Cornwall is one of the most beautiful regions of the UK, known for its charming seaside towns, fishing villages, endless sandy beaches and spectacular coastal walks. These ingredients make Cornwall a fantastic holiday destination, and now it is also gaining popularity as a remote working base. With a great network of well equipped hotels, a growing coworking infrastructure, and so much to see and do, you can visit the county any time of year and work among its incredible scenery! In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about planning a workation in Cornwall, UK.
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Why take a workation in Cornwall?
If one good thing has come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that millions of people now enjoy more flexibility to work remotely. Many of us have sampled the freedom this brings, and now there is no rush to return to 9-to-5 office culture.
Have you thought about asking your boss if you can work from somewhere other than your home, maybe just for a week or two? This is known as a workation.
Cornwall has much to offer as a workation destination. As regular visitors to the county, we always find that the seaside setting and stunning coastal scenery provide a great environment to relax, find focus, and to be really productive when we are working.
The infrastructure in Cornwall offers a huge amount of choice to build a workation itinerary that suits your own style.
Vibrant coastal towns like Newquay and Falmouth bring adventure to the table to intersperse between your work shifts. Get up early for a dip in the sea, maybe a quick surf, and arrive at your desk refreshed. When you clock off, head to a busy real ale pub or a lively local bar.
Alternatively, you can set up in a historic centre like Penzance or Truro. Explore the architecture, some cultivated gardens or a local museum on your lunch break, and try out a top seafood restaurant at night. We’ll dive into each of these locations in more detail below.
Wherever you choose as a base, you have the full glory of the South West Coast Path running around the entirety of Cornwall to explore on your days off.
When it comes to accommodation, Cornwall is ready to welcome you. Whether you prefer a remote country cottage, a self-catered apartment with a desk, a friendly B&B or a luxury hotel, there is a long menu of options to choose from.
You will return from your Cornwall workation feeling like you’ve had a complete holiday! And you will probably have been more productive than in the monotony of your home office or office desk. Better still, your precious annual leave days will still be intact.
When is the best time to take a workation in Cornwall?
Cornwall can be a great place to visit and work remotely at any time of year. The best season for you will depend on the particular trip vibe you’re looking for.
The UK summer months from June to August are the peak tourist season in Cornwall. This is when the coastal towns will be at their busiest, and accommodation will be packed out. Walkers will be out on the coastal path in abundance, pubs will be full of cheer, and desks will be busy at coworking spaces. So, if you want to get among the action and (hopefully) find the beach bathed in sunshine, this is the season for you.
Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) offer a quieter alternative to summer. While the weather is a bit more temperamental in these ‘shoulder’ seasons and you can’t guarantee sunshine, it’s still likely to be mild and pleasant. It’s also a little bit quieter around the towns. This is when we usually take our Cornwall workations, as you can still enjoy the outdoors while having some quiet space to work.
Winter (December to February) can be a magical time in Cornwall. Villages and towns are lit up in festive lighting, and there is an uplift in tourism for Christmas and New Year, without hitting the busy heights of August. The coastal breeze can be bitter cold, but also amazingly refreshing!
How to get around Cornwall on your workation
While Cornwall is in a far-flung corner of the country, it’s still quite easy to reach, and the journey is both fun and scenic. Trains run throughout the day from London Paddington to Penzance, a journey that takes around five and a half hours.
A popular option is to take the Night Riviera sleeper train to Cornwall, one of only two sleeper trains in the UK. It has 11 stops in Cornwall, so you can take your pick! And if you’re going all the way down to Penzance, it’s amazing to wake up to views of the Cornish coast on the final leg of the journey.
What about once you have arrived? Cornwall is a rural county, and much of its pretty landscape is sparse and untrodden. While there are some public transport networks linking the towns and villages, we recommend getting around Cornwall by car on a workation.
If you’re arriving by train and need to hire a car, RentalCars is an excellent service for finding and comparing the best car hire options anywhere in the world. We’ve used it frequently ourselves, and it’s saved us a ton of money over the years.
You can also navigate the county’s main towns by train. Here’s a handy map of Cornwall and Devon’s rail network that shows all the stations.
Local bus services reach a bit further into the rural villages and beauty spots. These are typically infrequent and time-consuming, so allow plenty of space in your schedule if using them.
Coworking spaces in Cornwall
A coworking space is essentially a hub where people can share an office space. The arrangement is most typically used by startups, freelancers, small businesses, and increasingly so by ‘digital nomads’ and workationers.
Cornwall has been among the fastest to accommodate this trend. The county has seen a spate of fresh and colourful coworking spaces open up within the last few years, in particular in Newquay, Falmouth, Truro and Penzance, and another coming in St Ives soon.
In our guide to coworking spaces in Cornwall we pick out eight of the best options after visiting them in person. This is a good starting place to find a space that fits your needs, whether it’s a repurposed old pub, a community space above a surf shop or a modernised industrial warehouse.
In the sections below on towns in Cornwall for a workation base, we take a closer look at the best coworking options by location.
Finding the right accommodation for your Cornwall workation
Cornwall’s long tradition as a popular tourist destination means that it is incredibly well set up for visitors when it comes to accommodation. The county’s hospitality sector has tons of experience, and has adapted quickly to the remote working boom.
Let’s take a look at the options…
Stunning hotels with working facilities
For some workationers, the allure of luxurious hotel comfort is too much to resist. Many of Cornwall’s hotels have taken steps to ensure that guests have access to desks or communal workspaces.
At the high end, Cornwall is bestowed with some of the UK’s most picturesque hotels, both in terms of location and interior. Could you imagine staying and working at the spectacular five-star Headland Hotel and Spa, overlooking the iconic Fistral Beach in Newquay? All of its rooms are equipped with a work desk and seating area.
In Truro, The Alverton Hotel set in a Grade II listed building also features a desk in each of its classic rooms. This four-star hotel is set inside gorgeous grounds and is a short drive from the untrodden rural scenes of the Roseland Heritage Coast.
If you want to keep the budget down a bit, Cornwall has an array of mid-priced and affordable hotels that can cater for remote workers.
Penzance’s Yacht Inn is a white art deco style building overlooking the town’s pretty promenade. As it’s a St Austell Brewery pub, local ales are on tap! Guests can also access work desks, coffee-making facilities and strong free wifi. It’s all you need for a working setup.
The Falmouth Hotel often has great deals in the off-season. With ready access to the beachfront, it is almost tailor-made for a workation. Standard double rooms come with a desk, and you can stay rejuvenated with the swimming pool and fitness centre on site.
Friendly guest houses and B&Bs
Many people say that the best of Cornwall’s hospitality is to be found in its family-run guest houses. Bed and breakfasts aren’t always ideal for working remotely, but they make a comfortable base if you are planning to use a coworking space as your remote office.
Cornwall’s towns and villages are rife with high-quality B&Bs, and you could spend hours poring through the details and review to find one that that fits the bill.
For a workation, we tend to go for somewhere with good access to the town we’re staying in. For example, Smugglers Rest in Newquay is a great little place that won’t break the bank. It’s within close walking distance of the town’s amenities and coworking spaces.
In Falmouth, the lovely four-star Poltair Guest House is situated on a quiet side-street just minutes’ walk from the town’s promenade and main beaches, with views of the bay and Pendennis Castle from its rooms.
These are two examples of literally hundreds you will find across the length and breadth of the county.
A self-catered Cornwall workation
As nice as it is to stay in a hotel, sometimes having your own private space creates a more focused working environment. We like to book self-catered apartments if we’re taking a week-long workation.
On our latest Cornwall workation, we stayed in a lovely two-bedroom apartment in Penzance. It was spacious, comfy, walkable distance from the town centre, and had a table that Lisa could use as a work desk while I explored nearby coworking spaces.
Another option is to book a week’s stay in one of Cornwall’s many cottages. We’ve compiled a quick guide to some of Cornwall’s luxury cottages, including some glorious sea view terraces, and remote stays in some of the county’s most isolated locations.
Best towns for a workation in Cornwall
Every one of Cornwall’s towns has its own special identity and character. In this section we pick out five of the best Cornish towns for a workation, each of which has something unique to offer remote workers.
If you want to take a highly active and outgoing workation in Cornwall, Newquay should be top of your list. As the adventure and nightlife capital of Cornwall, it is also home to a burgeoning coworking scene. This is the place to come in Cornwall for working hard and playing hard.
Nestled on Cornwall’s north coast, Newquay is world-renowned for its thriving surf scene. The town has hosted World Surfing Championship events in the past and is a great place to learn the art of surfing, or many other watersports such as kayaking, paddleboarding and coasteering.
Activities in Newquay
Even if you’re not into adventurous watersports, there is still plenty to do around Newquay in your downtime. The town has some of the best beaches in Cornwall, from the iconic Fistral Beach to the sprawling Porth Beach. There are also some gorgeous hidden beaches to be found around the town, such as Whipsiderry.
As with pretty much anywhere on Cornwall’s coast, Newquay offers some great walks too. We love the short walk to Trevelgue Head on the east side of town, which crosses over to an island via a bridge and culminates with some fabulous views of the mainland.
On a day out around the town you can check out the Blue Reef Aquarium (great for families), visit Newquay Zoo, explore the Heritage Museum, and grab some delicious local fish and chips at Flounders.
Looking a little further afield, Newquay is only a 15-minute drive from Bedruthan Steps, one of Cornwall’s top beauty spots and an excellent base for wandering on the coastal path.
See our guide to things to do in Newquay for some more ideas.
Coworking in Newquay
The coworking community in Newquay is highly sociable, and so it doesn’t take a lot of effort to meet people here and find community even on a short working trip.
There are also strong links with the watersports scene. Newquay Activity Centre, a local outdoor adventure provider, has partnerships in place with several of the town’s coworking spaces.
These are our recommended coworking spaces in Newquay, each of which offer day rates for workationers:
- DeskHop HQ: one of Newquay’s oldest pubs repurposed into a cool and sociable communal working space.
- Pentire House: set across three floors with amazing sea views and a top-floor terrace, also dog-friendly.
- Mor Workspace: a vibrant, modern coworking space set in a transformed old transport depot just outside the town centre.
- Newquay Orchard: a new community hub and gardens that features a coworking space and supports various sustainability initiatives.
Where to stay in Newquay
Here are some accommodation ideas for different budgets in Newquay:
- Hostel: Newquay International Backpackers is a sociable hostel with a friendly and relaxed vibe.
- Guest house: Smugglers Rest offers very good value for money in a central location.
- Mid-priced hotel: Oceanside Lifestyle Hotel is a contemporary hotel near the clifftops between the harbour and Fistral Beach.
- Luxury hotel: Headland Hotel and Spa is a stunning luxury hotel overlooking Fistral Beach with work desks in every room.
As England’s westernmost town, Penzance is a launchpad for exploring some of Cornwall’s most remote and breathtaking scenery around the tip of the Penwith Peninsula.
Penzance is full of historic charm and has a gorgeous seaside setting, overlooking St Mount’s Bay. My family connections bring us back here every year, and so we’ve spent more workations in Penzance than anywhere else in the world. I find it has the ideal blend of local amenities, transport connections and nearby exploration opportunities.
Penzance is at the end of the main train line into Cornwall from London as well as several coach services, making it one of the easiest towns in Cornwall to reach, despite how far-flung it is. The train and bus stations are right near the town centre, and so everything you need is nearby upon arrival.
Activities in Penzance
We love to wake up early in Penzance and take a stroll along the promenade. On energetic days I might even run all the way round to St Michael’s Mount and back – one of the most glorious 10k runs you can imagine!
In the town centre you will find an assortment of quirky independent shops, galleries, museums, green parks, and friendly local eateries. Located a little uphill outside of town, Polgoon Vineyard is one of Cornwall’s best wineries, and very much a hidden gem.
For me, the area around Penzance offers the very best of the South West Coastal Path. On the stretch between here and Land’s End you will encounter treasures such as the fishing village of Mousehole, Porthcurno beach, the stunning clifftop Minack theatre, and rocky arches, caves and hidden bays galore.
See our article on things to do in Penzance for more ideas on how to make the most of your visit. Also take a look at our review of the best restaurants in Penzance for some awesome local spots to eat.
Coworking in Penzance
The Workbox in Penzance is a great little coworking space with a striking setting on the waterfront, close to the heart of town. What a feeling to step out straight into the ocean breeze after your morning shift at work!
The tall front windows at the Workbox bring a lot of natural light into the open-plan space inside. The place has a strong sense of community, and you will be made to feel very welcome.
Where to stay in Penzance
Penzance is well set up for visitors, and there are range of accommodation options around the town suitable for any style. Our article on places to stay in Penzance brings together some options.
These are some of our recommendations around the town:
- Hostel: YHA Penzance is a lovely sociable hostel set in a repurposed Georgian mansion just outside town.
- Guest house: Rosalie Guest House is a friendly local guest house that also has a self-catered annexe featuring a desk.
- Mid-priced hotel: The Yacht Inn is a characterful local brewery pub with seven rooms, each with a desk.
- Luxury hotel: Hotel Penzance has a work desk in every room, a sea view setting and an excellent on-site restaurant.
Cornwall’s only city, Truro, often flies under the radar as a tourist destination. I’ve been coming to Cornwall every year throughout my life and had neglected to visit this charming little city until recently. Now I can see what I’ve been missing out on!
Truro is much more relaxed than Cornwall’s holiday hotpots, but there is still plenty to discover, both within the city and nearby. So, if you want a workation base that’s not too busy but still has character and is well connected, then Truro ticks all the boxes.
Activities in Truro
Truro Cathedral is without the architectural highlight of the city, dominating its skyline. Built over a century ago and standing at 76 metres, it is the tallest building in Cornwall and is spectacular to behold.
The city centre is compact and easy to explore on foot. Within minutes you can be at the foot of the towering cathedral, meandering around its cobbled streets, exploring craft and goodies at Lemon Street Market, or grabbing a cuppa at a characterful local café.
Lily’s of Truro is a lovely place to stop for a hot drink and homemade cake, and maybe get an hour or two of work done. The Old Cheese Shop is another fantastic independent local outlet (it’s actually a sit-down café rather than a shop, but you can buy local produce to take away too).
Truro is centrally positioned within close driving distance of many beautiful Cornish coastal spots. The closest is the Roseland Heritage Coast, one of the most attractive rural sections of the South West Coastal Path in Cornwall.
To reach it from Truro you can take the King Harry Ferry, one of only five chain ferries in England. On the way, stop by at Trelissick Gardens for some gorgeous parkland waterside views.
See our guide to the best things to do in Truro for more ideas.
Coworking in Truro
The Workbox also has a coworking space in Truro. Situated conveniently on the threshold of the city centre and by the pleasant Victoria Gardens, you can set up your workation desk here and become part of the community.
This space is integrated into a three-story townhouse, with different environments to cater for collaboration and privacy.
Where to stay in Truro
Truro isn’t like St Ives or Newquay where seemingly every other building is a guest house, but there is still some choice when it comes to accommodation. Here are three of our recommendations:
- Guest house: Donnington Guesthouse is cosy bed and breakfast on the outskirts of the city, offering good value for money.
- Mid-priced hotel: Mannings Hotel is a restaurant and accommodation in the heart of the city in a Georgian townhouse.
- Luxury hotel: The Alverton is a four-star hotel set in a Grade II listed estate within stunning gardens. All rooms have a desk.
Perched on the estuary of the River Fal as it flows into the sea, Falmouth is a buzzing seaside town full of youth and creativity. The town is Cornwall’s largest settlement and is home to the county’s only university, which specialises in the arts.
Many of Falmouth’s students decide to stay in town after graduating, starting businesses or working in the town’s tourism and creative sectors. There’s always something going on here or a gathering to attend, whether it’s a group surfing session on one of the golden beaches or an open mic night at a lively pub.
Aside from all this, Falmouth is more than just a modern seaside university town. It has a history stretching back centuries, with many fascinating stories to be discovered.
This is a top place to take an active and involved workation, with community on your doorstep and much enriching exploration to be done in between.
Activities in Falmouth
Falmouth’s historical highlight is Pendennis Castle, which was built by Henry VIII in 1540, and a century later was one of the last forts standing in the English Civil War. The castle rises high on the town’s main headland, from where there are great views across the river to St Mawes and St Anthony’s Lighthouse.
Several beaches are dotted around Falmouth’s coastline, the most popular of which is Gyllyngvase Beach. This is a great spot to try some watersports or relax and enjoy the fresh sea air. There are some pleasant walkways linking the beaches, or you can continue south on the coastal path to Maenporth with some excellent views along the way.
While you’re in town, check out the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, set on the harbourside in a striking building that was the result of an architectural design competition. Inside you’ll learn all about Cornwall’s eventful maritime history.
Across the other side of the River Fal lies the Roseland Heritage Coast, one of Cornwall’s rural beauties. You can take a ferry over to the pretty fishing village of St Mawes and explore onwards along the desolate coastline.
For more ideas, check out our complete rundown of things to do in Falmouth.
Coworking in Falmouth
The growing student and young entrepreneurial population in Falmouth has given rise to a spate of coworking spaces. These are two that have day rates for workationers:
- Rosya Space: set above a surf shop in the heart of town on the Moor, with the cheapest day rates around at £16 (although hours are limited to 10am–5:30pm).
- Fastnet House: located on a business park a little out of town, this place is full of style and has some cool nautical design features.
Where to stay in Falmouth
You are not short of options when it comes to accommodation in Falmouth for your workation. Here are four of our recommendations for different paces and styles:
- Hostel: Falmouth Lodge Backpackers is a brilliant sociable hostel between the town centre and Gyllyngvase Beach.
- Bed and breakfast: Seaview Inn is a local 19th-century pub with rooms that offers warm hospitality and serves a legendary breakfast.
- Mid-priced hotel: The Falmouth Hotel overlooks the sea facing across from Pendennis Castle, and has work desks in its double rooms.
- Luxury hotel: St Michael’s Resort overlooks Gyllyngvase Beach, has a range of room options and a full suite of facilities including a spa and health club.
Our selection of the best hotels in Falmouth features many more options for a range of budgets.
The harbour town of St Ives has grown from its beginnings as a quiet fishing port to become the art capital of the south-west of England and a thriving holiday destination. Its maze of narrow streets are filled wall-to-wall with galleries, sculpture gardens, craft shops and pottery studios, while its coastline is bestowed with some of Cornwall’s most popular beaches.
A workation in St Ives is guaranteed to bring a sprinkling of creativity and chaos to your remote office environment. And if you want to escape the busy streets for a while, the calm of the coastal path is just around the corner.
Activities in St Ives
Without doubt, the most famous gallery in town is the Tate St Ives. One of four Tate branches in the UK, it is set in an old gasworks overlooking Porthmeor beach. Another highlight is the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, and you could spend many more hours browsing the dozens of independent galleries.
Fore Street is at the heart of the craft and shopping scene. Set just behind the harbour front, it’s a great starting point for perusing the array of quirky little stores in town.
St Ives has a handful of beaches. When the tide is low, the harbour beach is picture-perfect for relaxing with a pasty from Pengenna’s or some fish and chips. Porthmeor and Porthminster are the largest and most popular beaches, while Bamaluz is a little hidden gem that sits between them.
The coast around St Ives offers some fantastic walking opportunities. One of our favourite Cornwall walks is the path to Lelant on the eastern side. To the west, you can walk past the picturesque Clodgy Point all the way to the village of Zennor for a satisfying pub lunch at The Tinners Arms.
St Ives also has a diverse food and drink scene. People come from far and wide to try the world-famous burgers at Blas Burgerworks. You can also learn the secrets of local gin-making at Tarquin’s Gin School. Meanwhile, no restaurant in Cornwall has a more stunning setting than Pedn Olva, set on top of granite rocks between the harbour and Porthminster beach.
For more activity ideas, see our article on the best things to do in St Ives, Cornwall.
Coworking in St Ives
We were quite surprised to find that St Ives has lagged behind the likes of Newquay, Falmouth and Truro when it comes to coworking spaces. But that is about to change.
Bayspace St Ives is a new coworking space opening in 2022. Set in a restored Grade II listed building dating from 1820, it will provide a facility for hot-desking, meetings, activities, events and training, as well as a social and café space. We’re looking forward to checking it out!
Meanwhile, around the street of St Ives you will also find various cafés and coffee shops that have good wifi and are ideal for getting a couple of hours’ work done.
Where to stay in St Ives
There are probably more options for accommodation in St Ives than anywhere else in Cornwall. For a workation, we’d recommend staying somewhere a little away from the town centre, so you have some escape from the hubbub.
Here are some options that fit the bill:
- Self-catered: One Ocean Breeze is a spacious ground-floor apartment set in a former hotel, with a dining table that easily repurposes as a work desk.
- Bed and breakfast: Downsfield has a quieter location in neighbouring Carbis Bay, seconds from the ocean and a short scenic walk away from St Ives.
- Mid-priced hotel: Badger Inn is a friendly village inn in Lelant, separated from St Ives by a gorgeous coastal walk, and featuring work desks in some rooms.
- Luxury hotel: St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa is close to the town centre but still feels like a retreat, with plenty of space, excellent facilities and direct access to Porthminster beach.
Check out our full guide to places to stay in St Ives for more options.
What to pack for your Cornwall workation
Hopefully this article has given you the building blocks you need to piece together your Cornwall workation. Once you’re all booked, it’s time to prepare and make sure you get the most out of the experience
Packing for a workation is a little different to packing for a regular trip or holiday. Here are a few things to bring along:
- A portable and lightweight laptop. See our article on the best laptops for remote working for some ideas.
- Think about the accessories you can bring along to enhance your remote working environment. Our rundown of remote working essentials will help, from multiport adapter hubs to inspirational flip calendars.
- Bring a portable speaker along to give your remote office a backing track. We use the JBL Go.
- A supply of your favourite coffee or tea is a must, and maybe some sweetener tablets if you use them.
- Hiking boots. These are essential for exploring Cornwall’s dramatic coastal path. See our recommendations on the best hiking boots for travel.
- Spare change. Not everything in Cornwall is digital yet, and you’ll likely find you need some loose coins for a car park or an afternoon ice cream.
Are you planning a Cornwall workation? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to post in the comments below or get in touch if you have any questions.
If you’re taking a road trip, read our essential tips for driving in Cornwall before you set off.
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