Top things to do in Polperro holiday cottages

Top things to do in Polperro

Ed Roberts 09 October 2023

Welcome to our ultimate guide to things to do in Polperro. This picture-perfect village on the South Cornwall coast is a complete gem. With its iconic harbour, narrow lanes chock full of gift shops and quaint eateries, white-washed cottages with thatched roofs, and nearby clifftops to walk along, Polperro has everything you’d expect to find in a great seaside resort.

In our guide, we will share handy tips and information about the best places to eat and drink, cool local attractions, and the most attractive beaches in and around Polperro.

Planning a trip to Polperro soon? Well, before you go, why not look at our holiday accommodation collection? We have fisherman’s cottages, sea-view houses, and apartments, all perfect for a Polperro holiday to remember. Click on the button below to see our Polperro collection.

Skip to:

About Polperro

Aerial shot of Polperro and the headlands

Polperro is located on the South Cornwall coast, west of Looe (4.5 miles) and east of Polruan (6 miles). This stretch of coast is characterised by high cliffs, wooded coves, secret beaches, and winding walking trails; it's very dramatic. Inspiring photographers and artists alike, Polperro is a wonderful place to stay for the creative. 

Polperro’s enchanting maze of old stone cottages is an alluring treat for lovers of Cornwall. The houses seem to defy gravity in places, hugging the steep edges of the valley; Polperro’s river, the Pol, twists its way between them as it makes its way to the sea. Some of the bridges date back to Roman and Saxon times and some of the houses invite comment and photography like the House on the Props and the Old Watch House where the naturalist Dr Jonathan Crouch once lived.

The houses and harbour at Polperro

There’s nothing like wandering about the bewitching streets, stopping in at the small shops, or settling down for a relaxing pint at one of the old pubs. The main street is called The Coombe, and this is where you will find many of Polperro’s great restaurants and other eateries too. There are no cars to avoid in the village either because the majority of Polperro is traffic-free. All vehicles are parked at the head of the village, so you can step back in time and walk about unhindered.

Polperro was once a thriving centre for smugglers, where contraband such as brandy and tobacco were traded. The ‘free traders’ of Polperro are all but memory now, the stuff of tales and mystery, with a whole host of records at the village’s Museum of Smuggling. Although the vast shoals of herring are much depleted in the area, Polperro is still home to a small fishing fleet, but these days the main income for locals is drummed up during the busy summer months from visitors who come to admire fair Polperro.

Good to know

  • Is there a train or bus to Polperro?: There is no railway station in Polperro. The closest is in Looe (4.5 miles). Polperro is on the bus route, and you can reach it from Looe, Plymouth, Liskeard and Polruan. Visit this website for more information.
  • How much is parking in Polperro?: Prices range between £6 for 3 hours – £40 for 7 days. For more information, visit the website

Things to see and do in Polperro

The inner harbour at Polperro - the museum on the left hand bank

Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing 

Polperro’s excellent museum dedicated to the village’s smuggling history and fishing is well worth a visit if you get time. The museum is only small, yet it packs a lot in, with a vast array of exhibits and displays that depict the village’s role in illegal free trade dating back to the 18th century. It also has information about the local fishing industry that once centred around a huge pilchard packing factory; the museum is found in the old building. 

Good to know

  • Where is the Museum of Smuggling?: Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing, The Warren, Polperro, PL13 2RD
  • Can I visit the Museum of Smuggling?: Yes. It is open daily between April and October from 10am – 4pm.
  • How much does it cost to visit the Museum of Smuggling?: Adults £3, children under 16 enter for free.
  • What facilities does the Museum of Smuggling have?: WCs, tearoom (next door).

Polperro Model Village and the Land of Legend

Boating house at the model village

Polperro’s model village has been a centre attraction for over 60 years and is a joy for children and adults. There is something quite magical about a good model village; Polperro’s is quite special as it depicts a replica in miniature of this exact village. The reproduction is detailed and reflects Polperro life in the 20th century. 

Close by, you will find a model railway with OO-gauge trains that can be seen moving through the diorama of country life. Take the kids to the diminutive Land of Legend which is on the same site as the model village. Giant automatons depict seven Cornish legends and superstitions for audiences; it’s truly unique and will provoke animated discussions.

Good to know

  • Where is Polperro Model Village?: Polperro Model Village, Mill Hill, Polperro, PL13 2RP
  • Can I visit Polperro Model Village?: Yes, it is open between Easter and 1 November.
  • How much does it cost to visit Polperro Model Village?: Adults £3, children £2.
  • What facilities does Polperro Model Village have?: WCs.

Polperro Arts Foundation

Artist paints abstract work on canvas

For lovers of arts and beauty, visit the Polperro Arts Foundation, a gallery down by the harbourfront. It was established in 2001 by a group of local artists who wanted to keep the creative community alive in this fishing village and is involved in local events, including June’s Polperro Festival, another big draw for visitors to the area.  

Good to know

  • Where is the Polperro Arts Foundation?: Polperro Arts Foundation, The Coombes, Polperro PL13 2RH
  • Can I visit the Polperro Arts Foundation?: Yes, it is open daily. Summer 11am-5pm/winter 11am-4pm. 
  • How much does it cost to visit the Polperro Arts Foundation?: Entry is free.
  • What facilities does the Polperro Arts Foundation have?: The Polperro Arts Foundation is dog friendly.

Harbour and Headlands Walk 

Aerial shot of Polperro and the headlands looking north

One of Polperro’s most pleasurable experiences is walking around its traffic-free streets. There is a trail that you can enjoy as well that winds about the village taking in the long inner harbour and the headlands that look down across the village and over the sea. For those who love a rock scramble, there are craggy pathways down to sea level from the cliffs above, and rock pools and coves galore to uncover. 

The path follows a figure-of-eight shape where you can also see a Victorian sea pool, the site of the Holy Well, and Brackenside Woods. The trail can also double as a gentle pub crawl as it snakes past the Three Pilchards and the Blue Peter before it ascends to Chapel Cliff, where it merges with the South West Coast Path. 

Good to know

  • How long is Polperro’s Harbour and Headland Walk?: It is 3 miles long.
  • Is the Polperro’s Harbour and Headland Walk difficult?: Not really, its steepness grade is moderate. 
  • Other info: There are no stiles. Also, wear walking shoes or trainers. It can get muddy in places during/after a rainy spell.

The best beaches in and around Polperro

Polperro Beach and Chapel Rock Tidal Pool

Polperro Beach on a sunny day

Close to the harbour is a small beach for everybody to enjoy a paddle or a swim. Polperro Beach is largely sandy and is found next to the harbour wall. At high tide, much of its span disappears below the waves so check tide times.  

There is a Victorian-era tidal pool at Chapel Rock which is accessed via some steep narrow steps; it is a great place for a safe swim though. If wild swimming is your thing, check out our guide to wild swimming spots in Cornwall here! 

Good to know

  • Where is Polperro Beach?: Polperro Beach, Polperro, PL13 2PL
  • Is Polperro Beach dog-friendly?: Yes during the times outside of the ban that runs between Easter and 1 October.
  • What facilities does Polperro Beach have?: WCs (within 0.25 miles). Please note that there is no lifeguard cover at this beach.

Talland Bay Beach

Man throws a stick for small dog at Talland Bay Beach

Just 4 miles from Polperro is Talland Bay Beach where there’s a café and kayak hire. There are two coves at Talland Bay, the most westerly of the two has the facilities, whilst the easterly one is more secluded and peaceful. Both coves are lovely and sandy as well as being relatively sheltered. There are strong currents when the tide recedes so do not use inflatables as you may be swept out to sea. Other than this, the beach is relatively safe for shallow paddling and swimming when the weather is warm. 

Children and beachcombers will love the rock pools that reveal themselves at low tide. They are often full of crabs and small fish. Visitors often come to Talland Bay to fish from the rocks or enjoy a bit of snorkelling. We think that Talland Bay is a great place for a beach day.

Good to know

  • Where is Talland Bay Beach?: Talland Bay Beach, Talland Bay, PL13 2JA
  • Is Talland Bay Beach dog-friendly?: Yes, dogs on leads are allowed between 10am and 6pm between Easter Sunday and 1 October.
  • What facilities does Talland Bay Beach have?: Parking (6-8 spaces), WCs, shop/café, ramp access. Please note that there is no lifeguard cover at this beach.

Lantic Bay

Sunny day at Lantic Bay, calm sea

Lantic Bay is something of a secret beach, lesser known by the hordes of visitors that stay in the area every year. It’s very dramatic in the off-season. It is characterised by its white sands and sheltered aspect which give it a very Mediterranean feel. There are no facilities at the beach and the car park is quite a distance away, so this is a beach for those dedicated to finding somewhere a little quieter, somewhere a little different.

Good to know 

  • Where is Lantic Bay?: Lantic Bay, near Polperro, PL23 1NP
  • Is Lantic Bay dog-friendly?: Yes, there are no dog restrictions at Lantic Bay.
  • What facilities does Lantic Bay have?: None. 

The best places to eat and drink in Polperro

The best pub in Polperro | The Three Pilchards | ££ 

Two refreshing pints of lager in a cosy pub

If having a good and hearty meal and a pint or a glass of wine in a traditional Cornish pub is an unmissable holiday feature for you, then we recommend Polperro’s family-friendly Three Pilchards. With its vast choice of local ales, beers, spirits and wines, this pub is a big hit with visitors and locals alike. There is even a rooftop terrace with views across the harbour to enjoy.

Good to know

  • Where is the Three Pilchards?: The Three Pilchards, Quay Road, Polperro, PL13 20Z
  • What are the Three Pilchards’ opening hours?: The Three Pilchards is open daily from 11am until late. Food is served between 11am until 9pm (except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve).
  • Does the Three Pilchards have a beer garden?: Yes.
  • Is the Three Pilchards dog friendly?: Yes, dogs on leads are welcome.
  • Other great pubs in Polperro: The Blue Peter, and The Ship Inn

The best restaurant in Polperro | Michelle’s Restaurant | ££

Bangers and mash gastropub-style

A big hit with the Sunday roast crowd, Michelle’s Restaurant is a popular spot for dinner. Sourced from local food providers in Cornwall, like Looe Fish Market, and Kittow’s Butchers, the dishes cover all the English and Cornish bases. Found in the centre of the village, it’s a lovely, friendly and informal place to fill up after a long day of touring around Polperro.

Good to know

  • Where is Michelle’s Restaurant?: Michelle’s Restaurant, Little Green, Polperro, PL13 2RF
  • When is Michelle’s Restaurant open?: Between Wednesday and Saturday, 6pm-8.30pm (and Sundays 12.30pm-3.30pm).
  • Is Michelle’s Restaurant family-friendly?: Yes.
  • Is Michelle’s Restaurant dog-friendly?: No.

The best chippy in Polperro | Chip Ahoy | £

Person scooping chips at a chippy

You cannot go on a staycation without checking out the local fish and chip shop. It’s a long-standing tradition to put the diet on pause, let the wallet have a lie-down and enjoy some crispy battered cod and chips down by Polperro Harbour or back at your holiday cottage. Chip Ahoy on Lansallos Street is the main go-to chippy for everyone in Polperro. It’s open all year around and is very tasty.

Good to know

  • Where is The Chip Ahoy?: The Chip Ahoy, Lansallos Street, Polperro PL13 2QU
  • When is The Chip Ahoy open?: The Chip Ahoy is open daily between 5pm and 7pm.
  • Is The Chip Ahoy a takeaway?: Yes, the Chip Ahoy is a takeaway only.

Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage in Polperro

We have a range of beautiful holiday homes, cottages and lodges all around Polperro. Keep looking through our properties to find yourself the perfect seaside getaway. We have many cottages all across South Cornwall and along the coast for you to choose from.

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.

Like it? Share it...

Read more like this

The 12 top things to do in Cornwall

From legendary castles to forgotten gardens, surf lessons to eco-adventures, here's our go-to list of the top things to do in Cornwall.

11 Castles in Cornwall (and the stories they tell)

Cornwall is home to a wonderful variety of castles which are the perfect day trip activity. Discover our favourite castles in Cornwall here.

The 10 best restaurants in Padstow

Padstow is the pearl in the oyster of Cornwall’s north coast and a widely revered foodie destination.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cornish Horizons is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts as an intermediary.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cornish Horizons | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210.