25 best things to do in Penzance, Cornwall (2023 guide)

Are you searching for things to do in Penzance? This blog post goes into them all! 

The furthest southwesterly town in the UK, Penzance may not be the prettiest seaside town in Cornwall, but it’s steeped in fascinating history and is one of the best places to enjoy local culture.

Beautiful beaches are just a short journey away, you can see the iconic St Michael’s Mount as you look over the sweeping views of Mount’s Bay and it has plenty of amenities while being in prime location to enjoy West Cornwall’s best attractions. 

I’ve been to Penzance countless times, as I have family members living in the area. If you’re wondering about the best Penzance attractions, read on!

Things to do in Penzance

The best things to do in Penzance in Penwith, Cornwall include swimming at the Jubilee Lido pool, learning about Cornwall’s history, strolling along the promenade, fresh fish in Newlyn and enjoying surrounding places like St Michael’s Mount and the picturesque village of Mousehole.

Jubilee Pool

Jubilee Pool in Penzance

If you’re visiting Penzance in the summer season (or even in the winter – I’ll go into why below!), then you’ve got to check out the Jubilee Pool.

This art deco open-air swimming pool dates back to 1935, making it one of the longest running popular Penzance attractions – it’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot day.

It sits right by the coastline but it’s safer than swimming in the open water (you can swim in the water in Mount’s Bay, but there are always safety considerations to bear in mind when in the sea).

This makes it a popular attraction for families, but it’s fun for all ages! 

It has two parts – the open-air art deco seawater pool and the geothermal pool, which is usually 10 degrees or so warmer. The geothermal pool opened in 2020 and was the first of its kind in the UK. 

The geothermal pool is even open on some dates in winter – but if you’re visiting on a hot day, the main Jubilee Pool isn’t too cold.

So pop by, have a swim and enjoy the sun!

There is a cafe on-site, but there aren’t any loungers (take camping chairs if you want somewhere to sit!).

Click here to buy tickets for the Jubilee Pool

Walking Tour

Penzance Walking Tour

From swashbuckling pirates to conniving smugglers, Penzance has many historical stories to tell!

Learn about its fascinating history and explore the main tourist attractions on a historical walking tour. It’s even free! 

When my partner and I were in Penzance a couple of years ago, we did this fascinating walking tour led by Anna, who has lived in Penzance for years. 

She’ll tell you about Barbaray Pirates and the havoc that they caused on the Mount’s Bay coast, go into the ancient people of Penwith and discuss what Penzance was like as a thriving market town. 

The free tours run on Wednesdays at 4pm and Sundays at 10 am.

You can do tours at other times, but these cost £7.50 per person.

The meeting point is outside Penzance Railway Station, but currently, you must book in advance. See Anna’s website here.

You can also do a self-guided walking tour around Penzance’s main tourist attractions. See directions here.

Admiral Benbow Inn

The Admiral Benbow Inn which is a historic pub with smuggling connections in Penzance. It's a white building with yellow windowframes and a pirate figure on the roof.

The striking Admiral Benbow Inn, complete with a pirate statue lying along the top, is one of the most historic pubs in Penzance.

This pub has a long history of smuggling; it used to be somewhere where infamous smugglers hid their illicit goods before selling it on the black market. 

It’s worth popping into Admiral Benbow for a drink (they also have an extensive menu serving up sandwiches, pies and more!).

The inn used to be owned by Roland Morris, a famous wreck diver, and he decorated the interior with lots of treasures found on the shipwrecks; so by stepping inside, you can dive right into some of Cornwall’s most interesting history. 

If you’re interested in shipwrecks and treasure, don’t miss the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, which is one of the best things to do in Charlestown in southeast Cornwall.

Chapel Street

Turks Head oldest pub in Penzance

Chapel Street is my favourite part of Penzance. It is full of fascinating historical buildings, each with its own story to tell.

The Egyptian House

Egyptian House on Chapel Street in Penzance; it's a Georgian house that was decorated in the style of the time.

This is the most prominent building in town. It’s a Georgian house that has no link to Egypt, other than the decor – it was simply fashionable to have this sort of decoration at the time.

Turk’s Head

Turk's Head, the oldest pub in Penzance where there was a smuggler's tunnel down to the harbour.

Thought to be the oldest pub in Penzance, there are reportedly tunnels from the pub that lead down to the harbour, which was used for smuggling. There has been a pub has been on this site since the 12th century.

It is called the Turk’s Head because, in the days of Barbary Pirates, everyone from Africa/ Asia was very politically incorrectly called Turks.

They managed to capture and behead one of the pirates and hung it outside this pub for all to see.

It’s retained this name until today!

Maria Branwell’s childhood home

Maria Branwell House

A little further down the street is the house where Maria Branwell lived, the mother of the Bronte sisters.

She was from a prosperous family in Penzance but moved up to Yorkshire to be with Patrick Bronte, who was from a much poorer family!

Historic Lloyds Bank

Historic bank building that's located in the old market house, with a statue in the foreground.

Market Jew Street, the main high street of Penzance, isn’t exactly a beautiful shopping street; it’s a little run down and is mainly full of chain stores! 

At the top of the street, you’ll find Lloyds Bank. Situated in the historic market house, this building dates back nearly 200 years to 1838. 

There was a competition to select an architect to design the building; the winners were a London-based firm, but they didn’t actually end up designing it because their rates were too expensive! 

The building has gorgeous columns, a domed roof and a huge portico entrance. 

There’s a statue of Sir Humphrey Davy outside the front of the bank. He was a renowned Cornish electrician, but he was probably most famous for creating the Davy lamp, which was a safe lamp that miners used when working. 

Stroll along Penzance promenade

Penzance promenade runs along the waters of Mount’s Bay, and it’s a lovely place to go for a stroll.

There are views stretching to Newlyn and Mousehole one way, and the other way, you’ll see St Michael’s Mount, Marazion and even Lizard Point, the furthest south point in mainland UK. 

Enjoy views of the boats bobbing on the water, the sound of seagulls in the air and fresh salt as you stroll along! 

Visit the war memorial and Battery Rocks

Girl standing on Battery Rocks in Penzance, wearing a pink jumper and black leggings, looking into the distance.

The Battery Rocks and war memorial sit just off Penzance promenade. 

The War Memorial is devoted to the men in West Penwith who died in the World Wars. It’s a sombre place for reflection. 

War memorial in Penzance, dedicated to all of the men from Penwith that fought in the World Wars. It stands against the sea and a cloudy sky.

Sitting just behind it are the Battery Rocks. This is a quiet spot in Penzance where you can sit on the rocks, look out over the sea and enjoy some picnic food. 

You can explore the rock pools and paddle here, but do be careful if the tide is coming in or if the waves are particularly large. 

Hop around Penzance’s cafes

The honey pot cafe in Penzance. It's a shot of the corner of the street, with white building and blue lettering on the cafe.

Being a sizeable town, Penzance has an excellent restaurant scene.

The Honey Pot Cafe is my favourite – it serves up fresh coffee and healthy breakfasts, brunches and lunches. I visited on my most recent trip to Penzance, and enjoyed an oat cappuccino and a warm ciabatta from St Ives bakery with halloumi, butternut squash puree and rocket.

A ciabatta at the honey pot cafe with rocket, squash puree and halloumi on a white plate.

There was also a healthy breakfast on the menu, with garlic field mushrooms, homemade beans, paprika wedges, cherry vine tomatoes and vegetarian sausages.

Another cafe that’s worth visiting is Hellys Deli Cafe, where you can enjoy breakfast baps, full Cornish breakfasts and cream teas.

One of the best cafes in Penzance, a 2 minute walk from the harbour. The walls are pink and there is an outdoor seating area.

Penlee House Gallery and Museum

Penlee House Gallery and Museum is an art gallery and acts as the town museum, detailing stories from Penwith. 

Downstairs, you’ll find paintings of the beautiful scenery and townscapes around Penzance, along with paintings inspired by famous artworks.

Penlee House Museum and Gallery, a white building which is where artworks and historical artefacts are displayed. It's a white building with steps leading up to it.

Many of the artworks were created by artists from the Newlyn School, a group of artists who began the Plein Air movement (painting entire pictures outdoors) in the country. Newlyn School members included Walter Langley and Stanhope Forbes.

There are a few other art galleries upstairs, along with a historical museum which focuses on history from the Stone Age to the present day.

Exhibits at the Penlee Gallery and Museum in Penzance, all about the history of the town.

There’s also a gift shop and busy cafe on site, serving dishes like sandwiches and jacket potatoes.

Out the front of Penlee House Gallery and Museum, you’ll find the Penlee Cross, which is believed to date back to the 11th century.

Cornish cross outside of the Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance in Cornwall

You can also walk around Penlee Park, which is a lovely subtropical park with gorgeous palm trees. These aren’t native to Cornwall, but the climate is mild enough for them to survive in!

Morrab Gardens

Morrab Gardens, gorgeous subtropical gardens with exotic plants in the heart of Penzance. This is a lawn, surrounded by plants with a fountain in the middle.

Morrab Gardens stretch from close to the seafront to the heart of Penzance town centre.

Because of West Cornwall’s sub-tropical location, you’ll find plants here that you won’t see elsewhere on the British Isles – like agave, palm trees, and banana plants!

Some of the exotic trees in Morrab Gardens in the heart of Penzance

There are also manmade features, like a Boer War memorial, a fountain and a bandstand.

It’s a lovely place for a stroll and is usually much quieter than walking along the coastline.

Visit nearby Mousehole

Mousehole in West Cornwall

With narrow streets winding down toward a gorgeous harbour, famous for bright blue waters with colourful boats bobbing on the water, Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel) is one of the most beautiful villages in Cornwall.

It has a long history spanning back to ancient towns – its harbour was once much more important than Penzance. 

boats in traditional fishing harbour of Mousehole at Cornwall

The best things to do in Mousehole include taking a walking tour with a local guide (Elaine who’s a Mousehole local – more information here), enjoying the beach, swimming or stand-up paddle boarding, shopping or dining at some of the cafes.

You could even walk to the nearby village of Paul to find the grave of Dolly Pentreath, the last monoglot Cornish speaker!

Mousehole, a village near Penzance in Cornwall

However, you can feel the charm of Mousehole just by strolling around the charming village, admiring the historic fishing cottages and strolling uphill to enjoy a charming view of the harbour. 

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

St Michael’s Mount

St Michael's Mount island in Cornwall

A rocky island just out of the sea with a dramatic, historical castle on top, St Michael’s Mount is one of Cornwall’s bucket-list destinations. 

The island is located in nearby Marazion, but you can see it from Penzance bay.

This National Trust-owned castle has a long history spanning back to ancient times.

Church at St Michael's Mount

It was once a place of pilgrimage, although the Medieval castle that stands today was built in the 12th century.

The island was a hotbed of conflict and violence for centuries, although it has enjoyed relative peace and stability since the Civil War period.

You can visit the castle to learn all about its fascinating history, as well as see the gorgeous gardens and walk around the island itself, taking in excellent views of the Cornish coast at every turn.

St Micheal's Mount Castle

There is also a cafe and gift shop on the island.

If you are a National Trust member, your visit is free – although you may still need to pay for a boat crossing if you are unable to use the causeway.

Here is my full guide to visiting St Michael’s Mount.

Trengwainton Garden

Trengwainton Garden is another National Trust-run property – this one’s situated just inland from Penzance!

With colourful flowers, woodland paths, wide-open spaces and beautiful sea views from specific points, the manicured Trengwainton Garden is an excellent place for an afternoon stroll.

Some parts of the gardens are accessible for visitors in a wheelchair, and multiple areas have been designated as silent spaces where you can enjoy nature and reflect.

Dogs on leads are welcome.

To get to Trengwainton Garden, it’s a 7-minute drive from Penzance town centre, or you can take the 18 bus.

Polgoon Vineyard

Polgoon cider

There are quite a few incredible wineries in Cornwall, and Polgoon vineyard is no exception – it’s definitely one of the places to visit in Penzance.

In this lush vineyard, the owners make wine, cider and soft drinks (all certified vegan).

You can visit for a guided or self-guided tour – both options include a walk around the vineyard and a tasting at the end.

Stroll around Tremenheere sculpture gardens

Another wonderful subtropical garden close to Penzance, Termenheere also showcases gorgeous sculptures made by Cornish artists. 

Bask in the nature of the gardens and take in views of the sea from gorgeous picnic spots. 

In fact, these gardens are so gorgeous that they’re actually a wedding venue! 

See the Merry Maidens

Merry maidens stone circle magaliths in Cornwall

Penwith, the area of West Cornwall which Penzance is the main town of, has a long-spanning history back to the Neolithic-early Bronze Age (2500-1500 BC), when the settlers at the time built stone circles. 

Legend has it that the stone circles were a circle of girls who were dancing on the Sabbath. As they were still dancing after midnight, they were turned into stone for their impropriety! 

There were also allegedly two pipers who were playing the music that the maidens were dancing to. These pipers were petrified and the monoliths (thought to be the largest in Cornwall) stand around 300 metres away in a nearby field. 

The actual story is probably that they were put in place for ceremonies. 

Visit Chysauster

Chysuster was a Romano-British courtyard house village dating back almost 2,000 years. 

It was an ancient town, although it looks very different to towns today! Nowadays, it mostly stands in a ruinous state, although you can find rows of terraced houses and winding roads. 

It’s run by the English Heritage and there’s a small fee to visit. If you’re an English Heritage member you can enter for free. 

See the pebbly beach

Pebble Beach between Newlyn and Penzance, which spans between the two towns. The historic buildings of Newlyn in the background.

This is definitely not one of Cornwall’s top beaches, but if you’re looking for somewhere where you can paddle in the water or walk right alongside the sea, head to the pebble beach in front of Wherryton Playground.

This is the closest beach to Penzance – although below you’ll find a list of much better beaches in the area!

Visit the beaches near Penzance

Newlyn Beach

There are plenty of sandy beaches around Penzance, ideal for an afternoon of relaxing! Here are my favourites:

Pedn Vounder Beach

Photo of Pedn Vounder Beach near Porthcurno Cornwall England UK Europe

One of the best beaches in Cornwall, Pedn Vounder is rugged and isolated, with golden sands and towering cliffs. It is a bit difficult to get to – there is no car park right by the beach, and you need to walk 45 minutes to get there – but it has stunning white sands and gorgeous blue waters.

Long Rock Beach

One of the closest sandy beaches to Penzance, Long Rock Beach is popular with families. Although there is no lifeguard cover, it is a popular place for swimming and windsurfing (Marazion lifeguards can cover the eastern end in the busy months).

Perranuthnoe Beach

A popular sandy beach, these sands are located down from the village of Perranuthnoe. There is no lifeguard cover at this beach.

Marazion Beach

View from Marazion Beach of St Michaels Mount at high tide. Cornwall, England, United Kingdom

This is a lovely long sandy beach, with epic views over the water to St Michael’s Mount and lots of watersports opportunities. Due to its proximity to St Michael’s Mount, it is very popular.

Lamorna Cove Beach

Located by the isolated village of Larmorna, this beach is Ia beautiful spot and is popular with swimmers, although there is no lifeguard service.

Be careful if you are using the car park. It must be paid for, even if you are only there briefly – I know of lots of people have been fined in recent years. It is cash only.

Mousehole Beach

View of Mousehole beach

This charming stretch of sand in Mousehole village is the perfect accompaniment to a day trip there. There is no lifeguard cover, but it is a famous beach, and the harbour is calm and loved by paddleboarders. There is also a rocky beach on the eastern side of the village.

Praa Sands Beach

Praa Sands Cornwall England near Penzance and Mullion on the South West Coast Path with sandy beach and blue sky and white fluffy clouds on a beautiful sunny day

Known for its beautiful white sands and decent surf for the South Coast of Cornwall, Praa Sands is popular with families in the summer and has a full lifeguard service.

It is a 20 minute drive from Penzance town centre, or you can take the U4 bus.

Hike to Porthcurno

Aerial view of the village of Mousehole. From the vantage point, you can see the sea and harbour, with the village spreading out and fields behind.

The South West Coast Path traverses through Penzance, and you can enjoy coastal walks on both sides.

From Penzance, you could hike all the way to Porthcurno.

This is easy at first as you walk through Newlyn and Mousehole and a little more challenging as you hike around Lamorna.

As you reach Porthcurno, you’ll take in stunning views from the cliffs into beautiful sandy coves and be able to gaze over the bright blue Atlantic Ocean. 

It’s 11.3 miles or 18.2 km in total. 

Hike to Praa Sands

On the coast path approaching Sydney Cove at Praa Sands Cornwall England UK Europe

In the other direction, you can take the South West Coast Path to Marazion and St Micheal’s Mount and then venture to Praa Sands.

This walk starts very easy, but gets progressively more challenging as you pass through Prussia Cove and Perranunthoe.

However, Praa Sands Beach is a relaxing oasis after a tough day of hiking; here you can put your feet up and enjoy a cold drink, taking in vistas of the waves, before taking the U4 bus or a taxi back to Penzance. 

Go on a marine life watching boat trip

View of St Michael's Mount over Mount's Bay

Life revolves around the sea in Penzance, making it a wonderful place to head out on the water and look out for wildlife! 

Hop in a Cygnus Cyfish vessel with Mermaid Pleasure Trips. They operate tours around Mount’s Bay and running all the way to Porthcurno. En-route, you’ll have the chance to look out for wildlife like basking sharks, dolphins and whales. 

Of course, you’ll also catch some glorious views of South Cornwall from another unique vantage point – the water!

The skipper, Adrian Thomas, has spent a lifetime sailing around the waters, even spending a stint living on St Michael’s Mount! 

Or take a fishing trip

If you’re interested in the fishing culture of this part of Cornwall, why not hop into a boat and test it out for yourself? 

Mermaid Pleasure Trips also offer fishing tours, running two, four or eight hours. Some focus on fishing for mackerel, whereas others are deep sea fishing trips. 

You can learn more about them by clicking here. 

Take the boat to the Isles of Scilly

Isles of Scilly

We couldn’t have a list of the best things to see in Penzance without including the glorious Isles of Scilly!

These are Cornwall’s very own subtropical islands, sitting in the Atlantic Ocean some 28 miles from Land’s End. 

They’re among the best things to do near Penzance because you can take a boat (the Scillion) from Penzance Harbour to the islands. It takes 2 hours 45 minutes and it’s a popular day trip destination. 

There are also helicopter tours available. 

On the islands, you’ll find gorgeous beaches, the charismatic town centre of Hugh Town, the glorious Tresco Abbey Gardens, common sightings of wildlife like seals and the relaxation of being in a place with few cars!

The Isles of Scilly have been called the “UK’s answer to the Maldives“, and you’ll see why even by just a short trip there. 

Of course, you can also visit the Isles of Scilly for a longer period (you’ll need to book accommodation in advance). Flights are available from Land’s End, Newquay and Exeter Airports, and of course there’s the Scillion boat that leaves from Penzance Harbour. 

Things to do in Newlyn

A statue in the foreground with the buildings of Newlyn in the background, with the sea and grey skies

Newlyn is about a mile away from Penzance – it’s easy to walk there along the promenade – and while it’s a small place, it has one of the country’s biggest fishing ports.

It’s worth visiting the town from Penzance and checking out the meadery, art gallery and fish shops.

Newlyn Meadery

Newlyn Meadery, a Medieval themed restaurant close to Penzance

West Cornwall has a few meaderies – that is, restaurants that make and serve mead, along with hearty dinners. 

Mead is a beverage that is made by fermenting water and honey. It has historically been popular throughout Cornwall, although more so in Medieval times.

Several restaurants across Cornwall have cashed in on mead, and now offer the beverage in Medieval-themed restaurants. One of these is the Newlyn Meadery, which serves up different types of mead and dinners with huge portions, with options for any dietary requirement in an old-worldy atmosphere. 

If you’re looking for unique restaurants in Cornwall, Newlyn Meadery is definitely one to visit!

Seafood in Newlyn

Seafood in Newlyn

Newlyn is famous for fishing, with 600 boats visiting it each day making it one of the biggest fishing fleets in the country.

The fishing industry has historically been critical to Cornwall, and while the region nowadays revolves more around tourism, Newlyn is still one of the prime fishing hubs.

If you like seafood, you’ll find fresh produce in Newlyn. Head to the Cornwall fishing co shop, where you can either purchase seafood to take away (perfect if you’re staying in self-catered accommodation) or you can make an order for seafood to be delivered to your door anywhere in the UK. 

If you’re in town on the August bank holiday, don’t miss the Newlyn Fish Festival, a celebration of all the seafood that can be found throughout Cornish waters! 

Newlyn Art Gallery

Newlyn Art Gallery, made from grey stones, where Newlyn artist work is displayed.

Cornwall is an arty place, and one of its primary creative enclaves is Newlyn, which is where the plein air (painting outside) movement started. 

You can learn all about this and see some contemporary art at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange.

With various exhibitions focusing on modern art, some permanent and others temporary, as well as many workshops and events, there’s plenty to marvel at here.

This is ideal for when you are wondering what to do in Penzance on a rainy day!

About Penzance

Penzance harbour on a cloudy January day, with boats in the harbour and historic buildings lined on the skyline.

Penzance is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and mainland Britain.

The origins

Its name has evolved from Pensans, which means ‘holy headland’ in Cornish.

The first settlers in the local area built stone circles and monuments, like the Merry Maidens that sit five miles from Penzance centre. 

Gradually, a harbour built up, thanks to the town’s coastal location on the English Channel. 

Surrounding Marazion and Mousehole both have much more historic harbours, and they were historically more significant.

However, Penzance harbour developed over the 16th and 17th centuries.

Pirates of Penzance

Many people know about Penzance because of the Pirates of Penzance.

You’d think that this is a play about local pirates – but it actually has nothing to do with Penzance other than the name (and most locals don’t like it!).

In terms of actual Cornish pirates, they did exist – but the pirates who left their mark on the town were the Barbary pirates.

These pirates came from what is now Morocco and pillaged Devon and Cornwall, taking thousands of men, women and children and capturing them as slaves.

Penzance certainly suffered hugely at the hand of these bandits, and they are still remembered throughout the town.

Penzance harbour on a cloudy January day, with boats in the harbour and historic buildings lined on the skyline.

Spanish invasion

In the 17th century, the Spaniards came to town – after the Spanish Armada, they landed at Mousehole and burnt the village to the ground.

They also attacked Penzance and Newlyn before being defeated by the British army.


Up until the 18th century, coastal Cornwall (notably the South coast) revolved around the smuggling trade.

You can visit the Admiral Benbrow Inn and the Turks Head which both had smuggling connections. 

Growth in tourism

The railway came to Penzance in 1852 and brought tourism with it.

The town promised breaks in the fresh air, status as a gateway to the beaches and charms of West Cornwall and new hotels were built to accommodate the influx of visitors. 

Poster of Penzance that dates back to the first tourism boom, with a view over Mount's Bay and a palm tree in the foreground.

Penzance today

Penzance remains a small town, with a population of 21,200.

Being the furthest southwest major town in the country, it’s quite remote, but the fact that it has a main railway station means that it’s connected fairly well to the rest of the country.

It also enjoys a prosperous tourism and fishing industry. 

Where is Penzance? 

Penzance Harbour

Penzance is the furthest west major town in Cornwall, sitting just 10 miles from Land’s End. Its nearest city is Truro, some 25 miles/ 40 kilometres away.

It’s around 73 miles/ 117 kilometres from the River Tamar, which is the border of Cornwall and Devon.

How to get to Penzance

Although Penzance is quite far away from most places in the country, it is fairly easy to get to.

The town is connected to London, Reading, Exeter, Plymouth and other towns in Cornwall by a National Rail service. You can even take the night train to Penzance from London!

There are also coach services. 

It sits on the A30 which terminates in Exeter and by the M5, so it is also quite easy to get to if you are driving.

Just a word of warning – the A30 can be incredibly busy, especially during the popular summer months! 

Where to park in Penzance

I always park in Penzance Harbour Car Park which is located right by the station. This is convenient for the town centre, and it’s always got lots of space. The rates are affordable too; a max of £6.60 for up to 24 hours.

Things to do around Penzance

lands end, Cornwall

Often thought of as the gateway to West Cornwall, there are lots of things that you can do around Penzance! 

  • St Ives: This beautiful town is an artist’s haven, with incredible beaches and a fun holiday atmosphere, home to the TATE Gallery, Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Gardens and Seal Island which is home to a friendly colony of seals. 
  • Porthcurno: Visit Porthcurno to explore the beautiful white sand beaches, gaze at the dramatic Minack Theatre and learn about historic communications from Cornwall at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. 
  • Sennen Cove: Popular with surfers, Sennen Cove is a beachy resort village. You could also visit the First and Last Inn at Sennen, which is a historic pub with smuggling connections. 
  • Lizard Peninsula: Jutting out from the county’s south coast, encompassing a few miles of rugged coastline until it terminates at Lizard Point, the Lizard Peninsula has beautiful beaches including Kynance Cove and stunning walking trails.
  • Helston: Home to the Museum of Cornish life and plenty of historic buildings, Helston is situated just before the Lizard Peninsula.
  • Falmouth: my favourite town in Cornwall, quirky Falmouth is home to an array of restaurants with food from all corners of the globe, popular tourist attractions Pendennis Castle and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.
  • Truro: Cornwall’s only city, Truro it is home to the Royal Cornwall Museum (the best history museum focusing on Cornish culture) and Truro Cathedral, amongst other attractions. It’s also a popular place to go shopping.
Aerial view of St Ives in the evening, Cornwall, UK

Where to stay in Penzance

There are a few great places to stay in Penzance, including guesthouses, pubs with bedrooms and self-catering properties, like holiday homes and apartments.

Many tourists also stay in nearby Mousehole which has lots of rental cottages, but it can be very busy in peak season!

The Longboat Inn

The Longboat Inn is located right by Penzance station and is a friendly pub with cosy rooms above.

All rooms are en-suite and have HD TVs and tea and coffee making facilities.

You can enjoy breakfast downstairs each day.

Click here to read more about the accommodation and to book.

The Dolphin Tavern

Outside of the Dolphin Tavern, a stone building in Penzance that's a popular place to eat and stay.

The Dolphin Tavern is a historic pub on Penzance Harbour with comfortable rooms, all furnished with a wardrobe and flat-screen TV.

Breakfast is served at the Dolphin Tavern each morning, with vegetarian options available.

Click here to read more and to reserve your room.

Hotel Penzance

This hotel is a 4 star property with modern, stylish rooms and beautiful views across Penzance Bay.

There is a swimming pool and Mediterranean gardens on-site, as well as a guest lounge displaying modern artwork.

There is also a restaurant serving modern European cuisine with an outdoor decked terrace area.

Click here to read more and book your stay.

 FAQs about Penzance

A view up the road of Quay Street in Penzance, with a church at the top.

Are The Pirates of Penzance real?

The Pirates of Penzance is a play very loosely based on Cornish swashbucklers, but it’s not fact-based at all. The real pirates of Penzance were the Barbary Pirates, who pillaged the South Cornwall coastline up until the 19th century (they were most active in the 17th century).

Is Penzance worth visiting?

Penzance is worth visiting if you want to experience local Cornish life, learn about West Cornwall’s history and enjoy the many restaurants. it’s also a great base to explore places like Mousehole, St Micheal’s Mount and Porthcurno, which are all nearby.

What is Penzance famous for?

Penzance is famous for being the gateway to West Cornwall tourism, for its beautiful harbour and being the jumping spot for the Isles of Scilly. It’s also only a mile from Newlyn which is famous as one of the UK’s biggest fishing ports.

Which is better St Ives or Penzance?

If you’re after quintessential Cornish fishing towns with, St Ives is definitely better than Penzance – but the tourists know it, and it’s always much busier! However, Penzance has a great deal of history and more local life than the nearby St Ives.

Does Penzance have a beach?

Penzance has a small pebbly beach en route to Newlyn, which is a popular local spot for swimming. The nearest sandy beach is Longrock Beach, which is about two miles from Penzance (40 minutes drive or a quick drive or bus ride).

Did Penzance really have pirates?

There have always been pirates in the waters of Cornwall! The Barbary Pirates were most infamous, although there were also pirates who came from Cornwall and loitered in the waters around Penzance. But the Pirates of Penzance film wasn’t based on fact – many locals don’t like it!

Is Penzance in Cornwall nice?

Penzance certainly has its charms, including beautiful historic buildings and a pleasant harbour. It’s not as beautiful as many other towns and villages in Cornwall, but there are lots of things to do here like the Jubilee Lido and the historic Chapel Street.

What is the main street in Penzance?

The main street in Penzance is called Market Jew Street. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Jewish faith – instead, it comes from the original name, Marghas d’Yow which means “Thursday market” in the Cornish language – taken from the fact that a market took place here on Thursdays.

Is Penzance a popular holiday destination?

Penzance isn’t as popular as other resort towns in Cornwall, it’s more of a local town which means that it has some great restaurant options and more of a local vibe – there are still plenty of places to stay in town though!

Is Penzance safe at night?

Penzance (and all of Cornwall) isn’t a dangerous place, but take common precautions if you’re walking around at night. It’s not recommended to walk in deserted places alone in the darkness; stick to well-lit areas, walk in groups or take a bus or taxi.

The best Penzance attractions!

From learning about its history to enjoying the beaches, there are so many fun things to do in Penzance.

Follow this guide on your visit, and you’ll be able to see the very best of the town!

Also, check out the rest of my Cornwall posts to plan the rest of your holiday in this beautiful part of the country.

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