10 Things to Do in Launceston, Cornwall

To the casual visitor, Launceston may seem like a sleepy little market town with not much on.  Dig a little deeper, and you will find plenty to entertain all ages, both in the town and its surrounding area.  Here are 10 things to do in Launceston – if we’ve missed out your favourite, let us know in the comments!


Tamar Valley Otter Park

A few miles outside Launceston (towards us, in fact) you will find the Otter Park – popular with families and animal lovers alike.  Not only do they have plenty of otters, but you can meet deer, wallabies, owls and other birds of prey, meerkats and much more.  They have a lovely café, some pretty woodland walks, and plenty to occupy little people.  Please note, they are only open in season, namely between 30 March – 31st October.



Hidden Valley

The Hidden Valley is a wonderful little attraction that is great for children.  It includes treasure hunts, mazes, and a Forbidden Mansion.  The fundamental theme is following clues, so if you’re young ones like a riddle, they will love Hidden Valley – think ‘Crystal Maze for kids’!  It also includes a miniature railway, play area and café.  


Trethorne Leisure Park

Trethorne has a little of everything, and as tickets aren’t particularly cheap it’s worth spending a whole day here.  It includes a small farmyard area where you can meet and feed animals, a petting zoo, outdoor play areas – but the real draw is the indoor jungle gym.  Ball-pools, obstacle courses, drop slides, climbing walls – the lot!  If your little ones have plenty of energy, this is the place for them, particularly on a wet day.  There’s also indoor bowling in a separate building under a different ticket price.  


Dingles Fairground Heritage

It amazes me how few people are aware of Dingles, as it really is a treat.  Just across the border into Devon, it features hangars full of old fairground rides and vehicles dating back to the Victorian times.  A wonderful (and loud) array of steam organs with helpful volunteers on hand to show you how things work.  And then, for the young and young at heart, a whole hangar full of working rides – do you fancy a ride on a Victorian carousel?  A trip on a quaintly retro ghost train?  This is the place for you.


Launceston Stream Railway and New Mills Farm Park.

The steam railway is a narrow-gauge railways that offers a short but pleasant chug along a 2 mile route through the Cornish countryside.  The open sided carriages are great fun.  The end of the line is at New Mills where there is a small but friendly farm park (with a separate entrance fee) – great for younger children.

Railway Website
New Mills Website

Launceston Castle

Who can miss this?  It has towered over the town for over a thousand years and offers a superb example of a motte and bailey castle.  As you can imagine with its age, it is now ruins, so don’t expect rooms or reconstructions.  Instead, if you climb the modern staircase inside the shell of the keep, you are rewarded with panoramic views of the Kensey valley and the town below.  A small museum gives a brief rundown of the key events.  A must for history lovers, or those wanting a spectacular view.


Lawrence House Museum

A modest but charming little museum just along from the castle with an impressively broad range of exhibits – you can find not just the history of Launceston, but a whole host of fascinating displays, from costumes and coins, to a Victorian kitchen and giant music box (Polyphon).  Younger visitors may enjoy the toy room – not just toys from yesteryear, but items that you can get your hands on and have a go!  Best of all, this museum is completely free. 



For a town of this size, Launceston has some great options for eating.  If you’re just after a snack, try Bray Farm Shop with its delicious carvery baps, of if you’re in the car, visit Warrens at Pennygillam for the best pasty you’ll get for miles.

For something a little more substantial, Café Number 8 (near the Post Office) offers great café food and fry-ups, while Cowslip Café (at St. Stephens) offers light lunches, cream teas and beautiful views.

For something more fancy, Rubens Tapas is a lovely little spot in the Market House Arcade with authentic Spanish dishes, or if you’re in the car a few miles to Treburley you’ll find the dog-friendly Springer Spaniel gastro-pub offering some great and inventive dishes.


If coffee is what you’re after, I have yet to find better coffee in Cornwall than what is served in Liberty Coffee – truly excellent.  The Coffee Pot in the White Hart arcade offers a more traditional café, with teacakes and buns, while down the road you’ll find the new Green House, serving a great range of healthy smoothies and juices, and light vegetarian and vegan dishes.

If you’re after something a little stronger, The Bell Inn on Tower street is a small and historic little pub, where you won’t find giant screens of football or loud jukeboxes.  The White Hart on the square has just been taken over by new owners, so watch this space on that one!


For a town of Launceston’s size, there is a surprising array of good shops.

For consumables, Warrens on the corner of the White Hart arcade offers nationally recognised high quality meat – there are restaurants in London that source all their meat products from this family-run butchers.  Little Bakehouse offers award-winning artisan bread alongside a charming little café.  Meanwhile, Lifton Farm Shop, just over the border into Devon, has a large and extensive range of fruit and vegetables, along with a very popular café.

As Time Goes By off the High Street is a wonderful antique shop spread over several (wonky) floors of an old townhouse.  A must for bargain hunters and lovers of knick-knacks!  Country Chic offers an excellent range of homeware, gifts and tasteful décor.

Just outside Launceston on the Holsworthy road you will find the popular Homeleigh Garden Centre, with acres of plants, gardenware, kitchenware, tools, pet supplies and much more, along with a very pleasant café.

There are also two arcades in the town – The White Hart arcade, just off the square, complete with an old bookshop and an alternative medicine shop, and the Market House arcade near the church, with retro clothing, cafes and more.

And of course, who could forget the town’s market?  Held in the Town Square on the second Saturday of every month (except January and February) from 10am to 3pm.

Boutique Dog-Friendly Self-catering in the Upper Tamar Valley

We have 4 delightful boutique cottages set within over 2 acres of grounds in North Cornwall.  

A perfect picture of rural tranquillity, we’re a short drive from the stunning North Cornish heritage coastline, or the wild expanse of Dartmoor to the South East.

Give your loved ones the relaxing getaway they deserve, and explore Tamar Valley Cottages.