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Best Cornwall Fishing Villages and Harbours

Updated on September 12, 2014

Cornish Harbours and Fishing Villages

Cornwall is famous for its fishing villages and harbours. Despite being some of Europe's most popular holiday destinations, they have remained largely unspoiled. If you want to visit a spectacular coast which is free from high-rise hotels, six-lane highways, shopping malls and apartment complexes, head to Cornwall.

Fowey
Fowey

Fowey

Handsome harbour with literary connections on the Fowey River

Highs

Sit outside a historic pub on town quay and watch people messing about in boats on the Fowey River

Take a river-boat trip up the beautiful wooded river valley of the Fowey Estuary and follow in the steps of Wind in the Willows author, Kenneth Grahame

Visit the Daphne du Maurier Literary Centre and find out how the local area inspired her novels

Take the Ferry to the picturesque port Mevagissey and look out for dolphins on the way

Wander around Georgian streets lined with boutique shops, cafés and art galleries

Take the car or foot ferry across the River to Boddinick where Daphne du Maurier once lived or to the exquisite mini-port of Polruan

Lows

There's really no public parking right in the town centre, so you have to park at the top of the hill and walk down, which takes about five minutes - more on the way back.

Charlestown
Charlestown

Charlestown

Handsome georgian port with turquoise waters, tall ships and a waterside pub.

Highs

Visit Charlestown Shipwreck Centre and see the Mary Rose and other wrecked ships brought to life

See 18th century square riggers ships in the harbour

Stop for lunch at the Harbourside Inn

Walk along the coast path to nearby DuPorth Beach for a swim

Low

This is quite small harbour aound it doesn't take very long to walk around it

Newlyn
Newlyn

Newlyn

Busy Cornish fishing harbour with an impressive artistic heritage

Highs

Visit Newlyn Art Gallery and find out all about the the Newlyn School, a colony of artists working in Newlyn from the 1880s

See an authentic working Cornish harbour and the UK's largest fishing fleet at work

Buy the freshest fish you're ever likely to taste

Join in the annual Newlyn Fish Festival

Walk through a maze of ancient alleyways

Lows

Pleasure craft can be catered for in the harbour but facilities are limited and the fishing boats always take priority

Mevagissey
Mevagissey

Mevagissey

Pretty low-key harbour tucked away on the Roseland Peninsula.

Highs

Stroll around a lovely working harbour ringed with pubs and restaurants. Head to the end of the breakwater for the best views

Take to Ferry to Fowey in summer

Visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan just outside the village

Explore the South West Coast Path, where'll you find secret beaches and jewel-like bays

Lows

Mevagissey is a bit quiet in January and February, when many of the shops shut

In August the village can get gridlocked as streets through the town are single lane and very narrow - best to leave the car in car park on the way in

Lows

Polruan

Jewel-like miniature fishing port across the water from the equally gorgeous Fowey.

Highs

Eating and drinking at the waterside Lugger Inn

Swimming on the tiny harbour beach.

Watch the magical lantern festival in August, part of the summer carnival

Getting the foot ferry (really a small boat) across the Fowey Estuary on a summer evening

Lows

Quite difficult to get to from Fowey by car f you coming from the West. The quickest way is to get the car ferry from Fowey to Boddinick. Alternatively, take the foot ferry from Fowey.

Padstow
Padstow

Padstow

Gourmet-fish-and-chip capital of the world, Padstow also has great beaches, and a lively year-round buzz.

Highs

Explore vast sandy beaches where the Camel Estuary meets the sea

Stroll around the pretty harbour with its one-off shops and art galleries

Try arguably the best fish and chips in Cornwall

St Mawes

Arty light-flooded harbour popular with yachties and painters.

Highs

St Mawes is at the end of a peninsula, so it has the sea on three sides - views are stunning.

It's one of the sunniest places in Cornwall and sheltered too.

It has two beaches, Tavern Beach, in the town, and Summer Beach, just outside. Summer Beach is biggest and best.

Scenic Ferries, and boat trips are many. Choose from a chip-fat powered boat to Place, a ferry to Falmouth, and a scenic cruise up Carrick Roads and the Truro River to Truro.

Lows

There's not much to to the town centre - It doesn't take that long to walk around and see everything.

You might feel a bit hemmed in if you don't have a car, as there's quite a long walk to get to the footpaths.

It's quite difficult to get to by car, and once there you have to double back along the same road to get out. It's probably best to visit by there by Ferry

St Ives Cornwall
St Ives Cornwall

St Ives

Frequently voted the UK's best seaside town, St Ives has come into its own in the last ten years. It now has a lively year-round season.

Highs

Visit the Tate St Ives, one of Britain's best art galleries and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

St Ives has a beach for every day of the week. Swim in the shalllow sheltered waters of Harbour Beach; surf in the wild Atlantic at Porthmeor Beach; sunbathe, play golf swim and eat with the family at an award-winning restaurant at Porthminster Beach; take the dogs for a swim at the dog-friendly Bamaluz Beach; and catch the early morning sun at Porthgwidden Beach.

Choose from dozens of eateries, from a pub on the beach to a gourmet burger bar.

Visit in February and escape freezing weather elsewhere in UK

Take a boat trip to seal island down the coast.

Lows

St Ives can get crowded in summer, and parking is always a bit of challenge. Try taking the train instead. The branch line from St Erth is one of the UK's most beautiful train journeys.

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