The harbour town of Padstow, in North Cornwall, is now a visitor’s mecca of specific interest to foodies and those looking for the wild beaches of North Cornwall. This lively Cornish town once a mix of fisherman’s huts and merchant’s buildings is centred around the picturesque harbour. As pilchard fishing decreased over the years, Padstow successfully established itself as one of Cornwall’s most popular holiday areas and our guide to Padstow will show you the best of what there is to see in Padstow. The success that this North Cornish town had in attracting visitors could be down to several factors, but there’s no doubting that a particular famous chef helped put Padstow firmly on the list of places to visit. There is, however more to do in Padstow than eat, and here are our best things to do in Padstow.
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS. MORE INFORMATION IN OUR DISCLAIMER
Where to Stay in Padstow
This is a great place to stay on the North Cornwall Coast, and our guide of the best places to stay in Padstow is here, but our favourite places to stay in Padstow are here – here’s our top hotel in Padstow recommendation and the best holiday cottage in Padstow.
Padstow Wagon House
This glorious barn conversion is located at the end of a long farm track – which means this rural idyll is perfect for a quiet time in Cornwall. It’s also perfectly located within easy walking distance of Padstow. The classically-styled living room has original exposed beams and is elegantly decorated to capture the charm of a traditional Cornish cottage while providing the ideal spot to unwind after a day of exploring this gorgeous part of North Cornwall. During the winter, the wood stove provides a cosy retreat from the outside, while the floor-length windows provide gorgeous views and heaps of light. Check availability of this fabulous Padstow Holiday Cottage.
There’s a gorgeous cottage garden here, with a great gas barbecue and some fabulously comfortable garden furniture for summer alfresco eating. This lovely Padstow cottage sleeps 6 in 3 bedrooms, the two bedrooms on the ground level are cosy, lovely places to unwind after a full day of exploration. The charming twin attic bedroom has fabulous views of the estuary. Click here for more info about this lovely holiday cottage in Padstow!
The Padstow Harbour Hotel
The location of the Padstow Harbour Hotel, right on the harbour front means that many of the bright individually styled rooms here have views of the water. Rooms at this top Padstow hotel also have a TV, a work area, and a private bathroom, as well as a hairdryer, ironing facilities, and free tea and coffee. Want to stay in this great Padstow Hotel? Click here to see available dates.
There’s free onsite parking here at this harbour-front hotel in Padstow and you can choose from a continental or full English breakfast at this lovely spot in the centre of town. The Padstow Harbour Hotel offers free bike rental (first come, first served), and a welcome drink too! Come on down to the Harbourfront, this is a fabulous place to stay in Padstow – there’s more here.
The Best Things to Do in Padstow
Padstow is, these days, famous for its cuisine and the number of high-end restaurants now here, but, if we look beyond our stomachs, at least for a moment, there’s a lot more going on here. Sure there’s the classic English seaside theme going on, but there are some more great things to see in Padstow and some great local attractions, amazing beaches, and fabulous things to do.
Visit the Beaches Near Padstow
While Padstow isn’t typically considered a “beach town,” it can’t be said that there are no beaches here. It’ll take you just 10 minutes or so along the coast path from Padstow’s harbour to find a beach. Hawker’s Cove, Tregirls and St George’s Cove are good beaches, here and there are also the fabulous beaches of the upscale village of Rock across the estuary to visit too. For more beaches in North Cornwall, you can check out our guide here.
Take the Ferry to Rock from Padstow
Just across the Camel Estuary from Padstow is the upscale village of Rock. And the Black Tor ferry service will take you across there in about 10 minutes. This regular passenger ferry service operates all year round, but timings depend on the tide, as do the departure and arrival points, at low water, for instance, it’s downriver at St Saviours Point. Rock is the place in Cornwall with the highest percentage of second home ownership (and if you want to stay there, then this Rock Holiday Cottage is just glorious). If you’re visiting for the day, then you’ll find terraces of Victorian buildings here facing the estuary with glorious views of Padstow and some lovely bars and restaurants. Rock is also popular for watersports – with the Camel Estuary offering sailing, windsurfing, and waterskiing.
- Opening Times for Rock Ferry: Daily, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
- Running Prices for Rock Ferry: The cost of fares to the Rock Ferry is £4 for adult return and £2 for child return.
- Check running times and daily operations for the Rock ferry here.
Walk Part of the South West Coast Path – to Stepper Point
I think virtually everything I write about Cornwall includes something about the South West Coast Path, and this is going to be no exception. The 630-mile National Trail passes through Padstow, although you’ll be relieved to hear that today’s part of the route is relatively simple and easy walking. The South West Coast Path from Padstow to the headland at Stepper Point on the western mouth of the River Camel is a rather lovely walk. Along the route, you’ll pass Hawker’s Cover and the Old Lifeboat Station, which was constructed in 1931 and which is now a holiday cottage. Stepper Point is marked with a stone tower that serves as a “daymark,” assisting sailors in navigating during daylight.
Go and see the Padstow Lifeboat Station
Since 1825, Padstow has had an RNLI lifeboat station. The Old Lifeboat station, (now that holiday cottage I just mentioned) was positioned to be as close as possible to the Doom Bar. The Doom Bar is a sandbar that runs across the Camel Estuary mouth, responsible for more than 600 shipwrecks in the last 200 years. Today’s Padstow RNLI Station is located at Trevose Head in a cove on the western tip of Polventon Bay. This modernized facility, placed on piles and connected to the cliff-top by a footbridge, was opened in 2006. It’s in a glorious location. (My photo is from our picnic here!)
You can visit and Padstow’s RNLI Station is open to the public from 10:00-16:00 on weekdays. This new station was built to accommodate the new, bigger Tamar-class lifeboat, which you see view inside. The “Spirit of Padstow 16-04,” can hold 60 passengers, is watertight and can level itself in seconds. The station has a display of medals, pictures, and newspaper articles and there are also educational items on water safety as well as a dressing-up box for kids. You can see the location of the Padstow Lifeboat station in our map of things to do in Padstow, and there’s more information about it here.
Go and See Bedruthan Steps from Padstow
The National Trust is responsible for protecting a huge stretch of the Cornish coastline on the route to Newquay, around seven miles from Padstow. There are three wailing trails that they maintain in this area and one of them – the path to Carnewas and Bedruthan takes you along the cliff-top to see steep cliffs and the Bedruthan Steps. The Bedruthan Steps, of course, aren’t steps at all, but tall rock stacks pounded by the sea. Below the cliffs, the Atlantic Ocean continually batters a series of stony, west-facing beaches. None of these are suitable for swimming because of the high surf and treacherous rocks, but at low tide, head down for a walk, it’s a glorious coastline.
Go to the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow
This is a great rainy day place to visit in Cornwall and it’s really easy to get to. The award-winning National Lobster Hatchery Visitor Centre in Padstow is a unique thing to do in Cornwall. Here you can learn about lobsters, local marine life, and the pioneering marine conservation work being done to increase the wild lobster population in the seas. Padstow’s National Lobster Hatchery has been open since 2000. We learned so much about not just lobsters, but also local fishing, and more environmental ways to approach eating fish during our visit. Your ticket is valid for 12 months, so come back next time you’re in Cornwall and visit again! We visited the Lobster Hatchery on a rain day in Cornwall, here’s some inspiration for fun things to do when it rains in Cornwall.
- Address for the National Lobster Hatchery: The National Lobster Hatchery, S Quay, Padstow PL28 8BL, United Kingdom
- Opening Times for National Lobster Hatchery: Daily, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
- Admission Prices for National Lobster Hatchery: The cost of admission to National Lobster Hatchery is £7.50 for adults and £4.00 for children.
Play Crazy Golf with a Difference in Padstow
This 18-hole mini-hole golf is crazy with a difference. There are sculptures, and live landscaping, so each time you come back it will be different. While the golfing is run, the views from the course (and the café here) are stunning. So it’s worth coming here for the view alone!
- Opening Times for Greens of Padstow: Daily, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
- Admission Prices for Greens of Padstow: The cost of admission to Greens of Padstow is £7.50 for adults and £5.50 for children.
Play Golf at Padstow
If you’re looking for a (proper) game of golf, then Padstow is a great place to come, as you have a great choice of courses to play.
St Enodoc Golf Club – St Enodoc Golf Club is near Padstow, with commanding and stunning views of the Camel Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. This club has two of the finest links courses in Cornwall
- Round Prices at St Enodoc Golf Club: One Round Daily Rate (Summer Mon-Fri) The Church Course costs £125.00, while the Holywell Course costs £35.00. One round (Sun/BHOL) costs £135.00 for the Church Course and £35.00 for the Holywell Course.
- Website and booking for St Enodoc Golf Club: https://www.st-enodoc.co.uk/
Trevose Golf and Country Club – Trevose Golf and Country Club in Cornwall has three golf courses to accommodate players of all skill levels. The Trevose Golf & Country Club provides breathtaking views of the championship golf course and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Round Prices at Trevose Golf and Country Club: Championship Course Round/Day costs £90/£115 on Sunday-Thursday and £105/£125 on Friday-Saturday. The Headland Course costs £30 per day from Sunday to Thursday. Short Course costs £16 per day from Sunday to Thursday.
- Website and booking for Trevose Golf and Country Club: https://trevose-gc.co.uk/
Merlin Golf Club – A stunning North Cornish hilltop heathland golf course on the North Cornish Coast with spectacular sea views. The course is located in Mawgan Porth and is just a short drive from Padstow.
- Round Prices at Merlin Golf Club: 18 Holes Morning golf (8:10 am to 2:50 pm) costs £36 per person, while evening golf (3:20 pm to 6:00 pm) costs £24 per person. 9-hole golf costs £24 per player.
- Website and booking for Merlin Golf Club: https://www.merlingolfcourse.co.uk/
Walk or Cycle the Camel Trail
This is without a doubt the most well-known of Cornwall’s recreational paths, well apart from the South West Coast long-distance path of course! There are no intense inclines throughout the 17-mile track, which follows the old North Cornwall Railway track. It’s an easy walk or cycle as for part of the way you follow the Camel River. The Camel Trail, which runs from Padstow to Bodmin is ideal for young cyclists since only a tiny portion of the route is on roads, and the gentle grades required for trains at the start of the twentieth century allow for easy riding today. There are several areas to stop after walking or cycling for picnicking or just watching the world and the Camel River go by.
You can rent a bike at Trail Bike Hire, a cycle rental spot in Padstow. I’d recommend making reservations during busy months and bank holidays. You’ll also need proof of identification—for example, a driver’s license and your rental includes helmets, locks, a repair kit, a pump, and a map.
- Address for Trail Bike Hire Padstow: 4-6 S Quay, Padstow PL28 8BL, United Kingdom
- Opening Times for Camel Trail: Daily, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
- Admission Prices for Camel Trail: Free! (Donations are welcome)
You can check prices for bike rentals on the Camel Trail here.
Explore the Harbour in Padstow
Padstow Harbour, located in the only river estuary on the North Cornwall coast, is at least as ancient as the Domesday Book, which dates from 1086. The harbour here in Padstow is one of the town’s main attractions, and all roads lead there, and there are a couple of fabulous hotels right on the harbour (see our guide to the best places to stay in Padstow here for their details!) Boat cruises and the Rock ferry transport tourists and day travellers out of Padstow, and you’ll see pleasure vessels mixing with working fishing boats. Even if your plans are entirely land-based, this is an excellent location to sit on a bench and watch the world go by. There are also plenty of cafés and stores here, so it’s no surprise that many people don’t go beyond the waterfront.
Go on a Fishing Trip from Padstow
Padstow was historically primarily a fishing town, so what better way to appreciate the natural beauty of the Cornish coast than by going on a fishing trip? One of the highest recommended companies here is Supreme Boat Trips and their 2-hour Mackerel cruise is very popular. They supply all of the fishing equipment, and you can keep everything you catch (as long as it is within the legal limits for the area).
- Prices for Fishing Trips: The cost varies based on the fishing trip’s duration.
- Check details of Supreme Boat Trips here
Learn to Water Ski in Padstow
Camel Ski School is the biggest waterskiing facility in the United Kingdom and this is a great place for watersports. The team here provide tuition for waterskiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking, as well as boat rentals. And the school welcomes everyone from beginners and intermediates to experienced mono skiers. You can get in touch with the Camel ski school here.
Go Wine Tasting at the Camel Valley Vineyard
Since 1989, the Camel Valley Vineyard has been producing award-winning, world-class wines in this lovely area of Cornwall. This North Cornwall vineyard is set in an enchanting setting on sun-drenched slopes near the famous Camel River. They grow excellent grapes that are ideally suited to the soil and climate and honour traditional vineyard practices blended with such a new interpretation of winemaking. You can head along for tastings, and purchases and explore the world of Cornish wine!
- Opening Times for Camel Valley Vineyard: Monday to Friday, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
- Admission Prices for Camel Valley Vineyard: The cost of an admission tour to Camel Valley Vineyard is £18.00 for adults and £5.00 for children.
Go Wine Tasting at Trevibban Mill Vineyard
And if you like wine there’s more! The Trevibban Mill Vineyard is hidden away along a campion-lined Cornish road. This flourishing vineyard and winery is just a stone’s throw from Padstow and as well as tastings and purchases there’s also a restaurant serving some great options that pair well with the wines from here too. As the owners also planted an orchard there also make their own apple juice and elderflower cordial too!
- Opening Times for Trevibban Mill Vineyard: Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Admission Prices for Trevibban Mill Vineyard: £10 to reserve your table.
Go Cider Tasting from Padstow
Haywood Farm is situated in the lovely Allen Valley, near the town of St. Mabyn, about 4 miles from Wadebridge. The Bray family has farmed here since 1919, but the farm’s granite cider press has been making the West Country’s favourite drink for generations. Tom Bray started making cider with friends in 2003, and his passion, love, and expertise have grown since then. There are now 14 acres of orchards planted with apples carefully selected for their quality and suitability to the Cornish environment. Take a walking tour of the orchards, learn how to cultivate apples and join the regular BBQs and cider tastings that are held at the cider house.
- Opening Times for Haywood Cider Farm: Monday to Saturday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every Sunday.
- Admission Prices for Haywood Cider Farm: The cost of a tour to Haywood Cider Farm is £19.50 for adults and £5.00 for children.
Taste Artisan Beer in Padstow
The Padstow Brewing Company is an award-winning microbrewery located on Cornwall’s rocky North Coast. This small-batch brewery is young, dynamic, and fiercely independent and they have not just craft beers, but also ciders, wines and gins here too. Padstow Brewing Company beers (as well as ciders, wines, and gin!) are available. You can head to their Tasting Rooms, but also book a brew day experience or a brewery tour.
- Opening Times for Padstow Brewing Company: Daily, 12:00 am to 8:00 pm, but hours may vary out of season.
Padstow Mystery Trail
Can you determine the path on the Padstow self-guided themed Treasure Trail to locate the answers to the clues that will unravel the mystery? The Padstow Trail takes around 1.5 hours to complete and includes 1.5 miles of walking, although you can do this at your leisure. The Trail is suitable for the whole family, although it is especially enjoyable for children aged 6 to 16. You’ll need to hunt for the solutions to the 18 clues, which you can discover on monuments, and buildings, around Padstow. It’s a great way to explore Padstow, get a bit of exercise and also find out more about the town! Buy your Padstow Treasure Trail, download the PDF here.
- Opening Times for Padstow Mystery Trail: The trails are self-guided and may be downloaded immediately from their website. Follow the Trail, solve the puzzles, and experience the wonders on any day of your choice. There is no need to call for opening hours. All Trails are intended to be completed throughout the day.
- Admission Prices for Padstow Mystery Trail: The Padstow Mystery Trail entry trip costs £9.99 per Trail (not per person). For a party of 4 to 5 individuals, one Trail booklet is advised.
Go Gin Tasting and Make your own Gin
Well, at the beginning of this guide to Padstow considering I said it’s about more than just food, I’ve certainly spent a lot of time talking about food and drink! So I figure I might as well go for it and carry on!
Tarquin’s Gin was founded about a decade ago, with the owner planning to distil a few bottles of gin in the morning and then go surfing in the afternoon. And well, he’s never really looked back! You can not only go and taste gin but also attend a Gin School and make your own Gin in Cornwall! You not only get to choose your own botanicals, but you’ll fire up your own copper pot still, and go through the same process of making Gin that initially took Tarquin over a year, but yours will be distilled (ha, see what I did there?) into only a few hours!
- Opening Times for Tarquin’s Gin School & Shop: Daily, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, but hours may vary out of season.
- Admission Prices for Tarquin’s Gin School & Shop: The cost of a Gin course at Tarquin’s Gin School is £85 per person. You can book a place here!
Go to the Camel Creek Adventure Centre
The Camel Creek Adventure Park is a year-round attraction, covering 111 acres of Cornish countryside. From the family-friendly rides at this top Cornish theme park to animal encounters this is a great family day out, even on a rainy day. Camel Creek is a perfect place for the family as there’s more than 40,000 square feet of indoor activities too! At Camel Creek, you’ll also find ‘Mission Simpossible’, which is Cornwall’s only 5D Simulator Theatre!
- Opening Times for Camel Creek Adventure Centre: Thursday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Admission Prices for Camel Creek Adventure Centre: The cost of admission to Camel Creek Adventure Centre is £19.95 for adults and £16.95 for children.
Learn to Surf in Padstow
The beaches of North Cornwall are a brilliant place to learn to surf, and here in Padstow, the Waves Surf School provides sessions for beginners, improvers, intermediates, and advanced surfers. You can even get video analysis of your surfing technique here! Book a surfing lesson here.
- Opening Times for Waves Surf School: Daily, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
- Admission Prices for Waves Surf School: The cost varies per surfing lesson package
Visit Prideaux Place
Prideaux Place has been inhabited by one family for more than 400 years, having been completed in 1592 and subsequently modified throughout the following generations. The building’s foundation is Elizabethan, and it has the distinctive “E” footprint with other Elizabethan grand residences. In the early nineteenth century, the south facade was renovated in the Strawberry Hill Gothic style.
Outside, there are views over the Camel Estuary and the village of Rock and wander through the Victorian formal garden, where you can see the Gothic Revival dairy, stable courtyard, and an 18th-century temple folly. There’s more information on Prideaux Place here.
- Address of Prideaux Place: Prideaux Place, Padstow PL28 8RP, United Kingdom
- Opening Times for Prideaux Place: Sunday to Thursday, 10:30 am to 5:00 pm.
- Admission Prices for Prideaux Place: The cost of admission to Prideaux Place House & Grounds is £8.50 for adults and £2 for children.
Take a Cruise on the Jubilee Queen
The Padstow Jubilee Queen has been sailing this coast for 40 years and still provides daily summer boat tours from Padstow Harbour. There’s a bar onboard and snacks available too and trips usually last around 90 minutes. There’s more on what to expect on Padstow’s Jubilee Queen here.
- Check Boat trip tour times here.
- Ticket Prices for Jubilee Queen: Boat tours on the Jubilee Queen cost £17 for adults and £11 for children.
Map of Things to do in Padstow, Cornwall
You can also see the Padstow map of things to do here.
Eating and Food in Padstow
You can’t mention Padstow without referencing Rick Stein, one of Britain’s most well-known names when it comes to celebrity chefs. He has a cookery school, accommodation, 4 restaurants and shops too. And the town is sometimes mockingly known as “Padstein” for his dominance. The Seafood Restaurant gets rave reviews, but my fish and chips earlier this year from the harbour front were overpriced and over oily, sitting eating them in the car in the car park while it chucked it down with rain didn’t help either. For an alternative head to Ainsworth at No 6, where Michelin-starred chef, Paul Ainsworth makes magic. You[re unlikely to get traditional Cornish food there, but our guide is here all the same.
Special Events in Padstow
Padstow puts on a wide range of events throughout the year, but there’s one that I specifically want to mention here.
Cornwall’s strong identity has preserved several historic traditional festivals that have faded out elsewhere in England. One of the oldest and strangest is Obby Oss. This May Day ceremony predates Christianity and is derived from the Celtic celebration of Beltane. The celebration revolves around a duo of Obby Osses, or Hobby Horses, romping through the town streets and hunting for maidens. The horses, one blue and one red are trailed by a parade of individuals dressed in white clothing resembling Morris dancers and performing accordions and banging drums. The Osses traditionally bid goodbye at the Maypole at the end of the day.
A Brief History of Padstow
Padstow has been a port connecting Brittany to Ireland through the ‘Saints Way’ from Fowey from at least 2,500 BC. According to legend, St Petroc, arguably the most prominent Cornish Saint, travelled from Ireland about 520 AD and established a monastery on the hill above the harbour. Padstow flourished as a trade port for copper, tin, lead ores, slate, pilchards, and agricultural supplies during the Middle Ages. Welsh coal, as well as lumber and fish salt, were imported by sea.
Padstow has traditionally been an essential community due to its location as the only significant estuary on Cornwall’s North Coast. St. Petroc’s construction of the monastery in the sixth century established its place, and the monks purchased the territory from Portreath to Tintagel. During the Middle Ages, the port expanded, and commerce with Ireland and Brittany, as well as coastal trade with South Wales, flourished.
Travel Tips for Exploring Cornwall
BOOK ACCOMMODATION IN CORNWALL
- Sykes Cottages for fabulous holiday homes
- Holiday Cottages for great holiday cottages
- Glorious places to stay with Rural Retreats.
- Booking.com for hotels & B&B.s
Read about Cornwall in these incredible books
Here’s how to get to Cornwall
Book the best tours and guides on GetYourGuide
Book Trains & Buses with Omio
Check Megabus timetables and fares to Cornwall here.
Rent a Car with Discover Cars
Never get lost with the Ordnance Survey Maps App
Final Words on the Best Things to do in Padstow, Cornwall
Padstow is a vibrant North Cornish town with a great reputation for both food and water sports. It’s a perfect location for exploring this part of the South West Coast Path, and for seeing some of the stunning beaches of this part of the world. You shouldn’t miss the National Lobster Hatchery or the Camel Trail when you visit either!
Cornwall’s Best is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.