Rising out of Mount's Bay just off the coast, this spectacular granite-and-slate island is one of Cornwall's greatest natural attractions. The 14th-century castle perched at the highest point—200 feet above the sea—was built on the site of a Benedictine chapel founded by Edward the Confessor. In its time, the island has served as a church (Brittany's island abbey of Mont St. Michel was an inspiration), a fortress, and a private residence. The castle rooms you can tour include the Chevy Chase Room—a name probably associated with the Cheviot Hills or the French word chevaux (horses), after the hunting frieze that decorates the walls of this former monks' refectory. Family portraits include works by Reynolds and Gainsborough. Don't miss the wonderful views from the castle battlements. Around the base of the rock are buildings from medieval to Victorian times, but they appear harmonious. Fascinating gardens surround the Mount, and many kinds of plants flourish in its microclimate.
get to the island, walk the cobbled causeway from the village of Marazion or, when the tide is in during summer, take the £2 ferry. There are pubs and restaurants in the village, but the island also has a café and restaurant. Wear stout shoes for your visit, which requires a steep climb. Visits may be canceled in severe weather.