When planning an idyllic mini break in Britain, one destination that ticks all the boxes is Cornwall. I was lucky to travel there on three occasions when I lived in London and see a fair bit of this beautiful peninsula. On my last trip to Cornwall I fell in love with the picturesque Cornish village of Padstow. Here are my top tips for the perfect short break in Padstow.
Cornwall, a county in southwestern tip of England, is a leading holiday destinations for both Brits and foreigners. It’s easy to see why: in one day, you can stroll along a sandy beach and swim in crystal clear sea, walk to castle ruins or hike the cliff-tops on the South West Coast Path.
The climate is milder and sunnier here than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Stunning scenery and good weather aside, Cornwall is a foodies paradise. The county is known for having some of the best produce, meat and seafood in the Britain.
Why Padstow? Padstow is a small town and fishing port just 3,000 people in North Cornwall. Its proximity to Newquay airport, makes Padstow an ideal place to stay for a few days and experience the very best of the West Country.
You can see more photos and videos from my trip to Padstow on my Instagram Stories.
How to Get to Padstow
The quickest way to get to Padstow is by plane. British Airways fly to Newquay, Cornwall five times a week from London Heathrow (LHR) arriving into Newquay (NQY), approximately an hour later. The service currently operates in summer only (mid July to early September). From there, it’s about 20 minutes to Padstow by taxi.
Alternatively, there is a train + bus service that departs from London Paddington and arrives in Padstow in approximately 5h 11m. The National Express direct coach from London Victoria to Padstow takes around 6h 35m and runs twice daily.
Where to Eat in Padstow
Padstow has seen its popularity explode over recent years and has emerged as a top foodie destination in the UK. No doubt, we can thank popular chefs like Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth, and their award winning restaurants in town, for this success. Ainsworth owns three restaurants, including Paul Ainsworth at N. 6, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Padstow. And last year, he opened Mahé cookery school and Chef’s Table where I had the pleasure to attend a full day cooking class with Chef Patron John Walton.
The cooking class at Mahé in Padstow is an experience I highly recommend to anyone wanting to gather new cooking or baking skills, eat amazing food and have fun!
One of the best meals I had in 2019 was at The Mariners Public House in Rock, Aisnworth’s first foray in the pub world. The same emphasis on high-quality local produce that made the chef famous and gained him a Michelin star can be found at The Mariners, but in a more casual setting.
Head chefs Joe Rozier and Tom Dawes take British classic pub dishes to new levels. Impossible to forget the Cornish Tamworth’s & sage scotch egg with triple mustard sauce; the Rarebit on toast; and the warm hand-raised pork pie. The oysters are harvested just 500 yards away, in Porthilly harbour and served in three ways: raw with traditional condiments, ‘Rockefeller’ style, and fried with tartare sauce.
If you are looking for a good and proper fish & chips, The Mariners is definitely the place to find it. I think it was the best one I’ve ever had!
The Cornish line-caught haddock with triple cooked Yukon Gold chips and The Mariners condiments is perfect for an afternoon on the deck with a pint of Sharp’s Doom Bar in hand and the sun going down over the Camel Estuary.
Where to Stay in Padstow
Padstow Townhouse is everything you dream about a guesthouse, and more! Paul and Emma Ainsworth restored the beautiful 18th century townhouse to its former glory and launched it in 2015. Guests of Padstow Townhouse are looked after from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. Trust, you will never want to leave!
The house and each of the six suites are uniquely styled and decorated so thoughtfully, you will instantly fall in love with them. My room was “marshmallow” and it comprised of two adjoining rooms and one bathroom with bathtub and shower.
This isn’t a traditional hotel or even B&B, as there isn’t a dining room for guests to eat in (though guests love walking down the road to Rojano’s for breakfast). In the evening, during turn down service, a tray with hot chocolate and homemade macarons was left on my bed. In the morning, a beautiful breakfast hamper is served to your room.
Then, there’s the Pantry, a fully stocked kitchen with a variety of treats and snacks, such as homemade cake, Cornish cream tea, cheeses and chocolate. The shelves are stacked with wines and spirits. A “honesty box” policy applies: guests are asked to make a note of what they’ve had in the Pantry notebook and the charge will be added to your room bill.
What to Buy in Padstow
The town centre of Padstow is a mix of boutique shops, small art galleries, coffee shops, and delis. We’ve talked about how amazing Cornish fresh produce is and you might want to grab a few products before leaving Cornwall. Padstow Farm Shop is a brilliant deli selling their own Tregirls Farm produce, exceptional locally sourced meat, Cornish cheeses, ale and ciders. They also sell freshly made food to takeaway: sandwiches and sausage rolls, salads and cakes.
Now, you are not allowed to leave Padstow without getting a taste of Cornish pasties! For the best traditional ones visit The Chough Bakery. You have never been to Cornwall if you have not had a taste of an authentic Cornish pasty.
Craft beer lovers will rejoice at the sight of Padstow Brewing Company, an award-winning independent micro-brewery offering artisan beers in cask, keg, bottles and cans. At The Padstow Coffee Company, located in the heart of Padstow, you can buy fine quality coffee beans, expertly hand roasted and blended the perfect cup. Padstow Bookseller is a lovely bookshop in the heart of Padstow that caters for everyone, stocking a wide range of fiction, children’s books and local interest.
Every year, Padstow hosts one of the largest Christmas festivals in the UK and is a treat for the whole family. Padstow Christmas Festival makes December a unique and exciting time to visit the town, but also a very busy one. Make sure to book your accommodation and restaurant tables well in advance.
Top Things to See and Do Around Padstow
Close to Padstow you can choose from a diverse range of adventures including surfing, mountain biking, coasteering, kayaking, waterskiing, paddle boarding, surfing and sailing.
Padstow Sealife Safaris organise a range of boat tours to give you a unique window into North Cornwall’s spectacular coast and sealife.
You can take your first surfing lesson at Harlyn Bay (3 miles from Padstow) with Harlyn Surf School: the bay is slightly off the beaten track, with golden sand and rock pools flanked by granite cliffs, and a great place to learn to surf.
St George’s Cove, Tregirls and Hawker’s Cove are fantastic family beaches and if that’s not enough then there are the beaches of Rock, just a 5 minute ferry ride across the Camel Estuary.
If you can bored of the view, hop in a car and in just 30 minutes you will find the golden sand beaches and charming coastline of Newquay, Cornwall’s coolest town. Mawgan Porth, located halfway between Padstow and Newquay, is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the west-facing beach and watch a stunning sunset.
Prefer to stay on dry land? There are a number of walks and coastal paths around Padstow to suit all levels of fitness. Padstow to Harbour Cove starts along the harbour and then winds through Padstow’s streets to reach the ancient church and Prideaux Place, continues via Tregirls Farm to the Doom Bar, then returns route to Padstow along the beaches of Harbour Cove, Hawker’s Cove and St George’s Cove.
Take a break from outdoor pursuits to taste wines and ciders at Trevibban Mill Vineyard & Orchards, a stone’s throw from Padstow. Guided tours are offered every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, while on Sundays there is a Grand Tour around the vineyard, orchard and lakeside to learn about organic viticulture and grape growing, plus wine tasting and a light lunch.
Grab a freshly cooked breakfast and an Origin Coffee Roasters flat white at Strong Adolfo’s, a charming roadside café in Wadebridge. This locals’ favourite is about 20 minutes’ drive from Padstow and close to stunning walking routes and views.
What is the Best Time to Visit?
As expected, Padstow gets very busy during the summer weeks and peak periods such as Easter, Christmas and bank holidays. In the rest of the year, you can find accommodation at relatively low prices, making Padstow and North Cornwall an affordable option for a short break away.
Disclaimer: I was a guest at Padstow Townhouse and The Mariners in Rock as part of a press trip. All views are my own.