Visit Looe in Cornwall once and you’ll fall in love with the place. Just like Nelson, the one-eyed grey seal who came to Looe and loved it so much that he stayed for over 25 years. When he passed away, the locals wanted to celebrate his life, so created a life-size bronze of him to sit on the rocks and survey the town.
As well as a top tourist destination, Looe is a thriving fishing port. You can stand on the quay and watch the boats come in, before sampling the fresh fish in a local restaurant. The town’s narrow and winding streets are well worth exploring, offering a range of independent and high street shops if you fancy some retail therapy.
From refreshing walks through gorgeous scenery to boat trips to Looe Island, there is much to see and do. And with plenty of restaurants, cafés and pubs to choose from, you won’t be short of options for places to eat and drink in Looe. Take a look at our guide, then click the button below to see which of our Looe holiday cottages would suit your stay.
Things to do in Looe
There are plenty of things to do in and around Looe that will help to make your holiday extra special.
Looe’s little island is Cornwall’s only marine nature reserve. So that means you can only land there on officially licensed boats operating out of Looe. This magical destination is a real haven for wildlife and is home to seals, seabirds, sheep and butterflies. Set within the Whitsand and Looe Bay Marine Conservation Zone, it contains a range of habitats including woodland, grassland and rocky reef.
Looe Valley Vineyard
Established in 2008, this charming vineyard lies in the East Looe Valley. You can find out more about the vineyard and the wine-making process during guided tours, which are available from Easter to October (groups are also welcome at other times by prior arrangement). At the end of the tour, you’ll be treated to a tasting session where you can learn all about the wines made on the site – and sample them.
The Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol
Housed within a 15th-century building, the Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol offers a fascinating, family-friendly insight into Looe’s past. Find out about the area’s fishing and boat-building industries, the Looe Valley Railway Line, and life in Looe during the two world wars. As it used to be the magistrates’ court, the museum also offers tales of court cases from years gone by; you can even see the cells where criminals were once held.
Looe Harbour Heritage Centre
Looe is inextricably linked to the sea. Looe Harbour Heritage Centre, in The Old Sardine Factory, honours this maritime connection. It celebrates the fishing and boat building that Looe is renowned for, alongside the characters who make the community so special. During your visit, relax in the coffee shop over lunch or a cream tea while enjoying views of Looe River. The building also contains a climbing wall and a restaurant.
The Monkey Sanctuary
Wild Futures’ Monkey Sanctuary in Looe has been caring for monkeys that haven’t had the best start in life since 1964. They rehabilitate monkeys that have been malnourished or poorly treated in private hands and offer a home for life to any monkey that needs it. As well as the chance to see the work they do, there is also a café, Bat Zone, Wildlife Room, wildlife gardens, play and activity areas. One of the top things to do with the kids in Looe.
Looe to Polperro walk
This 5.5-mile walk allows you to experience the rugged beauty of this part of the Cornish coastline. It’s moderately difficult, taking in a few hills and steep sections, but there are strategically placed benches along the way. The route takes in an early Christian holy site, with the ruins of a medieval chapel built on it.
Thrill seekers should make a beeline for this fabulous attraction near Looe. You can make a splash in the Aquapark, go karting or zip lining, or try your hand at axe throwing. If you’re feeling especially brave, dare to board the giant swing! Check out the website for the full range of fun-filled activities available.
Polperro Model Village
You’ll feel like a giant when you visit Polperro Model Village and Land of Legend. Here, you can see Polperro in miniature and find out about some classic Cornish legends. How different is Polperro now, compared to its model counterpart? You’ll have to go and find out!
Polperro bathing pool
At the foot of Chapel Cliff on the small sandy beach at Polperro lies a small tidal bathing pool which has been the site of many first swims over the years. As natural as they come, it could be described as a giant rockpool so keep your eyes peeled for any marine life. There’s also a call for a head for heights and steady legs, for the steps carved into the cliff giving access to the pool are steep but what awaits is more than worth the beating heart.
Beaches to visit in Looe
East Looe Beach is the town’s main beach. It is sandy and safe and offers everything you would expect from a town beach. The facilities are excellent, there are cafes and restaurants nearby and access is good. It also has toilets, but dogs are banned all year. It’s clean and safe for swimming.
At the east end of East Looe Beach, you’ll come to Second Beach, although where one changes to another is a bit of a mystery. It’s fantastic for snorkelling and fishing and has a few rocks and great visibility. On low spring tides, it is possible to walk to Plaidy Beach, another sandy and sheltered strand that’s quiet, even in the summer.
For a complete contrast to East Looe, head west to Hannafore Beach. It’s a beachcomber’s paradise, with lots of rock pools and nooks and crannies to explore at low tide. Dogs are welcome here all year round so it’s a great place to give them their daily walkies when you stay in Looe. And it’s easy to get to – just walk along Marine Drive from West Looe.
Restaurants in Looe
Ocean & Earth
Ocean & Earth is the place to go for authentic Thai cuisine during your holiday in this part of Cornwall. You can choose to dine in or order your food to go – perfect for taking back to your Looe cottage.
Old Sail Loft
Enjoy a delicious meal in one of Looe’s oldest buildings. While specialising in fresh local fish, the Old Sail Loft offers an extensive menu, including vegetarian and vegan options.
Sat in a prime location right on the seafront, Sea Kitchen serves high-quality seafood and shellfish. Expect delicious dishes, beautiful views and great service.
Smugglers Cott serves up a slice of history as well as mouth-watering meals. This Grade II-listed building, dating back to 1420, features a stone staircase and tunnel leading to the quay (ideal for smuggling!) and beams in the Cellar Restaurant are made from timber salvaged from the Spanish Armada of 1588.
The Sardine Factory
An award-winning team works together at The Sardine Factory to create locally sourced and sustainable dishes designed to tickle the tastebuds of all who cross the threshold. Expect seasonal produce as appealing as the harbour views.
Cafés in Looe
Nothing beats a tasty treat and a cuppa after an invigorating walk around the harbour. Café Fleur offers a range of delicious hot and cold snacks and breakfasts, with gluten-free and vegan options available. Four-pawed pals welcome.
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly place to eat in Looe, Daisy’s Café welcomes all canine companions. Friendly service and a lip-smackingly tempting menu will set tails wagging.
Island View Café
Coffee always tastes better with a view, and Island View Café – as the name suggests – is in a prime location for appreciating Looe Island in all its glory.
For scrumptious food and rich, smooth coffee, look no further than The Lookout. The menu is packed with locally and ethically sourced dishes, all served with a smile.
Pubs in Looe
The Barbican Inn
This lovely, dog-friendly pub in Looe has everything you could wish for from a traditional English inn – and then some. There’s a fire, a pool table, a dartboard and live sport courtesy of Sky Sports.
The Jolly Sailor Inn
Known locally as The Jolly, this wonderful pub dates back to 1516 and is the oldest pub in Looe. Stop by for a drink and a meal – pizza and curry sit affably alongside more traditional pub fare on the impressive menu – and find out about The Jolly’s links to the Battle of Trafalgar.
Ye Olde Salutation Inn
The warmth of the open fire matches the warmth of the welcome you’ll receive at this cosy, family-friendly pub. The genial atmosphere ensures a meal here is food for the soul as well as the body.
The Harbour Moon Inn
This quayside pub offers wonderful views, making it the perfect spot for a lunchtime drink or an evening meal. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome from the friendly staff. On sunny summer days, the terrace provides a delightful spot to watch the world go by.
Stay in Looe
This fabulous corner of Cornwall is a brilliant place for a fun-filled family holiday, a romantic couples’ retreat or a getaway with friends. Our range of holiday cottages in Looe offers plenty of choice so you can tailor your break to your specific needs. Why not have a browse and start planning that Cornish adventure today?
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.