If you’re looking for the best things to do in Padstow, Cornwall then look no further than this comprehensive guide. There are plenty of great activities in Padstow from top restaurants to boat trips, museums, shopping, hikes, and more.
Padstow is a small fishing town on the Camel Estuary in north Cornwall. It’s famed for its charming harbor and its many seafood restaurants, four of which are owned by celebrity chef Rick Stein.
I’ve been visiting Padstow for years (a close family member even got married there) and love this quaint town full of old stone buildings and rustic pubs surrounding the harbor. There are plenty of things to do near Padstow too so it makes a great base for exploring north Cornwall.
Best Things To Do in Padstow
Below you’ll find a host of great places to visit in Padstow. From exploring the many artisan shops, rustic pubs, and excellent seafood restaurants to cycling the Camel Trail, hitting the beach at nearby Polzeath, or partying over the water at Rock there’s so much to do.
1. Eat Fish and Chips on the Harbour
The harbor is one of the best places to visit in Padstow and should be the first stop for any visitor to the town. See the fishing boats coming and going and unloading the day’s catch of fresh fish, lobster, and crab.
To really get a taste of the sea, pick up some fish and chips from Stein’s Fish and Chips. Although you can eat inside, it’s better to get a takeaway and enjoy your feast on the harbor wall. This is something I do each time I return to the town.
You can choose from cod, haddock, sole, or sea bass and can expect to pay around £13.00 for your fish supper. The restaurant is open daily from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm and again from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Eating fish and chips is definitely one of the best things to do in Padstow.
2. Explore Padstow’s Shops
Padstow has a great selection of shops offering goods from beachwear to high fashion, handmade jewelry, books, and gifts. Just outside of town is the Padstow Farm Shop which is the best place to pick up fresh, local produce. You must try their Cornish pasty (one of the best I’ve had in Cornwall).
Hitting the shops is one of the best things to do in Padstow in the rain while you wait for the showers to pass (no holiday to Cornwall is complete without a little rain).
3. Cycle the Camel Trail
The Camel Trail is an 18-mile stretch of pathway that follows the River Camel and estuary along an old, abandoned railway track (so it’s a pretty flat and easy ride).
The trail starts in Padstow and finishes up in Bodmin, but there’s also the option to cycle the shorter route to Wadebridge which is just 5.5 miles. You have the option to return your bike in Bodmin or Wadebridge and take the bus back (buses 10, 11, 11A, or 556).
Cycling the Camel Trail is something I have done countless times as a child and an adult and it’s a great way to get out into nature. I even saw my first ever Kingfisher on the section between Padstow and Wadebridge.
4. Visit the National Lobster Hatchery
Visiting the National Lobster Hatchery is one of the best things to do with kids in Padstow as they’re able to get hands-on and learn about the valuable conservation work done by the hatchery.
The award-winning visitor center includes a hatchery where you can see baby lobsters and even adopt one. There are countless workshops, exhibitions, and displays throughout the year so check the website to see what’s on during your stay.
Tickets cost £7.50 for adults and £4.00 for children. The hatchery and visitor center is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm seven days a week. There’s no need to book in advance so you can just show up.
5. Take the Boat to Rock
The pedestrian Padstow to Rock ferry (the Black Tor) sails between Padstow and the village of rock across the Camel Estuary. The boat leaves every 20 minutes or so from behind the harbor wall and the journey time is a short 10 minutes. Tickets cost £3.00 for an adult single and £1.50 for kids.
I’ve done this crossing many times when walking from nearby Polzeath to Padstow and the views from the boat out over the estuary are fantastic. There are a couple of great beaches nearby, namely Rock Beach and Daymer Bay.
6. Visit the Tasting Rooms at Padstow Brewing Company
For lovers of craft beer, visiting the Padstow Brewing Company is one of the best things to do in Padstow. There are two locations within the town; Duke Street and Broad Street (both within walking distance of each other).
Sample a collection of craft beers or local wines and spirits served with small plates of food in the heart of the town. The brewery’s tasting flights allow you to sample a whole range of local brews over the course of an afternoon or evening and visiting is one of the best things to do in Padstow in the rain.
Brewery tours cost £25.00 per person (unsuitable for children) or you can book a table at either of the venues for the tastings. Visit the website for more information and to book online.
7. Visit Prideaux Place
The Elizabethan Prideaux Place is a Grade I listed country house and gardens and has been home to the Prideaux family for over 400 years. The house was built in 1592 and overlooks Padstow with sweeping views of the Camel Estuary and Atlantic ocean.
Visitors can explore the house, gardens, and deer park, which is home to one of the oldest deer herds in the country. Just like the crows at the Tower of London, legend has it that if the deers die out, so will the Prideaux family.
Entrance to the house is by guided tour only and these run from 1:30 pm until 4:00 pm Sunday to Thursday. Tickets cost £15.00 for adults and £5.00 for children. The cafe and gardens are open from Sunday to Thursday between 10:30 am and 5:00 pm.
8. See the Padstow Museum
The small but interesting Padstow Museum is home to an eclectic mix of displays charting the town’s history and connection with the sea. This is one of the best places to go in Padstow if you want to learn more about the town and its inhabitants.
The museum, which first opened its doors in 1971, is run by a group of dedicated volunteers and is free to enter (though consider leaving a donation to help with the upkeep). Opening times are from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
9. Take a Trip to Constantine Bay Beach
Constantine Bay beach is one of the best places to visit near Padstow and is just over 4 miles west of the town. This large expanse of sandy beach is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. It’s also one of Cornwall’s top surfing beaches.
The beach is a great place for the whole family as there are lots of rock pools to explore, it’s great for paddling, and there are lifeguards posted from May to September. Constantine Bay is a 13-minute drive or 90-minute walk from Padstow. In the summer there are infrequent buses.
Constantine beach is one of the best places to go near Padstow for a day beside the sea as it’s so close to the town.
10. Oyster Love on a Cornish Beach
Hop on the ferry over to Rock (see No 5 above) and join this fabulous shellfish experience on Porthilly beach where you’ll get to forage for your own oysters, learn how to prepare them, and indulge in this taste of the sea in stunning surroundings.
Cornwall’s Porthilly oysters are sold to top restaurants around the country and you’ll get to try them raw or cooked over a BBQ with views across the estuary to Padstow. The cooking class is run by the “Oyster Lady” who has been featured on the BBC and in many magazines.
11. Visit the Camel Valley Vineyard
Cornwall has garnered an excellent reputation for winemaking in recent years thanks to its mild climate. Camel Valley is the best known of these and it’s possible to visit the vineyard to sip wine by the glass on their sun deck overlooking the valley or take a tour of the winery.
Guided tours of the vineyard take place at 10:30 am Monday to Friday and cost £18.00. You’ll learn all about the wine-making process, local grape varieties and much more, and finish up with a tasting session. Tours must be booked online in advance.
12. See Stepper Point
Stepper Point is a headland that’s easily reachable via the southwest coast path. Hiking this stunning section of clifftop trail to Stepper Point is one of the best things to do around Padstow and is a great way to get a bit of exercise.
The hike is 5.8 miles and is suitable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness. Bring a picnic and drink in the magnificent views of this stunning stretch of coastline. The route starts at Padstow harbor and takes in ancient, holy wells, a Napoleonic gun emplacement, caves, coves, and tranquil countryside.
Hiking this section of the coastal path is one of the top things to do in Padstow with dogs as there are miles of open pasture.
13. Dine at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant
Rick Stein is one of Padstow’s best-loved personalities and he now owns an impressive total of four restaurants and cafes around the town (which has jokingly been given the moniker “Padstein”). His first (and best in my opinion) restaurant is the Seafood Restaurant on the riverside which opened back in 1975.
Inside, you’ll find a seafood bar where you can indulge in locally caught fish, crab, lobster, and oysters. Eating here doesn’t come cheap, but the quality and surroundings are well worth the money. Expect to pay around £150.00 for two people.
The Seafood Restaurant is open daily from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm (9:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays) and is closed in the afternoon between 2:30 pm and 5:15 pm.
14. Visit the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle
If you’re looking for things to do near Padstow in the rain, then head to the charming village of Boscastle and discover the myths and legends of Cornwall in the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. The museum is open every day from 10:00 am until 4:30 pm and tickets can be booked online.
If it’s still raining once you’re finished with witchcraft then head to nearby Tintagel a few miles down the road and check out King Arthur’s Great Halls, and if the sun makes an appearance, discover Tintagel castle on the cliffs.
It takes under an hour to reach Boscastle and Tintagel by car, or a couple of hours on bus No 95. I’ve visited both villages from Padstow on many occasions and they make a great day trip from the town.
15. Learn to Surf at Newquay
You can’t come to Cornwall and not have a go at surfing, and with Newquay’s famous Fistral beach just a 40-minute drive from Padstow (or two hours by bus No 56), it’s the perfect opportunity to catch some waves.
This great beginner’s surf experience is perfect for newbies or those looking to brush up on their board skills. You’ll learn all about the best techniques, surf safety and by the end of the session, you should be standing up and riding your first waves.
The lesson lasts for 2.5 hours and costs start at £45.00 per person. You’ll head to either Fistral or Towan beach, both within easy reach of the surf school headquarters in central Newquay.
Quick Travel Itineraries For Padstow
Below you’ll find some itineraries lining out the best things to do in and around Padstow. Whether you’ve got just the day to explore or plan on staying longer, these itineraries include all the highlights the town and surrounding areas have to offer.
1 Day in Padstow Itinerary
Padstow is a small town so all the major Padstow attractions can be seen in one day. Explore the beautiful harbor and then follow the estuary down to Padstow Museum and the National Lobster Hatchery.
Walk back to the harbor and enjoy fish and chips on the sea wall or grab a bite to eat at the Shipwrights. After lunch take a walk up to Prideaux Place and explore the beautiful house and gardens.
In the evening head to Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant and finish off in one of the many pubs on the harbor.
2-3 Days in Padstow Itinerary
Follow the itinerary for day 1 and on day 2 take the ferry over to rock. You can try the shellfish cooking class, explore the village, or walk along beautiful Daymer Bay.
On your third day, hire a bike and cycle the Camel Trail to either Wadebridge or Bodmin, taking in the stunning scenery of the Camel Estuary.
1 Week in Padstow Itinerary
Follow the 3-day itinerary above and add day trips to Newquay for a surfing lesson (Newquay is also a great weekend destination if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere with lots of bars and nightclubs such as the Sailor’s Arms).
Take a trip to the picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac and take a walk there along the coast path if you’re feeling adventurous.
Where to Stay in Padstow
Padstow is a small town and all the shops, restaurants, and accommodation options are within walking distance. Below you’ll find some top picks of the best places to stay in Padstow.
One-Bedroom Flat – Best for First-Time Visitors
This cozy one-bedroom apartment is located on a quiet residential street away from the hustle and bustle of the town but within walking distance of all the best things to see in Padstow, the shops, and the restaurants. The apartment sleeps two people and comes with a bath, shower, kitchen, smart TV, and WiFi.
Sunrise Cottage – Best for Couples
This gorgeous old fisherman’s cottage overlooking the town and estuary is the perfect romantic getaway for couples. It sleeps two and has a double bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining area, and outside patio. The property is within walking distance of everything in the town from shops and restaurants to the river.
Greenhorn – Best for Families
This spacious two-bedroom cottage in the heart of Padstow is close enough to all the shops and restaurants but far enough from the harbor that it is nice and peaceful. The cottage sleeps up to six people and benefits from two bathrooms as well as a fully fitted kitchen.
Best Restaurants in Padstow
Don’t miss these great places to eat in Padstow.
Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant
You can’t come to Padstow and not try at least one of Rick Stein’s eateries. His Seafood Restaurant is the best if you’re looking for a nice dining experience in the evening (for lunch try Rick Stein’s Cafe or Stein’s Fish and Chips).
I recommended trying the Padstow lobster thermidor, crab, or oysters which are all sourced within a few miles of Padstow.
Paul Ainsworth at No 6
Paul Ainsworth at No 6 is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Padstow and offers fine dining with fresh local produce and seafood. The restaurant is centrally located in a charming Georgian townhouse in the heart of Padstow and is the perfect option for a romantic evening.
The Old Mill at Little Petherick
The Old Mill is located in Little Petherick under 2 miles from Padstow and is well worth the trip. Set within a charming 16th Century building, this restaurant specializes in fish, vegetarian, and vegan options and the menu is very reasonably priced for the quality and ambiance.
Things To Do in Padstow: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Padstow.
Padstow is famous for its association with television chef Rick Stein who owns four restaurants in the town. It is a popular holiday destination thanks to its picturesque harbor and many homely pubs, stone architecture, and stunning location on the Camel Estuary.
If you want to enjoy the nearby beaches then summer (June to August) is the best time to visit, but expect Padstow to be crowded. Spring and fall are also excellent times to visit Padstow when the town is a little less crowded.
Padstow is definitely worth visiting as it’s one of the most picturesque fishing towns in Cornwall with plenty of wonderful things to do in and around the town.
Padstow doesn’t have a beach, however, there are sandy beaches on the estuary within walking distance or a short boat ride away.
Padstow is reachable by road via the A39. The town has public transport links to Newquay, Wadebridge, and Bodmin Parkway railway stations with onward connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Padstow is a very pretty small town. The center revolves around the picturesque harbor with fishing boats coming and going and ancient stone buildings, churches and pubs.
Padstow has some excellent shopping options with many boutique and artisan shops selling local produce, wines, fashion, locally made handicrafts, and more.
Now you know what to do in Padstow, Cornwall’s charming fishing town packed with excellent shops, pubs, and even a Michelin-starred restaurant.
In addition to all of Padstow’s wonderful attractions, the town makes a perfect base for exploring the rugged north Cornwall coast with its sandy beaches, coves, and fishing villages.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to Padstow and it is somewhere I’ll return to again and again. If you’re looking for more things to do in Cornwall, check out this list of activities.