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St Ives

Gwithian beach, on St Ives Bay (© Lee Rogers |
St Ives Harbour (© druvo |
Godrevy lighthouse and shore, on St Ives Bay (© Matthew Stansfield |

Introduction & Attractions

The artistic capital of Cornwall, the little seaside town of St Ives (pop. 10,000) attracts an incredible lot of tourists in summer.

Long little more than a fishing village, the coming of the railway in 1877 changed St Ives into a Victorian coastal resort, and much of the town was built during this period.

In the 1920's and 30's, St Ives's scenic beauty, with its steep alleys running down to the beach, attracted such artists as painters Alfred Wallis, Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo or potter Bernard Leach. They were followed by Terry Frost, Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron and Bryan Wynter in 1960's.

The finest of their works are now displayed in the new Tate St Ives (opened in 1993), an offshoot of the world-renowed Tate Gallery of London.

The Tate St Ives also manages Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden. Hepworth was one of the greatest abstract sculptor of her time. She came to Cornwall in 1939 and lived in St Ives with her husband Ben Nicholson from 1949 until her death in 1975.

St Ives has two main beaches, both surprisingly clean. Porthmeor to the north is well suited for surfing, while the more family-oriented Porthminster, just south of the harbour, is better suited for swimming and sunbathing.

Castle-like luxury hotel, St Ives (© David Garry |
St Ives from the Malakoff (© Andrew Chambers |


How to get there

St Ives is located at the far end of Cornwall (445km from London), some 10km north of Penzance. The fastest way to get there is to fly to Newquay first, then catch a train.

There are trains from London Paddington (5h15min, 55 super advance single), Exeter (3h to 3h30, 20.70) and Plymouth (2h to 3h10min, 11), all with a change at St Erth (just before Penzance)

National Express has coaches from London (8h15min, 41), Plymouth (3h, 7.25), Newquay (1h15min, 5.50), Truro (1h, 4) and Penzance (25min, 3.25).

In summer, short-distance bus No 15 shuttles between St Ives and Land's End three times a day, passing by the scenic villages of Zennor, St Justin-in-Penwith and Sennen Cove. In winter, you must go via Penzance.


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