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10 of the most picturesque harbours in Cornwall

Cornwall is famous for its iconic structures such as St Michael’s Mount and The Minack Theatre, but it's also home to a host of must-see harbours that stand as beautiful attractions themselves.

Here’s our top ten for starters...

St Ives

St Ives’ quaint seaside town offers varying scenes, from eating and drinking delights to surfing, shopping and sailing expeditions. Then there’s acclaimed art at Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum, along with a smattering of artists’ studios and galleries; but the harbour remains at the scenic centre of it all.

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The colours of west Cornwall’s far west harbour alone are incredible, with almost-white sands and spectrum of blues both inside and beyond the harbour, which stands at the hub of the uber picturesque fishing village.

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The gorgeous harbourside town hosts the annual Porthleven Food Festival and is home to an array of top-notch cafes and restaurants including Kota, Amelies, Sea Drift and The Square, while a weekly market means that you can also sample and stock up on local goodies. Follow the South West Coast Path eastward through the town (or walk the low tide along the three mile stretch of sand) toward Loe Bar for Cornwall’s largest freshwater lake, or simply relax at the beach by the harbour’s striking granite pier. 

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Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the China clay port combines medieval and Georgian buildings with stunning waterside scenery for a holiday or day trip with a heady dose of pretty. For a similar vibe, head to the sleepier village of Polperro for white fishermen cottages and narrow streets.

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One of the country’s biggest fishing ports, Newlyn’s harbour is world-renowned and a spectacular sight to behold, with buildings perched around its fleet of trawlers and crabbers whose freshly caught hauls can be devoured in the cluster of top-notch eateries including Ben Tunnicliffe’s Tolcarne Inn and Mackerel Sky Seafood Bar. Plus, there’s top-notch entertainment and culture at Newlyn Filmhouse and Newlyn Art Gallery.

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Padstow’s plethora of charms sees the traditional fishing village proffer beaches for families, quiet coves for couples, Rick Stein's restaurants for foodies and a wealth of inland activities and attractions.

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The bustling working port of Looe proudly presides over a river mouth that spills into the sea on Cornwall’s south-east coast, presenting a stunning seaside town full of natural beauty and character. Split into the West and the East by the river, Looe is a unique twin town that offers a staggering range of scenes and sights that will spellbind everyone who visits. 

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Falmouth’s famous maritime town is crammed with an inexhaustible array of sights to see and things to do. A vibrant by-the-sea destination, Falmouth boasts the world’s third-deepest natural harbour, which sets the remarkable cultural tone for much of its award-winning attractions including the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the estuary mouth’s dizzyingly beautiful headlands marked by St Mawes and Pendennis Castles.

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The traditional fishing village of Mevagissey boasts a unique section of coastline, coves and beaches and is also the gateway to a plethora of attractions including Eden Project, Lost Gardens of Heligan and World Heritage Site (WHS) mining heritage.

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This historic harbour and Georgian working port has provided the film set backdrop for both television and the silver screen, courtesy of its unspoilt architecture and eye-catching tall ships. And with beaches, Shipwreck Centre, and an assortment of pubs, cafes and restaurants, there’s plenty to see and do at the character-filled village.

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Where to find them:

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