A Guide to Porthleven

A Guide to Porthleven

From its famous food festival and Michelin recommended restaurants to its barrelling reef break and mighty storms, Porthleven is a coastal paradise of otherworldly proportions. 

Places to Eat and Drink

Places to Visit

Things to Do



A divine destination throughout the year, Porthleven resides on the fringes of the Lizard Peninsula and beckons for summer sojourns and winter retreats. Visit for the day or immerse yourself in a weekend retreat to uncover the many things to see and do. Whether you are seeking seaside serenity, gourmet discovery, or adventure from this idyllic coastal town, unrivalled days on the edge of the ocean await to be enjoyed.

Places to Eat and Drink

From Michelin-recommended restaurants and harbourside pop ups to fudge stalls stacked with artisan treats, there's a heavenly collection of spots to discover and dine in the heart of Porthleven. Head for seafood and street food at The Mussel Shoal, Dan Dan the Lobster Man or Ced’s Bagels, or for delicious sweet treats, try Nauti But Ice, The Square Ice Cream Emporium, or Kelly’s Ice Cream Kiosk.

Porthleven Food Festival

It’s impossible to talk about places to eat and drink in Porthleven without mentioning the Porthleven Food and Music Festival. A much-anticipated event held every year in the town, the Porthleven Festival usually spans three days in April and marks the start of the county’s festival calendar. Hosted by a dedicated local committee, including award-winning, Porthleven-based chef Jude Kereama, it promises an unrivalled line-up of celebrity chef demonstrations, food workshops, masterclasses, family-friendly activities, and, of course, the opportunity to sample a plethora of unique cuisine.

The Square

The award-winning Square restaurant in Porthleven is a popular eatery overlooking the harbour in the heart of the town. With a choice of indoor and outdoor seating, this restaurant is open throughout most of the year and extends a brasserie-style menu for low-key lunches and romantic dinners. Take a seat within the restaurant or on the dog-friendly terrace and peruse the menu of deftly prepared local produce. Next door, you can also find The Square Deli and Ice Cream Emporium where you can purchase delicacies to enjoy on the go or take back to your luxury retreat.


Kota is the flagship restaurant of Jude Kereama, an award-winning chef and Great British Menu finalist. Located on the harbour in a three-hundred-year-old building, this acclaimed eatery is sister to the family-friendly Kota Kai and is perfect for small plates and dreamy dates. On the menu, a range of dishes are available, each inspired by Jude’s Māori, Chinese and Malaysian heritage and crafted using the finest Cornish produce. Secure a reservation for lunch or dinner and look forward to friendly service, flavour-packed food, and a divine harbour backdrop.

The Ship Inn

When it comes to characterful Cornish pubs, it’s hard to find somewhere more charming than the wonderfully quirky Ship Inn in Porthleven. Perched on a cliffside at the entrance of the harbour, this seventeenth century pub is one of the dreamiest places on the west coast to watch the world go by and drink a glass of something special. Take a seat in the intimate interiors in winter in front of the open fire or find a spot in the steep beer garden in summer and indulge in a hearty repast. Bookings aren’t accepted, so remember to arrive in good time.

The Harbour Inn

A harbourside gem run by St Austell Brewery, the dog-friendly Harbour Inn is a winter favourite and summer delight for culinary repasts. Inside, beautifully refurbished interiors set an atmospheric scene for warming fare crafted with locally-sourced ingredients. Meanwhile, outside, a suntrap seating area features plenty of benches along the harbour with direct views over the town and the open ocean beyond. Take a look at the menus comprised of feel-good favourites, complete with vegan and vegetarian options, and indulge in a St Austell brew.


A popular hub by the water in Porthleven, Amélie is a restaurant with its roots in the Mediterranean and its foundations in Cornwall. One of the best places to go for relaxed, informal dining in a picturesque, light-filled setting, it proposes heavenly offerings of light bites, small plates, mains and sharing platters to cover every appetite and occasion. Choose your favourite from the moreish medley and relish the fine flavours inspired by Cornish seasons. Amélie is dog and family-friendly and can also be hired for private events for extra exclusivity.

Origin Coffee

With a coffee shop on the harbour front and a roastery just outside of the village, Origin Coffee in Porthleven promises a wealth of choice for coffee lovers. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a fan of a balanced blend, you can savour the aromatic flavours of Origin’s bespoke range of single-origin coffee and soak up the ambience. The heartbeat of Origin’s operations, The Roastery also has a coffee shop, training rooms and café and serves up light lunches and mouth-watering cakes and bakes.

Places to Visit

Whether you are arriving in winter to watch the hypnotic crescendo of waves crash against the harbour wall or are seeking a summer staycation full of romance, Porthleven never disappoints. Embrace the town’s quintessential Cornish vibes and discover all the wonderful attractions just waiting to be explored.

Porthleven Harbour

An aerial view of Porthleven town and harbour on a blue sky day

One of the best attractions in Porthleven is of course its harbour. Built in the nineteenth century by Napoleonic prisoners of war, it took fifteen years to complete and was opened in 1825. Since then, it has provided a safe haven for local and passing vessels and is a huge focal point of the town. Spend time walking around the harbour and looking out for the iconic and secret gems dotted around its walls. From the legendary seventy-foot-high Bickford Smith clock tower on the end of the harbour and the Grade II listed Lime Kiln, to the Waiting for Fish bronze statue and the historic ship’s cannons, the harbour is a veritable treasure trove and a living museum.

Loe Pool

Loe Bar Beach sandwiched between Loe Pool and the sea near Porthleven

The largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall and one of the most intriguing lakes in the South West, Loe Pool exudes atmosphere. Residing between Porthleven and Helston, it was once the mouth of the River Cober but eventually was cut off from the sea by the Loe’s sandbank. Today, peaceful walks can be enjoyed around Loe Pool, following the twists and turns of Penrose Estate’s trails. Head off on foot from the South West Coast Path from Porthleven or park in one of the car parks around the site and bask in tranquillity.

The Shipyard Market

Located behind the harbour, The Shipyard Market is one of the best places to visit in Porthleven. A heartbeat of industry and innovation within the town, it is a hub of activity and home to a number of local producers and artisans selling everything from fudge to fine art and bagels to bike hire. Head over throughout the seasons to uncover a never-ending reel of things to see, do and purchase. Particularly magical in wintertime, The Shipyard Market also hosts one of the county’s Christmas markets and celebrates the festive period with plenty of themed gifts and foodie treats.


A hidden arcadia painted with ancient woodland that tumbles down towards the sea, Penrose Estate radiates fairytale charm. Woven with a mixture of woodland that encompasses Cornwall’s biggest natural lake and greets the sandy shores of Loe Bar, it is a magical place to explore throughout the year. One of the most stunning areas of woodland in Cornwall, it is interlaced with forest trails that meander past benches, view points and a well-placed coffee stop at The Stables Café. Explore on foot or by bike and absorb the adumbral atmosphere at your own pace. 

Shops and Galleries

A view of Porthleven's clocktower and cottages at golden hour

Some of the best attractions in Porthleven come in the form of the boutique shops and galleries that line the harbour and pepper the town’s characterful streets. From beautiful jewellery made by local silversmiths and original seascapes by Cornish artists, to nautical attire for all the seasons - you can find a wealth of treasures to explore. Take time to peruse the paintings in the Customs House Gallery and Four Crows Gallery, before popping into Just Lily for a bespoke gift to remind you of dreamy days in Cornwall.

Things to Do

From the sunshine days of spring to the golden-hued depths of autumn in Cornwall, Porthleven’s offering of activities promises year-round appeal. Whether your ideal day is a picture of leisure or play by the sea, uncover some of the best things to do in Porthleven for the most magical staycation moments.


One of the best things to do in Porthleven is to explore by bike. Only a stone’s throw from Mount's Bay and the miles-long beachfront promenade of Penzance and next door to the trail-woven Penrose Estate, there are lots of opportunities to explore for every kind of cycle skillset. If you don’t already have your own bike, then pay a visit to RideOn Porthleven next to the Shipyard Market. From here, road bikes and e-bikes are available for purchase and hire, ensuring you can enjoy the smoothest experience as you cruise around the coast.  


A view of the waterside road heading towards Porthleven Harbour

Embodying the pleasure of life’s simple moments, the joyful pastime of walking is something to be cherished in Cornwall. With a spectacular backdrop and access to ancient woodland and endless coastline, Porthleven is a particularly enchanting destination for walks. To learn about the fascinating history of the town, follow the Porthleven Town Trail or take part in a guided Porthleven Town Talk. Wander through the Penrose Estate from Helston to Porthleven to stretch your legs over a hearty hike, or follow the South West Coast Path north or south for sublime sea views and the chance to see whales and dolphins along the coast.


Porthleven's harbour with turquoise waters on a sunny day

Porthleven is renowned for its harbour which transforms with the ebb and flow of the tide. If you are looking for somewhere to immerse in exhilarating cold water swimming, then Porthleven may pique your interest. When the tide is high on calm days, families and local swimming groups regularly take to the harbour to swim and play. Meanwhile, when the tide recedes, bathers flock towards the golden sands of Porthleven’s beach for revitalising dips. Lifeguards are on duty on the beach between July and September; always be sure to note tide times and conditions for safe swimming.

Storm Watching

Waves crashing against the cliffs and sea walls during a storm in Porthleven

In winter, all attention turns to the awe-inspiring Atlantic swells that surge towards the Cornish coast. Well-known for its salt-whipped spectaculars, Porthleven has long been famed for the giant waves that can make an appearance in winter and crash over the top of its seventy-foot-high clock tower perched on the edge of the harbour. Keep an eye on approaching weather systems and take up a windowside seat in one of the local cafés for an unforgettable show of nature, sipping a warming hot drink from the comfort of a cosy corner.


Two surfers sharing a barrel at Porthleven

If you are a seasoned surfer looking for the best break in Cornwall, Porthleven delivers. Home to a barrelling reef break on the right-hand side of the harbour, it boasts one of the best waves in not just Cornwall but the UK when the elements align. That said, this break is not for beginners and attracts some of the sport’s elite on good days. If you are not a surfer, then spectating makes for an equally fun activity from the clifftops. 

Coffee Masterclasses with Origin

Should you be seeking a unique experience in Cornwall, then refining a new skill may be of interest. Located half a mile from Porthleven Harbour, Origin Coffee’s Roastery and Café hosts unmissable events and experiences, such as home espresso and brewing courses. Taught in a laidback, informal environment, each course is designed to be accessible for everyone from beginners to coffee connoisseurs and impart industry knowledge on how to create the perfect brews. Secure your place in advance to avoid missing out.


Porthleven sits on the Cornish coast between the southernmost reaches of the Lizard Peninsula and the wilds of West Cornwall. Home to a sandy beach and just a short distance from a number of gorgeous coves, it tempts for serene days by the shimmering sea.

Porthleven Beach

Porthleven beach at high tide

Porthleven Beach can be found beyond the town’s harbour walls and beckons for shoreside bliss. Expanding at low tide to reveal wide tracts of golden sand, it provides the only safe swimming area along the coast’s two and a half mile stretch and proposes exhilarating bathing on flat days. Close to the town’s eateries and amenities, it is a lovely spot for picnics and reclining under golden sunshine in the warmer months and is lifeguarded between July and September each year.

Loe Bar

Overlooking Loe Bar from the cliffs near Porthleven at golden hour

Loe Bar Beach runs from Gunwalloe in the south all the way to the town of Porthleven and separates Loe Pool (Cornwall’s biggest natural freshwater lake) from the sea. A huge sweep of around two and a half miles in total, it is one of Cornwall’s longest beaches and proposes spellbinding moments for shoreside walks. Though this beach is not safe for swimming due its steep banks and strong currents, its sheltered pockets and west-facing aspect afford the most glorious setting for daytime picnics and watching sunsets crest the ocean. Access the beach along the South West Coast Path from Porthleven and bask in the glorious setting for mesmerising moments by the sea.


An aerial view of Gunwalloe Beach on the Lizard Peninsula

Just around the corner from Poldhu on one side and the start of Loe Bar Beach on the other is one of the Lizard’s most picturesque beaches: Gunwalloe. Used as a backdrop for Poldark, this idyllic cove is hugged by headlands and grass-coated dunes and home to one of the oldest churches in Cornwall. Nestled in the dunes on the site of a fifth century church, St Winwaloe largely dates from the fifteenth century and evokes awe overlooking the sea. Explore the stunning setting throughout the year and enjoy service from seasonal lifeguards and a National Trust café in summer.  

Praa Sands

A view of the mile-long Praa Sands on a summer's day

Venturing slightly further afield from Porthleven, you can savour the heavenly sight of Praa Sands. One of the most family-friendly beaches in Cornwall, this mile-long beach has powdered seashell sand and sapphire waters that turn turquoise in the warmer months. Make use of one of the local car parks and head onto the beach. You can find plenty of space to find a quiet spot along the shore, and there are a number of facilities above the beach, such as a sea-view restaurant, seasonal ice cream shack, and surf shop.

Feeling inspired to pursue a Porthleven escape? Take a look at our luxury cottages.


Sign up to receive our boutique stories…

Stay connected with retreat magic and be the first to know about our new additions. We promise to only fill your inbox with the dreamiest staycation stories and luxury travel moments.