The Golden Lion pub, perched high above the harbour in Port Isaac, has it all – snuggly wood panelling, a roaring fire and good beer. Winter is the perfect time to visit this fishing village – the gift shops may be closed, but the village won’t be swamped with the Doc Martin fanclub. There’s a spectacular circular walk past Kellan Head to Port Quin – or continue on to the Rumps, an iron age fort jutting out from the Pentire headland. Stay in a former pilchard cellar, a National Trust property nestled right on the shingle at Port Quin – and brace yourself for a gale.
Carolina Cellar, from £307 for two nights in January, nationaltrust.org.uk
The Roseland Peninsula
On the south coast, the Roseland Peninsula is a hidden gem with beautiful beaches and secluded bays. In Portscatho, early risers can watch the sun come up with coffee and custard tarts at Tatams café above the beach or have a winter sea swim, if you dare. There are plenty of pubs to check out – the Plume of Feathers in Portscatho, the King’s Head at Ruan Lanihorne, and the Roseland Inn at Philleigh are all cosy places for a pint by the fire. Stay at Cow Parsley Cottage, a short walk from Philleigh. With two outdoor baths set side-by-side in its garden, what could be better than taking a hot bubble bath in the cold air at sundown? If you’re lucky, you’ll see the resident barn owl, too fly past.
Cow Parsley Cottage, from £180 per night, penhallowfarmholidays.co.uk
Zennor, near Penzance
You can’t miss the Gurnard’s Head. This bright yellow pub is like a dollop of English mustard on the cliffs, a beacon of warmth and hospitality above the jagged rocks. Weary walkers can find good food and an open fire. There are lovely bedrooms upstairs. Before you settle in, clear your head with a stomp across the fields to the Gurnard’s Head itself, a towering rock promontory with big Game of Thrones energy. Once the cobwebs are dealt with, head back to the pub. You’ll want to book table 18 in the window, with the best views of the sea.
Winter breaks from £185 for two, dinner B&B, Sun-Thu, gurnardshead.co.uk
Mousehole does winter in style: in December and January, the harbour is festooned in a spectacular display of old-fashioned Christmas lights. Stay in the Old Coastguard – sister hotel to the Gurnard’s Head. It has the same irresistible offering of good food, good wine, cosy bedrooms – and it’s kid- and dog-friendly. Catch a matinee at the nearby Newlyn Filmhouse, in a converted fish merchant, before heading back to the Coastguard for dinner. Winter breaks from £185 for two, supper and B&B, two nights Sun-Thu; Sunday Sleepovers £207.50, for lunch, supper and B&B, oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk
Spend lazy days exploring Falmouth town and relax with a Breton cider by the fire at pub-bookshop Beerwolf Books. Eat the best pasty of your life at Proper Pasties, a hole-in-the-wall joint on Upton Slip, or enjoy an espresso and some socialist theory at Rubicund, a radical bookshop-café in the historic St Georges Arcade. Stay at the Star and Garter, a foodie pub with three apartments upstairs, which have everything you need in the depths of winter: a soft bed, a deep bath, a massive telly, and killer views. The apartments are self-catering, but the food (and rum) in the pub downstairs is exceptional.
Apartments from £170 per night. Breakfast boxes are available for £35 extra, which include everything you need for a hearty fry up; starandgarterfalmouth.co.uk
Porthleven and the Lizard
The village of Porthleven, on the south coast, is famous for images of vast waves breaking over its harbourside walls and churchduring winter storms – and the best seat in town is at the Ship Inn, an atmospheric pub where you can watch the sea explode against the harbour walls. Walk to nearby Lizard Point, then warm up with lunch at the Polpeor café, perched perilously high on the cliffs. Stay in Pednagothollan, a large house on the Lizard cliffs with views of Kynance Cove, which has great prices for winter stays.
From £995 for 7 nights, sleeps 6; forevercornwall.co.uk
Helford, near Falmouth
If the weather gets too much, retreat to the sheltered creeks around the Helford Passage. Here, nestled among ancient woodland, you’ll find the Ferry Boat Inn, perched on the banks of the river, with tables outside so parents can eat and drink, while kids play on the beach. Come for the Sunday roasts, which are indecently huge and delicious. Nearby Trebah Garden is a subtropical paradise teeming with tree ferns, bamboo and hydrangeas. It also has a private beach, perfect for wild swimming – yes, even in winter. Stay at Little Trenant Barn on Polwheveral Creek, which comes with its own rowing boat, called Sandy.
From £145 per night, sleeps 4; airbnb.co.uk
At Trevose Head spindly trees dot the wild cliff tops and the sea booms in dramatic gorges. Constantine, Booby’s and Trevone are great beaches for a stormy stomp. If you fancy eating out, locals rave about Prawn on the Lawn in Padstow, which won UK seafood restaurant of the year in 2020. And stay at the cosy Pig at Harlyn Bay, a warren-like country pile: guests are actively encouraged to collapse into with velvet armchairs by the fire. Collapse, cocktail in hand, before tucking into exceptional food in the candlelit dining room, scented with dried rosemary and woodsmoke.
From £150; thepighotel.com
In bad weather, Penzance’s seafront becomes a theatre where the waves put on a thrilling show. After a walk along the promenade, explore the thriving independent high street where chic homeware boutiques, such as No 56, rub shoulders with old-fashioned gems like Jim’s department store, where you can buy everything from a set of vampire teeth to an enamel pie dish. Don’t miss Tam O’Shanter, a tiny shop selling traditional wool jumpers, frame-knitted by “83-year-old Frank”. Warm up at the Honey Pot, a cosy café that serves roasts on a Sunday. Chapel House, a serene hotel in the centre of town, has baths in the bedrooms and views of St Michael’s Mount.
From £160 per night; chapelhousepz.co.uk
Portholland, near Mevagissey
Enjoy a windswept walk along Portholland Beach before lunch at the Kings Arms in the nearby fishing port of Mevagissey. It’s a proper pub, with excellent wine and plenty of atmosphere – think heavy wooden tables, a flagstone floor, and daily menus scrawled in chalk. Book ahead for their Festive Feasts through December. Chapel House on Portholland Beach is the ultimate cosy stay for new year and beyond. Curl up with a book while the rain batters the arched windows which face straight out to the sea.
From £100 per night, sleeps 6, children welcome, sawdays.co.uk