The area around Porthleven has been inhabited for over 1000 years, and with its iconic location as Britain’s most southerly working port, you can see why.
It’s large enough to cater for visitors but still retains its character as an unspoilt fishing village, with a friendly atmosphere, several good restaurants and a pleasant beach.
Always popular with artists and craftspeople there’s a healthy sprinkle of galleries, and with its location right on the Coast Path, it’s the ideal base for a walking holiday.
Also, with a reputation as one of the stormiest places in the UK, this little fishing town is a photographer’s dream! So, get ready to snap some dramatic pics that’d make NatGeo jealous.
The main street of the town runs along the harbour. Which is the central hub of activity. Here, you’ll find a bustling fishing port with colourful fishing boats bobbing in the water as fishermen unload their catch of the day. The harbour is surrounded by traditional Cornish cottages that have been beautifully preserved, creating a quaint and picturesque atmosphere.
Crazily, the harbour faces Southwest, directly into the path of wild winter Atlantic storms. Consequently, the sea walls and harbour are enormous.
As you explore the town, you’ll notice that the streets are narrow and winding, adding to the town’s unique charm. Lined with a variety of independent shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants, you’ll have plenty of options for shopping and dining. Overall, the layout of Porthleven is compact and easy to navigate,
There are remarkable rock pools west of the harbour entrance during low tide, and there’s a colossal rock called the Moonstone, which is a unique 50-ton rock not found elsewhere in the United Kingdom. According to the latest theory, this rock drifted on an iceberg from northern Europe.
From the cliffs, you can observe the abandoned engine houses of Rinsey’s tin mine. The village also offers a clear view of Tregonning Hill, an extinct volcano where China clay was initially discovered in this country and subsequently transported through the harbour.
How to get to Porthleven
First things first – getting there! Whether you’re road-tripping, hopping on a bus, or riding the rails, reaching this charming Cornish village is a breeze. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by stunning coastal views, delicious seafood and a standing ovation of seagulls ready to help you out with that oversized portion of chips.
Porthleven is easily accessible by car, with good road links to the rest of Cornwall and the UK. If you’re coming from London, take the M4 westbound and then switch to the M5 southbound towards Exeter. From there, follow the A30 to Cornwall and take the exit for Porthleven. There are several car parks available in the town, including the Harbour Car Park, which is located right in the centre of town.
The nearest train station to Porthleven is in the town of Camborne, which is about 12 miles away. From Camborne, you can take a taxi or bus to Porthleven. Alternatively, you can take a train to Penzance, which is about 14 miles away, and then take a taxi or bus to Porthleven.
National Express offer services to Penzance from London, Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth. From there Porthleven is only 45 minutes on one of the frequent local buses. The main bus stop in town is located on the harbour.
The nearest airport is Newquay Airport, which is about 35 miles away. From there, you can take a taxi or hire a car to drive to Porthleven. Other nearby airports include Exeter Airport (about 80 miles away) and Bristol Airport (about 130 miles away).
What to See and Do
Porthleven is a treasure trove of excitement and relaxation! Wander around the delightful harbour, dip your toes into thrilling water sports, or embark on a scenic hike along the Porthleven Coastal Path. For those seeking retail therapy, the town boasts an array of quirky shops and galleries. And if you want to unwind, bask in the breath-taking natural beauty of the area by lounging on one of its stunning beaches.
The Clock Tower – The clock tower is THE iconic landmark of Porthleven. It was built in the 19th century and offers visitors a great vantage point to see the town and its surroundings. Situated right on the harbourside, you won’t miss it. Inside there’s an exhibit, about the tower and you can climb to the top. Oh, and it FREE!
Climbing – Porthleven is not only a charming seaside town but also a great destination for climbing enthusiasts. The town and its surrounding areas offer a wide range of climbing opportunities, from beginner-friendly routes to challenging climbs that require technical skills and experience. With its rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs, and stunning views, Porthleven’ll give you everything you need for a unique and thrilling climbing experience.
Explore the Local Art Scene – Porthleven has a thriving art scene, with many galleries and studios showcasing the work of local artists. You can also find a variety of outdoor art installations dotted around the town.
And if you want to really immerse yourself in the local culture and learn a new skill you can take a pottery class.
Seal-Watching Boat Tour – Porthleven is home to a large population of grey seals, and a boat tour is the perfect way to get up close and personal with their barks and grunts.
Get Wet and Wild – For the adventurous explorer in you, Vertical Blue Adventures offer Sea kayaking, paddleboarding and coasteering trips. Whether you want a relaxing paddle or are craving that falling feeling, they have several options to satisfy your wild needs.
Where to Stay
Porthleven has a range of fantastic accommodation options to suit different needs and preferences, whether you’re looking for a cosy inn by the harbour, a stylish boutique hotel with sea views, or a quiet coastal cottage retreat! Here’s a selection of highlights to get you started:
The Harbour Inn is a charming retreat for those seeking a peaceful getaway. With its idyllic setting and cosy rooms adorned with stunning views of the ocean, the inn offers guests a quintessential Cornish experience. As a testament to their commitment to tradition, the on-site restaurant and bar serves local seafood and ales, which perfectly complements the warm and friendly atmosphere that characterizes the inn. Whether it is savouring the delicious spread on the menu, enjoying the beautiful view of the harbour or listening to live music, guests are sure to create timeless memories during their stay at Harbour Inn.
The Artist Loft
For travellers seeking a unique and artful stay, The Artist Loft offers a boutique B&B experience that is both charming and inviting. The rooms are adorned with original artwork and vintage furnishings, showcasing the talent and creativity of local artists. Guests can enjoy a peaceful night’s rest in comfortable beds, waking up to a delicious breakfast served in a bright and airy dining room. With its prime location near the coast, visitors can indulge in picturesque views and explore the charming town The Artist Loft undoubtedly provides an exceptional and memorable accommodation option for those looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Cornwall.
Penrose Campsite offers a peaceful and serene camping experience amid the picturesque Cornish countryside. It is conveniently located at a walking distance from Porthleven and the breathtaking Cornish coast. The campsite is situated on the B3304, linking Helston and Porthleven, making it easy to access from different parts of the region. Tents and campervans are welcome on the site, and the exclusion of caravans ensures an ambiance of tranquillity and peacefulness, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Come to Penrose Campsite and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Cornwall.
Beacon Crag BnB
Located on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful Porthleven, Beacon Crag stands as a stunningly romantic retreat, exuding a luxurious and welcoming aura. The breathtaking views over the ocean, paired with the cosy and beautiful rooms, make it a perfect place to unwind and forget about the world outside, aided by the use of a hot tub providing an ideal end to a perfect day. With outstanding breakfasts to wake up to each morning, alongside the incredibly hospitable hosts, Beacon Crag offers not only a stunning escape, but also an unforgettable experience.
Eating and Drinking
Porthleven is a foodie’s delight, with a range of restaurants and cafes serving up delicious local seafood, traditional Cornish dishes, and international cuisine. Here are some of the standout options:
Kota: This award-winning (Michelin guide rated) restaurant offers a fusion of Asian and European cuisine, with a focus on fresh seafood and local ingredients.
Amélies: This charming French-inspired restaurant is located in a historic building overlooking the harbour, and offers a range of classic French dishes, as well as local seafood and other international favourites.
The Square: This popular gastropub offers a menu of traditional British pub fare with a modern twist, as well as a range of local ales and ciders.
The Mussel Shoal: A welcoming spot right on the harbour walls for visitors looking for delicious mussels and a warm, hospitable atmosphere.
The Harbour Inn: This cosy pub is located just a short walk from the harbour, and offers a range of hearty pub grub, as well as local ales and ciders.
Shopping in Porthleven
With a range of unique independent shops and boutiques selling everything from local crafts and artisanal goods to designer clothing and homewares.
The Shipyard Market is a bustling hub of activity, filled with small businesses selling unique and one-of-a-kind items. You can browse through handmade crafts, vintage clothing, and local artwork, all while supporting the local economy. If you’re looking for more, there several beach huts with small craft sellers around the harbour, along with boutique shops dotted through the town.
If you’re staying near by, you’ll be delighted to discover Pengelly’s Supermarket, a family-owned and operated gem in the heart of the town. With a strong focus on locally-sourced products, Pengelly’s offers a wide range of groceries from fresh produce, meats, and dairy to beer, wine, and cider. You can find popular brands as well as unique and specialty items that are hard to find elsewhere. The friendly staff will be more than happy to help you find what you’re looking for and offer recommendations on local favourites. You can also take advantage of their delivery service, which is available throughout the Porthleven area
Prepare to be bewitched by the beauty of the area around Porthleven! Stroll the South West Coast Path, take in the panoramic views of the coast, and let the salty sea breeze invigorate your senses. To satisfy your inner culture vulture, visit the National Trust properties such as the Godolphin Estate, Trelissick Gardens, and St Michael’s Mount where you can immerse yourself in some rich Cornish history.
A short trip South and you’ll arrive at The Lizard Peninsula with Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, the largest satellite receiving station on the planet.
An even shorter trip East and there’s Cornish theme parks like Flambards for the kids (and even bigger kids.)
To the West, Penzance will serve all your grocery needs. And not even 30 minutes to the North, Falmouth is a bustling energetic town which is great for a spot of shopping or a night out!
Porthleven – A Storm Watchers Dream
Porthleven is like Cornish Cobalt.
It’s old, raw, and rich in history… But now polished to a shine, with artsy galleries, delectable restaurants, and a wealth of fresh new activities to keep you wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. The perfect balance between old and new.
Meet Ben, a wanderlust-stricken wordsmith hailing from the surf paradise of Newquay. With a pen and a passion for storytelling in hand, from rugged coastal hikes to secret spots off the beaten tourist path, join Ben as he guides you through the very best of what Cornwall has to offer.