Boasting a heady mix of gastronomic delights, sublime scenery, watersports and chic coastal style, it’s no wonder that Padstow is one of Cornwall’s most popular seaside towns. But just because the crowds flock to this pretty harbour town hemmed by golden beaches, there’s no need to strike it off your list as an ideal summer holiday destination.
With its vibrant character, wild coastline, waterside dining and an abundance of things to do without needing a car, Padstow is the perfect place for a summer break.
From sweeping sandy beaches to family attractions, here’s why we love summer in Padstow…
While away summer days lapping up the colourful scenery and vibrant ambience of Cornwall’s seaside from Padstow harbour. Go crabbing from the harbour wall, lick Cornish ice cream with your toes dangling in the sea, and tuck into fish and chips watching the fishing boats come and go. If you want to test your sea legs you can castaway on a boat trip – from sea life safaris to luxury coastal cruises. Or simply kick back in a harbourside inn with a Cornish-brewed ale in hand and the gulls wheeling overhead.
Edging out from the harbour, the heart of town is a warren of streets lined with shops, bakeries, galleries and cafés. During summer it’s a bustling street scene that’s as interesting for people watching as it is for window shopping.
From fine art and glassware to clothes boutiques to bookshops, there’s something for everyone in Padstow and is a lovely place to spend a summer’s afternoon wandering around and absorbing the atmosphere.
It’s no secret that Padstow is renowned for its foodie scene, and it’s not easy to bag a table in big-name restaurants in the summer holidays. However, good food and drink are easy to come by in this gastronomic haven. Grab a sandwich or Cornish pasty for lunch, stop for a pint by the harbour at one of the town’s several pubs, sip a gin or cocktail at one of the many bars or chance your luck at one of the many cafés and restaurants.
While the likes of Stein’s, Ashworth’s and Outlaw’s will have been booked up for months, there are plenty of dining experiences waiting to be discovered. There are also several pop-ups that cater for extra visitors during the summer months.
Why not walk, cycle or float along the Camel Trail for a rustic, gourmet Supper Club, served up by the Atlantic Coast Express on the banks of the magical Camel Estuary? Or, on the outskirts of town snag a table at Prawn on the Lawn’s summer pop up – Barnaby’s at Trevibban Mill – where sharing plates, local wines and what the fishermen bring in dominates the menu. If you want to dine tipi style or under the stars in a unique alfresco venue, seek out Craftworks Secret Garden pop-up in the grounds of Padstow Holiday Village.
Cornwall is famous for its world-class beaches, and there’s no better time to enjoy the toes-in-the-sand lifestyle than summer. But while tourists fight for spaces in beach car parks around the county, the beauty of Padstow is that there’s easy access to lots of beaches without getting behind the wheel. Just pop your towel and bathers in your bag, and set out on foot or afloat.
Head west from town at low-tide and within ten minutes you’ll reach St George’s Cove, where there’s plenty of nooks and crannies for rock pooling and sunbathing. Or keep going to the pristine Hawkers Cove, a favourite for kite flyers and dog walkers, and home to the Rest A While Tea Garden if you’re hankering for a Cornish cream tea to fuel you up for your day out by the sea.
In the other direction from the harbour, hop over the estuary to Rock, where there’s a necklace of beaches waiting to be explored – from the golden sands of Daymer Bay and the rock-pooling haven of Greenaway Beach, all the way to the surfers’ paradise of Polzeath.
Celebrate the culture and heritage of this iconic seaside town at some of the summertime festivals and events. July’s lifeboat day sees a day of demos and water displays to support the vital work of the RNLI, while in August you can delve into a mix of music, dance and workshops at the Festival of Cornish Culture held at Prideaux Place. A hop, skip and jump away from Padstow, in a prime location overlooking the Camel Estuary, the family-friendly Rock Oyster Festival lays on a smorgasbord of live music, artisan food and wellbeing in July.
The best way to experience Cornwall’s scenery is on foot – taking it all in at your own pace, stopping to capture the stunning vistas on camera, and pausing for picturesque picnics. Rather than following the traffic in and out of Padstow, don your walking boots and follow the web of coastal and countryside trails that meet in this perfectly-placed harbour town.
One of our favourite coastal walks from Padstow’s quayside is across the fields to Gunver Head, tracing the coastline back past Butter Hole and the collapsed sea cave of Pepper Hole (keep an eye out for hawks, buzzards and seals). Or, from Rock, follow the coast path to Daymer Bay, cutting back via the wonky-steepled St Enodoc Church and over the grassy knoll of Brea Hill (one of our favourite picnic spots).
If you really want to get away from the crowds, follow the ancient pilgrims’ route of The Saints Way, which winds its way inland from the harbour, crossing all the way to the south coast where it emerges on the Fowey River near Lostwithiel.
Getting around in Cornwall by car can be a nightmare in the summer holidays, as tourists battle their way between the county’s beaches and attractions. However, base yourself in Padstow and you can ditch the car to enjoy some of the best days out. Hire a bike and freewheel along the traffic-free Camel Trail from the coast to the moors. The most popular section is between Padstow and Wadebridge, but if you trundle onto Bodmin the scenery becomes lush and shady, with fewer cyclists taking on the extra miles through the woodland to the moors.
Nestled on the edge of an estuary, there are plenty of ways to stay cool and explore the region by water – from boat trips out of the harbour to paddle boarding, sailing and wakeboarding. Hop on the Black Tor Ferry over to Rock, where Camel Ski School offers all sorts of water-bound adventures, from wakeboarding and waterskiing to SUP and kayak excursions. Or, if you want to feel the wind in your sails, learn the ropes on a dinghy with Camel Sailing and Powerboat Centre.
Whether the sun’s got its hat on for your holiday or not, Padstow is home to plenty of attractions for fun-packed family days out. Visit the National Lobster Hatchery to find out all about these incredible crustaceans and their life cycle.
There are plenty of sights around town to take in, as you mosey from the harbourside galleries into the Old Town, then up to the grand Prideaux Place, where you can take a tour of the historic house and grounds before tea on the terrace. If you’re looking for something a little more high-octane with kids in tow, hit the rollercoasters and rides of nearby Camel Creek theme park.
Check out our range of luxury holiday cottages in and around Padstow, and use the calendar tool to find availability for the summer holidays. Also, see our latest selection of holiday cottages available in the centre of Padstow this summer.
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