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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 26 April, 2023

Original created by the Tremayne family in the mid-19th century, these once glorious gardens fell into neglect during the First World War. 70 years later, in 1990, they were ‘rediscovered’ and intelligently restored to their original state.

This ‘garden’ now sustainably manages a patchwork of traditional Cornish habitats – including ancient woodland, hay meadows, grazed pasture, and wetlands – to preserve Cornish wildlife and maximise its biodiversity.

Employing the traditional techniques of cultivation, they offer a unique and fascinating insight into traditional gardening and Victorian life on the Heligan Estate. Highlights include a sub-tropical jungle of exotic specimens and unrivalled collections of camellias and rhododendrons.

Don’t miss

Take the boardwalk through the subtropical garden called ‘The Jungle’ – planted in a valley to create a special warm microclimate. It features giant rhubarb, banana plantations, avenues of palms, and tunnels of giant bamboo. Specimens were brought here by Victorian plant collectors.

The Vegetable Garden, walled Flower Garden, and Melon Yard once supplied the Tremnayne family and the estate with all their necessary produce. Over 200 varieties of fruit, vegetable, salad and herb are cultivated using traditional growing methods.

The gardens are famous for their collection of over 70 veteran camellias, and 350 ancient rhododendrons, some planted back in 1850. Ask on admission for a laminated map with plant lists to identify them.

Especially for the under 12s

There’s plenty to amuse younger kids here, including a Burmese rope bridge, a playground, and farm animals.

Price from: £19
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

There is free car parking, or head to St Austell train station; it’s a short walk from there. Check the website for seasonal events.

When to do it

It’s open all year round, seven days a week.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

The Lugger Hotel

Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[9.4 miles]

Boutique style and fabulous seafood in a 17th-century smugglers’ inn on the Roseland Peninsula.

Official star rating:

Fowey Hall Hotel

Fowey, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[13.3 miles]

Lovely country house family hotel, located in the beautiful town of Fowey, with five acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands. Close to the Eden Project.

Official star rating:

Fowey Harbour Hotel

Fowey, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[13.4 miles]

Luxury boutique hotel with heart-stopping views of the Fowey estuary, set in a beautiful restored Victorian building. Close to the Eden Project.

Official star rating:

The Idle Rocks

St Mawes, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[20.1 miles]

A delightful, 18-room Edwardian Inn in the heart of chic St Mawes, with superb food served on the waterfront terrace.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

A region of craggy cliffs, sheltered creeks, glorious sandy beaches and quintessential villages – rich in local life, pagan legend and delicious, locally-made food and drink.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Eden Project

St. Austell, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[9.6 miles]

Unique and fascinating ‘biome’ botanical gardens that explore the interaction between humans and plants.

Best for ages: 4+ | £33

Bodmin Jail [ghost hunting]

Bodmin, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[21.9 miles]

Former 18th-century prison offering a fascinating glimpse into Victorian and Georgian crime and punishment. Excellent heritage tours and night time ghost hunts.

Best for ages: 7+ | £19

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Poldark’s Charlestown

Charlestown, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[6.5 miles]

Picturesque and historic waterfront town that was the setting for Poldark – now a place of pilgrimage for fans of the hit BBC series.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Overview >
St Austell Brewery

St Austell Brewery

St Austell, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[6.5 miles]

This family-owned brewery, founded in 1851, produces a range of award-winning beers and ales using local ingredients, such as Cornish barley and spring water. They offer guided tours of the brewery, teaching you about the brewing process, ending with tastings. The brewery also runs a variety of events throughout the year, including beer festivals and live music.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Overview >

The Clay Trails [cycling & walking]

St Austell, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[8 miles]

A lovely 12-mile trail (with shorter subsections) from Truro to Bodmin that explores a unique area of Cornwall previously home to Cornwall’s China industry, and passes many top sights.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free | Up to 4 hours

Tea plantation on the Tregothnan Estate

Tea plantation on the Tregothnan Estate

Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)[14.4 miles]

Tea lovers should head to this, the only tea plantation in the UK. It produces a range of fine teas, grown using sustainable and organic methods, from classic black tea to innovative blends like Manuka and Cornish Earl Grey. You can book in for tours of the plantation and learn about the history of tea in the UK, before a tasting in the on-site tea bar.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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