things to do in Port Isaac

The Best Things to Do in Port Isaac

Port Isaac in Cornwall is a lovely fishing village in the north of the county. It is also well-known for its lobster and crab cuisine. Port Isaac was a busy seaport where items including stone, coal, lumber, and pottery were imported and unloaded from the Middle Ages until the mid-nineteenth century. Fishing and fish processing was also a necessary industry here. Despite Port Isaac being a prime location for visitors to North Cornwall, there is still an active commercial fishing community here too. Many visitors come to the area to walk along the village’s small, winding passageways that lead down to the sea. Port Isaac is closely populated with traditional whitewashed villas and granite slate-faced buildings. Several historical buildings may be found in the neighbourhood.


Where to stay in Port Isaac, Cornwall

Port Isaac has some lovely places to stay – and we’ve picked the best holiday cottages in Port Isaac, the nicest hotels and the most lovely B&B’s in our guide on places to stay in Port Isaac here – here are our top picks for Port Isaac Hotel and Port Isaac Holiday Cottage. There’s more on the best places to stay in Port Isaac in our guide here.

The Slipway Hotel, Port Isaac

The Slipway Hotel is a Grade II listed building that dates back to 1527 situated opposite the Port Isaac harbour. This hotel has a restaurant on-site and is designed to accommodate adults only. Each bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and some have delightful views of the Atlantic and the Port Isaac harbour.  There are several accommodation types here including a loft suite with a separate living area, a double room with balcony and sea views, a standard twin room, and a deluxe double room. The restaurant offers a selection of local seafood, non-seafood, and several options for vegetarians. Guests can also enjoy the amazing Cornish tea, assorted cakes, scones, and delicious homemade sandwiches. 

Port Isaac’s Slipway Hotel books out quickly, so you’ll need to reserve early!

  • The Slipway Hotel Address: The Harbour Front, Port Isaac, Port Isaac, PL29 3RH, United Kingdom
  • Is there parking at the Slipway Hotel?  See parking details for Port Isaac later in this article
  • Is there a restaurant onsite at the Slipway Hotel?  – Yes
  • Is there free Wi-Fi at the Slipway Hotel?  – Yes
  • Is breakfast available at the Slipway Hotel?  Yes

We highly recommend the Slipway Hotel for couples and you can check availability and prices here.

The View Holiday Cottage, Port Isaac, North Cornwall

The View cottage is a modern ground-floor apartment that overlooks the Port Isaac harbour and coastline. The View got its name because the seating area has large floors and ceiling windows that allow you to watch the sea from within.  You can see more about Port Isaac’s View Cottage here.

This amazingly equipped cottage has a walk-in shower, cloakroom, open plan living space, electric oven, microwave, fridge, dishwasher, a washer, and communal gardens. The View is great for chilling out and you can also relax in a well-lit sitting area and on comfy sofas. Like The View? Check availability and book your Port Isaac stay now!

The Best Things to Do in Port Isaac

Port Isaac was made famous by the TV drama, Doc Martin. Still, it deserves to be acknowledged as a destination in its own right. A friendly village environment, a range of activities for a short period of time, and its proximity to other areas of Cornwall make it an ideal place for spending time in the area. Despite its tiny size, Port Isaac offers a great deal to see and do to keep you entertained. Simply wandering through the narrow streets and soaking in the pleasant ambience of this lovely Cornish fishing village will have you whiling away several hours here. Take a trip along the harbourside to see the fishermen unload their daily catch, and then explore the galleries and charming shops that line the streets. There are friendly bars, cafes, and restaurants inside centuries-old structures, with remnants of a traditional village life that resonates with warmth and charm.

Visit Port Isaac’s Beaches

This delightful village is built around an equally attractive old harbour, which also serves as a small beach in the summer. Well, I suppose it’s also a beach in the winter, but I think you know what I mean! The port itself, which was previously busy with the transport of slates from near Delabole and the importation of coal from Wales, is now much quieter. When visiting Port Isaac during low tide, you’ll see a long expanse of sand reaching out to the twin piers. For children, there is a little stream and a variety of rockpools to explore, providing hours of entertainment. And it’s a great place to explore and play, as Port Isaac is protected from wind currents by tall cliffs to the west, which act as a natural windbreak. Aside from Port Isaac Beach, there are numerous more nearby beaches that you may visit while you’re in the area.

  • Port Quin – a calm and secluded site popular with experienced hikers due to its approach from the southwest coastal route. People who snorkel and kayaks often visit the area.
  • Lundy Bay – a protected rocky cove. A lovely sandy beach with lots of rock pools to explore at low tide.
  • Port Gaverne Beach – At low tide, you’ll find tons of rock pools and caves in the area, while the Port Gaverne Restaurant and Hotel is right next to the shore.
  • Tregardock Beach – Tregardock somehow doesn’t feel like it is one of Cornwall’s most popular beaches. At high tide, the beach has a rocky section with a beautiful strip of sand.
  • Trebarwith Strand – a North Cornwall gem. The golden sand beach is bordered by flat rocks and towering cliffs.
  • Tintagel Beach – This beautiful section of coastline is worth climbing down to if it’s possible, to see the ancient mythical Merlin’s Cave, which is located under the iconic Tintagel Castle.

There’s more on the beaches of North Cornwall in our guide here.

Port Quin Cornwall

Walk part of the South West Coast Path from Port Isaac

Although the path between Boscastle and Padstow is a challenging twenty-six-mile stretch, it can be simply divided into two sections: Boscastle to Port Isaac, which is 14.5 miles, and Port Isaac to Padstow, which is 12 to 14 miles. This walk highlights an incredible variety of sceneries that can be observed along the coastal path. The walk starts in Rock and continues north across massive sand dunes beside the Camel estuary to the beautiful beach of Polzeath, which is accessible by vehicle. The South West Coast Path takes around 7-8 weeks to complete from beginning to end. Of course, some will do the walk considerably faster, while others may take much longer.

You can overnight in Padstow – our guide to the best places to stay in Padstow is here.

See the Fisherman’s Friends in Port Isaac

The Fisherman’s Friends is a Cornwall-based country music band specializing in sea shanties and other nautical music. They’ve been performing in the village since 1995, and in March 2010, they signed a record deal with Universal Music. The Fisherman’s Friends are brothers John and Jeremy Brown, writer MC Jon Cleave, smallholder John “Lefty” Lethbridge, builder John McDonnell, fisherman Jason Nicholas, and filmmaker Toby Lobb. Despite their musical adventures, the trio still manages to work their day jobs and enjoy life on the North Cornish Coast. In 2019, a film based on the band’s journey from discovery to securing a record deal with the same title as the band’s name was released. The band is presently on tour around the United Kingdom. You can keep up with live performance dates and other news by visiting their website.

Take a Doc Martin Tour

Doc Martin, the famous feel-good British comedy-drama series starred Martin Clunes as a doctor whose dismissive attitude creates chaos in the little Cornish community of Port Wenn, aired on the BBC from 2005 to 2007. Interior scenes were filmed on-site in a converted barn on a local farm near the village of Port Isaac in North Cornwall, with the majority of the series’ production taking place in the barn. Port Wenn was Port Isaac and you’ll recognize many of the shots as you walk around the village.

If you like the TV show Doc Martin, you’ll love this walking tour of Port Isaac, I mean, Port Wenn, the fictional Cornish coastal village featured in the show. The walking tour is led by a local who worked as an extra on Doc Martin and has a lot of information about the show’s production. The tour, which takes place in English, takes around 1.5 hours and costs £20.  You can book the tour here.

Doc Martins House Port Isaac

Take a Short Walk in Port Isaac

Get out into the great outdoors and take a short walk from Port Isaac – here are a couple of favourites. Walk from Port Isaac to Port Quin – One of the most delightful things to do in Port Isaac is to take a trip to the lovely village of Port Quin. According to the history of Port Quin, a storm swept out an entire fleet of ships, drowning all the men and forcing their widows to depart the region and live elsewhere. With that in mind, if you’re feeling courageous, travelling from Port Quin to Port Isaac by kayak or paddleboard is an exciting adventure.

Want to stay somewhere special locally? Check out our guide to castles that you can stay at in Cornwall!

Walk from Port Isaac to Port Gaverne – This walk begins at Port Isaac’s clifftop car park. It drops to Port Gaverne, then follows the river behind Port Gaverne and travels up through fields to the top of a hill, from where there are spectacular views of the valley and Port Gaverne.  Begin at the Port Isaac main car park and walk down the hill to Port Gaverne, past the head where fulmars nest on the rock cliffs, and back to the ledge where the route joins the trail at Cartway Cove. This walk is appropriate for people of all ages. The walk from Barretts Zawn follows the shoreline along Bounds Cliff to the steep ravine at Ranie Point and back. The walk follows the river inland to the farm at Hendra, then returns to Port Gaverne along the riverside road.

Port Gaverne near Port Isaac

Go on a Port Isaac Treasure Trail

The Treasure Trail, aka the Port Isaac treasure hunt, allows you to explore Port Isaac independently. As you go along the trail, you’ll explore the intriguing details concealed in existing buildings, permanent features, and monuments to locate the buried treasure. There are rewards if you’re successful. The Trail starts at the car park midway between Port Isaac and Port Gaverne and takes you through the narrow alleys to the port area, where fishermen still offload their catch every day. The trail then climbs the other side of the cliffs and onto the South West Coast Path before returning to the beginning. The 1.5-mile circle takes around 1.5 hours to complete, depending on your own speed. The whole treasure-hunting journey costs £9.99, including everything.  You can buy the Treasure Trail for Port Isaac here.

Things to do near Port Isaac

Port Isaac is a beautiful place to visit, but it will only take you a maximum of 2 days to see everything there is to see. And so to fully experience North Cornwall, here are some ideas of Port Isaac’s nearby attractions.

Cycle the Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow

The Camel Trail passes through some of Cornwall’s most breathtaking landscapes. The trail is free to access and is open all year, with a full track length of 10.5 miles. No cars are permitted on the track, so it’s perfect for a family cycle ride and it is also used by walkers, joggers, and birdwatchers. The River Camel is usually close during the trail’s length, and there are various areas to stop and enjoy your surroundings. Many sections of the trail are pretty quiet, particularly in the off-season and even during the summer months. This lovely route offers stunning landscape differences, ranging from peaceful beauty along the Camel Estuary to uncontrolled wildness on the moorland at its extreme northern end. There’s more on what to do in Padstow here.

The Camel Trail near Port Isaac

Visit Bodmin Jail near Port Isaac

Discover Cornwall’s most spooky and dark past in a brand new world-class interactive experience at the Cornwall Museum and Heritage Centre. Explore the depths of the jail’s cutting-edge ‘Dark Walk,’ where your perceptions of the ancient and modern are twisted and aroused as you travel through time. A large number of buildings at the jail, which was established in 1779 and closed in 1927, fell into ruin; however, parts of the prison have been turned into a tourist attraction, and a significant chunk of the prison has recently been transformed into a hotel. (You can book a night at the jail here) As World War One broke out, the number of inmates dropped, and the final male prisoner was freed from Bodmin Jail in July 1916. Ticket prices vary from £12 to £25, depending on the length of the 90-minute tour inside the jail. Visiting Bodmin Jail is one of the best things to do in Bodmin.

Visit Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle, positioned on a rocky ledge, has been the setting for stories and myths for hundreds of years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tintagel Castle’s ruins are widely believed to be the castle of King Arthur, the hero of myth and legend, and also the site of his death. It’s easy to follow the outdoor exhibits that serve as a tour across the various areas of the castle. These displays offer historical background and information about some of the stories associated with Tintagel Castle. Tintagel Castle is open to the public and the entry fee is £16.00 for adults and £9.60 for children under the age of 18. English Heritage members get in for free – it’s well worth the membership!  Join here.  Tintagel Castle is open at different times throughout the year, depending on the month. On weekdays, Tintagel Castle is normally open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  Tintagel Castle is one of Cornwall’s Best Castles – read about more of them here.

Tintagel Castle near Port Isaac

Visit the Eden Project

Eden requires at least a full day of your complete attention and you’ll likely also want to visit more than once, as it changes lots during different seasons. Eden is more than just a series of sprawling tropical gardens. It is a gateway into the deep connections between plants and people and a fascinating perspective into the history of humanity’s dependence on plant life. Explore vast covered Biomes, where you may travel through the world’s largest indoor rainforest and relax in the calming scent of the Mediterranean Biome. Eden is a fascinating site, but it’s also a lovely and family-friendly day trip. Eden is gradually becoming a one-of-a-kind source of education and knowledge in the search for a more sustainable future and being a mind-blowing tourist destination.  Bring a picnic, or buy lunch on site, but come early to get inside the Biomes when there are fewer people. The Eden Project is one of the top gardens to visit in Cornwall.

The Eden Project

Where is Port Isaac?

Port Isaac, a small but thriving fishing village in Cornwall, is one of the area’s most well-known and popular tourist destinations. It is located in Cornwall, England, on the north coast of England’s most southerly county. Its narrow, twisting alleys are filled with old, white-washed cottages and characteristic granite-and-slate-fronted Cornish structures. Many of which have been classified by the National Trust as having architectural or historical value.

How to Get to Port Isaac

To get to Port Isaac, here’s what to do:

  • Getting to Port Isaac By Train – From London Paddington Station to Port Isaac, the closest railway station is Bodmin Parkway, which takes around 4 hours.  From Bodmin Parkway it’s about 30 minutes by car or 2 hours by bus.
  • Getting to Port Isaac By Car – Port Isaac has two car parks. On the right side of the road, the Main Parish Council-run car park is found as you approach the village along Trewetha Lane (B3267). It is literally the first place that you will see when you arrive in the village.
  • Getting to Port Isaac By Taxi costs around £40 and takes approximately 30 minutes to go from Bodmin Parkway to Port Isaac. Take a cab from Bodmin Parkway Taxis, which was the most highly rated service in the village.
  • Getting to Port Isaac By Bus – The bus ride from Bodmin Parkway to Port Isaac costs around £7. It takes approximately 2 hours, depending on whether you take Line 584 or Line 75.

Where to Park in Port Isaac

Parking is well organized in Port Isaac.  There are two main parks for visitors – the New Road Car Park and the Main Car Park.   The most popular is the Main Car Park, which is run by the local council.  It’s on the main road coming into Port Isaac from the B3267.  With a total of 179 spaces, you’ll pay £3 for 3 hours or £10 for 24 hours here and you can pre-book your ticket and space too!   From there it’s a 10-minute walk down into Port Isaac.

New Road Car Park, Port Isaac is further along the B3267 on the road towards Port Gaverne.  There are about 100 spaces here and it’s run by Cornwall Council.  This is the most popular car park for holiday cottage visitors and tends to be full from first thing in the morning.  Parking charges for Port Isaac’s New Road Car Park are as follows:  From 0900 – 1800 1st April to 31 October.

  • Up to 1 hour – £0.90
  • 1 to 2 hours – £2.40
  • 2 to 3 hours – £3.70
  • 3 to 4 hours – £4.80
  • 24 hours – £5.50
  • Weekly – £37.80 (for cars only) can only be purchased via the pay-by-phone system, not at the pay and display.  This ticket does not guarantee you a space.  It isn’t a rover ticket and can only be used in this car park

Where to Eat in Port Isaac?

Port Isaac may be little, but you’ll never go hungry. There’s a lovely café or bar around every corner, which you may explore throughout your stay. Port Isaac has a variety of great places to eat including tea and cake, fish and chips, or even a fine-dining restaurant experience.

  • The Mote – The Mote serves a variety of dishes from lobsters to wheat to meat and veggies, and is acquired locally, ensuring that the foods are the best and most fresh available. The incredible thing about the diner is that they provide a menu that includes dishes that are suitable for children. The restaurant is now closed and will re-open on November 2, 2022; however, it is typically open from 12:00 noon to 9:00 pm.
  • Port Gaverne Hotel – Surrounded by excellent cuisine in Port Gaverne, so when they say it’s “as fresh as possible,” they mean it’s fresh off a boat 50 yards from the restaurant’s front door. Port Gaverne’s wine list is unique and very price accessible.
  • Outlaw’s Fish Restaurant – Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen is built inside a 15th-century fisherman’s home in the centre of Port Isaac village, where they prepare a range of seafood meals for the table. The restaurant is open every day and serves a fixed-price seafood menu for £80 per person.
  • The Krab Pot – The crab sandwich served at the restaurant is the best in the area. You’ll get a sandwich created to order with ample content and is served on fresh granary bread with delicious citrus mayonnaise. The establishment is open every day of the week, excluding Thursdays.
  • The Angry Anchovy – The Angry Anchovy is the only pizza place in the village of Port Isaac. Its fresh ingredients, such as the fennel and anise salami used on their famous Cornish Pastis pizza, are sourced from local growers and suppliers. In addition to the spectacular background of beaches and cliffs along the Atlantic coastline, the restaurant has an eclectic blend of goofy chic decor to give it a throwback atmosphere. The Angry Anchovy is open every day till 7:00 p.m.

Where to stay in Port Isaac

Port Isaac has some lovely places to stay – and we’ve picked the best holiday cottages in Port Isaac, the nicest hotels and the most lovely B&B’s in our guide on places to stay in Port Isaac here – here are our top picks for Port Isaac B&B and Port Isaac Holiday Cottage.

St Kew Escapes, Port Isaac

  • The St. Kew Escapes B&B is based in St. Kew village which is 3 miles (5km) away from Port Isaac. There’s a refurbished B&B suite set in the 16th-century cottage with a spacious seating area and a smart flat-screen TV. The suite has a private bathroom, a wardrobe, a kettle, and a toaster.  There’s also the Beech Hut, a wooden cottage set in the secluded garden.   The Beech Hut is fully self-catering with a fully fitted kitchen.  Both properties are located next to a 15th-century inn, which serves food and local ales. Check rooms and rates here!
  • St Kew Escapes Address: Copper Beeches St Kew, Port Isaac, PL30 3HB, United Kingdom
  • Is there parking at the St Kew Escapes?  Yes, it’s free
  • Is there a restaurant onsite at the St Kew Escapes?  – It’s right next door!
  • Is there free Wi-Fi at the St Kew Escapes?  – Yes
  • Is breakfast available at the St Kew Escapes?  Yes – a continental style breakfast hamper is provided for guests.

The St Kew Escapes B&B is a quiet and peaceful place perfect, for your North Cornwall stay.  Book your perfect stay in Port Isaac here.

The View Holiday Cottage, Port Isaac, North Cornwall

The View cottage is a modern ground-floor apartment that overlooks the Port Isaac harbour and coastline. The View got its name because the seating area has large floors and ceiling windows that allow you to watch the sea from within.  You can see more about Port Isaac’s View Cottage here.

This amazingly equipped cottage has a walk-in shower, cloakroom, open plan living space, electric oven, microwave, fridge, dishwasher, a washer, and communal gardens. The View is great for chilling out and you can also relax in a well-lit sitting area and on comfy sofas.

The View in Port Isaac features

  • Off-road parking
  • Broadband Wifi
  • Sky TV
  • Dishwasher
  • Garden / Patio

Key information about The View in Port Isaac

  • 1 Bedroom
  • Sleeps 4
  • 1 Bathroom
  • Pets are not allowed

Like The View? Check availability and book your Port Isaac stay now!

Travel Tips for Exploring Cornwall


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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

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Final Words on the Best Things to Do in Port Isaac

Port Isaac is a typical fishing community in North Cornwall with a flourishing local population that also served as the location for the television show Doc Martin. A lovely hamlet with narrow, winding streets lined with painted houses that lead down to the little harbour and beach. From the Middle Ages until the mid-nineteenth century, it was a busy port where items such as stone, coal, timber, and pottery were delivered and unloaded, but now, you’ll join the large number of visitors who visit the village to meander along the narrow, winding paths that lead down to the beach. So pack your belongings and go off to explore the intriguing and fascinating village of Port Isaac.

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