Visit Porthleven and you’ll discover the real deal. A proper working Cornish fishing village that just happens to be ever-so easy on the eye, too.
This unspoilt vibe has made this most-southerly working fishing port in the UK a destination of choice for those who like to discover their Cornwall with an authentic flavour.
Talking of flavour, this large-ish village has grown to become a serious player on the Cornwall foodie scene. What better than gazing out on the granite harbour over a bowl of mussels in a creamy leek and cider sauce? Bliss.
Here’s 10 great things to do when you visit Porthleven.
1) Discover the harbour
As harbours go, this one is an absolute beaut. Porthleven is smack-bang facing the prevailing south west winds (something that is highly unusual for a Cornish harbour) and consequently defences are impressive – formidable even. The harbour and its walls, completed in 1825 following hard graft from French prisoners of the Napoleonic War, are massive. When you visit Porthleven, take a good walk around exploring this impressive construction – and imagine those winter waves battering its defenses.
2) Sample the mouthwatering food
If this all sounds a bit ‘Megastructures’ for you, you’ll be pleased to know that the harbour area is lined with some of Cornwall’s finest eateries. Highly regarded Asian fusion cuisine, seafood cafes and quirky spots serving crab sarnies are all on the menu in this growing foodie hub.
3) Snuggle up in an atmospheric pub
Who on earth put a pub right there, perched on the edge of the harbour? Well, we’re glad they did, because the 17th century Ship Inn is one of a kind. Brimming with atmosphere, it offers glorious panoramas of the harbour; in winter, the sea spray will sometimes crackle against the pane as you cosy up by the open fire.
4) Experience the Porthleven Food Festival
Our final food-related point – if you visit Porthleven in spring, you must visit Porthleven Food Festival. This award-winning event brings families and foodies together around its picturesque Cornish harbour. Take in live music, chef presentations, kid-friendly activities and, of course, spectacular fayre.
5) Browse the galleries
If food takes star billing at Porthleven, arts and crafts are a strong supporting act. Beautifully presented galleries offer original works from local artists including ceramics, glassware, jewellery, textiles and much more. Even the simple mementoes and gifts are a cut above standard tourist offerings.
6) Get active at Penrose Estate
Just a short hop from Porthleven, National-Trust-managed Penrose Estate features woodland tracks, stretches of coastline and open parkland. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon out, walking, running or zooming about on the bike trails.
7) Walk around Loe Bar
Loe Bar is actually a part of Penrose Estate, but deserves its own listing. This half-mile shingle bank near Porthleven separates The Loe — the largest natural fresh water lake in Cornwall – from the sea. This beautiful area is popular with walkers, bird watchers and cyclists who come for the ocean views, woodland walks and charming little creeks. It’s a great spot for nature lovers, too, with wild birds, otters and trout making Loe Bar their home. However, do avoid the sea around the bar – it is treacherous.
8) Walk the coastal paths
Visit Porthleven and you can enjoy walks towards The Lizard on the one hand and Rinsey, Praa Sands, Prussia Cove and Marazion on the other. There really are so many great hiking opportunities in this part of Cornwall. For a shortish walk, there’s a two- to three-mile stroll to Penrose Estate (see above), which can be undertaking as a circular walk too.
9) Storm watching in winter
Cornwall, as many a seasoned visitor will tell you, is not just for summer. Nowhere does this apply more than in Porthleven. The village has become one of the UK’s most famous destinations for storm watching, an exhilarating spectator sport. Those pics in the national papers of a gale-battered village? There’s a very good chance it was Porthleven. In winter 2014, waves measured a Godzilla-esque 40ft. One word: awesome.
10) Boat trips
So you’ve seen the fishing boats of Porthleven – why not get out there and test the waters for yourself. There are plenty of opportunities to bait up and try out some of the locals’ prime spots. Or, if fishing isn’t your thing, take in the majestic coastline with a cruise towards Mullion Cove or St Michael’s Mount.
Penzance: an ideal base for your Porthleven visit
If you’re putting Porthleven on your Cornwall ‘must-visit’ list, why not base yourself in Penzance. This iconic port town is perfectly situated for day trips to some of the finest and most famous spots in Cornwall: think St Ives, Mousehole, Land’s End, Falmouth, The Lizard and more beautiful destinations. Find out more at the Love Penzance website, where you’ll find places to eat, shop and stay in our world-famous town.