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Harbours in Cornwall

Here’s our round up of some of the best harbours to visit in the county to really get a feel for Cornwall’s fishing livelihood and heritage.


On the south coast of Cornwall, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’) boasts a beautiful natural harbour, its sheltered deep water attracting up to 7000 visiting yachts each year as well as all other kinds of boats, from cruise liners to kayaks!

Fowey is a charming town with steep narrow streets, a great choice of shops, cafes and restaurants, and beautiful historic buildings. It was also formerly the home of Daphne du Maurier, lending strong literary links to the town.


Built in the 1700s, Charlestown harbour is Grade II listed and the only 18th Century Georgian harbour that is open in the UK. Still a vibrant working port, it is also known for the spectacular classic tall ships that dock there, with the location often used for filming, including Alice in Wonderland, The Three Musketeers, and Doctor Who. Visitors can also enjoy the pebbled beaches, shops, cafes and pubs. Image below: Visit Cornwall


A distinctive twin harbour on the south coast of Cornwall, Mevagissey welcomes many fishing boats landing their daily catch. As with many of these little harbour villages, Mevagissey is characterised by narrow streets descending into a steep valley. Discover more about the village in the museum, and enjoy a day out with the family at the aquarium or model railway.


The third largest deep-water harbour in the world, Falmouth is renowned as a sailing destination, and accommodates all kinds of boats from luxury yachts to tankers and even cruise liners which can safely dock in the deep waters. Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Falmouth has a long maritime history dating back to the days of the Packet ships. A fascinating day out: go to the Maritime Museum, visit one of the historic castles, take a ferry across the Fal, or browse the lovely independent shops on the high street.


Porthleven is the most southerly working port in the UK and is well known for its huge swells and waves that crash over the pier during storms. The harbour faces south west into the prevailing wind, and is a favourite with storm watchers! Set in a valley, there are cafes, shops and a pub from which to sit and enjoy the view.

St Ives

Renowned as an artist’s paradise with beautiful light, golden beaches and turquoise waters, St Ives attracts visitors all year round to browse the galleries, visit the shops and try the local seafood at a wide selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants. The picturesque harbour is located in the centre of the town and a small fishing fleet still works from there. Image below: Matt Jessop for Visit Cornwall

St Ives Visit Cornwall


A steep hill leads down to Newquay’s small harbour (pictured at top of the blog) where fishing boats return with daily catches. Boat trips offer visitors the chance to spot marine life and view Newquay’s stunning beaches from the water. Sit at the café by the small harbour beach to watch Cornish gig rowers head out for their practices, and look out for the harbour’s resident seal popping up to say hello!


A working fishing port, fishing vessels bring in daily catches to Padstow’s harbour, to sell to locals and visitors. Padstow is a popular visitor destination; the harbour is surrounded by lovely sandy beaches, the National Lobster Hatchery, interesting independent shops, and you’ll be spoilt for choice for food with numerous cafes, pubs and restaurants including the Rick Stein Fish Restaurant.

Port Isaac

One of the oldest harbours in Cornwall, Port Isaac was originally used to ship the local Delabole slate. After the advent of the railway it became a fishing port, and fishing (and boat trips) are still undertaken from this picturesque little village’s harbour, based at the bottom of narrow lanes lined with whitewashed cottages. However, Port Isaac is now most well-known as the fictional village of ‘Portwenn’ in the TV series Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes, and attracts many fans keen to visit the place where the programme was filmed.

Browse our properties here, to find your ideal holiday home from which to base yourself to visit some of these lovely Cornish harbour villages.

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