Penzance Guide

...pirates not included!

In the past, the road to remote Penzance has been cruelly dubbed ‘the road to nowhere’, but today this thriving harbour town in Cornwall finds itself as something of a magnet for holidaymakers seeking clean, beautiful beaches, splendid isolation and an authentic slice of Cornish life.

Resting impressively above the sweeping Mounts Bay in south west Cornwall, Penzance is the most westerly major town in mainland England. Just under ten miles from Land’s End, Penzance enjoys a near-Mediterranean climate, enabling sub-tropical plants and gardens to thrive, perhaps best exemplified at Morrab Gardens.

As with most port towns, the pretty and vibrant harbour is the heartbeat. Working fishing boats are moored alongside colourful yachts and ferries destined for the Isles of Scilly.

From the harbour you can take a marine wildlife discovery boat trip, where you can keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and basking sharks, or even try your hand at sea fishing.


The coastline woven around Penzance is dotted with secluded, rocky coves and sandy beaches, ideal for lazy days with (or without) the kids. The main beach in the town is predominantly shingle and lies just east of the harbour, becoming increasingly sandy as it stretches to Marazion.

Marazion is just a short drive along Penzance’s coastline, and it is here you can find the stunning St Michael’s Mount – an enchanting, iconic island just four hundred yards off-shore. The Mount is visible from most of the Penzance coast on a clear day, and is arguably the ultimate jewel in Cornwall’s crown.

Porthcurno Beach boasts glistening white sand and dazzling turquoise waters, while nearby Sennen Beach should be earmarked by the surfers amongst you.

Jubilee Pool

Swimming opportunities in Penzance extend beyond regular seaside fare. Set into the rocks and filled by water from the sea, the rejuvenated Jubilee Pool is a stunning 1930s art deco lido which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Refurbished and reopened in the mid-90s after years of dilapidation, the pool is open from the end of May until September and makes for an ideal family day out.

Like St Ives, Penzance has long been a popular refuge for artists and there are a number of galleries and museums in the town. Penlee House Gallery & Museum is one, and is the only public gallery in Cornwall specialising in the renowned Newlyn School artists.  

Chapel Street is the town’s main street, ambling up from the harbour and into the old town, where a maze of quaint, winding walkways can be found off the beaten track. Boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, delis and welcoming old pubs fill the old streets, while familiar High Street names provide a mainstream alternative.


Famously the end of the south westerly line from London, Penzance is served by excellent rail and road links to the rest of Cornwall and as such is an ideal base for anyone visiting Cornwall.

Good, affordable accommodation isn’t hard to find, with a healthy selection of Penzance hotels, B&Bs, cottages and campsites. The Lynwood Guest House is a family-run bed & breakfast just five minutes from the promenade, while Lookout Cottage is a three bedroom self-catering holiday home sleeping six.

A town enriched by a fascinating nautical history and a character all of its own, sunny Penzance is a charming part of Cornwall that simply has to be discovered. 

Sean Cummins

March 2011


Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015