Cornwall is awash with shoals of quaint fishing villages to explore. Given its gorgeous coastline, it’s easy to see why Cornwall has become a haven for seafaring folk over the years, and how these villages lie at the heart of Cornwall’s history today.
Picture brightly coloured fishing boats bobbing in harbours, bright turquoise fishing nets, the squarks of the seagulls as they circle the boats coming into shore hoping for a tasty morsel, cute seaside cottages and sturdy old harbour walls from which to gaze out over the vast expanse of sea.
We've rounded up the top 10 fishing villages in Cornwall to add to your bucket and spade list.
Take refuge in one of our fantastic fisherman’s cottages in a quaint Cornish village by the seaside. There are plenty of cosy properties along the craggy Cornish coast to choose from for your seaside escape.
Dylan Thomas, the famous Welsh poet, once described Mousehole as the loveliest village in England, and we couldn’t agree more! Mousehole is a quintessential Cornish village on the coast just south of Penzance.
The cute harbour gives shelter to boats from the Cornish waves in the winter when the entrance is sealed for the season, and the village gets its name from the narrow harbour entrance.
Best things to do in Mousehole
- The show must go on with a visit to the amazing, hand-carved, clifftop Minack Theatre.
- Take a trip to Land’s End, mainland Britain's most south-westerly point.
- Visit Marazion and travel the causeway to magnificent St Michael’s Mount and castle.
- Sample some stargazy pie at a local pub. Of course, it involves fish.
- Take in the magical Christmas lights, famous throughout all of Cornwall.
Mevagissey is an attractive Cornish fishing village that has a distinctive twin harbour and a pier with a lighthouse to guide the boats along safely at night or in poor weather.
Take a fishing trip from the quay or browse the numerous gift shops, galleries and craft workshops before refreshing at one of the village's’ local cafes, pubs or fish restaurants.
Neighbouring Gorran Haven is also a real gem along Cornwall’s lovely coast; a tranquil spot for anyone looking for a quiet escape.
Best things to do in Mevagissey
- Browse the local shops and have a memorable meal at one of the local places to eat.
- Enjoy a fishing trip from the quayside.
- Visit neighbouring Gorran Haven.
- Discover what lies beneath the local aquarium.
- Explore the 200 acres of garden history, mystery and romance at the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
If you’re a fan of Doc Martin, you’ll recognise pretty Port Isaac fishing village as the set location for the popular TV show, and we can see why with its lovely working harbour and quaint setting.
Imagine narrow winding streets lined with glorious old white-washed cottages, a trickling stream running through the village and stunning coastal views.
We'd advise parking at the large car park at the top of the hill to avoid navigating Squeezy Belly Alley!
Best things to do in Port Isaac
- Enjoy a fishing trip from the harbour.
- Appreciate the beautiful walks along this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast.
- Surf the waves at nearby Polzeath.
- Conquer the castle at nearby Tintagel.
- Relish some fresh seafood and fine dining at Outlaw’s and The Mote. There are also some great pubs for enjoying a hearty meal.
Port Isaac cottages
A few miles along the Cornish coast from lovely Looe lies sheltered Polperro, nestled within its cliff ravine and surrounded by fisherman’s cottages.
Once a bustling harbour popular with smugglers, Polperro is now more of a mellow seaside destination that you simply can’t help but fall in love with.
At the point where smuggles once dodged customs now lies displays of local crafts. Visit the small sandy beach and take a boat trip or fishing trip from Polperro’s small inlet.
Best things to do in Polperro
- Walk the cliff path and explore the secluded smugglers' coves of Lantivet Bay and Talland.
- Take a fishing trip or leisure cruise from the quayside.
- Dine out in one of Polperro’s excellent restaurants.
- Discover Chapel Rock tidal pool.
- Explore this part of the 80-mile South Cornwall Heritage Coast.
A tiny port with a lot of heart, Boscastle is found on an exceptionally beautiful part of the Cornish coastline.
It sits within a natural harbour at the bottom of a deep valley, with the River Valency flowing through the village towards the Atlantic.
Once a busy commercial port and safe haven from the intimidating north coast of Cornwall, Boscastle today is the more leisurely base for pleasure craft and fishermen.
Best things to do in Boscastle
- Visit nearby Tintagel Castle.
- Find Boscastle’s blowhole, the Devils Bellows!
- Refresh at The National Trust cafe and visit the exhibition documenting when the village was devastated by a massive flood.
- Take a short trip to nearby Crackington Haven, a captivating location full of wonderful wildlife and geology. Adventure seekers can climb Cornwall’s highest cliff here.
- Explore enchanting St Nectan’s Glen, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The largest village on the Lizard, Mullion is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has plenty to offer, including craft shops, pubs, cafes, restaurants and a golf course, not forgetting the attractive working harbour.
Pilchard fishing was the main industry here, and the strong sea walls were built for protection against the elements.
Nearby Poldhu Cove is an idyllic family beach, while Polurrian Cove is popular with surfers. There are plenty of picturesque coastal walks to enjoy along this spectacular section of coastline too.
Best things to do in Mullion
- Delve into the plethora of craft shops and galleries.
- Head south along the coast path through the Mullion Cliffs National Nature Reserve, revealing picturesque views towards renowned Kynance Cove.
- Surfers can enjoy the waves at nearby Polurrian Cove.
- Watch the sun go down from the pretty working harbour.
With one of the loveliest expenses of sand in Cornwall, Sennen is a prime destination for surfers and beach bums alike.
Keen walkers will also love Sennen due to its choice of routes heading north past Whitesands or south towards Porthcurno, passing world-famous Land’s End.
Refresh at the 17th-century Old Success Inn, an excellent place to watch the sun go down.
Best things to do in Sennen Cove
- Surf the waves at Sennen Cove.
- Browse the private art galleries.
- Walk the South West Coast Path along the Penwith Heritage Coast: a walker’s dream.
- Take a trip to mainland Britain's most south-westerly point, Land’s End.
- Refresh at one of the fabulous cafes and restaurants.
Sennen Cove cottages
At the edge of St Austell lies Charlestown, with a uniquely unspoilt Georgian harbour and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The pretty period houses and fisherman's cottages, along with an eye-catching fleet of tall ships, have made Charlestown a popular filming location for film and TV, including titles such as Poldark, Saving Private Ryan, Doctor Who and Hornblower. For more information about the growing UK film industry and other popular filming locations throughout Cornwall, read our 'behind the screen' guide here.
Best things to do in Charlestown
- Admire the tall ships moored in the dockyard, such as The Kajsamoor.
- Walk around the harbour and enjoy views over St Austell Bay.
- Visit the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre.
- Marvel at the vibrant marketplace.
- Take a trip to St Austell and the Eden Project.
Coverack is a charming Cornish fishing village located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the southeast end of The Lizard peninsula, with an abundance of small coves and bays.
With a crescent-shaped beach nestled within a delightful cove, sparkling turquoise waters and brightly coloured fishing boats bobbing on the water, Coverack is an idyllic location for a much-needed seaside break.
Best things to do in Coverack
- Explore The Lizard’s coves and bays.
- Enjoy a day at Coverack Beach, splashing around and soaking up the seaside atmosphere.
- Take a gentle stroll around the scenic coast.
- Visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and coo over the cute seals, sea lions, otters, penguins, ponies and goats.
We couldn’t end without giving a mention to beautiful St Ives, the gleaming jewel in Cornwall’s crown.
This picturesque fishing village frames the perfect photo with its contrasting landscape of lush greenery and sandy beaches, along with endless cafes, pubs and award-winning eateries.
Vibrant St Ives also attracts creatives from far and wide due to its range of art galleries and exhibitions.
Best things to do in St Ives
- Admire the art at the fantastic Tate Gallery.
- Soak up the surf at Porthminster beach.
- Dine at one of the award-winning eateries.
- For a family-friendly day out, head to gorgeous Porthmeor Beach.
- Step back in time and visit the St Ives Museum.
St Ives cottages
Stay in Cornwall
If it’s a stay by the sea you’re after, then we’ve got you covered. We have cottages all along the fabulous coast of Cornwall for you and yours to enjoy on a well-deserved seaside holiday adventuring around all of Cornwall’s perfectly placed fishing villages.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.