19 fun things to do in Padstow, Cornwall (updated for 2024)

If you’re looking for things to do in Padstow, this blog post is for you!

Inside, you’ll find a full list of the best Padstow attractions from my numerous trips.

When tourists think of Padstow, they usually think of delectable food, a picturesque harbour and the dramatic north coast of Cornwall.

The town is small – you can walk around the centre in 15 minutes or so – but it is packed with attractions that appeal to all the senses.

Try some delicious food, breathe in the salty air of being so close to the coastline, gaze at the beautiful boats on the harbour and take a trip out onto the Camel Estuary or the ocean.

There are a lot more things to do in Padstow than originally meets the eye – and one thing’s for sure, you’ll be heading back here to visit time and time again. 

I should know – I’ve visited Padstow countless times, as I live a short distance away in Devon and have Cornish family living nearby – so I often pass through the charming harbour town.

So, if you’re after a full Padstow travel guide, read on!

Things to do in Padstow

The best things to do in Padstow include:

  • enjoying its rich culinary scene
  • hiking around the South West Coast Path
  • learning about lobster conservation at the National Lobster Hatchery
  • going back in time at Prideaux Place
  • visiting the many nearby beaches, including Constantine Bay
  • doing a sea safari

Read on for our full list!

1. Eat at one (or a few!) of the many restaurants

Caffe Rojano Pizza Padstow

Padstow is somewhat famous for its food scene, largely thanks to its celebrity chef Rick Stein who spent many long childhood holidays in town. 

He opened up his famous seafood restaurant in 1975, which was the catalyst for other celebrity chefs (including Paul Ainsworth) to set up their own restaurants in town. 

Nowadays, you’ll find not only Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant, fish and chip restaurant and deli and gift shop but also Paul Ainsworth’s Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at Number Six and Caffe Rojano, an Italian restaurant. 

My mum, my partner and I once went to Caffe Rojano; we found that it had the best vegetarian options and lower prices than most other Padstow establishments!

I would recommend the vegetarian pizza – my mum and boyfriend had the crab and salmon pasta and said it was delicious, although the portion size was small! 

Are you after dessert? I recommend the puddings or cream teas at Cherry Trees Coffee House (which has some vegan cakes!) or ice cream at Roskillys. 

For coffee, head to Cherry Trees Coffee House. I had the best plant-based cappuccino of my life there! 

Other options include Barnaby’s which is famous for its fresh fish.

Personally, while I’ve got nothing against Rick Stein, I find his restaurants to be quite overpriced; you can usually find much cheaper dishes elsewhere! 

In fact, I’ve been told by locals that the best fish and chips in Padstow is infact the local chippy, Chip Ahoy. You can find it on Google maps by clicking here.

2. Take in the atmosphere of Padstow harbour

Padstow Harbour in North Cornwall

A quintessential Cornish harbour with boats gently bobbing on the water, you can happily plod around Padstow, people-watching or spending quality time with your travel companions! 

The harbour is always busy with boat traffic, and there’s a mix of pleasure boats and fishing vessels. Padstow’s harbour is mainly focused on tourism, but the angling boats nod to its historic seafood trade! 

To enjoy Padstow Harbour at its best, grab a coffee from Cherry Trees Coffee House (which is right on the harbour), take a seat on one of the benches and gaze over the river as it spans to Rock

It’s no surprise that Padstow Harbour is one of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall!

3. Do one of the popular boat trips

Fishing boat arrives in the port of Padstow at the Camel estuary in north Cornwall.

If watching the boats isn’t enough, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of passenger boats that you can jump on and explore more of the estuary!

Padstow Sea Life Safaris 

Padstow Sealife Safaris offer excursions to explore the wild coastline of North Cornwall, with seabirds and mammals like seals, whales and dolphins amongst the crashing waves. 

The boat company offers tours like:

  • one hour Camel Estuary powerboat tour
  • one-hour coastline powerboat tour
  • one hour seal safari tour, a two hour sea life safari tour and more.

You can see their offerings here.

Jubilee Queen

Another option for boat trips in Padstow is Jubilee Queen, which has been cruising around Padstow for over 40 years.

They offer 1.5-hour boat trips at fairly affordable rates; from the deck, you can witness the stunning North Cornish nature and wildlife.

I was booked onto one of these tours during my last trip to Padstow – but it was actually cancelled due to the weather (which I didn’t think was that bad – although sea conditions may have factored into it) – so do bear in mind that these tours can be weather dependant. 

If it’s cancelled, however, you will get a full refund.

You can see their website here

4. Explore the Padstow Museum

Padstow Museum

Situated in the heart of town, the Padstow Museum showcases a mine of information about the town’s history.

Whether you want to learn about the ancient Halyn Burial Site, the origins of Mayday in Padstow and shipwrecks around the town. 

The museum is staffed by volunteers and is free to enter – but donations are always welcome to enable it to continue running. 

5. Learn about lobsters at the National Lobster Hatchery

Padstow Lobster Photos

Discover some of Padstow’s loveliest residents at the National Lobster Hatchery!

Aiming to educate people about the importance of protecting the vulnerable lobster population in the area, Padstow is essentially a museum about lobsters and their habitats. 

But you’ll also encounter a few opportunities to see baby lobsters themselves and lots of information about looking after our oceans.

It’s well worth visiting while you’re in town!

Tickets cost £7.50 per person (concessions are available), which mainly goes towards protecting the lobsters. 

6. Cycle the River Camel Trail

What better way to burn off all that glorious Padstow food? 

The Camel Trail is a disused railway that runs beside the scenic Camel Estuary.

It takes in some of the most breathtaking riverside views and wildlife of North Cornwall.

The 18-mile Camel Trail is predominantly a cycling track, although you could also hike or run along it! 

It connects Padstow and Wenfordbridge via Wadebridge and Bodmin.

The gently-flowing Camel River is known for its rolling hills and beautiful river beaches.

Don’t want to travel the entire hiking trail? You could just walk to Wadebridge or Bodmin; the distance between Padstow and Wadebridge is 5.5 miles and between Padstow and Bodmin is 11.25 miles.

On your return leg, the 11A bus connects the three towns.  

Padstow Cycle Hire rents out bikes at affordable rates and they’re also a mine of information about the Camel Trail. 

6. Go beer tasting at the Padstow Brewing Co

Beer Tasting Rooms Padstow

Feeling thirsty after all that sightseeing? Head to the Padstow Brewing Co., a bar famous for its craft beer.

You can purchase a tasting flight of beer where you can try a few different brands.

Don’t like beer? You can also enjoy a glass of wine or a gin and tonic.

I also got some of the best olives I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried a lot) there! 

Or, if you’re in Padstow at 4pm on a Thursday, join in one of their guided tastings

These run through six of their beers, with commentary on the different flavours of each. 

7. Visit Prideaux Place

Step back into North Cornwall’s history by visiting Prideaux Place. 

This grade one-listed country house, a stone’s throw from Padstow, dates back to 1592. 

The vast Elizabethan manor house is open for tours, where you can explore the period decor and learn about what daily life in the house was like. 

From the house, step out into the gardens and deer park, from which there are views over Rough Tor and Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor (Cornwall’s tow highest peaks). 

Prideaux Place is privately owned – it is actually still inhabited by the same family that it was built for.

This means that unfortunately, it is not free for National Trust members!

(Although you can check out some other National Trust properties in Cornwall by clicking here). 

You can read more about Prideaux Place on their website.

8. See the best Padstow beaches

While Padstow is not directly on the coast, it is part of the Camel Estuary and there are plenty of sandy beaches just a short journey away. 

  • Harlyn Bay Beach is home to the Harlyn Bay Surf School, where you can surf or go paddleboarding. 
  • Trevone Bay is one of the most popular nearby beaches. It is one of Cornwall’s seven blue flag beaches and is popular with experienced surfers (although there is a powerful rip off the beach). 
  • Daymer Bay Beach is on the other side of the estuary – you can take the Rock ferry to reach it. The sands stretch from Rock to Polzeath. It’s not safe to swim here but it’s a beautiful spot for hiking. 
  • Booby’s Bay is a dog-friendly beach not too far from Padstow. It has many rock pools visible at low tide and is lifeguarded during the summer months. However, the water is often flagged as dangerous for swimming and surfing due to its position. This beach is for experienced surfers only. 
  • Bedruthan Steps are a little further from Padstow, but they are well worth visiting. Here, you can enjoy the dramatic rock stacks and stumps which jut out into the Mediterranean-blue waters. It’s a National Trust site and while you can’t climb down to the beach at the moment, they are well worth visiting. 
  • Port Quin is a quiet nearby cove that is great for paddleboarding. There are no facilities here, so come with a picnic! 

You can read all about the beautiful beaches near Padstow in this blog post.

9. Attend the Rick Stein cookery school

Not only does Rick Stein own a restaurant, a fish and chip shop and a deli in Padstow – you can also learn to cook like Stein and head to his cooking school!

Whether you want to learn to fry the juiciest fish or whip up a sumptuous vegetarian curry, the cooking school offers a plethora of courses. 

Just one caveat – Rick himself won’t be giving the lesson, unfortunately! 

You can see all of the options and book on the Rick Stein cookery school website.

10. Tour Tarquin’s Gin Distillery

bottle of gin and mixer Tarquins near Padstow

Padstow Brewing Co. is right in town, but what if gin is more your tipple? 

Gin lovers head Tarquin’s Gin Distillery, located halfway between Padstow and Wadebridge. 

Tarquin Leadbetter is the namesake of his gin company, Tarquin’s Gin.

After living away from Cornwall for a number of years, he decided to return home to Padstow. 

Reliable jobs can be difficult to acquire in Cornwall (the job market is very seasonal) so Tarquin decided to try his hand at making craft gin, initially using his aunt’s shed for the creation process!

A few years later, Tarquin’s Gin was born. 

Nowadays, you’ll see its distinct bottle with a wax seal in bars and restaurants all over Cornwall and the West Country – as well as destinations further afield. 

I even saw Tarquin stocked in a bar on a recent trip to Malta- and it was voted World’s Best Gin at the 2022 San Francisco Spirits Awards.

On a gin tour, you’ll learn all about Tarquin and his gin story and try some of his favourite tipples.

It’s excellent value – you effectively get four drinks included in the £18 for your tour. 

You can read my full post about the Tarquin’s Gin Distillery here.

11. Stay in town for the Obby Oss

Padstow Obby Oss

Cornwall is famous for its unique festivals, and Padstow’s is no exception.

The Obby Oss takes place on May Day every year and is one of the oldest festivals in the UK.

With origins in Pagan customs, nowadays it celebrates the Celtic feast that marks summer approaching.

It’s become an exciting event to ring in the start of the busy season! 

It is essentially a huge may day festival with giant horses with horse recreations walking around everywhere!

Sound bizarre? It is, but if you’re in this area during Mayday, you shouldn’t miss it. 

12. Take a boat over to Rock

The Rock Ferry leads to – you guessed it. Rock, is a stylish village on the other side of the Camel Estuary.

This area of Cornwall is certainly the most star-studded, and yet another celebrity chef – Gordan Ramsay – owns a home in Rock. 

If you’re not all restaurant-ed out by spending a few days in Padstow, there are some more to sample in Rock – I recommend The Mariners (owned by Paul Ainsworth) or Blue Tomato Cafe

Alternatively, head out for a hike along the South West Coastal Path, which runs through the town (technically, the Padstow to Rock ferry is part of the path!).

If you keep following the trail, you’ll end up in the chilled village of Polzeath (pronounced Polzeff) – one of the best beaches for beginner surfing in Cornwall!

The ferry runs throughout the year, seven days per week for most of the year and six days per week in the winter. 

It operates until around 4:30pm out of peak summer season, when it runs until around 7:30pm. 

13. Camel Creek Adventure Park 

Searching for family-friendly adventures? 

Head to Camel Creek Adventure Park and enjoy the Clown Coaster and Creeky’s Water Rush Log Flume! 

An all-weather attraction, Camel Creek boasts rides for all ages – from preschoolers to teens. 

There’s also a mini zoo with meerkats, reptiles and horses and events like storytime and Halloween and Christmas festivities run all year. 

14. Hike to Porthcothan 

Although it’s not coastal, you can still access the South West Coast Path right from the town centre!

One of the best outdoor activities in Cornwall, the coastal path spans the entire Cornish coastline. 

As Padstow sits on the Camel Estuary, it’s part of the path – as hikers need to head inland at Polzeath and take a boat over to Rock to reach the town. 

Padstow to Porthcothan is an easy 13-mile (20km walk) on mainly flat paths or low cliffs.

Extraordinary views of the Cornish coast and beaches like Booby’s Bay await, with crashing waves beneath you and vistas towards Newquay’s coastline. 

The Atlantic Coaster Bus connects Portcothan back with Padstow, making it a glorious day hike that you don’t need a car for! 

15. Hike to Port Isaac

Cove and harbour of Port Isaac, Cornwall, England

Fancy more of a challenge? Take the ferry to Rock and then hike to Polzeath, traversing eastwards to Port Isaac

The coastal path starts resembling a rollercoaster as you reach Port Isaac – but the extra climbing means even more surreal views! 

You’ll end up in the historic fishing port of Port Isaac, home to authentic cottages and filming locations for Doc Martin

Other places to visit near Padstow

Padstow’s central Cornwall location puts it in a fantastic place for day trips – or you could even road trip around a few of the nearby locations!

From Padstow town, you can visit towns like Newquay (famous for surfing, bars and a range of attractions), Bodmin (visit for the moor and Bodmin Jail), Port Isaac (Doc Martin’s stomping ground) and Tintagel (for the epic castle). Here’s a bit more detail about these places!

16. Newquay

Newquay harbour, Cornwall, South West England

Bright blue sea? Check. Towering waves? Check. A range of attractions for all the family? Check. Plenty of pubs and bars? Check. 

Newquay has all the ingredients for a relaxing UK beach trip; making it a holiday centre for the country. 

It does get busy (that’s what happens when your beaches are considered the best for surfing in the UK!), but there’s ample sand to stretch your beach towel out on, along with independent shops and restaurants. 

Close to town, you’ll find attractions like the National Trust property Trerice. 

Here are all the best things to do in Newquay.

17. Port Isaac

Sunset in Port Isaac, Cornwall, South West England

Absorb quintessential Cornish fishing village culture by exploring tiny Port Isaac.

Famous for being the filming location of Doc Martin, Port Isaac is popular with fans of the show to see all of the filming locations

However, it’s absolutely stunning and still well worth visiting – even if you’ve never watched Doc Martin!

Hear the sound of seagulls cawing as you sit on the picturesque harbour or hike up the South West Coast Path to gaze at the stunning scenery. 

You can see all the best things to do in Port Isaac here.

18. Tintagel

Merlin statue at Tintagel

Sitting high on a rocky outcrop, you’ll find the scenic village of Tintagel. 

This village sits amongst some of  Cornwall’s best coastline – hike either side of the village for breathtaking views from clifftops – and is famous for Tintagel Castle, which is allegedly where King Arthur was born!

This has been debated throughout the years, but it was certainly the residence of Medieval monarchs! 

In Tintagel, you’ll also find the King Arthur Hall, the Medieval Post Office and the Tintagel Toy Museum. 

Click here to see all of the best things to do in Tintagel.

19. Bodmin

Golden Glow, The Cheesewring, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

Away from both coastlines, the town of Bodmin is significantly less touristy than many other places in Cornwall. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting.

Here, you’ll find the fascinating Bodmin Jail, a historic prison where Victorian convicts spent time.

Nowadays, it’s been refurbished to create an immersive visitor centre, enabling tourists to go right back in time and witness what the 19th-century penal system was really like. 

Also in town, you’ll find Bodmin Keep, which serves as a military museum – and of course the foreboding Bodmin Moor.

This is a wonderful place for hikes and has the smuggling inn, Jamaica Inn, in the middle. 

Here are all of the best things to do in Bodmin.

The Best Padstow Attractions

Whether you want to spend your days sitting by the harbour, crawling around Padstow’s best dining and drinking establishments, taking to the seas and looking for wildlife or exploring the Camel Estuary and South West Coast Path, Padstow delivers. 

Whatever you’re style, you’ll bask in a wonderful atmosphere in this Cornish holiday town! 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of my Cornwall posts for more information, and feel free to drop me a message on Instagram if you have any questions!

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