Padstow Holiday Guide

...beautiful Cornwall fishing port

Padstow has always been a traditional, picturesque fishing port where pastel-coloured cottages overlook a bustling harbour, but in recent times this tiny Cornwall town has embraced a new-found fame courtesy of one seemingly ubiquitous influence.


Situated on the dramatic, rugged North Cornwall coast, Padstow today remains that very same working fishing port – albeit less productive than it once was – yet it now finds itself an irresistible magnet for foodies and those enjoying holidays in Cornwall, thanks to local restaurateur, seafood guru and TV personality Rick Stein. Just don’t call him a celebrity chef, by the way.

Stein’s influence in Padstow is palpable, with four restaurants of his own – including his world famous seafood establishment – and a whole host of other eateries doubtless inspired by Stein himself. You can even take a one or two day cookery course at the Padstow Seafood School – run by, yep, you guessed it.

The remaining local fisherman and their trawlers can be seen returning to the harbour with their daily catch, ready to be supplied to local restaurants. As fresh seafood goes, this is as fresh as it gets.

Stein’s imprint ensures Padstow, unlike many coastal resorts, remains vibrant throughout the year. While naturally busier at the height of summer, Padstow is never a ghost town, and in fact an autumn or winter break here can be the most rewarding.

Having a Padstow holiday without the joy of sampling the local fruits de mer at least once is unlikely, but there is genuinely more to this Cornish resort than superb scallops.

Padstow Attractions

Away from the quayside is a small wealth of attractions. Padstow Museum is just 100 yards or so from the water’s edge and provides a fascinating insight into the port’s maritime history.

A pleasant walk through Padstow’s narrow streets takes you to Prideaux Place, a stunning Elizabethan country house, popular film location and home to the Prideaux-Brune family for over 400 years. Hour-long guided tours are available and usually do not require advance booking.

The harbour, however, is undoubtedly Padstow’s beating heart and is a charming place to just hang out and watch the world go by. Balmy summer evenings are often soundtracked by quayside performances from brass bands, while a variety of regular boat trips run daily from the harbour.

Padstow has no beaches of its own but a host of sandy expanses and secluded coves are within very easy reach if you fancy some time away from the quiet buzz of the harbour.

Padstow lies at the northern end of the Camel Trail, a recreational path for cyclists, walkers and horses following the route of a disused and converted railway line from the hamlet of Wenford Bridge, via Bodmin Moor and Wadebridge, to Padstow. The full route clocks in at around 17 miles, although there are shorter routes in either direction.

Padstow Accommodation

Padstow itself is tiny, with a population of only a shade over 3000, meaning you’re never far away from one of the many fine places to stay. Attractive Padstow cottages sit alongside hotels, campsites and B&Bs to provide a relative wealth of accommodation for the holidaymaker.

Sunbeam Cottage is a four star holiday home located in the Old Town, just yards from Padstow Harbour. This original fisherman’s cottage sleeps four in two en-suite bedrooms.

Equally central is Petrocstowe, a four star bed & breakfast boasting glorious views over the Camel Estuary. Two bedrooms – both en-suite – ensures a homely atmosphere in a prime location.

The attractively-named Old Custom House is a four star hotel right on the harbour. Each of the 24 en-suite rooms enjoys a unique view and different dimensions, giving it charming character.

There’s no escaping Padstow’s status as a modern-day (sea)foodie haven. Its nickname, ‘Padstein’, is an apt one if not always delivered with affection. Padstow's reality, however, represents a UK holiday destination blending quintessentially English coastal charm with a dash of Mediterranean class.

Wonderful at any time of year, a holiday in Padstow is as appetising and rewarding as a fresh lobster caught in its waters.

Sean Cummins

February 2011


Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015