The ultimate guide to Padstow holiday cottages

The ultimate guide to Padstow

Kate W 03 April 2023

Padstow is a captivating destination and a real north coast favourite among visitors, with much to offer, leading to many people returning here time and again to soak in the town’s delights.

It’s a historic fishing port with a maze of picturesque narrow streets of stone, painted and slate cottages and a pretty working harbour - making it the perfect base for a Cornwall holiday. Plan beach days, stop by famous eateries and enjoy a host of wonderful activities during your break to Padstow.

We’ve put together all our favourite sights, places to visit and things to do in Padstow below so you can begin planning your break. Or to delve into our Padstow cottages collection, click the button below.

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Padstow beaches

You can’t head to Cornwall without popping by the fantastic beaches scattered along its coastline. Whether you’re travelling as a family and keen to get stuck into some sandcastle building, or heading here with friends and looking to fill your days with water sports, there are some enchanting sandy shorelines at this north coast destination.

These are a few of our favourite Padstow beaches for you to visit during your next Cornwall getaway.

Hawker’s Cove, Harbour Cove and St George’s Well Cove

Hawker’s Cove, Harbour Cove and St George’s Well Cove

Padstow is a picturesque harbour town, situated on the western bank of the Camel Estuary, and there are several beaches along the estuary that all share the facilities of the town. The main ones you’ll come across are Hawker’s Cove, Harbour Cove (which you may hear referred to locally as Tregirls) and St George’s Well Cove.

These beaches in Padstow all boast stunning views over the estuary and soft golden sand – always popular with families. When the tide is in, some areas of these beaches form the infamous Doom Bar, which has claimed many a ship in its time.

  • Parking: There is plenty of parking in Padstow
  • Facilities: Shops, cafés and WCs located in Padstow
  • Safety: No lifeguards operate on any of Padstow’s beaches
  • Dogs: Dogs are banned at St George's Cove throughout July and August between the hours of 10am and 6pm. Dogs are permitted at Harbour Cove and Hawker’s Cove all year round.

Padstow is a popular coastal town, and we all know it’s important to have your car parking plans in place when visiting Cornwall’s much-loved holiday destinations. To find more information on parking in Padstow and around the rest of the county, read our guide on Cornwall car parking.

Rock Beach and Daymer Bay

Daymer BayDaymer Bay Beach

Rock Beach and Daymer Bay are both on the east side of the Camel Estuary, opposite Padstow. Rock Beach is a small, sheltered cove, close to the village of Rock, which is popular with sailing enthusiasts and attracts many celebrity visitors, including royalty, while Daymer Bay has an expanse of golden sand where water sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing are very popular pursuits.

There are dunes behind Daymer Bay, and beyond these you will find the peaceful setting of St Enodoc Church whose churchyard is home to the resting place of former Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman.

  • Parking: One small car park at Rock Beach and some on-road parking; small car park at Daymer Bay adjacent to the beach
  • Facilities: Rock offers a selection of shops, a golf course, cafés, restaurants, and a ferry service to Padstow – WCs at Rock Beach Car Park and Daymer Bay Car Park
  • Safety: Lifeguards don't patrol either beach
  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed on Daymer Bay and Rock Beach all year (though we recommend checking before you go)

Harlyn Bay

Harlyn Bay

This is a fantastic family beach, great for youngsters with plenty of wildlife-filled rock pools to peer into, a small stream running through the sand and sand dunes to stomp through. It’s a wide, scenic, crescent-shaped beach that’s backed by low cliffs, and is a great choice for keen surfers.

Harlyn Bay is part of this coastline’s wonderful stretch of beaches nicknamed Seven Bays for Seven Days – perfect if you’re planning a week-long beach holiday in this enchanting region. 

  • Parking: Harlyn Bay Car Park is set just behind the beach
  • Facilities: Café, shop, WCs and a surf school
  • Safety: Weekends and schools holiday during April and October, daily lifeguard service from May to end of September
  • Dogs: Dogs are welcome all year round at Harlyn Bay Beach 

Bedruthan Steps

Bedruthan Steps

A hidden gem within 7 miles of Padstow, Bedruthan Steps is a true favourite among visitors that’s known as a quiet, peaceful spot boasting a sandy shore and wonderful swells out to sea – and dogs are welcome all year too!

Bedruthan Steps is named after the huge slate outcrops all along the beach (not the immense number of steps you need to use to get down to it!). Legend goes that a giant scattered the slate here to use as stepping stones when the tide was in.

  • Parking: There’s a National Trust car park you can use during your visit
  • Facilities: National Trust-managed shop, tea room and WC
  • Safety: No lifeguard cover at Bedruthan Steps
  • Dogs: Dogs are welcome all year around on the beach at Bedruthan Steps 

On a visit to Cornwall, you’ll soon be drawn towards the fantastic coastline this region is renowned for. Plan days by the sea with our guide to the best beaches in Cornwall.

Padstow food and drink

In recent years, Padstow has gained a reputation as a foodie heaven, with many excellent restaurants, cafes and pubs. The rise of celebrity chefs such as Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw has helped this along. Put on your own chef’s hat at the Seafood Cookery School, learning how to prepare and cook a number of fish dishes and other culinary delights.

As a working fishing port, Padstow is well known for its seafood but also offers other dining options – with Italian food, burgers and steaks, vegetarian options, and more on offer. From the simple to the sublime, from pub grub to haute cuisine, there is something that everyone will enjoy.

The Seafood Restaurant

The Seafood Restaurant

Rick Stein has taken over Padstow with his eateries; alongside The Seafood Restaurant, you can also visit Rick Stein's Café, St Petroc’s Bistro and Stein’s Fish & Chips. However, this restaurant is the perfect place for a real sit-down dinner with your holiday companions offering up a selection of locally sourced seafood whipped up into marvellous, mouth-watering meals.

Price range: ££

Location: 10 Middle St, Padstow PL28 8AP

Pucelli's Restaurant

Pucelli's Restaurant

Set down on the harbour and with a menu bursting with Italian flavours and local produce, Pucelli’s offers plenty of hearty, warming dishes with fantastic views of the coast and harbour to admire. Foodie delights include cozze mariniere (a kilo of mussels from the Camel Estuary), wild risotto al funghi or Cornish ribeye.

Price range: £

Location: 9 S Quay, Padstow PL28 8BL

Prawn on the Lawn

Prawn on the Lawn

With a menu that changes daily depending on what the local fishermen have caught earlier that morning, Prawn on the Lawn is a fun, contemporary place to eat out with a relaxed vibe. There’s even a list of their local suppliers on their website so you can see exactly where your vegetables, seafood, wine and beer came from!

Price range: £

Location: 11 Duke Street Padstow Cornwall PL28 8AB

Padstow may be Cornwall’s true foodie hot spot, but you’ll see there’s remarkable quality and a variety of excellent eateries all across the county. Check out our guide to Cornwall food and drink to ensure you are eating and drinking the very best that Kernow has to offer. For more inspiration, read our guide to the top restaurants in Padstow 

Padstow activities

There are many activities to enjoy in this area, such as regular boat trips, scenic walks along beautiful coastal paths, mini golf or even a spot of fishing.

Make the most of your coastal location by testing your surfing skills or head out on a boat trip to wildlife-watch in this beautiful area. Of course, if you prefer, you can also just chill out and look around the shops and art galleries too!  

Padstow Harbour

Padstow Harbour

The harbour is, of course, the pivot around which the whole town revolves and, because there is always something going on, visitors are drawn to the seats around the quay. There is something very therapeutic about watching the world go by from one of the benches in this interesting spot.

The Camel Trail

The Camel Trail

The Camel Trail starts in Padstow, following the route of the old railway line to Bodmin, and is much loved by walkers and cyclists (bikes may be hired at Padstow or Wadebridge). The path wends its way alongside the riverbank through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with its abundant wildlife. The estuary is a favourite stopping-off point for migrant wading birds (up to 90 species!) who feed on the fertile mud flats during their journeys to and from the northern breeding grounds.

Christmas in Padstow

Christmas in Padstow

Christmas in Padstow is a very special time when the town is decorated with numerous Christmas lights. Mid December is also the time for late-night Christmas shopping when local bands, street buskers, and the Padstow carollers take to the streets, and many shops and pubs offer mulled wine and snacks.

Why not plan your trip around the Padstow Christmas Festival? An annual event that brings together some of the region’s most talented chefs, it’s a great chance to kick-start your festive season with good food and a great atmosphere. Cornwall also hosts many other Christmas markets throughout the festive season, click here to read more about them all! 

Escape to Padstow

Plan a getaway to this fantastic foodie hotspot on the Cornish coast. Enjoy relaxing days by the sea, sail the coast on wildlife-watching boat trips, or see the sights by cycling through the countryside.

Browse through our wonderful collection of self-catering accommodation in Padstow and get inspired. Click here to read more about our top places to stay in Cornwall here (and we'll let you in on a secret, Padstow may be in the list!). 

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.

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