Fowey is a port town in Cornwall and is located at the mouth of the River Fowey. This delightful little coastal town is jam-packed with sights and historical mysteries that will keep you entertained for hours. The town of Fowey is a great holiday location because it provides a Cornish coastal town’s tranquillity and stunning vistas. As well as a friendly community, great shops, restaurants, and services, it has easy access to surrounding towns and villages by public transport. Fowey is not simply a lovely town with winding alleyways and old streets surrounded by antique and Georgian architecture, it’s also surrounded by various coastal hiking trails, isolated coves, and old fishing villages worth visiting. So come on in and let’s explore the best things to do in Fowey.
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The name Fowey is pronounced “foy,” which rhymes with “joy.” Given the lovely sprinkling of colourful homes and meandering paths leading to idyllic seaside coves that’s actually a nice way to think of it. It seems to be the perfect setting: a beautiful harbour with brightly coloured boats. There’s lots to do here – there’s an aquarium, a museum, St Catherine’s Castle very close to town, multiple gardens to visit, stately homes, and other attractions for people of all ages only a few miles away. Of course, Fowey is widely recognized as being the birthplace of the famed novelist Daphne du Maurier. Every year in May, the town hosts the du Maurier Event, extensive art, and literary festival.
Where to stay in Fowey
Fowey has some lovely places to stay – and we’ve picked the best holiday cottages in Fowey, the nicest hotels and the most lovely B&B’s in our guide on places to stay in Fowey here – here are our top picks for Fowey Hotel and Fowey Holiday Cottage.
Portingales Cottage, Fowey
The stunning Portingales Cottage is located in the heart of Fowey town with seaside views from the house and garden. It is a perfect base for families, groups, and dog lovers.
This cottage has a lounge area with stunning, comfortable seating with a river view and a Smart TV with a standard BT package. It’s the perfect place to relax after exploring this beautiful village. The well-equipped kitchen provides an oven, hob, dishwasher, and all the necessities you need to cook up tasty home-cooked meals. The suite has a microwave and a Delonghi coffee machine, as well as access to the garden. Check prices of rooms at the Portingales Cottage here.
Portingales in Fowey features
- Off-road parking
- Broadband Wi-Fi
- TV with BT package
- Washing Machine
- Wood burner
- Garden / Patio
Key information about Portingales in Fowey
- 3 Bedrooms
- Sleeps 6
- 2 Bathrooms
- Pets are allowed
If you love spectacular elevated sea views from the house and garden, then book your stay at Portingales Cottage. Read more reviews of Portingales cottage here
Fowey Hall, Fowey
Fowey Hall Hotel is a luxurious and family-friendly hotel overlooking the port in Fowey. It is a 5-minute walk from the beach and has a beautiful spa retreat and kids’ facilities. There are also plenty of things to do nearby – Readymoney Cove is also just 5 minutes away. This luxury country-house hotel was an inspiration for Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows and the facilities here are second to none. There’s an indoor pool, play area, trampoline for the kids, and an onsite spa, the Four Bears Den has qualified nannies who will look after your children (under 8), while you’re relaxing in the Aquae Sulis Retreat. Check availability of the Fowey Hall hotel here.
The restaurant at the hotel specializes in seafood and is exquisite. Bedrooms here are furnished delightfully, and there’s also a lounge, free WiFi, free parking, and breakfast served in your room is also on offer.
- The Fowey Hall Hotel Address: Hanson Drive, Fowey, PL23 1ET, United Kingdom
- Is there parking at the Fowey Hall Hotel? Yes, it’s free. There is also an Electric vehicle charging station
- Is there a restaurant onsite at the Fowey Hall Hotel? – Yes
- Is there free Wi-Fi at the Fowey Hall Hotel? – Yes
- Is breakfast available at the Fowey Hall Hotel? Yes
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The Best Things to Do in Fowey
Walk the Esplanade in Fowey
The Esplanade is a tiny street high on the west edge of the Fowey Estuary with spectacular views of Readymoney Cove and St Catherine’s Castle. Since Fowey is a hilly town, it is a delightful walk; exploring all of the small lanes and alleyways feels like a great adventure. This road connects Readymoney Cove and Fowey and is lined with pastel-coloured terraced houses. You’ll find the Town Quay in the heart of Fowey, near the upper end of the Esplanade. It is home to various local attractions, including the Fowey Museum and Aquarium, and a pub and bar with terraces. The Town Quay also leads to Fore Street, Fowey’s main commercial street, lined with gift shops, bakeries specializing in Cornish pasties, restaurants, galleries, and tearooms.
Visit St Catherine’s Castle, Fowey
The construction of St Catherine’s Castle started in 1540 as part of a set of defences authorized by Henry the Eighth to protect Fowey Harbour against French invasion. The castle remained on constant duty for many years, guarding the town through the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, and the Second World War. The route to the castle can be a little tricky; you must hike up a route from Readymoney Cove. You can only get there by going up a somewhat difficult trail, but you’ll eventually reach a point where you can see sections of it. During the Crimean War in the nineteenth century, the fortress was repaired. The castle was also transformed into an anti-aircraft gun and ammunition storage station during World War II. The tower is two floors tall, with outside walls up to four feet six inches thick. Two rows of gunports cover both the port’s entrance and the harbour itself. Today the castle is managed by English Heritage and is free to enter. St Catherine’s Castle is one of our recommended castles to visit in Cornwall and you can read more about the others here.
Visit the Fowey Museum
The Fowey Museum is a tiny room crammed with a diverse collection of exhibits. It’s located in one of the town’s oldest structures, a 15th-century mansion with small lancet windows. The museum’s area is stuffed to the rafters with artefacts reflecting all facets of this port town’s rich and varied history and population. Some of the displays are updated each year to reflect local happenings and keep things interesting. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Go to the Fowey Aquarium
Many of the aquarium’s original tanks are still on display, even though it first opened its doors in 1952! Fresh seawater is pumped in at high tide once a day, with minimal filtration. As a result, keeping sufficient water cleanliness may be difficult at times. Still, the advantages of having a diversity of species that start as plankton in the ocean and mature in the aquarium outweigh the negatives. The Fowey Aquarium, located in a solemn 18th-century stone building on Town Quay, overlooks the estuary and is a small establishment that houses some of the species found in the seas off the coast of South Cornwall. Although the aquarium is small and the fish are crammed in, it still provides a great educational function. The Fowey Aquarium is open 7 days a week from 10:00 until 16:00 during the summer season – and other opening times can be found here. Admission fees are £5 for adults and £4 for children, there are family discount tickets available.
Take a River Cruise from Fowey
Fowey River & Sea Cruises is a cruise company based in the port that provides a range of cruises up the River Fowey and out along the Cornish coast for visitors who wish to experience the town’s shoreline. For £9, you can enjoy a 45-minute guided boat ride up the river, past the old home of 20th-century novelist Daphne du Maurier. You may also see the china clay docks, oyster farm, 15th-century blockhouses, and the lovely port entrance. Fowey River and Sea Cruises guarantee a high-quality boat excursion tailored to your exact requirements and enable you to thoroughly relax on the water. Trips start from the town quay and the first trip of the day is at 11 am.
Take the Ferry to Polruan across the river
The Polruan Ferry connects Fowey with Polruan, a historic fishing village with a boathouse that can be reached by car or ferry. Polruan is built on a steep hill and is a lovely place to meander and visit the various pubs and restaurants. The summer service from Fowey to Polruan starts on May 1st and runs until 30th September. The ferry continues running with a lesser timetable throughout the winter. Tickets are £2.70 for adults and £1.70 for children. You can see the full timetable here.
Go to Restormel Castle
Restormel Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Cornwall and the UK. (Our guide to Cornwall’s best castles is here, so you tell me, which is the best?) Built in the late 13th century, the existing round tower served as a magnificent sanctuary for its medieval owners and was visited twice by Edward, the Black Prince. Restormel Castle is the best surviving early-round castle in the world. Despite being in ruins, it is set on magnificent grounds with stunning views of the Fowey Estuary. The remains of the castle’s rooms now give a glimpse into the elegance of the building’s past prime. Large fireplaces, lofty windows, and the Great Hall, used for gatherings, all convey the impression of a once-abundant surrounding environment. As you scale the stone stairs leading from the courtyard, you will be rewarded for your efforts with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. The castle offers breathtaking views of the Fowey Valley. It is a favourite picnic spot, with gorgeous spring flowers and flora flowering all year. Restormel Castle usually closes over the winter and reopens on April 1st. It’s managed by English Heritage. You can join English Heritage here and access Restormel Castle (and many other properties) for free. Otherwise, entrance prices to Restormel Castle are £6.50 for adults and £3.90 for children.
Have a drink at the Ship Inn, Fowey’s Oldest Pub
Spend the night, or just a few hours, at The Ship Inn, Fowey’s oldest pub. It features a unique blend of dark beams and strange crooked angles and an enormous selection of local beers and gin specials behind the bar. When you enter The Ship Inn, you are entering one of Fowey’s most historic buildings. Everywhere you look, there are signs of John Rashleigh’s astounding life story; it’s a relic of his astonishing life narrative. According to English Heritage, even though it was legally built for John Rashleigh in 1570, the structure was likely used as a merchant’s dwelling before that, dating back to the 1400s. Only a few pubs in the region have kept so many of their original features. It’s a magnificent, historic structure with nooks and crannies and antique panelled rooms at every turn, and it’s developed through time into a haven where you can hide away or snuggle in for the duration.
Go to Readymoney Cove
Readymoney Cove is a sandy beach with crystal blue water located to the south of the port town of Fowey. Cliffs at the mouth of the River Fowey estuary protect it. It is bounded on one side by Fowey’s historic district and the other by St Catherine’s Castle, an English Heritage property. It is a lovely, family-friendly, sheltered cove that is excellent for swimming or participating in watersports. Swim in the river, explore the little rock pools or unwind with an ice cream cone from the superb beach shop. Bathing is somewhat safe inside the cove but not in the Fowey Estuary. However, you may face some water pollution after storms and heavy rain.
Visit Lantic Bay Beach
Lantic Bay is about an hour’s walk along the Southern Coast Path from Polruan. This is a National Trust-managed sanctuary beach that does not get a lot of tourists since it is not easily accessible. Most of it is sand when it comes to the beach, although some pebble and shell sections depend on where and when you go. The word “secret gem” is used to describe some of Cornwall’s more remote beaches, but if there is one beach that deserves to be labelled a “hidden gem,” it is Lantic Bay. This is not the kind of place you stumble across by accident; it is located on a lonely but beautiful stretch of coast between Fowey and Polperro. Lantic Bay contains two beaches, Little Lantic and Great Lantic, that are theoretically different. As the tide is low, the two coves are joined, but they form separate coves that cannot be crossed when the tide rises. Come on down, it’s lovely. And if you want to read more about some fabulous beaches in South Cornwall, then our guide is here.
Walk part of the South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path (SWCP) is England’s longest walking trail, stretching for 630 miles along the stunning coastline of southwest England (1,014 km). Given the almost endless succession of headlands that disappear and return as you cruise the coast, it’s no wonder that the SWCP has been voted one of the world’s most stunning walks by Lonely Planet. Lower cliffs and long golden beaches provide for easier walking on this section of the world-famous South West Coast Path, which is great for individuals who want to appreciate the stunning coastal scenery while lowering the physical demands of the journey. The hike follows a difficult portion of the coast route before arriving at the gorgeous white peninsula of Lantic Bay, which is well worth the effort. After a last rise from the coast, most of the walk is downhill, past Lanteglos Church, where Daphne Du Maurier was married.
Buy Some of Tarquin’s Gin in Fowey
Tarquin Leadbetter, Tarquin’s Gin’s Founder and Head Manufacturer, has a fascinating background to share with you. A classically trained chef from Paris’ elite Cordon Bleu finds himself behind a drab desk in the heart of London’s financial sector for some reason. He’s never distilled anything before, so his first task was to figure out how to accomplish it by trial and error. Over 100 different experimental gin batches were conceived. He experimented with various combinations and proportions, improving his thoughts and preferences as he went. Today, Tarquin’s Gin is nearing 10 years old, Proving perhaps that he got the recipe right. You can buy Tarquins Gin from their website, in their stores, on Amazon. And drop into the shop in Fowey too! Even take a tour of their Wadebridge distillery!
Eat Fowey Mussels at Haveners in Fowey
With its fantastic waterside views, Havener’s Restaurant in Fowey is a delightful place to eat. Its menu features fresh seafood, modernized pub classics, and satisfying meals. Fowey is perhaps best known for its mussels, harvested from the Fowey River itself and you can get these at Haveners. The restaurant is open to the public daily. Havener’s Bar and Grill is a relaxed eatery that serves freshly cooked meals from a menu that promotes the best of the region’s agriculture, especially seafood. Dine on a lively cuisine that features hearty pub fare and delicious daily specials. They also have some fabulous rooms and apartments if you’re looking at staying longer, but you’ll have to book early as they go quickly!
Visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Lost Gardens of Heligan were discovered 25 years ago in the middle of time’s tangles. And today, Heligan is still one of the most popular and beautiful gardens in the United Kingdom, admired for its beauty and mystery and the ground-breaking restoration project that took place there in the 1990s. I can still feel the wonder that I felt, the first time I walked around here. It is simply magnificent. Over 200 acres of land have been turned into a refuge for explorers, animal lovers, plant lovers, and garden romantics. Since Heligan is a garden that can be enjoyed all year round, whether you visit during the hazy bustle of mid-summer or the quiet of winter, you will have a memorable experience. And you must visit at different times of the year because it’s so incredible to see the gardens in their different growing season. Although nothing grows in a nature preserve in the dead of winter, you’ll still have a terrific time roaming the grounds and fueling your own sense of curiosity and inquiry. There are some truly magnificent gardens in Cornwall (our guide to the best of them is here), but Heligan, well put it on the top of your list!
Take the Fowey to Mevagissey Ferry
This is Cornwall’s favourite ferry journey. It goes across St Austell Bay from Fowey to Mevagissey and operates 7 days per week from 26 April until 3 October weather and operational circumstances permitting. It is a fabulous and friendly journey. There are three journeys a day and if you get on the first (1050 from Fowey), and return on the last from Mevagissey at 1600 you can have a wander around Mevagissey, lunch and get the ferry back. It’s also a great option for walking part of the South West Coast path here without having to take the bus! The Fowey-Mevagissey ferry takes about 40 minutes and fares are £10 one way for adults (£17 return), children are £7 one-way (£10 return) . Bikes are £10 and dogs, if they’re well behaved, go free. The full timetable is here.
If you’re planning on staying longer in Mevagissey our guide on what to do there is here.
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Final Words on the Best Things to do in Fowey
It’s good to spend your Cornish holiday in Fowey; not only can you gain a sense of the town’s historic streets during this time, but it’s also a terrific place to spend your Cornwall holiday. Alternatively, you may use it as a jumping-off point to explore the rest of the southeast Cornish coastline and countryside. The town of Fowey, like many other Cornish towns and villages, may become rather crowded in the summer. Still, it keeps its attraction even in the winter. Fowey is especially well-known for its aquarium, museum, and St Catherine’s Castle, all located right in town, and the abundance of gardens, stately mansions, and numerous different activities for people of all ages can be found only a few miles away. The town is particularly well-known as the birthplace of famed author Daphne du Maurier. Every year in May, the town holds the du Maurier Event, notable art and literary festival honouring her life and work.
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