Long regarded by mariners as the first and last port for ships crossing the Atlantic, the Cornish town of Falmouth simply oozes history.

Famous for its deep harbour, which handles all types of vessels, from luxury yachts to warships, the town is also a big draw for visitors eager to sample the delights of this enigmatic county.

With its narrow streets boasting an eclectic mix of galleries, traditional shops and pubs - nestled alongside a range of restaurants offering international cuisine - it is fair to say this seaside port punches well above its weight, with just about something on the menu for all tastes.

It is a university town, with a vibrant younger population mixing it up with locals and tourists alike.

As with other South West centres, Falmouth has always been a great place for seafood. Indeed Rick Stein's restaurant takes pride of place at the town's marina.

And there are a number of artisan producers that have set up shop locally - Picnic and Dolly's Tea Room & Bar are a must for foodies. Seriously, the sour dough toasties at Picnic are a force to be reckoned with.

Meanwhile, the tapas style dining at Dollys, which boasts a Georgian tea-room theme, proves surprisingly fun and filling. My tip for Dolly's would be to sample one of their specialist cocktails; you're going to love the way it arrives at your table.

We stayed for two nights at a re-invented traditional Georgian Inn, The Cutty Sark, which overlooked the estuary and was a stone's throw from the main square.

Reasonably priced, with large, clean rooms - and one of the most comfortable beds I've slept in for years - it proved the perfect base for exploring what Falmouth had to offer.

The staff and owners were friendly and rightly proud of what they had achieved, and it was a lovely place to start the day with a hearty, well-cooked breakfast before heading out.

First stop, the National Maritime Museum.

This was a compact modern museum, based around a welcoming open space with an array of historic seafaring craft suspended from the ceiling.

During our stay the first floor gallery was featuring an exhibition on the Titanic; exploring the lives and dreams of the hundreds of migrants hoping that particular voyage was a passport to a better life.

It made for an intriguing visit, as did the underwater viewing station where you can look out into the harbour as the tide comes in over your head, safe behind toughened - and waterproof - glass of course.

It is also worth climbing the winding stairs - or taking the lift if exercise isn't your thing - to the museum's viewing platform, which offers stunning views across the harbour and surrounds.

For those a little more adventurous, why not consider taking a paddleboarding lesson? Head for WeSUP Paddleboarding; I'd recommend the beginners class for novices. You don't need anything, as wetsuits, expert tuition and bags of enthusiasm are in ready supply. It can be a magical way to experience the coast.

Falmouth's key historic site, certainly a major draw with visitors, is Pendennis Castle. But we found a smaller site, a Pendennis in miniature if you like, which was close by and free to enter.

Henry VIII built this small blockhouse overlooking the harbour which became known as 'Little Dennis'.

It was equipped with heavy guns, and today you can still see three gun openings at ground level.

Defences were updated at the site, through the Second World War up until 1956 when it was decommissioned.

However, it remains a fascinating destination, somewhat of a hidden gem, much like Falmouth as a whole.


The Cutty Sark Georgian Inn - cuttysarkfalmouth.co.uk

Dolly's Tea Room & Bar - dollysbar.co.uk

Picnic - picniccornwall.co.uk

National Maritime Museum - nmmc.co.uk

WeSUP Paddleboarding - wesup.co.uk

Pendennis Castle - english-heritage.org.uk/Pendennis/Falmouth