix of traditional Cornish cuisine, featuring dishes such as Cornish Pasty, Stargazy pie, and the country’s pride - Cornish clotted cream tea. Seafood also thrives, as the town's proximity to the coast ensures its prominence in local restaurants. Dining in St Austell extends beyond local traditional food to include international cuisines. The town brings together a variety of dishes from Chinese, Indian, Italian and more. Whether you're a food connoisseur or a simple traveller looking for a scrumptious bite, St Austell won't disappoint.
Top restaurants: Reviews and recommendations
Venture down into the idyllic Polkerris and find Sam’s on the Beach, a restored lifeboat house that’s been transformed into a foodie haven. Taste the freshest local produce in their signature wood-fired pizzas and seafood as you gaze at the beautiful Cornish coastline. For a more upscale experience, try Austell's – a Michelin-starred restaurant located in Carlyon Bay. Specialising in Modern British cuisine, choose from their extensive three-course dinner menu or opt to indulge in their delicious lunch specials. Reservations are recommended, as the small space tends to fill up quickly.
Affordable local eateries
Located in the heart of St Austell, The Kings Arms is a traditional pub with a cosy ambience. Offering an array of dishes like pies, steaks and classic fish and chips, this place is sure to provide a hearty meal without burning a hole in your pocket. If you're craving Asian cuisine, opt for Eastern Paradise. Their menu boasts a range of affordable Indian and Bangladeshi dishes that promise to satiate your taste buds. For a quick savory treat, try the local bakery, Martins, known for their delicious Cornish pasties.
Best pubs and breweries
St Austell is renowned for its breweries and pubs, offering a delightful range of local beers. A must-visit is the St Austell Brewery, famed for its award-winning ales. Take a brewery tour, experience the new Visitor Centre, or just relax at the bar. For a laid-back ambience, try The Polgooth Inn on Polgooth hill. This traditional Cornish pub serves delicious meals created with locally sourced ingredients. If you prefer coastal views, The Rashleigh Arms offers excellent dining and drinks with a view of the scenic Charlestown harbour. Tantalize your taste buds amidst these charming settings!
Luxury hotels in St Austell: Reviews and recommendations
The Cornwall Hotel & Spa boasts unparalleled luxury with stylish accommodations, exceptional dining and a sophisticated spa. Set amidst 43 acres of Victorian parkland, it's perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation. Polkerris Bed and Breakfast offers a homely environment with a touch of elegance. With stunning sea views and hearty homemade breakfasts, it adds a charming twist to luxury. Both places provide stellar customer service and flawless facilities, ensuring a sumptuous stay in St Austell.
Mid-range accommodation: Overview and visitor guide
St. Austell offers a variety of mid-range accommodations perfect for families, couples and solo travellers. Options range from cozy family-run guesthouses to modern hotels, all providing an authentic Cornish experience coupled with modern conveniences. Many of these accommodations can be found in close proximity to popular sites like the Sta Austell Brewery and the Eden Project. Boscundle Manor and the Duke of Cornwall are two notable mid-range establishments offering comfort and great value. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during summer months.
Budget-friendly stays: Hostels and guest houses
Travelers on a budget can opt for hostels and guesthouses in St Austell for affordable accommodations. A worthy mention, YHA Eden Project hostel provides an eco-friendly stay, featuring convenient access to the famed Eden Project. Alternatively, there's the cozy Topos Guesthouse, a real recovery spot after a busy day of touring. Another favourite, Alexandra Heights boasts comfortable rooms and great city views. Despite the lower costs, these places offer warm Cornish hospitality and a homely comfort that truly makes your stay worthwhile.
Unique stays: Cottages and bed and breakfasts
St Austell boasts a range of unique accommodations, especially quaint cottages and charming bed and breakfasts. These lodgings allow you to immerse yourself in the calm Cornish countryside while providing all modern comforts and amenities. Top choices include Tregarthen, an idyllic cottage near the Eden Project, or Little Pippin, enclosed in an apple and pear orchard. For a bed and breakfast experience, The Grange offers heritage architecture surrounded by beautiful gardens. These intimate accommodations have limited rooms, so early booking is recommended. Enjoy the tranquillity, friendly hospitality, and traditional cuisine specific to St Austell's countryside.
Outdoor Activities and Adventure Sports
Hiking and Trails: Detailed guides
Experience the natural beauty of St Austell on foot, by exploring its vast network of trails. Walk the Southwest Coast Path, spanning over 630 miles of cliff tops while offering breathtaking sea views, or pick the shorter Black Head route for a gentle coastal stroll. For keen ramblers, try the Clay Trails; these criss-cross over the area's industrial clay pits and provide views of the surrounding landscape's transformation. Wheelchair friendly Pentewan Valley Trail, spanning over 4 miles, is a must for families. Always remember to pack adequate supplies and wear comfortable footwear!
Water sports at local beaches: Information about where to go and equipment rental
St Austell boasts several beaches perfect for water sports lovers. Porthpean beach, popular for windsurfing and sailing, offers equipment rental at the beach's activity centre. Meanwhile, Pentewan Sand is ideal for sea-kayaking with rental services provided by Fowey River Hire. For the surfing enthusiast, Polkerris Beach and Carlyon Bay are recommended. Seek out St Austell Bay Watersports for a comprehensive range of gear. Hence, the beaches around St Austell offer an exhilarating blend of adventure and seaside relaxation.
Cycling routes in and around St Austell
St Austell offers several impressive cycling routes, appealing to both rookies and seasoned cyclists. Clay Trails, a network of routes encompassing 150 hectares, provides leisurely routes with picturesque views of the china clay landscapes. For more vigorous rides, try the Pentewan Trail, a 9-mile route along an old railway, or the Coast to Coast trail, sprawling over 11 miles from Portreath to Devoran. Here, cyclists encounter beautiful woodland tracts, historical mining sites, and eye-catching deep valleys. These blends of adventure and natural beauty make cycling in St Austell a must-try experience.
Bird watching opportunities
Bird watching enthusiasts will be delighted by the abundance of opportunities in St Austell. The town's location on the Cornwall coast provides a sanctuary for an array of bird species including cormorants, gannets, and kittiwakes. The nearby Clay Trails are perfect for spotting buzzards, kestrels, and even the rare hen harrier. Exploring the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the wooded valleys provides another fantastic chance for bird watching. Here, you might see robins, jays, and the iconic Cornish chough. Spotting scopes and binoculars can be hired locally for those who require them.
St Austell offers adventurous outdoor activities in splendid surroundings. Experience thrilling kayak tours with Encounter Cornwall, an award-winning company providing interactive guides for an exhilarating marine adventure. Take a bike ride on the Clay Trails, free-to-use pathways that reveal a blend of wildlife amidst historic sites. For daredevils, Hangloose Adventure provides an unforgettable zip-wire ride over the biomes of the Eden Project. Whether it's kayaking, biking, or high-flying thrills, St Austell's outdoor adventures are a must to satisfy tingly anticipation of visitors.
Shopping in St Austell
High street shops: What to expect
In St Austell, you'll discover an array of high street shops that cater to every taste. From leading retail chains to independent stores, options are aplenty. You'll find clothing, home goods, health and beauty products, books and more in spots like White River Place. The town is best known for its bespoke and artisan retailers, offering a unique shopping experience. The shops are primarily located in the town centre, making it easy to wander and explore. Expect to come across friendly service and quality items that make perfect souvenirs from your St Austell trip.
Local markets: An overview
St Austell has a vibrant market scene, offering a variety of local products. St Austell Market House, operating six days a week, is steeped in history and hosts stalls selling antiques, crafts, food and drink, clothes and more. Every weekend, a delightful farmers market pops up, presenting an abundant selection of fresh produce and locally made products. Here, you can enjoy the authentic Cornish produce from regional farmers and artisans. For fans of second hand goods, a weekly flea market and car boot sale offer numerous unexpected treasures. These markets capture the spirit of the region, guaranteeing unique finds and friendly service.
Speciality and gift shops: Famous local crafts and souvenirs
In St Austell, speciality and gift shops are a treasure trove of local crafts and souvenirs. These stores showcase Cornish artefacts, enchanting jewellery made from locally sourced Cornish tin, and the popular Cornish Piskies, a mythical creature synonymous with Cornwall folklore. You can also find unique ceramics and pottery, as St Austell is surrounded by china clay pits. Look out for the iconic Cornishware stripes. Local paintings, prints and a selection of Cornish books make another great souvenir. Who could resist taking a fragment of the captivating Cornish heartland back home?
Nearby shopping destinations
Just outside St Austell, the Cornish Market World is a must-visit for shoppers. This indoor market has a myriad of stalls selling clothes, food, crafts, and antiques amongst other things. It is a good place to shop for unique souvenirs and gifts. A short drive from St Austell, Trevena Cross Nurseries in Breage is an interesting shopping destination. Known for its vast range of plants, it also has a gift shop brimming with home décor, accessories, and luxury items. Their onsite garden kitchen café offers a delightful break. Close by in Truro, shoppers can find Lemon Street Market. It's home to various independent shops selling a wide range of products from organic produce to fashion.
Nightlife in St Austell
Top pubs and bars: Reviews and location
The Polgooth Inn, nestled in St Austell's verdant valleys, boasts warm, rustic charm alongside hearty food and real ale. Known for its friendly atmosphere, it's a popular spot with locals and visitors alike. The Waterwheel Inn, renowned for its traditional Cornish fare, excellent service and a wide range of locally brewed beers, serves as an ideal location for a leisurely evening. St Austell Brewery’s home pub, The Visitor Centre, offers an opportunity to sample fresh ales straight from the cask. Rich in history, it’s a must-visit attraction for beer enthusiasts.
Live Music Venues: What to expect and where to go
St Austell may be a small town but it's big on live music. Whether it's popular local bands or solo acoustic performances, the town offers a variety of genres at different venues. Polgooth Inn, for example, hosts regular live music events, offering a cosy atmosphere with top-notch pub food. Meanwhile, the Barley Sheaf is another popular spot, especially during their open mic nights. If you're looking for a larger venue, White River Place offers live outdoor concerts during the summer. Overall, St Austell’s music scene is as diverse as it is vibrant, making it a must-visit for music lovers.
Local Festivals and Events for night-time entertainment
St Austell is home to an array of nighttime entertainment offerings. The annual St Austell Feast Week in November is a standout, brimming with musical performances and colorful light displays that illuminate the city. The yearly Beer and Mussel Festival hosted at the Cornwall pub offers various delights when darkness falls. It includes live music from local bands and a selection of finest beers to keep the energy up. Check the local calendar and plan your itinerary to enjoy St Austell’s vibrant nightlife offerings.
Safety tips and travel advice for night-time
St Austell is generally safe but like any other place, caution is necessary. Stay vigilant, especially during the late hours and in areas with fewer crowds. Avoid dark and secluded streets and keep your belongings secure. Consider using licensed taxi services for night travels. They are safer and more reliable. Avoid excessive drinking and always let someone know about your whereabouts. Lastly, keep emergency contact numbers handy. The local emergency number in the UK is 999 for immediate assistance.
Cultural Experiences in St Austell
Museum visits: Overview of museums and exhibitions
St Austell offers a small yet fascinating collection of museums. A key destination is Wheal Martyn Clay Works, a museum dedicated to Cornwall's significant china clay industry, featuring a preserved Victorian clay works and nature trails. The St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre is another must-see, providing a captivating insight into the process of beer-making. Temporary exhibitions are hosted by White River Place Shopping Centre, offering free seasonal displays complete with artist workshops. Immersing yourself in the cultural heritage of St Austell is a rewarding experience.
Art galleries: Spotlight on St Austell’s art scene
Discover the artsy side of St Austell by visiting some of its finest art galleries. White River Gallery, located in the heart of town, gives a platform to local artists and showcases a fantastic range of contemporary works. If pottery strikes your fancy, Wheal Martyn Clay Works is a must-see. It's home to the UK’s only china clay mining museum with some impressive ceramic art pieces. Expanding your cultural understanding through art in St Austell is an experience not to be overlooked.
Historical sites and buildings: An itinerary
Start your journey at the St Austell Brewery, the oldest in Cornwall, where you can learn about the history of traditional brewing and have a taste. Then visit the Holy Trinity Church, notable for its Victorian lychgate and Norman font. Venture just outside the town to the historic village of Charlestown that has preserved its seafaring past. It was a film scene for Poldark and Alice in Wonderland. To round off your day, visit the famous Eden Project, though not historic, this iconic bio-dome complex offers juxtaposing views of human impact on nature.
Cultural festivals and events: A calendar and brief descriptions
St Austell brims with excitement as it hosts a medley of cultural festivals and events throughout the year. The St Austell Feast Week in November is a much-loved local tradition with music, a carnival procession, and a market. In summer, residents celebrate the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival, which showcases Cornish music and ales. Also, the famous Flower and Produce Show in August boasts stunning exhibits. These events truly epitomize the vibrant St Austell spirit.
Have a good trip!