St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall's mystical island

Holidays in Cornwall tend to focus on the beaches, the pasties and the cream teas, but a visit to St. Michael's Mount will offer some glimpses of Cornish history amidst the dramatically beautiful setting. With a fairytale castle and sub-tropical gardens to explore, it's worth devoting an entire day to your visit.

The island in the south

St. Michael's Mount is one of Britain's most mystical places, wrapped up in legend, history and spiritual atmosphere. Take the time to explore beyond the obvious photo opportunities.

The island is reached on foot by causeway from the mainland village of Marazion. It's important to check the low tide times to ensure a safe crossing. If you arrive at the wrong time, it's usually possible to make the crossing by boat for a £2 charge.

The castle is the obvious highlight. There is plenty to see, including armour, antique books, modern Cornish paintings and lavish stained-glass windows of French and Flemish design.

The gardens make the most of southern Cornwall's temperate climate and the granite cliffs' heat-retention properties. There are exotic plants from the Canaries and Latin America among the blooms. Children can follow a nature trail with clues leading to a prize. Note that in May and June the gardens are open five days a week; for the rest of the year they are only open two days a week.

Catering facilities on the island put the accent on Cornwall. The Sail Loft restaurant offers locally-caught fresh fish every day alongside the familiar Cornish cream teas and home baking.

Go west

St. Michael's Mount might seem remote, but transport links are plentiful. The nearest airport is Newquay, where Flybe, EasyJet and British Airways operate several regional UK flights, allowing visitors to connect with the rail line from London Paddington to Penzance. From Penzance a ten-minute bus or taxi ride takes you to Marazion.

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