The glowing and ever changing luminescence of the sea and sky is incomparable. It is like a constantly revolving kaleidoscope ranging from cerulean through jade to aquamarine, even Caribbean blue. Utterly mesmerising and you don't have to leave your deck chair to appreciate it.
St Ives School of Painting
No wonder, the special quality of light has drawn painters since J.M.W. Turner to St Ives. The extension of the Great Western Railway to West Cornwall in the late 1800s, made the remote town more accessible and even more appealing. Pioneering artists such as Ben Nicholson and Dame Barbara Hepworth were drawn to the town and achieved international prominence.
From the early 1940s a new group of artists arrived and were inspired to use the shapes, forms and colours of the West Cornwall landscape as a source for much of their work. Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Sir Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Peter Lanyon together with the pioneering potter, Bernard Leach, put St. Ives' name on the map for modern and abstract developments in British art.
With vast expanses of fine white sand, the beaches of West Cornwall really do resemble the Caribbean, except the temperature of the sea is, at best, bracing. St. Ives is flanked by Porthminster and Porthmeor beaches, both of which have superb sea-front restaurants with soaring gorse and flower-covered cliffs behind. Arrive early and you may have a beach to yourself.
The Tate St. Ives
Opened in 1993 on the site of a former gasworks overlooking Porthmeor Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, the gallery exhibits the Tate collection of art from the St. Ives School and contemporary exhibitions. The exterior reflects the natural forms of the coastline and, in reference to the history of ceramicists in St Ives, the building is clad in ceramic tiles with blue and green glazes that capture the ever-changing Cornish weather and blend into the hues of the sea. The roof terrace cafe has stunning views and a good menu.
Barbara Hepworth garden
Barbara Hepworth set up her studio in the heart of St. Ives, where it is now the most delightful intimate museum and sculpture garden with more than 20 sculptures laid in position by Hepworth herself. The garden was designed with the help of a friend, composer Priaulx Rainier. The artist’s summer house and greenhouse containing her collection of cacti alongside sculptures and some original furniture is a lovely place for peaceful contemplation.
The Leach Pottery Museum, the original home and work place of revered potter Bernard Leach, is a must-visit for ceramics fans. To gain a better insight into how potters work, visit the clay room, the throwing room with kick wheels and Japanese climbing kiln. Many of the most revered British potters trained here and the shop sells the works of Leach Potters and individual makers.
Kitsch souvenirs aside, St. Ives is a good place for would-be art collectors. The Porthminster Gallery has a superb collection of contemporary potters working locally, including Charlotte Jones whose handmade ceramics with thrown bases are made from local clays, based on her observations of the local landscape and natural objects.
The Restaurant at Porthminster Beach Cafe
A sea-facing 1930s beach house serving up Cornish fare, fished in the next bay, foraged or picked from their garden. The Dover Sole is most impressive, prepared en papillote with samphire, and don't miss the succulent grilled lobster caught in neighbouring Porthmeor Bay.
A Georgian bow-fronted restaurant in The Digey serves up delicious sharing plates like pulled Cornish lamb with feta and samphire and Cornish new potatoes bathed in seaweed butter.
Porthmeor Beach Cafe
Literally right on the beach with the option of outdoor cabin seating (complete with heating) and a hint of Asian inspiration mixed with ultra-local produce in memorable dishes such as hake with clams and mussels.
FIND OUT MORE
Best in Travel: Trending Destinations for 2022These countries, regions and cities are hot travel destinations in the year ahead.
Top 10: The Most Beautiful Terraces in LucerneWe reveal ten restaurants in the heart of Switzerland that offer particularly beautiful outdoor summer terraces and outdoor spaces.
Top Places to Go on Wine Tours in EuropeSearching for a destination for your next wine tour in Europe? Check out our favourites from Beaune to Budapest.
Top Five Gondola and Train Trips in SwitzerlandFrom the Matterhorn Glacier Ride and the MOB cheese train to the world's steepest cogwheel railway, we reveal the top train and gondola...
The Top Nine Things to do around AustriaFalstaff is delighted to show off Austria‘s must-visit destinations from Carinthia to Vienna.
Every July and August thousands of animals migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of fresh pastures. It is one of the last...
Making a trip to the Big Apple? Here are Falstaff's six favourite watering holes offering everything from old world cocktails and fabulous views to...
There's no better way to discover a city than on foot. A new study shows which European cities are best for pedestrians to explore.
Tripadvisor has announced the best destinations for food lovers in 2022. Rome claims the No.1 spot for its culinary supremacy.
The NiceRx platform has analysed 50 countries around the world and measured them on a range of happiness factors. Switzerland topped the list with the...
Fancy a trip to Italy but want to avoid the big cities? Here are some beautiful towns you have to visit.
After a two-year Covid-induced hiatus, the great British festival is back. Here are five events that will delight your stomach as well as your mind.