Hostel Hopping in Devon and Cornwall
Jangira Lewis recommends a bit of hostel hopping in Devon and Cornwall for a delicious summertime cocktail of city, moors and beach… now we just need plenty of sunshine!
Exeter – Dartmoor – Plymouth – St Austell – Falmouth – Penzance – St Ives – Newquay – Bude – Ilfracombe
1st Stop: Exeter
Majestic Gothic architecture, a colourful history and a welcoming hostel gives Exeter plenty to shout about. Located smack bang in the heart of Devon, Exeter boasts a spectacular 2000 year old cathedral as well as ancient castle ruins (with rumours of prehistoric origins). The city’s wonderful fusion of old and new architecture ensures you’re never far from the 21st Century. Shops, bars and a thriving cafe culture are all on tap, whilst being a university town ensures a great music and art scene too. With locally run shops and its own unique Exeter currency, a sense of community is in the air. Explore the secret underground passages beneath the city or hop aboard a boat trip from Exeter Quayside.
Centrally located Globe Backpackers‘ opened back in 1999 – when most of you hadn’t even reached double figures! Caroline and Paul still own the hostel and their globetrotting experience shines through in the homely and chilled atmosphere created. From touring bands and authors on book signing tours, to regular international travellers, what better place to meet interesting people with tales to tell?
2nd Stop: Dartmoor
With its enormous open landscapes and stunning rolling moorlands, it’s easy to believe that pollution is just a myth. Dartmoor is a big adventure playground for those with a thirst for exploring. Relax in enchanted woodlands and observe nature in its prime or rent a bike and ogle at the stunning scenic views while freewheeling down hills. From wild ponies to crystallised granite tors, Dartmoor really is a true natural beauty.
Nestled on the edges of this National Park, you’ll find Sparrowhawk Backpackers, an independent eco-friendly hostel. Sparrowhawk’s owner Alison took over the project around 15 years ago when Sparrowhawk was merely an old farm house and a decrepit stable. Today, the cosy 14 bed dormitory – converted from the farm house’s hay loft – has skylights perfect for stargazing prior to your beauty sleep. Sweet dreams!
3rd Stop: Plymouth
Plymouth is a port city tucked on the coast in the north of Devon, with plenty of cliff walks, beaches, Smeaton’s Tower and the National Maritime Aquarium to boast about. Catch up on some shopping, head to the market for some tasty food or meander around the old Barbican area along cobbled streets on the waterfront. As a university town, nightlife is fun and lively so you’ll have plenty to choose from when the sun goes down.
Plymouth Backpackers was recently changed from a hotel into a hostel and it’s a great place to stay whilst exploring. Friendly, family run & centrally located – ideal for a backpackers base! There’s 11 bedrooms in total and so it’s big enough to meet plenty of like-minded folk but small enough to have a cosy feel.
4th Stop: St Austell
St Austell is a bustling old market town, now also famous for the Eden Project, home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world, found 2 miles away just on the town’s edge. Built in an old china clay pit back in 1998 it draws in large numbers of global visitors each year. Nearby beaches are a real delight, with the area often being described as the Cornish Riviera. Carlyon Bay, Duporth and Porthpean are particularly popular.
Eden’s Yard Backpackers is a relatively new addition to Cornwall’s backpacker scene and is a quirky, Camino inspired hostel just a 15 minute woodland walk from the Eden Project. This is a ‘must stay’ backpackers spot… it receives fabulous reviews and is a place you’ll never forget!
5th Stop: Falmouth
The creative ambience, famous art galleries, venues showcasing live bands and independent films are what make Falmouth so special. This university town has evolved into a modern social hub while maintaining its rich maritime heritage. Get your pirate hat out and sing along at the International Sea Shanty Festival or join the whole town in their active entertainment at the ZestiFal.
Falmouth Lodge’s welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff are what makes it such a hit with previous guests. Its two minute location from Gyllyngvase Beach ensures everyone can take advantage of the events this leading festival destination has to offer! With eight years’ experience, Judi never fail to shroud every guest in their warm British hospitality.
6th Stop: Penzance
The ancient monuments and modern vibrancy make Penzance a culturally significant town in West Cornwall. Home to the Minack Theatre – one of the most beautiful open air theatres around – Penzance provides a wide range of entertainment, particularly attracting the most curious and adventurous. Explore the rambling beaches, watch a variety of ways to cook fish at Newlyn’s Fish Festival or hop onto a ferry from Penzance harbour to Britain’s best kept secret, the Isles of Scilly.
On a leafy street close to Penlee Park you’ll find family-owned Penzance Backpackers. Clean and comfy, this hostel ticks all boxes for travellers looking for a home from home at an affordable price. Friendly staff love sharing their local knowledge of this old smugglers town where pirates once ruled the roost… “Ooh arrr, matey!”
7th Stop: St Ives
Home to the famous Tate Gallery and Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives has attracted artists from all over the world. The picturesque beaches and extraordinary cliff-top views add to the town’s ever-growing charisma. Follow the narrow cobbled streets to the hidden cafes and pubs behind the harbour or rent a board and take advantage of the fantastic surf at Porthminster beach.
Cohort Hostel’s central location gives young travellers easy access to explore South West Cornwall. After an exciting four month renovation period, Cohort Hostel now provides uniquely designed indoor and outdoor spaces for you to socialise, meet new people and chill out with friends. Regular movie nights, welcoming staff and a cheap bar are top reasons guests have raved about this hostel. What’s not to like?
8th Stop: Newquay
Spirited nightlife antics, big waves and lots of tousled blond surf dudes make Newquay a popular summertime destination for backpackers! With its myriad of bars, restaurants and beaches, England’s surfing capital buzzes with the hum of adventure. Hosting numerous surf competitions and plenty of festivals ensures this seaside town is always on top form! Rest your sleepy head at one of the following fabulous hostels…
Shore Surf Lodge has recently changed names – it used to be Matt’s Surf Lodge but with a new owner (not called Matt), it was time for something new! It’s still a huge hit with the surfing community following a refurb, so expect a fresh vibe but still with plenty of character. The laid back atmosphere keeps everyone happy and you’ll find it in a great location.
St Christopher Inns is not only one of the largest hostels in Newquay, but also pretty lively too! With an on-site bar and restaurant providing guests with discounted food and drinks, live music, helpful staff and an onsite surf school, St Christopher Inns knows how to keep you smiling!
9th Stop: Bude
Bude’s charming allure captivates you from the moment you breathe its fresh coastal air and this laid back atmosphere dates far back to Victorian times. Surfers, swimmers and nature lovers flock to this little town to take advantage of the sports and walks on offer. Pay a visit to the less well-known Crackington Haven beach this summer or attend The Greatest House Party in a Field (the name says it all!) the last weekend of July.
Sean and Janine take pride in ensuring everyone’s stay at Northshorebude is a top-notch experience. Their willingness to let dinners go cold if you need assistance and knowledge of local surf conditions keep people choosing to kip here time and time again. Don’t miss out!
This seaside town’s spectacular cliff scenery, waterfront walkways and quaint atmosphere gives you a real sense of British holidays. An abundance of pubs, cafes and galleries keeps this lively whilst its adorable coastal charm chills you out when feeling lazy and Damien Hirst’s statue Verity makes an impressive sight. Pay a visit to Woolacombe – Britain’s best beach – to catch some top waves, or submerge yourself in the entertaining summer events such as South West Bird Man Competition, Ilfracombe’s Carnival and September’s Sea Ilfracombe Maritime Festival.
Next to Ilfracombe’s harbour, you’ll find Ocean Backpackers – an award winning surf lodge. Chris and Abby took the hostel on in July 2002, deciding it was time for a lifestyle change! Their sound local knowledge and excellent bike/surfboard storage, complements the homely atmosphere you experience once you set foot inside. What better place to end your hostel hopping trip in Devon and Cornwall?