Upon driving into Charlestown, you will immediately notice the ship's rigging in the port which towers over the entire city. In fact, if this picturesque harbour feels familiar on your first visit, that might be because you've actually seen it before: Charlestown has starred in a wide variety of films such as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, several Jane Austen adaptions and episodes of Doctor Who. The main attraction of the town, the National Shipwreck Museum, even features the 'Heart of the Ocean' necklace from 'Titanic'.
Yet, in spite all that fame, Charlestown has not seen any of the extreme development other port towns in the area have gone through and you'll still feel like you're stepping back in time as soon as you enter the village. For an even more natural experience, Charlestown is located about 2 miles away from busy St Austell and is an excellent place to base yourself if you want to visit the famous Eden Project.
In addition to the historic harbour, Charlestown also offers a good selection of pubs, cafés and restaurants and shops with local art and crafts.
Culture & attractions in Charlestown
The main attraction of Charlestown is the National Shipwreck Museum, where you can't only learn about local history, but also view many artefacts and everyday items that were rescued from sunken ships, among them famous ones such as the Titanic. The museum might look small from the outside, but you can easily spend hours there!
Nearby St Austell is a charming market town with many awesome things to sea and do. Fine art lovers will enjoy the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum – the town used to supply clay for chinaware in the past.
There are also some excellent beaches in the area, some of them, like Polkerris Beach, are great for swimming.
Must-do highlights in Charlestown
The Eden Project in St Austell is undoubtedly one of the highlight of not only St Austell, but entire Cornwall. This multi-million project is a true wonder of engineering and displays a variety of climate zones with thousands of tropical plant species. If you ever wondered how tropical fruits that you buy in the supermarket grow, this is the place to go! A visit to the Eden Project is a great day out for the entire family, and maybe you're lucky to be there for one of the special events the park regularly host.
When you are travel with small kids, make sure to pay a visit to Kidzworld, an indoor play centre with many different activities like Mega-slides, Giant tubes, ball ponds, Death Slide, Crushers, Fireman's Pole and much more. For birthdays, you can even book themed rooms!
Another must-see is the St Austell Brewery, where you can explore the brewery in small groups on guided tours and try a variety of beers. But it's not a tourist trap – the brewery still delivers to many pubs throughout Cornwall.
Eating & drinking in Charlestown
The many dramatic schooners in Charlestown are not just anchoring here – many of them also bring in some of the freshest fish in the country. Apart from that, Charlestown and St Austell are excellent places to taste fine Cornish specialities like a variety of ales and cider, cheeses and much more.
Austell's for example has been listed in the Michelin guide for the third year now. The restaurant just used the freshest local and seasonal ingredients, so the menu changes permanently – yet you can be sure to always get an exceptionally delicious meal.
For a unique rustic dining experience, head to Wrecker's Bistro, nestled along the promenade of Charlestown harbour. The restaurant itself is a refurbished boat shed with a quirky bent roof – but don't worry, there's nothing improvised about the food here. In addition to formal lunch and dinner options, the bistro serves cream teas, vcffee and Cornish patisserie throughout the day.
Accommodation in Charlestown
Charlestown is a town that grows on you the longer you stay, and the best way to soak in its charms is to rent your own holiday apartment or cottage here.
For example the Pelican Cottage, which is a luxury family cottage suitable for up to four visitors. It's a perfect place to stay with young children as a playground is just around the corner.
Another lovely place to base yourself is The Briell, a three bedroom house just a three minute walk from Charlestown's picturesque harbour. The house has it's own private garden and one of the bedroom's balconies has a gorgeous view offer the sea.
So that's our round up of things to do on a weekend in Charlestown. Have you ever been there? What would you recommend doing if someone went there for the weekend? Please share you experience with us…