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Must see Cornish Villages

As well as expansive coastline, Cornwall also has a number of picture-perfect fishing villages to explore. An ample opportunity to get sandy toes, enjoy a local pasty, and meander around enjoying what the village has to offer.

Here are six villages to visit while on holiday in Cornwall.

St Mawes

This small fishing village is nestled on the Roseland Peninsula. On the South Coast, this village has a harbour and overlooks the leafy hills. The calmer south coast is a great spot for sailing and kayaking.

St Mawes castle perches on the cliffs here, one of the best-preserved of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortresses, and the most elaborately decorated.

Part of a chain of forts built between 1539 and 1545, St Mawes would have guarded the important anchorage of Carrick Roads alongside Pendennis Castle.


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Mermaids, myths, and beautiful scenery. The beautiful village of Zennor is past St Ives and home to the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor. The legend is about a local choir boy named Matthew Trewhella who sang in St Senara’s church every Sunday. His enchanting voice is said to have attracted a mermaid from the nearby coast. She listens from the rocks at first and then comes disguised as a human into the church. When he catches her eye, they run off to sea together. Legend says he sings low when the sea is rough and high when it is safe so sailors know when to venture out. In other versions of the story, she is painted differently, as an evil temptress who lures him away.

St Senara’s church has ‘The Mermaid’s Chair’ which is where the mermaid is said to have sat. Enjoy the stunning coastal path and look out to sea and enjoy some refreshment in the Tinner’s Arms.


Charlestown is located on the south coast, and the harbour looks out to the sea with vast views. At the harbour you will see the tall ships at this breathtaking 18th century Georgian Harbour.

There is a pebbly beach, many restaurants, and bars, as well as The Shipwreck Museum, which delves into Charlestown’s and Cornwall’s seafaring past.


Crantock is about a fifteen-minute drive from Hendra and is a pretty village with a huge beach. This National Trust beach has so much to explore, with caves, sand dunes (though these are unstable, so you cannot climb on many of them), and is where the Gannel Estuary meets the sea.

In the village you will find a small shop, church, and just outside The Bowgie Inn, for great views, pub food and live music, and C-Bay bar for more great views and food too.


Mousehole is a picturesque fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall. The village has a solid stretch of blue sea, and safe harbour beach. There are little shops, galleries, cafes, and more in the cobbled village streets.

Mousehole is also home to another Cornish legend, The Mousehole Cat. This legend has been made into an award-winning children’s story. The book tells the tale of Cornish fisherman Tom Bawcock and his black and white cat, Mowzer. In the story Tom and Mowzer go on a fishing expedition in rough and stormy seas. The storm becomes a “Storm-Cat”, and Mowzer saves the day by soothing the storm with her purring. This purring becomes a song and Tom is able to haul in his catch and return to harbour. The catch is cooked into stargazy pies (a Cornish dish made of baked pilchards (sardines), along with eggs and potatoes, covered with a pastry crust.), on which the villagers feast.


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Port Isaac

Perhaps Cornwall’s most famous fishing village. Port Isaac is on the rugged north coast, and is a quintessential Cornish fishing village. It is famous because it was the location of popular, long-running, TV sitcom, Doc Martin. If you like Doc Martin then explore its famous landmarks, including Doc Martin’s house, Fern Cottage on Roscarrock Hill.

There’s rugged coastline to explore as well as working your way around the village, through typical fishing village narrow streets. Here you will find the aptly named ‘squeezy belly alley’, one of the narrowest passageways in Britain (best save the pasty until after you have gone down this alley!).

There’s Buttermilk Artisan Confectionery here, offering buttermilk fudge as well as dairy free options. For a hearty pub meal go to The Golden Lion. Or splash out at celebrity chef Nathan Outlaw’s ‘Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen’, located within a 15th century fishermen’s cottage which offers locally sourced seafood.


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