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Things to do in Padstow

things to do in Padstow

In this post, I hope to give you some ideas of great things to do in Padstow. It is a popular and well known place for tourists in North Cornwall and as a result of popularity, Padstow can get busy, but that it because it is such a great place to be, so try out some of the places on this list and if you can think of others to add, please tell me in the comments below.

Ideas for great things to do in Padstow

Padstow is a captivating town brimming with charm. Beyond its recent fame as a foodie destination, Padstow offers a delightful blend of history, natural beauty, and a vibrant working harbour. Explore the bustling quay lined with colorful fishing boats, savor fresh seafood at renowned restaurants, or wander through charming streets lined with independent shops. This post delves into the magic of Padstow, offering a glimpse of the experiences that await you in this unforgettable Cornish town.

Padstow Harbour: A Beating Heart of History and Fresh Seafood

padstow harbour

Padstow Harbour isn’t just a picturesque backdrop; it’s the beating heart of the town. For centuries, this working harbour has served as a vital source of livelihood and a cornerstone of Padstow’s identity. Wander down the quay and inhale the salty tang of the sea air, a delightful reminder of the harbour’s enduring role.

Colourful fishing boats bob gently in the water, their nets heavy with the day’s catch. Watch local fishermen unload their bounty – glistening fish, plump crabs, and succulent lobsters – destined for the restaurants lining the harbor or local markets. The harbor bustles with activity, a captivating mix of tradition and modern leisure.

Pleasure boats share the harbour with the fishing vessels. Hop aboard for a scenic tour along the dramatic coastline, or embark on a thrilling fishing trip, casting your line alongside seasoned local anglers. For a unique perspective, grab a bite at a harborside restaurant and savour the freshest seafood imaginable, with breathtaking views as your backdrop.

Padstow Harbour transcends its commercial purpose. It’s a place to soak up the sun on the quay wall, watch playful seals basking on the rocks, or simply lose yourself in the mesmerizing rhythm of the waves. Whether you’re a seafood enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a charming seaside escape, Padstow Harbour offers an unforgettable experience.

The “Explorer Map 106 – Newquay & Padstow” by Ordnance Survey is a detailed, foldable map perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Covering Newquay and Padstow, it offers precise topographic information, ideal for hiking, cycling, and exploring. Durable and easy to read, it’s an essential companion for navigating Cornwall’s scenic landscapes.

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padstow map

Stepper Point: Breathtaking Coastal Drama Awaits at Padstow’s Edge

stepper point

Just a short walk from Padstow’s bustling harbour lies Stepper Point, a dramatic headland offering a captivating blend of coastal scenery, rich history, and stunning natural beauty. Lace up your walking boots and embark on a scenic journey along the South West Coast Path, taking in panoramic views of the Camel Estuary and the wild Atlantic Ocean beyond.

As you round the headland, be greeted by the iconic 40-foot Daymark tower, a silent sentinel standing guard since the 1830s. Originally intended as a navigational aid for sailors, it now serves as a landmark and a reminder of Padstow’s maritime heritage. Take a moment to climb the tower (if open to the public) and be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree vistas that encompass the town, the estuary, and the rugged Cornish coastline.

History buffs will appreciate the remnants of a quarry on the river side of the point. Though its intended purpose of clearing a path for ships was never fully realized, the abandoned quarry stands as a testament to human endeavor and the ever-changing nature of the coastline.

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you explore Stepper Point. The dramatic cliffs provide a haven for nesting seabirds,while the sheltered coves might reveal playful seals basking on the rocks. Keen walkers can continue past Stepper Point towards Trevone, where the path becomes wilder and the scenery even more dramatic.

Whether you seek a leisurely stroll with breathtaking views, a historical exploration, or a chance to reconnect with nature,Stepper Point offers a captivating escape just moments from the heart of Padstow.

The Camel Trail: A Scenic Pedal Through Cornish Countryside

signpost on camel trail

For a leisurely exploration of Cornwall’s natural beauty, look no further than the Camel Trail. This 18-mile, largely traffic-free path, transformed from a disused railway line, offers a delightful car-free adventure for walkers, cyclists, and even horse riders.

Imagine pedaling along the mostly flat terrain, the gentle Cornish breeze at your back. Lush greenery engulfs you on either side, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle. The trail meanders alongside the picturesque Camel Estuary, a haven for birdlife, with opportunities to spot herons, egrets, and even the occasional kingfisher.

The Camel Trail caters to all abilities. Families with young children can enjoy a gentle ride along the smoother sections,while seasoned cyclists can tackle the entire route, taking in the diverse landscapes. Keep an eye out for charming villages along the way, offering perfect pitstops for refreshments or a scrumptious Cornish pasty.

Beyond the scenic beauty, the Camel Trail is steeped in history. Traces of the railway’s past can still be seen, from bridges and tunnels to old stations converted into cafes. Information boards scattered along the route provide fascinating insights into the region’s rich heritage.

Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly outing, a scenic cycling adventure, or a chance to delve into Cornwall’s past, the Camel Trail offers a unique and unforgettable experience. So, hop on your bike, lace up your walking boots, or saddle up for a horse ride, and embark on a delightful journey along this captivating Cornish trail.

The trail goes though Bodmin, so here is a post about things to do in Bodmin.

Dive into Conservation at the National Lobster Hatchery: Padstow’s Marine Marvel

lobster being held in hand

Nestled on Padstow’s South Quay lies a unique gem – the National Lobster Hatchery. This isn’t your ordinary aquarium; it’s a pioneering marine conservation, research, and education center dedicated to the European lobster, a commercially exploited species. Step inside and embark on an educational journey into the fascinating world of these crustaceans.

Witness the entire lifecycle of the lobster firsthand. Marvel at the translucent intricacies of tiny lobster larvae, observe pregnant “berried” females carrying their precious cargo, and even come face-to-face with giant lobsters, some weighing in at a staggering 10kg! Interactive exhibits and informative talks delve deep into lobster biology, highlighting the challenges they face in the wild.

The National Lobster Hatchery isn’t just about observation; it’s a place to learn about their vital conservation efforts.Discover how the hatchery works to replenish wild lobster stocks, ensuring the sustainability of this iconic species.Witness the meticulous process of raising lobster larvae from fragile hatchlings to robust juveniles before releasing them back into the ocean.

Beyond lobsters, the hatchery showcases the diverse marine life teeming in Cornish waters. Explore touch pools teeming with starfish, crabs, and sea anemones, or witness the mesmerizing underwater world through giant viewing windows.The on-site gift shop offers a delightful selection of lobster-themed souvenirs and educational resources.

Whether you’re a marine biology enthusiast, a curious family seeking a fun and educational outing, or simply someone fascinated by the wonders of the ocean, the National Lobster Hatchery offers a captivating glimpse into the world of lobsters and the critical role they play in our marine ecosystems.

Step Back in Time at Prideaux Place: A Journey Through Cornish History

prideaux place

Perched atop a hill overlooking Padstow’s charming harbour lies Prideaux Place, a magnificent Elizabethan manor house boasting over 400 years of history. This captivating residence, still home to the Prideaux family, offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore the grand legacy of Cornwall.

As you approach the house, its impressive E-shaped facade adorned with intricate details instantly transports you back to the 16th century. Embark on a guided tour and wander through a treasure trove of period rooms, each with its own distinct character. Marvel at the grandeur of the Great Hall, adorned with a magnificent fireplace, or lose yourself in the intricate plasterwork and ornately carved furniture in the Drawing Room.

Prideaux Place isn’t just about grand interiors; it’s a living testament to the evolution of architectural styles. Witness the seamless blend of Elizabethan grandeur with the later additions of 18th-century Strawberry Hill Gothic touches, creating a unique and captivating atmosphere. Don’t miss the charming Stable Courtyard, a glimpse into the estate’s self-sufficiency over the centuries.

Beyond the house itself, explore the beautifully landscaped gardens, a haven of tranquility overlooking the Camel Estuary. Imagine strolling through the meticulously maintained lawns, or enjoying a picnic lunch amidst the vibrant flowerbeds. For a touch of history, seek out the 18th-century Temple and Exedra, offering picturesque backdrops and a glimpse into the garden’s rich heritage.

Prideaux Place offers more than just a historical experience. Throughout the year, the house comes alive with exciting events. Witness Shakespearean plays performed on the expansive lawn, or lose yourself in the captivating melodies of open-air concerts under the Cornish sky. The on-site tearoom caters to weary explorers, offering delicious refreshments with stunning views.

Whether you’re a history buff yearning for a glimpse into Cornwall’s past, a family seeking a fun and educational outing,or simply an admirer of architectural beauty, Prideaux Place offers an unforgettable experience. It’s a captivating blend of history, grandeur, and natural beauty, waiting to be explored in the heart of Padstow.

Padstow’s Culinary Delights: A Foodie’s Paradise Awaits


Padstow has transcended its charming fishing village roots to become a renowned foodie destination. From Michelin-starred establishments to harborside cafes, the town offers a delightful array of restaurants catering to every palate and budget.

For the ultimate fine-dining experience, secure a reservation at Paul Ainsworth at No. 6. This Michelin-starred gem showcases modern takes on fresh, locally sourced ingredients in an elegant setting.

If you crave fresh seafood, Padstow delivers in spades. Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, a Padstow institution, offers classic and contemporary seafood dishes in a bustling atmosphere. For a more casual setting, Pucelli’s Restaurant serves up delicious Italian pastas and seafood pizzas with stunning harbour views.

Don’t be fooled by Padstow’s fancy reputation; family-friendly options abound. The Seafood Restaurant also offers a dedicated children’s menu, while Ben’s Crib Box Cafe provides a relaxed environment with a focus on fresh, local produce. For a quick bite, grab a delicious Cornish pasty from The Cornish Bakery, a local favorite.

Beyond the established restaurants, Padstow boasts hidden gems. Greens of Padstow, located on the North Quay, offers a stylish setting for enjoying classic cafe dishes, drinks, and even a round of mini-golf. For a touch of tapas-style dining,head to Prawn on the Lawn, where you can savour small plates of fresh seafood with a vibrant atmosphere.

No matter your culinary preference, Padstow guarantees a memorable dining experience. Fresh seafood reigns supreme,but a diverse range of cuisines ensures something to tempt every taste bud. Whether you’re seeking a Michelin-starred spectacle or a casual Harbourside meal, Padstow’s restaurants offer a delightful fusion of fresh flavours, stunning settings,and genuine Cornish charm.

Padstow History Tour” by Malcolm McCarthy offers a fascinating journey through the rich history of Padstow. This book provides a comprehensive overview, featuring historical photographs and insightful commentary. It’s an excellent resource for history enthusiasts and visitors alike, illuminating Padstow’s cultural heritage and evolution over the years.

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padstow history

Make a Splash at Retallack Aqua Park: Padstow’s Inflatable Adventure

retallack aqua park

While Padstow itself isn’t directly on the coast (it sits on the Camel Estuary), a short drive inland takes you to Retallack Resort, home to Retallack Aqua Park. This aquatic playground offers a day of refreshing fun and exhilarating challenges for the whole family, perfect for those seeking an adventurous break from exploring Padstow’s charming streets.

Get ready to bounce, splash, and race your way through a series of inflatable obstacles sprawled across the resort’s lake.Imagine tackling a giant inflatable trampoline, navigating a slippery climbing wall, or conquering a daring wipeout obstacle course. The park caters to all ages and abilities, with dedicated areas for younger children and more challenging sections for thrill-seekers.

Safety is a top priority at Retallack Aqua Park. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the day, and all participants receive a quick safety briefing before diving into the inflatable fun. Don’t worry about packing your own gear; all you need is a swimsuit and a towel to enjoy a splashtastic adventure.

Beyond the aqua park itself, Retallack Resort offers additional activities to keep you entertained throughout the day. Test your surfing skills on Cornwall’s only FlowRider, a thrilling wave simulator that lets you experience the exhilaration of catching a wave without hitting the ocean. For a more relaxed experience, take a scenic ride around the lake on a Ringo inflatable, or simply soak up the sun on the designated beach area.

Retallack Aqua Park isn’t just about the activities; it’s a place to create lasting memories with your loved ones. Laughter fills the air as families and friends navigate the obstacles, while the cheers of accomplishment and the thrill of a good wipeout create an unforgettable atmosphere.

So, if you’re looking for a fun-filled day trip away from the charm of Padstow, pack your swimsuits, grab your sense of adventure, and head to Retallack Aqua Park for an exhilarating day of splashing, bouncing, and laughter on Cornwall’s inflatable playground.

Padstow is a famous place for visitors and locals to explore and this is not surprising as it is a lovely town. My family think fish and chips at the harbour is one of the best meals in Cornwall!

While in the area, have a look at some of the other things to do in North Cornwall and in nearby Rock & Polzeath.

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