Have you explored any of the wonderful fishing villages in Cornwall? Fishing has always played a big part in Cornwall’s economy and culture, and it’s still a way of life for many Cornish people today. Fishing villages are far more than just quaint: they’re fascinating hives of industry, too. Postcard-perfect fishing villages such as Mousehole, Porthleven and Padstow are just some of the many places you will be able to explore. These Cornish harbour towns and villages have rich histories – and plenty of shops and restaurants for you to enjoy, too.
On a summer’s day, you’ll find kids crabbing from the piers, or (in safer spots) swimming around the boats. Stroll along the harbour arms, and watch the sun rise or set, or enjoy the bustle as the catch is unloaded from the fishing boats.
In the winter, find a cosy waterside pub (ideally with a real fire and fish pie on the menu) and watch the waves from a safe and warm distance. Whatever time of year you visit, make sure you take in a fishing village or two on your next holiday in Cornwall!
Mousehole is one of Cornwall's best-known and most-loved fishing villages. Its small harbour is encircled by old cottages and fish cellars, and the tiny sandy beach is a popular spot with local children. Explore Mousehole’s narrow little streets (by foot, not car), and try and sample some of the village’s legendary Star-gazy pie. Come here at Christmas for the village’s famous festive lights.
Porthleven is another wonderful fishing village, just west of Helston in Cornwall. Stroll around the harbour, enjoying the appetising smells from the many superb restaurants that have sprung up here over the last few years. It also has a great surfing beach, and you can pick up the coast path here to Loe Bar.
The port of Newlyn is the heart of the local fishing industry in Cornwall. As you’d imagine, it’s also the best place to pick up some fresh fish (make sure you arrive in the morning). Newlyn is between Penzance and Mousehole in the south west of Cornwall, and there are lovely (and flat) walks along the coast between the three places.
Padstow Harbour is always busy, with boats coming and going all day long. It's a great place to watch the fishermen at work, and you can catch a boat from the harbour to high-end Rock. Made famous by chef Rick Stein, Padstow is one of the places to come if you love seafood. His fish and chip shop is also fantastic. Eat them by the harbour, with plenty of vinegar and using a wooden fork (watch out for the gulls…)
Mevagissey is close to the Cornwall Hotel and Spa, and you can even walk to this pretty port along the coast path from Porthpean. Again, there are plenty of places to enjoy the freshest seafood. Explore the shops and galleries in the little winding streets, or take a boat trip across to Fowey. We recommend Meva to all our guests: we’re so lucky to have such a lovely fishing village right on our doorstep.
Favourite film location Charlestown is an especially lovely harbour, and you might recognise it from BBC’s adaptation of Poldark (it played the part of the port of Truro, which no longer exists in real life). The unspoiled streets, old buildings and harbour make the perfect backdrop for period dramas. Hopefully, there’ll be a tall ship or two in the harbour during your visit…
7) Port Isaac
Here’s another famous location. Bustling Port Isaac is best-known as Port Wenn in ITV’s Doc Martin. This has helped to make it a popular visitor destination, although it’s lovely enough in its own right. Like all these Cornish harbours, Port Isaac has winding little streets and charming old cottages (and very inviting pubs). It’s also the home of the Fisherman’s Friends, the famous Cornish sea shanty group.
Located on Cornwall's Lizard Peninsula, Cadgwith is a picturesque fishing village that was once the haunt of smugglers. The pretty village is in the middle of some very dramatic coastline: look out for the Devil’s Frying Pan… There are also lovely beaches on this stretch of the Lizard, with white sand and crystal-clear waters.
Cove Across the Lizard from Cadgwith is Mullion Cove. This old harbour is actually a short walk or drive from the village of Mullion, and was originally the site of the local pilchard industry. Today, it’s a small and peaceful place, and one of the most evocative of the old harbours in Cornwall. Head back into the village for a cosy pub lunch after a refreshing walk on the cliffs near the harbour.