There are so many things to do in Fowey!
Sitting on the Fowey Estuary, this tiny town is packed with tonnes of attractions and historical quirks.
Despite the spelling, it’s actually pronounced “Foy” – locals say that’s so it rhymes with joy!
The town was first established in around the 7th century, when the first church was born.
Nowadays, it’s a labryinth of ancient streets, weaving out to a scenic harbour.
You can see most of Fowey in a day, but it’s also a lovely place to spend a staycation.
You can also use it as a base to explore the rest of the southeast Cornish coastline!
I’ve visited Fowey countless times, as I live fairly nearby and have family in the area.
In fact, my dad lived in a house on Fowey esplanade when he was a toddler!
So, I’ve put together this list of Fowey attractions based on my trips to the town.
If you’re wondering what to do in Fowey, here is some inspiration.
Things to do in Fowey
The best things to do in Fowey include St Catherine’s Castle which is right by Readymoney Cove, the beautiful coloured houses of the Esplanade, the fascinating Fowey Museumand taking to the water – either on a cruise of the harbour and river or try out watersports.
1. Walk along the Fowey Esplanade
The Fowey Esplanade is a wonderful part of the town and is one of my favourite narrow streets in Cornwall.
With pastel-coloured terraced houses, this street connects Readymoney Cove to Fowey. It’s a beautiful place to take some photos, and there are also a few bars and restaurants, including Pintxo, a tapas and sherry bar.
Nowadays, the houses are all holiday homes, but they are very historic.
Some used to function as accommodation for police officers – I know this because my granddad used to be the police officer of Fowey, and he and his family lived here when my dad was very young!
2. Explore the town’s history at Fowey Museum
If you’re interested in history, Fowey Museum is a treasure trove of information.
There’s loads to discover here – from the history of Daphne Du Maurier to Fowey’s contribution to the D Day landings.
It only costs £1 to enter, and it’s well worth popping into to find a little more about the town!
3. See some at at the Fowey River Gallery
Cornwall is famous for its excellent art galleries, and Fowey River Gallery is no exception.
They showcase lots of different local artists, with varying displays throughout the year.
You’ll find something different every time you visit!
4. Visit the fish at Fowey Aquarium
Fowey Aquarium is a small enterprise that houses some of the fish that you’ll find around the South Cornish seaside.
The aquarium is relatively small, and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable about how packed in the fish were – but it is somewhere to educate people about marine life.
5. Embark on a Fowey River Cruise
When you’re in Fowey, you’ve got to take to the water!
You can take a boat trip up and down the estuary.
You’ll go past Daphne Du Maurier’s old house, see some epic views of the Fowey estuary from the river, and learn about the china clay industry.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to get a view of St Catherine’s Castle!
You can book Fowey cruises at the stall by the harbour.
Speaking of Daphne Du Maurier, when my granddad was the policeman in Fowey, he used to do house visits.
One of his favourite houses to visit was Daphne Du Maurier’s because the chef would always make him a ham sandwich!
Unlike Greenway (Agatha Christie’s old house near Dartmouth), Du Maurier’s former home isn’t open to the public.
But your boat trip guide will tell you a little about the house as you sail past!
6. Go Kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding
Fowey’s estuary location makes it the ideal place for watersports.
You can go paddle boarding or kayaking up and down the river, which is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the scenery!
For information about renting, click here.
It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Fowey!
7. Rent your own boat
If you want a unique experience, you can also rent your own boat in Fowey!
You’ll have the chance to explore the estuary independently and see some of the best views.
8. Climb on board the Land Train
If you want to explore Fowey’s attractions more, try the land train.
This takes you around the town and acts as a guided tour.
It’ll help you understand Fowey’s history and culture on a deeper level!
You can purchase tickets to the Land Train at its starting point close to the harbour.
9. Take the Polruan Ferry
The Polruan Ferry connects Fowey and Polruan, a historic fishing village with a boatyard.
The village is built on a steep hill, and it’s a lovely place for a walk around and visiting bars and restaurants.
10. Visit Lantic Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches near Fowey
An hour’s walk from Polruan along the South West Coast Path is Lantic Bay.
This is a paradise beach, run by the National Trust, that doesn’t see too many tourists because it isn’t very accessible.
You will need to do a steep climb down to the beach, so only attempt it if you are physically able to.
You’ll walk along the South West Coast Path for the first part of it, taking in the panoramic views of the Cornish coast before descending onto the beach itself.
It’s worth the trek – it’s a relatively quiet, paradise-like beach with little in the way of people.
If you’ve got a spare afternoon while in Fowey, I definitely recommend spending it at Lantic Bay!
11. Walk to Gribbin Head on the South West Coast Path
Gribbin Head is another excellent walk from Fowey along the South West Coast Path.
This is a beautiful section of the coastal path – you’ll see where Daphne Du Maurier got her inspiration from as you hike and take in the stunning views of the coast below you!
It is 2.8 miles, or just under 5 kilometres, to Gribbin Head.
On the way back, you can retrace your steps for a short distance and then follow a route through the countryside.
12. Find some literature at Shrew Books
This bookstore (which used to be called Bookends of Fowey), is a popular Fowey attraction in the centre of town.
It is an independent store selling all sorts of books, with a particular emphasis on Cornish literature.
Located in a picturesque blue building, it’s a lovely shop to pop into while you’re in town!
13. Climb up to St Catherine’s Castle
Built by Henry VIII in the 15th century, St Catherine’s Castle defended the estuary and it is today one of the best places to visit in Fowey.
St Catherine’s Castle is the smallest castle in Cornwall, and it is quite difficult to get to.
An uphill path leads from the west side of Readymoney Cove.
It’s often overgrown, making the castle difficult to access!
If you take the boat up the Fowey Estuary, you’ll be able to get a good view of the castle.
14. Kick back on Readymoney Cove
Readymoney Beach is the main town beach of Fowey and one of the best in Cornwall.
Surrounded by towering cliffs, it is a beautiful family-friendly sheltered cove that is perfect for swimming or watersports.
Located just a 10 minute walk from the town, it’s ideal for picnicking or spending a sunny afternoon!
There are toilets available, as well as a cafe that is open in the summer.
Taking a stroll here is definitely one of the best things to do in Fowey!
15. Embark on the Fowey Hall Walk
The Fowey Hall Walk is a lovely, lush walk along the Fowey River and around Pont Pill, traversing through both Fowey and Polruan.
The walk’s four miles in total, but it also incorporates two ferry crossings.
What to eat and drink in Fowey
What else is there to do in Fowey? Eat some delicious food, and sample lots of Cornish beverages! Here are the places where you can do that.
Tarquins Gin Shop
If you’re a fan of gin, make sure that you head to this shop!
Tarquins has a huge range of their Cornish gins – you can do a tasting of different flavours or buy a bottle to take home with you!
Try Fowey Mussels
Fowey is perhaps most famous for its mussels, which are picked from the river.
You’ll find Fowey mussels on restaurant menus all over Cornwall, Devon and further afield – but why not try them here, where they’re as fresh as possible!
Try Havener’s Fowey for the best mussels.
Another lovely place to eat in Fowey is Bufala.
They serve up delicious pizzas and have amazing harbour views from their terrace.
Like most Cornish towns, Fowey is teeming with pasty shops.
The Cornish Bakery is a chain, but they have a huge range of pasties, including vegetarian options and other Cornish staples like cream teas!
The Best Things to do near Fowey
Fowey’s in an excellent place for day trips around East and Central Cornwall. Here’s my pick of the best!
Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Lost Gardens of Heligan are a unique place to visit in Cornwall. This botanical garden has lots of unique plants and fascinating history.
It was part of the Heligan estate, which was run by the Tremayne’s (also people I have a family connection to!).
However, it was a hidden garden for decades, as the estate fell into disrepair in World War One, and the gardens were only rediscovered in the 1990s.
The gardens remain one of the most popular attractions in Cornwall, so definitely visit them while you’re in Fowey!
They are a 35 minute drive from the town.
Restormel Castle is a popular Cornish castle.
It was made in the 13th century as a summer retreat for its wealthy owners.
It is an English Heritage property nowadays and is mainly ruins, but it is set in beautiful countryside.
It’s a 25 minute drive from Fowey.
Bodmin Moor is one of the best places for hiking in Cornwall.
The huge moor is famous for its wild, foreboding atmosphere and two peaks – Rough Tor and Brown Willy – being the highest in Cornwall.
If you are into hiking, it’s definitely worth doing a day hike on Bodmin Moor.
You can also visit Jamaica Inn, a historic coaching house that used to be a smuggler’s hideaway but is nowadays a hotel and restaurant.
Bodmin Jail is one of the best tourist attractions in this part of Cornwall.
The jail operated during Victorian times, and if you visit, you’ll have the chance to see the old cells and see what the penal system was like during this period.
It is nowadays an immersive experience that helps you really feel how unjust and unfair the prison system could be.
It’s worth going with a tour guide, but you can also do a self-guided tour.
There are also lots of other things to do in Bodmin, so you could make a whole day trip out of it!
Where to stay in Fowey
Although it’s only a small town, there are a few decent places to stay in Fowey. Here are my favourites!
The Ship Inn is a pub with rooms.
All rooms are cleaned to perfection and have cosy furniture with modern en suite bathrooms.
Of course, you can also enjoy all the food and drink at the pub below!
Havener’s is a popular pub with boutique-style rooms.
There is a restaurant downstairs serving delicious seafood, and each room upstairs is decorated to perfection.
It’s also in a great position right on the harbour.
Trenython Manor Hotel and Spa is located just out of Fowey and is a popular hotel with spa facilities.
Rooms are beautifully decorated, and there is a restaurant on site.
How to get to Fowey
Most tourists drive to Fowey – take the M5 or A303 to Exeter, and then change to the A38. Follow this road into Cornwall – you’ll cross over The Tamar Bridge – and then take the A390 to Lostwithiel. Turn onto the B3269, which will take you down to Fowey.
Fowey is an ancient fishing port, starting its life in around the 7th century.
But as Plymouth grew, Fowey harbour lost its significance.
However, fishing was still a big part of life here throughout the centuries.
It played a part in D Day in World War Two – Fowey was the main port where ammunition was loaded to land on Omaha Beach in Normandy.
In recent years, it was famous for being famous novelist Daphne Du Maurier‘s home – she loved the beautiful heritage coast and moved here, basing many of her books on the surrounding areas of the ancient harbour town.
Nowadays, it is a popular spot with holidaymakers, with lots of tourist attractions, charming narrow lanes, an amazing range of nearby beaches, and plenty of delicious food options.
Like many Cornish towns and villages, it can be packed in the summer months, but Fowey has an irresistible charm even in the middle of winter.
As it’s located in East Cornwall, it’s a great destination for a weekend trip to the region.
FAQs about visiting Fowey
Is Fowey worth a visit?
Absolutely, Fowey is definitely worth a visit.
It’s a picturesque harbor town boasting a rich maritime history that dates back centuries.
Add to that, the stunning estuary views, mouthwatering seafood, and quaint boutique shops, and you have an enchanting blend of nature and culture, making it somewhere that you won’t be forgetting in a hurry!
Why is Fowey famous
Fowey is famous for several reasons, not least its rich maritime history, which has left an indelible mark on its culture and identity.
But perhaps it’s most well-known as the home of renowned novelist Daphne du Maurier.
Her novels often drew inspiration from Fowey and its beautiful surroundings, helping to put this charming town firmly on the literary map.
Did Daphne du Maurier live in Fowey
Yes, the celebrated British novelist Daphne du Maurier did indeed make Fowey her home.
She spent many of her most productive years living in this picturesque Cornish town – this was when my dad and granddad lived in town too!
The wonderful landscapes and the seafaring life of Fowey provided a fertile ground for her imagination and feature prominently in her much-loved works.
Does Fowey have a beach
Yes, Fowey does have a beach.
The delightful Readymoney Cove is located near the mouth of the River Fowey.
This sheltered spot offers a safe space for families to enjoy the sand and surf, and the panoramic views of the surrounding coastline make it a favourite among both locals and visitors.
Where is Daphne du Maurier’s house in Fowey
Daphne du Maurier’s house, known as ‘Ferryside,’ is situated in Bodinnick, a quaint village just across the river estuary from Fowey.
You can still see this beautiful house, where the author penned many of her famous works, from the Fowey side of the river.
However, it’s a private property, so you can’t enter!
Which famous person lived in Fowey
Daphne du Maurier, one of the most popular British authors of the 20th century, lived in Fowey.
Her novels, such as “Rebecca” and “Jamaica Inn,” were greatly inspired by Cornwall’s picturesque scenery and intriguing history.
How do you pronounce Fowey in Cornwall
Despite its spelling, Fowey is pronounced “Foy.”
But locals say “that’s so it rhymes with joy”!
It’s one of the Cornish place names that are always pronounced wrong.
Can you walk along the River Fowey
Yes, walking along the River Fowey is a popular activity while you’re in town.
There are numerous paths, such as the Hall Walk, that wind along the river, providing walkers with breathtaking views of the town and its surrounding natural beauty.
It’s a wonderful way to experience Fowey’s tranquillity and charm.
Is Fowey very hilly
Fowey is built on the side of a hill, resulting in a town that is quite steep in places!
The narrow streets wind their way up and down, offering spectacular views of the harbour and estuary.
It adds to the town’s charm, but do be prepared for a bit of a climb!
Does Fowey have a castle
Yes, Fowey is home to the ruins of St. Catherine’s Castle.
Built during the reign of Henry VIII, this small fortress stands guard over the entrance to the harbour.
A short walk from the town centre, the castle offers splendid views of the estuary.
What village is across from Fowey
The village of Polruan is located directly across the river estuary from Fowey.
A charming and peaceful hamlet, Polruan can be reached by a ferry service that runs regularly from Fowey.
Are you ready to check out the best Fowey attractions?
From the winding cobblestone streets to the Medieval harbour, Fowey’s the type of small town that immediatley draws you in.
Whether you’re after artisan shops, an attractive coastline, or delicious food, you’ll love all of these Fowey attractions!
Be sure to add it to your Cornwall itinerary, and check out the rest of my Cornwall posts for more information about visiting this part of South West England.