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
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.
9) Mullion 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
This is just a selection of Cornwall’s fishing villages and towns. Honourable mentions should
also go to Sennen Cove, the old harbour at Hayle, and the Scillonian dock in Penzance. Then
of course, there are the fishing villages on the Scillies themselves…
If you want to see just how varied our Cornish harbours are, spend a day in Falmouth, where
you’ll encounter everything from luxury yachts to Naval battleships. Take a trip up the tower in
the National Maritime Museum to look out across the harbour and the huge Falmouth docks.
Whatever time of year you visit Cornwall, exploring the fascinating fishing villages is one of the
best ways to spend a day.