15 amazing things to do in Padstow, Cornwall

Padstow in Cornwall

A charming seaside town with a picturesque harbour, quaint streets, and abundance of activities, I adore Padstow and think it’s the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or longer staycation.

One of the main draws of Padstow – especially for me as a dedicated foodie – is its culinary scene. The town is home to a number of excellent restaurants, including those owned by celebrity chef Rick Stein.

Sample some of the freshest Cornish seafood around, or try some of the local specialities, such as the famous Cornish pasty.

In addition to its foodie credentials, Padstow is also a great place for outdoor enthusiasts. With its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, visitors love to enjoy the great outdoors.

Quintessentially Cornish, Padstow has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, or a history buff.

Having visited this Cornish town many times, I’ve compiled my top picks of the best things to do in Padstow.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

How to get to Padstow

Padstow is not particularly accessible via public transport but there are still options to explore. Here are some of the best ways to get to this charming Cornish town:

By car

If you’re coming from within the UK, I think driving to Padstow is the best option. The town is easily accessible from the A30, which connects to the M5 at Exeter.

From there, it’s a straightforward drive down to Cornwall. Once you arrive in Padstow, you’ll find plenty of parking options.

There are several car parks in the town, including a large one on the outskirts that’s within easy walking distance of the centre.

By train

Getting the train to Padstow is a little tricky; the nearest station, Bodmin Parkway, is around 20 miles away from the town.

You can pick up a bus or taxi to Padstow from the station, so it’s still a viable option for those without a car.  

By bus

There are several bus services that run to Padstow from nearby towns and cities.

The main operator is First Kernow, which runs regular services from Bodmin, Newquay, and Wadebridge.

By air

The nearest airport to Padstow is Newquay Airport, which is around 10 miles away. From there, you can take a taxi or hire a car to get to the town.

Padstow Sunset

If you’re staying in the town, read my guide to the best hotels in Padstow.

Parking in Padstow

Despite the good amount of parking options in Padstow, parking can be a bit of a challenge during peak summer season.

However, with a bit of prior planning and knowledge, you can find a suitable parking spot without too much hassle.

On-street parking & car parks

On-street parking is available in Padstow, but it can be limited and often fills up quickly.

Instead, I’d recommend making use of the town’s several pay-and-display car parks that are conveniently located near the town centre, shops, and restaurants

The Harbour Car Park is the largest car park in Padstow, and it’s located right next to the harbour. This car park has over 200 spaces, and it’s open 24/7.

Other car parks in the town include the Link Road Car Park, the Railway Car Park, and the Lawns Car Park.

Park and Ride

If you’re visiting Padstow during peak season, you might want to consider using the Park and Ride service.

The Park and Ride operates from the outskirts of the town and runs every 15 minutes. 

I’d recommend this service as an excellent option for those who want to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot in the town centre.

Parking fees

Parking fees in Padstow vary depending on the car park and the time of year.

At the time of writing, the Harbour Car Park charges £10 for a full day of parking, while the Link Road Car Park charges £6 for a full day of parking.

The Railway Car Park and the Lawns Car Park both charge £5 for a full day of parking.

Tips for parking in Padstow

Here are some tips to help you find a suitable parking spot in Padstow:

  • Arrive early in the morning to secure a parking spot.
  • Consider using the Park and Ride service during peak season.
  • Check the parking fees before you park.
  • Make sure you have enough change for the pay-and-display machines.
  • Alternatively, apps or phone options are usually available to pay.
  • Be aware of the parking restrictions and follow the signage.

15 best things to do in Padstow

1. Try out the restaurants

Padstow is known for its fantastic food scene, with a variety of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.

Unsurprisingly, the star of the show when it comes to dining in Padstow is seafood. Indulge in the freshest lobster, crab, oysters, and mussels, all cooked to perfection.

My favourite spots for seafood in the town include Prawn on the Lawn, Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant and DuchyGrub.

That doesn’t mean to say you won’t find other cuisines in this Cornish town – The Journeyman restaurant serves up authentic Asian dishes and Caffè Rojano by Paul Ainsworth offers Italian-inspired cuisine. 

For Michelin-starred dining, Paul Ainsworth at No.6 is the place to visit and I’d highly recommend it for a special occasion.

A favourite among locals for its unmatched service and incredible flavours, this establishment offers an unforgettable dining experience. 

Read my guide to the best restaurants in Padstow.

2. Cycle the Camel Trail

Cycling the Camel Trail is one of the most popular things to do in Padstow and I find it a really fun way to explore the area.

The trail is a 17-mile long, traffic-free route that follows the River Camel from Padstow to Wenfordbridge. It passes through beautiful Cornish countryside and picturesque villages along the way.

The trail is suitable for all ages and abilities, making it a great family-friendly activity. You can bring your own bike or hire one from one of the many bike hire companies in Padstow.

Camel Trail

There are also plenty of places to stop for a picnic or a drink along the way to catch your breath and refuel.

The trail is divided into three sections, which vary in difficulty. The first section runs from Padstow to Wadebridge and is probably going to be the busiest part of the trail. 

You’ll pass through the Camel Estuary where you’ll be greeted with beautiful views of the sea, and the lovely town of Wadebridge where you can stop for a coffee or a bite to eat.

From Wadebridge to Bodmin is the most rural part of the trail – cycling through wooded valleys and pastures.

There’ll be plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife along the way here, so keep your eyes peeled! 

The most challenging part of the trail is from Bodmin to Wenfordbridge. You’ll cycle through the heart of Bodmin Moor and experience its rugged landscapes and wild beauty. 

The trail ends at Wenfordbridge, where you can catch a steam train on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway or explore the nearby Golitha Falls.

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3. Take a boat trip

If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to explore Padstow and the surrounding area, I’d recommend taking a boat trip, especially if you’re trying to entertain little ones! 

Harbour Padstow

Here are some my top recommendations to consider:

Take the ferry to Rock

One of the most popular boat trips in Padstow is the ferry ride to Rock. This short but sweet journey takes just a few minutes, but offers incredible views of the coastline and the estuary. 

Once you arrive in Rock, you can explore the village, go for a stroll along the beach, or enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants.

Jubilee Queen Padstow

For a longer boat trip, consider boarding the Jubilee Queen Padstow.

This charming vessel offers a range of tours, including a sightseeing cruise, a seal watching trip, and a sunset cruise.

No matter which option you choose, you’ll have the chance to see Padstow from a completely different perspective and learn more about the local area.

Padstow Sealife Safaris

If you’re interested in seeing some of the local wildlife up close, I’d highly recommend a trip with Padstow Sealife Safaris.

This company offers a range of tours, including a seal watching trip, a dolphin and porpoise spotting tour, and a bird watching excursion – just remember your binoculars! 

With experienced guides and high-quality equipment, you’ll have the best possible chance of spotting some of the amazing creatures that call Padstow home.

4. Wander Padstow Harbour

As you wander around Padstow Harbour, you’ll be treated to charming views of the town’s fishing boats and the Camel Estuary.

If the nautical life isn’t for you and you’d prefer to keep your feet firmly on dry land, there are plenty of things to do at the harbour.

Pretty Harbour in Padstow

Padstow Harbour is home to a variety of independent shops and cute boutique stores, selling everything from local art to souvenirs. I love exploring all these shops, picking up gorgeous trinkets.

Don’t miss the famous Rick Stein’s gift shop, where you can pick up some of his cookbooks and other culinary treats.

The South West Coast Path runs right through Padstow, and offers lovely views of the coastline.

You can take a short stroll along part of the path or a longer hike to complete it all, depending on your preference.

5. Explore Prideaux Place

Address: Prideaux Place, Padstow PL28 8RP

Opening times: Monday – Friday, 10:30 to 16:30

Standing above the pretty old fishing port of Padstow, you’ll find the grade I listed Elizabethan country house, Prideaux Place.

This remarkable Elizabethan manor house is located just a short walk from the town centre and offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.

The house and gardens are open to the public during the summer months. You can explore the many rooms and exhibits that showcase the history of the Prideaux family – an ancient Cornish clan – and their home.

From the grand entrance hall to the ornate drawing room, there is plenty to see and admire.

One of the highlights of a visit to Prideaux Place is definitely the beautiful gardens that surround the house, with formal terraces and wildflower meadows.

The house is full to the brim with interesting features, from the intricate plasterwork to the stunning stained glass windows.

You can also learn about the many famous visitors who have stayed at the house over the years, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Good to know: Be sure to take a stroll through the woodland walk, which offers breathtaking views of the Camel Estuary.

6. See the National Lobster Hatchery

Opening times: Daily, 09:00 to 17:00


  • Adults: £7.50
  • Seniors: £6.50
  • Child (aged five to 15): £4.00
  • Family (two adults and two children): £19.75
National Lobster Hatchery

If you’re interested in marine conservation – or cute baby animals – a visit to The National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow is a must.

Located on South Quay, the hatchery is a research and education charity that aims to protect the vulnerable lobster population in Cornwall.

Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff who will guide you through the exhibits and explain the hatchery’s work.

You’ll learn about the life cycle of lobsters, the challenges they face in the wild, and the hatchery’s efforts to increase their numbers.

S4 larvae of European / Common Lobster (Homarus gammarus)

One of the highlights of the visit is the opportunity to see baby lobsters up close in the hatchery’s nursery. You’ll also get to observe the young lobsters being prepared for release into the wild.

In addition to its conservation work, the hatchery has a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and support the charity’s efforts.

I think this is the most wonderful and unique activity in Padstow, so I’d highly recommend it.

7. Have a surfing lesson

If you’re looking for something a little more active during your visit to Padstow, why not try your hand at surfing?

With its impressive coastline and consistent waves, Padstow is the perfect place to get on the water and learn how to surf.

There are several surf schools in the area, offering lessons for all ages and abilities – whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced surfer looking to improve your skills.

During your lesson, you’ll learn the basics of surfing, including how to paddle, catch a wave, and stand up on the board.

Surfing near Padstow

All equipment is provided, including wetsuits and surfboards. You’ll also be given a safety briefing before you hit the waves.

The best time to surf in Padstow is during the summer months when the water is warmer and the waves are regular.

Some of the best places to surf near Padstow include Trevone Bay, Polzeath Beach and Booby’s Bay.

For more watersports inspiration, discover the best paddleboarding spots in Cornwall or seek out the best waterfalls in Cornwall.

8. Visit Padstow Museum

Opening times: Monday – Friday, 10:30 to 13:00

Padstow Museum is a small but interesting museum located in the centre of town. It has a range of exhibitions and displays that cover the history of this seaside Cornish town and the surrounding area. 

Here, you can learn about the town’s extensive fishing industry, its famous residents, and key points in the town’s history, including its role in the Second World War. 

The exhibits are well-presented and informative. Plus, the museum is family-friendly, with plenty of activities and exhibits that will keep little ones entertained. 

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9. Beer tasting with Padstow Brewing Co

Opening times: Varies depending on location. See the full opening times on the company website.

Looking for a unique and enjoyable experience in Padstow?

Offering genuine local craft beer that’s made mere minutes away by their dedicated team, I’d recommend Padstow Brewing Co as a treat for anyone who enjoys a tipple or two. 

Padstow Tasting Room

During the tasting, you will learn about the brewing process and the different types of beers that are produced at the brewery.

The knowledgeable staff will guide you through the tasting and answer any questions you may have.

Beer tasting sessions are held in a cosy and welcoming environment, making it a perfect activity for a rainy day in Padstow.

The sessions are also great for groups of friends or family who are looking for a fun and unique experience.

Padstow Tasting Room Cornwall

Some of the beers that you can expect to taste during the session include the Padstow Pale Ale, the Padstow IPA, and the Padstow Pilsner. Discover new favourites with this incredible experience.

Find more things to do in Cornwall when it rains

10. Discover Padstow’s beaches

If you’re looking for a seaside getaway, some of the best beaches in Cornwall are within easy reach of Padstow. Here are my three favourite beaches to visit in the area:

St George’s Cove

A secluded beach that can only be accessed by foot, St George’s Cove is a small, sandy cove that is perfect for a quiet day out. 

The beach is surrounded by cliffs and has clear waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. You can also explore the rock pools and see Padstow’s marine life up close.

Trevone Bay

Trevone Bay is a popular family beach with a large expanse of sand that is ideal for sunbathing, picnics, and beach games. 

Trevone Bay near Padstow

The beach is great for surfing, with waves that are suitable for all levels of experience. There are also rock pools to explore at low tide.

Treyarnon Bay

A beautiful, unspoilt beach, Treyarnon Bay is perfect for a peaceful day out.

Popular with families and surfers alike, I think this beach is a dreamy spot for an afternoon stroll. 

11. Attend Rick Stein’s Cookery School

If you’re a foodie, then attending the Rick Stein Cookery School in Padstow is non-negotiable!

The school offers a range of courses, from one dish or half day workshops to four-day courses, covering a variety of cuisines and cooking techniques.

Rick Stein Cookery School - Credit James Ram
Credit: James Ram

You’ll learn from expert chefs and gain hands-on experience in the kitchen, using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

The courses are suitable for all levels of experience, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cook looking to refine your skills.

Cookery School - Credit James Ram
Credit: James Ram

If you’re not in the mood for cooking yourself, you can attend a seasonal tasting evening at the Cookery School or book a private dinner party. 

Insider travel tip: The little ones aren’t excluded from this activity, as there are children’s cookery courses available too. 

12. Experience the ‘Obby ‘Oss Festival

If you’re planning a trip to Padstow in the spring, be sure to check out the ‘Obby ‘Oss Festival.

This unique and colourful celebration of spring and fertility takes place every year on May Day (1st May).

During the festival, two “osses” (hobby horses) are paraded through the streets of the town, accompanied by a lively procession of dancers, musicians, and revellers.

The “osses” are decorated with ribbons and flowers, and are said to represent the spirit of the town and its people.

Obby Oss Festival Padstow

The origins of the festival are shrouded in mystery, but it’s thought to have pagan roots, and may have been a way of marking the changing seasons and the return of fertility to the land.

It is now primarily a celebration of Beltane, the Celtic feast which honours the approach of summer.

Today, it’s a popular event that draws visitors from all over the world and attracts huge crowds.

The processions wind through the streets of Padstow, and are accompanied by traditional songs and music.

13. Have lunch at the Lobster Shed

Just over a 10 minute drive from Padstow you’ll find the Lobster Shed at The Pig at Harlyn Bay. If you follow me on social media then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of The Pig Hotels and their restaurants.

The Lobster Shed

Offering all-day under-canvas outdoor dining, breathe in the fresh sea air and tuck into some seriously tasty local food.

Here, they focus on using a wood-oven and charcoal fired grill, so you can expect wood roasted fresh lobster and chargrilled steak.

This eatery is located right by Harlyn Bay, so you can enjoy your meal while taking in the beautiful scenery.

The atmosphere at the Lobster Shed is relaxed and casual, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch. 

14. Hike the circular trail to Stepper Point

This hike offers magnificent views of the rugged coast and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a glimpse into the area’s maritime history.

The trail begins at the car park near Trevone Bay and takes you along the South West Coast Path towards Stepper Point.

Along the way, you’ll see beautiful wildflowers, sea birds, and might even be lucky enough to spot some seals basking in the sun on the rocks.

Once you reach Stepper Point, you will be rewarded with simply breathtaking views of the coast and the Camel Estuary.

Stepper Point Cornwall

From here, you can see all the way to Daymer Bay and even as far as Bodmin Moor on a clear day – so bring your binoculars!

The circular trail then takes you back along the other side of the headland, passing by the Daymark Tower, a historic navigation beacon that has been guiding ships into the estuary for over 200 years.

The entire hike is about four miles long and takes approximately two hours to complete, depending on your pace and how often you stop to take in the views (which will probably be quite often if you’re anything like me!).

Good to know: This is a moderate hike with some steep inclines and uneven terrain, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water.

15. See the views from Trevose Head

For some of the most breathtaking views in Padstow, make your way to Trevose Head. This headland is located just a few miles from Padstow and is easily accessible by car or foot.

When you reach the top of the headland, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding countryside.

Trevose Head near Padstow

If the weather is on your side, you’ll be able to see for miles along the rugged Cornish coastline.

You’ll also find a small 19th century lighthouse that is still in use today, and is open to visitors during certain times of the year.

Why not pack a picnic and spend a few hours exploring this beautiful headland?

Discover more of my Padstow content:

For more Padstow inspiration, check out my other guides:

If you have any of your own recommendations or questions around Padstow, feel free to leave me a comment below!

Planning a trip to beautiful Cornwall? Discover more of my Cornwall guides:

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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