15 Best Things To Do in Polperro, England

Steve Rohan Author Bio

Polperro is a gorgeous fishing village on Cornwall’s scenic south coast. There are lots of wonderful things to do in Polperro such as relaxing at the beach and discovering the village’s connection to smuggling and exploring beautiful coastal walks, galleries, and some great pubs and restaurants.

I’ve been visiting Cornwall yearly since childhood and Polperro is one of my favorite spots to get away from it all. The village sees fewer tourists than the likes of Newquay and other large resorts, so if you’re looking to unwind surrounded by some of the UK’s finest scenery, then Polperro is a great choice.

Some of the top places to visit in Polperro include its many unique museums, galleries, parks, and gardens, as well as its bays, coves, and stunning coastline. As Polperro is still a working fishing village, this is also a great place to indulge in some of Cornwall’s finest seafood.

Best Things To Do in Polperro, Cornwall

Below, you’ll find a large assortment of things to do in Polperro, Cornwall from coastal walks and museums to art galleries, pubs, and more.

1. Take the Harbor and Headlands Walk

One of the best things to do in Polperro for first-time visitors is to take the Harbor and Headlands walk to orientate yourself and get a feel for the village and its stunning surroundings. You’ll get to explore the village’s narrow streets and fisherman’s cottages as well as the dramatic clifftop paths.

This 3-mile figure-of-eight walk is one of the best things to do in Polperro with dogs and those wanting to get a little exercise while taking in the many sights along the way such as the harbor, Polperro beach, and the Grade II listed Roman Bridge.

The beautiful coastal view of Polperro, Cornwall.

This is one of my favorite walks in Polperro as it allows you to take in so many sights and covers most of the village’s most scenic parts. The walk is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness, but be aware that there are some sections of cliff without fencing; keep youngsters and dogs close by.

2. Visit the Polperro Heritage Museum of Fishing and Smuggling

Polperro has a long association with the ocean and has relied on fishing for centuries. During the 18th and 19th Centuries, the village was also a haven for smugglers looking to make a little extra money away from the taxman.

The intriguing Heritage Museum of Fishing and Smuggling is a great place to learn about Polperro’s colorful past through a series of interesting photographs and exhibits. The museum is housed in an old pilchard factory right on the harbor.

The museum, which is one of the best Polperro attractions, is open daily from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm and costs £3.00 for adults (children under 16 go free). There’s also an adjoining tea room, the Mawdsley’s Room, where you can feast on a Cornish cream tea or locally made ice cream.

3. Relax at Polperro Beach

Polperro has a small beach just outside the harbor walls. The beach is perfect for paddling, swimming, and sunbathing and is great for families as it’s quite sheltered (though there are no lifeguards so you need to be vigilant with children).

The beach can only be accessed at low tide as it’s completely covered at high tide.

Polperro harbour at sunset.

Polperro’s beach is certainly fun to spend a few hours at, but if you’re looking for sweeping, sandy beaches and surf spots, then you’ll want to head to the north Cornish coast to somewhere like Newquay which is an hour’s drive away.

4. Enjoy a Pint and a Bite at the Noughts and Crosses

The rustic Noughts and Crosses Inn is a homely pub next to the harbor that occupies a 16th-century bakery, making it one of the oldest buildings in the village. This charming pub has a wide selection of Cornish beers, ciders, and wines and also has an excellent restaurant serving the freshest local produce from the land and sea.

This is one of my favorite places to visit in Polperro as the outside decking area offers stunning views of the village and harbor. The pub also serves a selection of street food, including vegan options, that can be bought to take away and enjoy on the harbor or beach.

Spending an afternoon in the pub is one of the best things to do in Polperro in the rain, so if the weather turns, you can wait out the pour down in this cozy village pub.

5. Visit Polperro Model Village and Land of Legend

I have many happy childhood memories of visiting the famous Model Village; a scaled miniature version of Polperro that’s now over 60 years old. The Land of Legend is an inside puppet and animation show that tells the history of the village, its myths, legends, and tales of smugglers.

This great Polperro attraction also includes a model railway and makes for a great family day out. Open Sunday to Friday 10:30 am to 5:00 pm (closed Saturdays).

An alley in Model Village in Polperro

Tickets cost £3.00 for adults and £2.00 for children.

6. Take a Dusk Walking Tour of Nearby Fowey

Fowey is a small port town at the mouth of the Fowey Estuary and is located 7 miles along the coast. Exploring Fowey is one of the best things to do near Polperro and this guided evening walking tour is the perfect way to explore this charming fishing town.

You’ll discover the town’s history, architecture, and literary connections with a local during this pleasant 90-minute stroll around the area.

After you’ve worked up an appetite you can stay for dinner at one of Fowey’s many restaurants such as Appleton’s Bar and Restuarant which specializes in local seafood.

7. Coffee, Cake, Create

Spending an afternoon or evening in the quirky coffee shop and arts space Coffee Cake Create is the perfect way to indulge in some great coffee while getting creative (another great thing to do in Polperro in the rain).

There are regular weekly workshops teaching everything from life drawing to wave painting and lino printing. Check the website to see what’s on during your stay and to book.

cornish coffee

Open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Sunday to Thursday and 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Friday and Saturday (some classes last until 9:00 pm).

8. Take a Boat Trip

One of the great things to do around Polperro Cornwall is to take a boat trip out from the harbor. There are various trips available from Easter until November (weather permitting of course).

Getting out on the water is one of my favorite things to do in Cornwall and the coast around Polperro is perfect for this.

You can take a thirty-minute pleasure trip around the harbor and headland – a unique experience in Polperro – and even take a boat to the nearby town of Looe (see below).

Prices are £8.00 for the pleasure trip and £12.00 for the one-way to Looe. Check the website for times (which work around the tides).

9. Take a Trip to Nearby Looe

Looe is a town a few miles to the east and is one of the best places near Polperro for shopping. It offers visitors a wide variety of restaurants, pubs, and bars.

The town is full of interesting shops selling a variety of arts, crafts, and fresh local produce such as the Purely Cornish Farm Shop and Deli.

A trip to nearby Looe

There are plenty of attractions in Looe from the old jail to East Looe beach. One of the best days out from Polperro is to walk to Looe and then take the boat back (or vice versa).

10. Browse the Artworks at the Ebeneezer Gallery

The Ebeneezer Gallery hosts pieces from the artists of the East Cornwall Society of Artists. The gallery is housed in an old chapel and runs year-round exhibitions, as well as having a shop with artworks for sale.

Inside you’ll find artworks by over 100 local artists on display in a variety of styles and mediums. There are monthly workshops teaching different techniques. Check the website to see what’s currently going on at the gallery.

Open daily from 11:0am to 4:00 pm and without charge to enter, this is a great free thing to do in Polperro.

11. Visit the Ruins at Restormel Castle

The ruins at Restormel Castle are one of the best places to visit near Polperro and they offer fantastic clifftop views of the surrounding coastline. There’s also an outdoor theatre that runs performances throughout the summer.

The castle is famed for its perfectly round walls and is one of four Norman castles in Cornwall (another of which is located at Tintagel).

Ruins at Restormel Castle near Lostwithiel in a clear blue sky.

The castle is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and entrance costs £6.60 for adults and £4.00 for children.

12. See Willy Willcox’s Cave

At the end of Polperro beach is a large cave beneath the cliffs. In a house above that cave lived a man named William Willcox who was rumored to have been involved in smuggling in the 18th Century, and supposedly used the cave as the perfect place to hide his contraband.

It’s thought that Wilcox had dug a secret tunnel connecting his cottage to the cave so he could transport his ill-gotten goods with nary an eye to see. Willy Willcox’s Cave is definitely one of the top sights in Polperro for those interested in the village’s links with smuggling.

13. Discover Enchanting Talland Bay

Talland Bay is a small village halfway between Polperro and Looe which has a lovely, sandy beach that’s accessible at both high and low tides.

Here, you’ll find lots of natural coves and rock pools where you can look for interesting marine life like crabs and starfish.

An aerial view of Talland Bay.

It’s an easy yet scenic 3.7-mile walk from Polperro to Talland Bay taking in winding country roads, footpaths, and cliff paths.

14. Visit The Eden Project

The Eden Project is one of the biggest and most famous attractions near Polperro. At the Eden Project, you can walk through tropical rainforests and other climate zones spread throughout large biodomes. It’s a 40-minute drive from Polperro.

This must-see Cornwall attraction is open daily from 9:15 am to 6:00 pm and tickets cost £32.50 for adults and £11.00 for children. You can book tickets online via the official website.

15. Take a Day Trip to Padstow

Padstow is another of my favorite places in Cornwall thanks to its picturesque harbor, great pubs, and some of the best restaurants in Cornwall (and perhaps the entire UK).

The town sits on the beautiful Camel Estuary opposite Daymer Bay and Rock and is one of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall.

The stunning Padstow Bay, Cornwall.

It’s just 39 miles from Polperro to Padstow and the drive takes around an hour through some of Cornwall’s most charming scenery.

Quick Travel Itineraries For Polperro

Polperro is a small village so all the major tourist attractions can be seen within a day or two. However, this charming fishing village is a great place to spend longer as there are some wonderful nearby beaches and other attractions. Below you’ll find a selection of itineraries to help you plan your trip.

1 Day in Polperro Itinerary

With just one day in Polperro walk the harbor and headlands route in the morning to discover all this picturesque fishing village has to offer. For lunch, head to the Crumplehorn Inn (I recommend their fish finger burger).

In the afternoon take a boat trip around the harbor and stop in Coffee Cake and Create for exactly that – coffee and cake. Have a wander around the Heritage Museum before heading to Noughts and Crosses for dinner and a pint.

2-3 Days in Polperro Itinerary

Follow the itinerary for one day and on your second-day visit the Model Village and Land of Legend. After a day full of smuggler tales, treat your taste buds by having dinner at Michelle’s Restaurant. On your third day, walk to Looe and return by boat to Polperro in time for dinner at the Three Pilchards.

1 Week in Polperro Itinerary

With one week in Polperro, you can afford to explore some of the attractions a little further afield. Spend a day at the Eden Project and another to discover the nearby village of Fowey and the ruins of Restormel Castle.

Other days can be spent hiking sections of the southwest coast path (east or west, both have plenty of great places to stop along the way).

Be sure to visit Padstow for a day trip, one of Cornwall’s most picturesque fishing towns that’s large enough to spend a day exploring and visiting top eateries like Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant or the Michellin Starred Paul Ainsworth at Number 6.

Where to Stay in Polperro

As Polperro is a small village, wherever you stay will be within a short walk of the harbor, beach, coastline, shops, and restaurants.

The fishing port of Polperro, Cornwall.

The Lobster Pot – Best for First-time Visitors

If you want to experience the feeling of the ocean while staying in Polperro then the Lobster Pot is a fantastic option. This cozy, yet stylish apartment is just a few steps from the harbor and coast path.

The property sleeps up to four, so is a great option for small families or groups of friends. There’s a fully equipped kitchen and diner with a table and seating for four. Click here to find out more.

Luxury Coastal Bolthole – Best for Couples

This one-bedroom single-story cottage is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. It’s just a five-minute walk to the beach, harbor, pubs, and restaurants of Polperro.

The property comes with its own private parking space, a log burner for cozy winter evenings, and a barbecue for summer lunches and dinners. Click here to learn more about this charming cottage.

Island House – Best for Families

This three-bedroom, two-bathroom property is perfect for larger families (you can even bring your dog) and is situated in an iconic position right on the harbor in the heart of Polperro.

The property is a Grade II listed building that dates back to the 16th Century but is fitted with all mod-cons for the perfect family holiday, including a well-equipped kitchen. Click here to check the price.

Best Restaurants in Polperro

Don’t miss these great places to eat in Polperro.

homemade beer battered fish fry with coleslaw and chips

Michelle’s Restaurant

At Michelle’s, you’ll find the best of British with a menu heavy on Cornish seafood and local farm produce. The shellfish such as prawn, crab, and lobster are specialties and are all served with friendly and warm service just a stone’s throw from the harbor.

The Three Pilchards

The Three Pilchards is a dog-friendly pub and restaurant in the heart of Polperro. It has a great selection of locally brewed beers, wines, and ciders and an exciting menu with fresh seafood and British pub classics (try the crab bisque for a real Cornish treat).

The Crumplehorn Inn

The Crumplehorn is situated in an 18th Century mill house that’s a Grade II listed building (you can still see the mill’s water wheel). The menu includes a great selection of pub classics and contemporary European dishes (my favorite is the fish finger burger with homemade fish fingers in beer batter).

Getting To Polperro

Newquay is the closest international Airport to Polperro just 33 miles away. There are direct flights to cities around the UK and a handful of destinations in mainland Europe such as Dusseldorf, Faro, and Zurich.

Polperro is easily reachable from London and the rest of Britain by road. Driving is the best option as to get the best out of Cornwall you’ll want your own transport. However, it is possible to reach Polperro by public transport with a little bit of work.

There are direct trains from London to Bodmin, from where you can take the 171 or 482 bus for the final 20 miles (though the services are not frequent).

Getting around Polperro is easy as everything is reachable on foot. Getting to nearby towns and villages is also possible without transport along the coast path. For traveling further afield you’ll want to hire a car as public transport to and from Cornwall’s small villages is not extensive (and sometimes non-existent).

Things To Do in Polperro: FAQs

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Polperro.

What is Polperro known for?

Polperro is known as one of the prettiest villages in the whole of the UK. It’s famous for its small harbor and tales of 18th Century smugglers.

When is the best time to visit Polperro?

Summer (June to August) is the best time to visit Polperro to make the most of the beaches, castles, and clifftop walks. Many of the best restaurants also close in the village for the winter period, and the coast can be affected by storms from October to March.

Is Polperro worth visiting?

Polperro is definitely worth visiting as it is one of the most picturesque fishing villages in Britain. There’s plenty to see and do, and some great pubs, restaurants, and cafes to try out. The village also has a thriving art scene that is worth checking.

Which is better Polperro or Looe?

Polperro is a lot more picturesque than Looe and definitely more worthy of your Instagram reel.

Can you drive in Polperro?

There’s restricted access for locals only in parts of the village and no parking spaces. The main car park lies at the top of the hill above the harbor.

What shops are in Polperro?

Polperro has an assortment of independent shops selling everything from gifts to candy and local produce. There is also a small supermarket, newsagent, and bakery selling the basics for self-catering vacations.

In Closing

Now you know what to do in Polperro, one of Cornwall’s most charming seaside villages. From enjoying a drink at the local pub to learning the stories of smugglers (and seeing a real smuggler’s cave), there’s so much to see and do in Polperro.

This is one of my favorite places to visit in Cornwall to escape for a few days and I shall be returning before long.

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Steve Rohan Author Bio

Written by

Steve Rohan

Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. In 2015 he moved to China to teach English where he lived for over six years. He has lived and taught in the cities of Harbin, Luoyang, Sanya, and spent a few months in Hong Kong, before returning to England in 2022. He has visited over 60 countries to date and usually opts for overland travel (yes, even between the UK and China). Steve has travelled extensively across China, and Central Asia. Having lived much of his life within a 50-mile radius of London, the city is his second home and he knows it like the back of his hand.

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