If you are heading down to Porthleven in West Cornwall this year you will certainly not be short of things to see and do. Porthleven attracts thousands of visitors from both the U.K. and internationally every year and for good reason. The location of Porthleven is perfect for exploring West Cornwall and the food, drink and entertainment options within the town itself are extremely good which keeps people happy, entertained and returning year after year.
Here’s our list of the 10 best things to see and do in and around Porthleven.
1. Explore Porthleven Harbour
Distance: 0 miles
Travel time: 0 minutes
Porthleven Harbour will be the hub of your stay in Porthleven. Being a small fishing town everything is centred around the harbour which includes the local shops, art galleries, pubs and restaurants.
Aside from the commercial elements the harbour is a great place to explore. During low tide you’ll find the boats all grounded in the sand whereas during high tide you can not only expect to see the boats fully afloat but the local children (and some adults!) will be flinging themselves from the harbour walls into the sea! Having stepped into the sea for a paddle I’m not entirely sure how they cope with the ice cold water but it certainly makes for a great spectacle!
The focal point of the harbour is of course the church and jetty that goes out into the sea. Here you’ll find people sea fishing off the end and during high tide, particularly if it is stormy, an incredible display of waves smashing into the sea wall and over the church. Just be sure to bring a good raincoat and stay safe!
Walk The Porthleven Trail
A walk around the harbour during the day is really relaxing and will allow you to discover the history of the town. There is the “Porthleven Trail” to explore which showcases many of the local buildings in the harbour and their historic uses. Keep an eye out for the various wall plaques to inform you of each buildings use.
Wine & dine in the top restaurants
The harbour is the primary location of the restaurants in the town so during your walk around the harbour be sure to take a look at the menus that you pass.
The fish is of course incredibly fresh, straight off the boats so make the most of the location. Our tip is to make a booking at The Square and Amelie’s where the food is superb! Also be sure to head to the Twisted Current for a cream tea.
Finally during your walk around the harbour head to the local fudge vendor – at £4 for a mixed bag of fudge you won’t be disappointed!
2. Relax on Porthleven Beach
Distance: 0.1 miles
Travel time: 5 minutes (walking)
Located east of Porthleven just beyond the church you will find the golden sands of Porthleven beach which is extremely clean. The beach is long and wide so there’s plenty of space to find a private spot. It is also just a stone’s throw from the the town which makes it a great place to head to either for the day with family or for a stroll or paddle with your partner or favourite pet!
Although the beach here isn’t lined with food and drink stands or restaurants you can easily drop back into town for a bite to eat or to grab an ice cream so you can easily plan to spend a day here.
3. Walk around The Loe
Distance: 1.6 miles
Travel time: 30 minutes (walking)
The Loe is Cornwall’s largest freshwater lake and is located to the east of Porthleven.
Taking the South West Coast Path east of Porthleven on foot you can reach the Loe after 1.6 miles which will take around 30 minutes. This walking route will take you along the coastal path offering beautiful views of the sea, beaches and coves below so is well worth the effort of some occasionally tiring terrain over driving there.
The first thing you will reach is the the Loe bar which is the bank of sand between the sea and the lake. The beach here is beautiful and very large so is a great place to take a stroll. Be warned however that the currents here are strong and so there are warning signs informing you not to enter the water.
From the Loe bar you can commence your walk around the Loe itself. The Loe has a path running around the edge of it and is extremely easy gong under foot. This allows you to spend the morning or afternoon taking a relaxing walk through the beautiful, natural landscape.
Depending on your fitness levels/choice of gentle stroll vs brisk walk, heading out from Porthleven on foot to walk around the Loe will take you around 1.5 to 2 hours on a round trip.
4. Visit Trewavas Copper Mine
Distance: 3.1 miles
Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes (walking)
Located west of Porthleven towards Praa Sands the Trewavas Mine is accessible via the South West Coast Path. The walk is around 3.1 miles from Porthleven which takes around 1 and a half hours to reach so if you setting off be prepared for a good 6 mile trek and 3 hours on a round trip.
The route to the Trewavas Mine leaves Porthleven up the hill past the old lifeboat station and runs along the cliff top offering some incredible views of the southern coastline. The terrain on this walk is however very hilly and very steep in places with styles and stepped brick walls to climb over so be sure to wear some good sturdy walking boots and bring walking poles if possible to help you.
This is a beautiful coastal walk however as a 30 year old, doing this route was pretty hard going at times, especially just before you reach the mine. Make sure you are prepared for this walk and have plenty of water and snacks packed to keep your energy levels high.
5. Climb St Michael’s Mount
Distance: 8.9 miles
Travel time: 19 minutes (driving)
St Michael’s Mount is a small island located just off the shore from Marazion to the west of Porthleven. It is home to around 30 people and contains some houses, a harbour and cafes and tourist information.
The main attraction at the mount is the castle and chapel. Tickets to access these can be obtained from the information kiosk which is in front of you in the harbour when you arrive on the island.
Tickets in hand you will need to walk up some quite steep and uneven steps which will lead you to the castle. Once at the top you can explore some beautiful views and explore the home of the St Aubyn family where you’ll see an armoury, library, chapel, dining room and more.
Connected by a man-made causeway, St Michael’s Mount is accessible by foot during low tide (or you can walk across the sand) and offers a return ferry during high tide for a small fee.
St Michael’s Mount is easily accessible and certainly well worth a visit.
6. Visit The Lizard / Lizard Point
Distance: 14 miles
Travel time: 28 minutes (driving)
The Lizard is located around 14 miles to the east of Porthleven which will take you around half an hour to reach by car. The Lizard is a beautiful area that encompasses small villages and a lot of open space allowing for some great scenic walks and places to explore.
To the south of the Lizard at the coast you will find Lizard Point which is the most southern place in the UK. Lizard Point offers scenic coastal views, a working lighthouse which you can visit, some shops, a cafe and an historic lifeboat house which you can walk down a path to see.
Lizard Point is a great place to visit on a clear day and if you follow the acorn trail around the lighthouse you will really be able to appreciate the beauty that our coast offers. Note however that much of the coastal walk has no barriers and some very steep cliff edges so be careful if you are bringing young children.
7. Enjoy the beauty of Kynance Cove
Distance: 14 miles
Travel time: 30 minutes (driving)
Kynance Cove is located 14 miles from Porthleven and will take you around 30 minutes to reach by car.
It is an incredibly beautiful location that will leave you wondering whether you are really in the UK or if you have somehow been transported to an exotic beach location around the world.
Kynance Cove is so special due to its combination of golden sands, crystal clear turquoise waters and the rock formations that are scattered across the beach. There is a cafe and toilet facilities here too so you can really make a day of your visit if the weather is good. We recently visited the cove on a very overcast day and although no sunbathing was possible it was still a great experience just wandering around the beach and exploring the area so certainly don’t let the weather put you off.
It takes around 10 minutes to reach on foot from the car park (£5 cash only) but it is an easy walk down. The return trip back up to the car park is however a little steep so may be challenging for some!
During high season just be prepared for the cove to be busy, you don’t get this level of beauty all to yourself!
8. Explore the narrow streets of St Ives
Distance: 16 miles
Travel time: 45 minutes (30 minutes driving / 15 minutes train from Lelant Saltings)
St Ives is a beautiful fishing town located around a half hour drive from Porthleven. With narrow cobbled streets and plenty of art, antique, gift, chocolate, pasty and fudge shops it packs plenty of charm.
The sandy beaches here are very large with one on either side of the St Ives peninsula. Taking a long stroll along the beach is really relaxing and will offer you some great views back to the town.
Grab yourself some fish and chips and sit around the harbour enjoying the sight of the boats and smell of the sea. Just keep an eye out for the seagulls who are more than happy to help you finish your lunch!
It can get very busy in St Ives and parking is extremely limited so I would advise using the park and ride train service from Lelant Saltings.
9. Enjoy stunning coastal views at Land’s End
Distance: 22 miles
Travel time: 45 minutes (driving)
Land’s End needs very little introduction. It is the UK mainland’s most south westerly point and a landmark destination within Cornwall. It’s one of those places that you simply cannot miss out on visiting.
Located around 22 miles from Porthleven it will take you around 45 minutes to reach Land’s End by car. On arrival you will need to pay a small parking fee of around £5 (cash) and then you can freely explore the area.
Where historically Land’s End was a very unspoilt landscape times have changed and there is now a a cafe, a shop, some amusements, a small 3D cinema experience and a farm with plenty of animals to see making it a great destination to bring the family. If you are planning to take a photo next to the familiar Land’s End sign this is chargeable however you can still grab a snap or selfie of it for free.
You can bypass all of the tourist facilities of course and head straight to the clifftop where you’ll be able to enjoy incredible views of the British coastline. You can then walk the coastal path around Land’s End but be careful as there are no barriers along the majority of the route so keep an eye on children and dogs.
Being so close to Porthleven don’t miss out on visiting this iconic British landmark!
10. Learn about regeneration at the Eden Project
Distance: 38 miles
Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes (driving)
The Eden Project has been around for many years now however being down in the foot of Cornwall it’s not somewhere that many British people have visited.
Heading to the Eden Project is a bit of a commitment from Porthleven as it is 38 miles away which takes around 1 hour 20 minutes to reach by car. At the site it takes around 3 hours to fully explore and appreciate so you’ll definitely need to set aside an entire day of your Cornwall visit to allow for this trip.
The Eden Project aimed to bring people together to build something from nothing and regenerate an area; this led to what you see today with what used to be an old quarry now thriving with life.
At the Eden Project there are two biomes to explore which house tropical plant life and mediterranean plant life. There is also an outdoor garden, an education centre which is great for children to learn about the formation of life and plenty of restaurants and cafes to grab a bite to eat.
Entry to the Eden Project doesn’t come cheap however it is a very enjoyable and very educational day out which we highly recommend for both adults and families alike.
So that’s it, our top 10 list of things to do in and around Porthleven! This is of course just a small selection of our favourites and there are many many more options available!
Are you planning to visit Porthleven this year or do you have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments!