Looking for the best things to do in Padstow, Cornwall? You’ve come to the right place! In this guide, I share all the must-see Padstow attractions, followed by some other things to do near Padstow further down.
If you’re looking for a UK holiday destination, you can’t go wrong with Cornwall.
There are so many gorgeous spots in this part of the country, with beaches to rival those in South East Asia.
Padstow is no exception. A quaint and charming fishing town surrounded by dazzling sandy beaches, Padstow was one of our favourite stops during our road trip around Cornwall.
While there is plenty to see and do in the Padstow area, it’s also the perfect spot to kick back and relax. So after spending a couple of nights camping near Padstow, we didn’t want to leave.
But enough about that, and let’s get into what you came here for! Here are the 15 best things to do in and around Padstow.
Things to do in Padstow – 15 Unmissable Padstow Attractions
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Tips for Visiting Padstow
You can jump on ahead if you’re looking to get to the best things to do in Padstow. But otherwise, here are some valuable tips ahead of visiting.
Getting to Padstow
You’ll find Padstow on the Northern Coast of Cornwall.
It’s around 10 miles from popular surf haunt Newquay and about the same from the historic town of Bodmin.
If you’re driving to Cornwall, keep in mind that many of the roads are narrow country lanes.
We certainly had a few hairy moments in our campervan, but the roads can be tricky to navigate, even with a car.
On the bright side, you will encounter some jaw-dropping views. So take it slow, and you will be just fine.
If you want to avoid the roads, coaches run from most major cities around the UK.
You can also catch a train from Paddington in London to several stations in Cornwall.
Best Time to Visit Padstow
To fully enjoy all that Padstow has to offer, you’ll want to visit when it’s warm and dry.
Anywhere from late May through to mid-September offers a reasonable chance of good weather.
However, this is the UK, so it’s always wise to prepare for the odd rainy day.
July & August are the hottest months in Cornwall, but it’s also the school holidays. So everything is busier and more expensive.
We went in September, just after the kids went back to school. It was relatively busy but not unbearably so.
We also hit the jackpot with the weather, spending our days in bikinis on the beach!
Getting Around Padstow
Padstow itself is relatively small. So if you’re fit and able, the best way to see it all is on foot.
To get to the other things to do near Padstow, you’ll need to use your car or public transport.
Padstow is well connected via public transport, and you can reach many popular destinations in Cornwall via bus or train.
Parking in Padstow
If you are coming in a car, parking in Padstow shouldn’t be too difficult.
While you might struggle to find on-street parking in the town, several car parks are located a short walk away.
If you’re looking for somewhere to park a motorhome or campervan, it’s a bit more tricky.
We were able to find a parking spot in the Railway Car Park, where we paid £8 for 12 hours. However, there are only 2 or 3 spaces allocated for campers.
When these spaces are full, motorhomes are allowed to park in the coach spaces, but it’s £8, and you can only stay for 4-hours.
Motorhomes are permitted from 8.00 in the morning, so arrive early for your best chance of getting an all-day spot.
Where to Stay in Padstow
We stayed in our campervan when visiting Padstow; however, there are plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets and interests.
You can use the map below to find and compare local accommodations in the area.
Things to do in Padstow
Now for the fun part!
First, let’s look at what there is to do in Padstow itself.
These attractions are within close proximity of each other, so you can easily cover them on foot in the space of a day or two.
Afterwards, I’ll list some of the other places to see near Padstow in case that’s of any interest to you.
1. Padstow Harbour
Let’s start with what is the centre point of the town – Padstow Harbour.
Lined with impressive boats and ocean views in the distance, the harbour is incredibly picturesque.
It’s made even more impressive with the cute little eateries and bustling bars that sit around the outside.
In the early morning hours, the harbour is incredibly sleepy and peaceful. We loved starting the day there with a coffee and pastry in hand.
As the day goes on and the town gets busier, the harbour takes on a whole new lease of life.
With the sun shining and energies high, we couldn’t help but round off our days in Padstow amongst it all. Beer in hand, of course!
You’ll also want to explore the whimsical little lanes that spur off from the harbour, where you’ll find pastel-coloured houses and quirky little shops.
Which leads us to our next thing to do in Padstow – shopping!
Even if you’re not into shopping, go window shopping because Padstow offers a truly unique shopping experience.
If I could compare it to anywhere, I would say it’s like The Lanes in Brighton. Featuring a realm of small, dainty, and quirky shops, it’s an absolute joy to walk around.
I also loved that most are locally-owned stores. While you will find some well-known brands in the mix, such as Regatta and Fat Face, a large portion is independent.
Since now is a better time than any to support locals, you have a perfect excuse to treat yourself!
3. Prideaux Place
Cornwall is home to some stunning historic houses, and Prideaux Place in Padstow is one of them.
Completed in the late 14th century, it’s a wonder how the beautiful mansion remains in habitable condition.
Saying that 14 generations of the Prideaux family have lived here, each making additions and renovations throughout the years.
Explore the house and its fine art and furniture collection, have lunch in the tea rooms, or wander the grounds taking in the views.
Either way, the house, which sits on a hill above the harbour, is well worth a visit.
One of our favourite things to do in Padstow was to explore the surrounding beaches.
You only have to walk 15-20 minutes out of town, and you’ll find a stunning stretch of bay that runs along the SW Coast Path.
We enjoyed hanging out for the day at St George’s Cove. A gorgeous sandy beach with crystal clear waters that’s not too far from the harbour.
Swimming here is not recommended since the estuary’s currents are unpredictable. But we dipped into knee-height when it was time to cool off.
Since we visited out of season, we could also take Ronnie (our dog) to the beach with us.
Other lovely beaches in the area include Hawkers Cove and Harbour Cove. These are a bit further to get to but consequently see fewer people.
5. The Camel Trail
The Camel Trail is an 18-mile recreational trail that runs from Padstow to Wenfordbridge.
Running alongside a disused railway line, the trail allows unrivalled views of the area’s most spectacular scenery.
From charming seaside towns to countryside villages, the variety of landscapes allows for quite an exciting adventure.
The trail is most popular amongst cyclists since the terrain is primarily flat and allows bikes to navigate effortlessly.
Bikes are easy to hire in Padstow. So if you’re looking for something active to do, this could be just what you’re looking for.
6. Coastal Walks
If you’re more of a hiking heinie than a beach bum, you won’t want to miss the Padstow coastal walks.
You can easily join the SW coastal path from Padstow by making your way North of the harbour.
An uphill path snakes around the coastline, which is hard to miss as many people are doing the same.
From there, it’s nothing but glorious views and exciting trails that continue on for miles and miles.
We made it as far as Hawkers Cove, where we stopped for refreshments before returning back.
But if you continue to Stepper Point and beyond, it’s meant to be fabulous!
7. Rest a While Tea Garden
We stumbled across this hidden gem when walking the coastal path.
It was a hot day, and we needed some refreshments. So when this tearoom popped up close to Hawkers Cove, we made our way straight there.
We didn’t have much time to research in advance, so we couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived.
Rest a While is the most charming of tea gardens with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding scenery.
The staff were warm and attentive, and the traditional cream tea was the best of all our time in Cornwall.
I honestly can’t recommend this place enough!
8. National Lobster Hatchery
We’ve all seen the documentary Seaspiracy – if you haven’t, you definitely should.
The point is, that our marine life populations are vulnerable, and that’s especially true for lobster around the Cornish coast.
The national lobster hatchery in Padstow is doing incredible things. It raises awareness of the issue and actively rears lobsters to give them the best chance of survival.
This is definitely one of the more interesting and educational things to do in Padstow, so it’s worth popping in to learn more about their work.
9. Ferry to Rock
Just across the water from Padstow is the upscale seaside town of Rock.
Rock is said to be the UK holiday destination of choice amongst riches and royals while boasting more millionaires’ houses than anywhere else in Cornwall.
If you fancy heading over for a nose around, you can easily do so by catching the foot ferry from Padstow.
The beaches offer a very similar experience to those in Padstow. Although, the town is a bit fancier with upmarket stores and Michelin star restaurants.
10. Rick Steins Restaurants
So how did a modest Fisherman’s village become one of the most visited areas of Cornwall?
Perhaps it has something to do with celebrity chef Rick Stein, who put Padstow on the map with his collection of restaurants and hotels.
With four restaurants, numerous hotels, and a selection of shops, his presence is undeniable throughout the town. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is undecided.
That said, people come to Padstow just to eat at his flagship venue, “The Seafood Restaurant”. But tables are booked up way in advance.
If you’re unlucky there, you can try out the Rick Stein Cafe or Rick Steins Fish & Chips instead. Both are more affordable for those on a budget.
Things to do near Padstow
With Padstow attractions being quite limited, you might find yourself with some time to spare.
You could spend that time relaxing on the beaches or drinking and eating your way around the harbour – I wouldn’t blame you.
Or perhaps you might want to check out these other interesting things to do near Padstow instead.
11. Surfing and Watersports
While there isn’t much going on in Padstow, you don’t need to travel far to get some water sporting action.
Harlyn Bay has a surf school that offers kayaking, paddle boarding and coasteering activities. While Trevone Bay and Treyarnon Bay are ideal for novice surfers.
Those more experienced on a surfboard will want to check out the ferocious breaks at Constantine Bay.
12. Harlyn Bay
There’s more to Harlyn Bay than just watersports.
Boasting pristine golden sand and calm, clear waters, it’s a family-friendly beach among the safest in Cornwall.
There are a few little beach cafes and eateries around, or pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing day there.
Harlyn Bay is just a 10-minute drive from Padstow or a 6-mile walk along the coastal path.
13. Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps
A 20-minute drive from Padstow is one of my all-time favourite coastline views.
Safeguarded by the National Trust, Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps is a dramatic stretch of coast that could easily belong in Bali.
We ended up camping near the Bedruthan steps for a couple of nights. We would run the coastline every morning and walk it every evening.
Regardless of the time of day, the view would never fail to blow us away. However, the view during sunset is one that can’t be beaten.
Usually, you can walk down to the beach during low tide. However, following a cliff fall, the steps down to the beach are currently closed.
Another impressive place near Padstow worth visiting is Tintagel.
We camped in Tintagel for a night on our way to Padstow. However, it’s only a 40-minute drive between the two, so you could just as easily visit on a day trip.
There are some cool things to do in Tintagel, and it has a fascinating history.
Legend has it that Tintagel Castle is the birthplace of King Arthur. There’s no real evidence the guy ever existed, but it’s still pretty cool to imagine.
You can even visit Merlins Cave at low tide, and the coastal walks in the area offer some seriously cinematic views.
Probably the most popular beachside town in Cornwall, Newquay is just a 30-minute drive from Padstow.
There is no shortage of attractions in Newquay. It’s especially renowned for its water sporting activities, with surf schools prevalent on most beaches.
It doesn’t end there, though. With activities such as go-karting, bike-riding and golf alongside countless restaurants and nightlife, Newquay town screams all things family vacation.
It’s undoubtedly a fun and lively place, but it’s not for everyone. Since Newquay is quite touristic, taking a day trip from Padstow is a wise idea.
Enjoy These Must-See Padstow Attractions!
That concludes our list of things to do in and near Padstow. I hope you’ve found it helpful and that you’re looking forward to your trip!
We love hearing from you! If you have any questions or feel that we’ve missed anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can drop us a message or leave us a comment in the comment section.
Planning a trip to the UK? Check out our other articles to help plan your trip.
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- Camping at Durdle Door – Everything you Need to Know
- 4 Days in London – An Insider London Itinerary
- Things to do in Tintagel – 12 Epic Attractions
- 65 Things to do on the Isle of Man – An Insider (Local) Guide
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Stay adventurous and happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through these links, we will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. And we can continue bringing you free travel tips and advice. If you found the content helpful and are kind enough to use our affiliates – you are awesome, and we thank you!