The harbour town of Padstow sits on the Camel Estuary and is everything you expect from a quintessential Cornish town.
Its quaint streets, colourful harbour and array of shops, galleries and restaurants make it a memorable day out. It is surrounded by an area of natural beauty, with numerous stunning beaches. Aside from various things to do in Padstow itself, the town is an ideal launch pad for exploring the scenery and wildlife further afield.
Explore the Camel Trail
Padstow is surrounded by stunning landscape and the Camel Trail is a popular and easy way to explore it. Perfect for cycling or walking, the trail follows the old railway line and stretches from Padstow inland towards Wadebridge and eventually Bodmin Moor. It winds alongside the river Camel with glorious views across the water and beyond.
Visit the art galleries
The vibrant harbour and neighbouring streets are the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Soak up the character and culture of the town as you wind your way through the picturesque lanes and browse the shops and galleries. As with many Cornish towns, Padstow has a deep artistic heritage and is home to many flourishing local artists. Be inspired by the work of local glass maker Jo Downs. Her glass gallery features fused glass ornaments, jewellery and statement pieces, all inspired by the Cornish coast, and her made to order pieces are commissioned internationally.
Sample the catch of the day
Padstow has gained an international reputation for its quality local dining, particularly for fresh fish and seafood. Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at Rick Stein’s prestigious Seafood Restaurant or simply order fish and chips to take with you as you explore the harbour. Most restaurants serve local, freshly caught seafood on their menu, as well as sourcing many of their other ingredients from local suppliers. So take the opportunity to enjoy the food and drink Cornwall has to offer.
This magnificent stately home stands above the town and offers a change from the bustle of the streets below. The Elizabethan manor house was completed in 1592 and is still the home of the original family. As well as the house itself, there are beautifully kept gardens and a deer park to explore, as well as tea rooms to stop for a drink.
National Lobster Hatchery
If you are looking for things to do in Padstow on a rainy day, the National Lobster Hatchery has an award winning visitors centre. You can meet baby lobsters and observe them through the stages of their lifecycle along with other crabs and marine life. The local lobster population is at risk and this charity breeds and reintegrates the animals back into the ocean, as well as raising awareness for their fragile state.
Head to the Beach
The coast around Padstow offers a stunning array of beaches to choose from. Walk from Padstow towards the mouth of the estuary to find Hawkers Cove, where the sand stretches for 1 ½ miles at low tide. Due to the lack of carpark this beach is often quiet despite its proximity to the town. If you prefer a shorter walk you could stop at either Harbour Cove or St Georges Cove one the way. Both offer views across the Camel Estuary.
For a more family friendly beach trip Harlyn Bay is spacious and golden, a popular choice for those with children. The beaches at Constantine Bay or Trevone Bay are the best choice if you are looking for surf.
Trips or tours
Since the surroundings of Padstow are so beautiful, day trips and tours are a worthwhile way to break up time spent on the beach. Boat trips run regularly from the harbour and take visitors exploring down the estuary and along the coastline. There are also heritage tours available, which can be a pricy option but showcase the best of Cornwall and take care of all the logistics.
Ferry trip to Rock
On the opposite side of the estuary lies the town of Rock, an upmarket holiday destination for the rich and famous. Despite its name, Rock is surrounded by golden sand that stretches along the river Camel and is a calm setting for fishing, rowing or other water sports. A passenger ferry runs daily from Padstow Harbour allowing holiday makers to take a look at life on the other side.
Local wine tasting
You may associate vineyards with the South of France, but Trevibban Mill vineyard and orchard offer wine tasting and tours. Employing ethical, natural farming methods, Trevibban Mill has 11,000 vines, 1,700 apple trees and produce a range of still and sparkling wines. It also boasts a state of the art winery, cellar and tasting room.
There are guided walking tours of the vineyard on Wednesdays and Thursdays or a tour of the whole estate on Sunday mornings. You can then sample the wine whilst enjoying the beautiful views across the St Issey Valley.
Obby Oss parade
If you are visiting at the start of May, you may catch the Obby Oss parade, one of the UK’s oldest surviving festivals. Celebrating the start of the summer season, the parade of dancers pass through the streets following one of two people dressed as hobby horses, or “obby osses”, who try and catch passing maidens. A truly unique glimpse into Cornwall’s past.
Visitors really are spoilt for choice of things to do in Padstow and the surrounding area. If you are thinking of staying for more than a day visit, check out our recommendations some of the best places to stay in Padstow here.