Discover St Ives, the artist colony, huddled around a pretty harbour
St Ives was a pilchard fishing port for centuries. The 12th Century pier church has relics from a time when fisherman paid to have their boats blessed before departure. Nowadays, it is the unusually bright light that has drawn people. It dazzles you when they come to St Ives, and it is light that has shaped these seaside towns, cultural evolution and legacy.
It is the light that drew artists here in the 1930s and created a thriving artistic community that lives on today. Art has seeped into everything, even in cellars, where fish were salted are now slick whitewashed gallery spaces. There is also a Tate Gallery - St Ives to celebrate this rich modern art history and, of course, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. There are many superb restaurants to enjoy a lazy lunch.
Visitors come to St Ives for its beautiful white sand beaches, quaint fishing harbour vibes and, of course, to jump into its unique and vibrant arts scene. A visit to St Ives is ideal for people that love modern art. Our England’s South Coast Tour features St Ives, which we can customise to match your requirements.
Town of artists
Barbara Hepworth and St Ives
Pierced abstract figures
Barbara Hepworth and her work inspired an entire generation of artists. She was the first to sculpt pierced abstract figures, those beautiful shapes with holes. Barbara Hepworth and her husband Ben Nicholson moved to St Ives in 1939, and linked with the town forever.
Barbara attended Leeds School of Art in the 1920s and met Henry Moore, and they remained friends and rival artists for years. Like many curious artists, Italy is an important place to study. She travelled to Florence on a scholarship and married fellow sculptor John Skeaping. Her experience of the continent influenced her art for many years to come.
Barbara divorced Skeaping and married abstract painter Ben Nicholson. Both travelled to France founded the Unit One art movement and helped to create awareness of European artists. The Hepworth-Nicholson family moved to St Ives just before the outbreak of war in 1939. Hepworth lived in the town until she died in 1975.
Barbara Hepworth Museum
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is where she lived and worked from 1939 to 1975. You will see the garden laid out as Barbara wished with her dramatic bronzes. Barbara's work is displayed in galleries across Britain. Approximately 50 pieces are on display at Tate St Ives and the Museum. Barbara had four children, her oldest son Paul was killed while serving in the RAF in Thailand in 1953. There is a memorial to him in the parish church of St Ives, and it is called 'Madonna and Child.' Incidentally, there are approximately twenty plus commercial art galleries in St Ives.
Places to eat
Porthminster Café has a superb view of the seafront. Ingredients include foraged produce and as you would expect locally caught fish and seafood, such as whole lobster, monkfish curry, and Cornish crab linguine. The Porthgwidden Beach Café is the sister restaurant on the beach and specialises in Mediterranean and Asian seafood cuisine.
The Seafood Café is wedged into the cobbled back streets of St Ives. There is a fabulous cabinet of ever-changing fish on display. Please make your choice and let the chef know how you like it prepared.
The Mermaid on Fish Street is in the heart of the old fisherman's cottages. There is a wide variety of options, and the décor is rather cute with fishing nets and portholes.
Touring and accommodation
Cornwall is famous for fish restaurants, its 400 stunning beaches, artists, ice cream, and the magnificent Cornish Pasty. It is a beautiful family destination, and that is why we believe our Family Experience of Cornwall is ideal for people that want to see and do lots of stuff. Couples will prefer to tour in the offseason, from April to early July and September, while the British Schools are out. The 'Luxury Vacations UK' suggested England's South Coast Tour itinerary can be customised for you and can be altered to suit couples or families.
Cornwall is full of unusual gardens, dramatic coastlines, pretty fishing villages and world-class beaches. Exotic plants at Trebah Gardens survive in the mild climate of the southwest. Trebah is a subtropical oasis that tumbles down a ravine and eventually ends up on a pristine beach – pure magic. Cotehele House and Gardens is a very different place with terraced gardens encircling an old Cornish house.
Stay at Hotel Tresanton in the heart of St Mawes, a pretty fishing village on the south coast. There is a wide choice of accommodation in the UK; Cottages, Manor House Hotels and traditional Guest Houses. Alternatively, stay at the luxury boutique hotel The Idle Rocks with an award-winning restaurant.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands.
The Harbourside Artist Colony
Buy art, enjoy lunch and go surfing in the crystal clear waters
- Over Twenty Art Galleries to Explore
- Visit Tate St Ives
- Visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden
- Enjoy a Seafood and Fish Lunch
- Choose between Five Sandy Beaches
St Ives and the Atlantic Ocean
Old Fisherman's Cottages
The Mermaid Restaurant
Art Galley and Shop
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK, EU and US office-based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.