fun things to do in penzance at the beach

17 Unmissable Things To Do In Penzance, Cornwall

Embark on a captivating journey through Penzance, a Cornish treasure where history and natural beauty converge. From the architectural wonders of the Egyptian House to the lush tranquility of Trengwainton Garden, this guide unveils the best experiences Penzance offers, promising unforgettable moments for every traveler.

Table of Contents

Penzance, a seaside town nestled on the shores of Mount’s Bay in West Cornwall, embodies the quintessence of coastal charm with a touch of historical grandeur. This picturesque town serves as a gateway to the enchanting world of Cornwall, offering a harmonious blend of scenic beauty, cultural richness, and vibrant local life.

Visitors to Penzance can expect a delightful array of experiences, from exploring ancient landmarks like the mystical St. Michael’s Mount, which seems to rise majestically from the sea, to indulging in the town’s thriving arts scene at galleries such as the Penlee House.

The town’s streets are lined with an eclectic mix of shops and eateries, where one can savour the authentic flavours of Cornish cuisine. Penzance’s unique charm lies in its ability to offer moments of discovery and adventure, whether it’s through a leisurely stroll along the promenade at sunset or an exhilarating boat trip across the bay.

Whether you’re seeking a tranquil retreat by the sea, cultural enrichment, or outdoor adventures, Penzance promises a memorable escape that captures the essence of Cornwall’s magical allure.

Ready to cover the very best things to do in Penzance? Let’s go.

Top 17 things to do (and places to see) in Penzance

1. Explore the historic St. Michael’s Mount and its tidal island

Best for: History buffs, families, photographers

st michaels mount best things to do in penzance
Photo credit: Michael Harpur

What it is: St Michael’s Mount is a majestic island crowned with a medieval church and castle, accessible by a causeway at low tide.

Why go: St. Michael’s Mount offers a step back in time with its rich history, stunning architecture, and panoramic views over Mount’s Bay. The experience of walking across the sea bed to reach the island is magical, making it a must-visit destination.

Opening times: Generally open Sunday to Friday, but times vary with the tides. Check the official website for specific dates and times.

Website URL: St. Michael’s Mount

Entrance cost: Ticket prices vary – check official website.

Highlights:

  • The ancient, cobbled causeway that appears at low tide.
  • The medieval castle with its captivating history and architecture.
  • The subtropical terraced gardens offering stunning sea views.

2. Wander through the exotic Morrab Gardens

Best for: Nature lovers, photographers, families

band hut in morrab gardens in cornwall

What it is: A subtropical haven in the heart of Penzance, featuring an array of exotic plants and trees from around the world.

Why go: Morrab Gardens is a serene escape that showcases the unique microclimate of Cornwall. Its winding paths, vibrant flora, and peaceful atmosphere make it a perfect spot for leisurely walks and relaxation.

Opening times: Open daily from dawn to dusk.

Website URL: Morrab Gardens

Entrance cost: Free entry.

Highlights:

  • The lush palm trees and subtropical plants.
  • The picturesque Victorian bandstand.
  • The tranquil pond with its resident ducks and wildlife.

3. Enjoy the art at Penlee House Gallery & Museum

Best for: Art enthusiasts, history lovers, families

penlee house gallery and museum in penzance
Photo credit: Penzance council

What it is: A charming gallery and museum set in a Victorian mansion, showcasing the best of Cornish art and history.

Why go: Penlee House offers a deep dive into the rich cultural heritage of Cornwall, with its exceptional collection of Newlyn School paintings and historical exhibits. The tranquil setting and engaging displays make it a cultural highlight of Penzance.

Opening times: Varies depending on the time of year – check the official website below.

Website URL: Penlee House Gallery & Museum

Entrance cost: Approximately £6 for adults, young people (18 – 26) £3, with concessions available. Children enter free.

Highlights:

  • The stunning collection of Newlyn School paintings.
  • The engaging local history exhibitions.
  • The picturesque park and gardens surrounding the museum.

4. Stroll along Penzance Promenade for seaside views

Best for: Walkers, families, photographers

penzance promenade nice thing to do in penzance outdoors with family
Photo credit: Duncan Scobie

What it is: A scenic waterfront walkway offering expansive views of Mount’s Bay and the iconic St. Michael’s Mount.

Why go: The promenade is the perfect place to enjoy Penzance’s maritime charm, with its refreshing sea breezes, beautiful sunsets, and easy access to the town’s historic lido, Jubilee Pool. It’s an ideal setting for a leisurely walk or a moment of seaside contemplation.

Opening times: Accessible at all times.

Website URL: N/A

Entrance cost: Free.

Highlights:

  • The panoramic seaside views, especially at sunset.
  • The historic Jubilee Pool, an art deco seawater lido.
  • The vibrant atmosphere, with art installations and beachside cafes.

5. Visit the art deco Jubilee Pool for a swim

Best for: Families, history enthusiasts, and swimmers.

art deco jubilee pool fun things to do in penzance
Photo credit: Jubilee Pool Penzance Ltd.

What it is: An iconic art deco lido, restored to its 1930s glory, offering safe sea swimming.

Why go: The Jubilee Pool is a stunning example of art deco design, providing a unique swimming experience in its geothermally heated section. It’s a vibrant community hub, where the joy of outdoor swimming is combined with the elegance of 1930s architecture. Whether you’re a dedicated swimmer or looking for a leisurely dip, the pool’s sea views and historic charm make it a must-visit.

Opening times: Seasonal; typically open from May to September, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

Website URL: Jubilee Pool Website

Entrance cost: Varies; check the website for the latest prices.

Highlights:

  • Swim in the UK’s largest sea pool.
  • Experience geothermally heated water.
  • Enjoy the poolside café and community events.

6. Discover the treasures of the Penzance Maritime Museum

Best for: History buffs, maritime enthusiasts, families.

the maritime museum in penzance
Photo credit: thegirloutdoors.co.uk

What it is: A museum dedicated to the maritime history of Penzance, featuring artifacts, models, and interactive displays.

Why go: Penzance’s rich maritime heritage is brought to life at this museum, offering insights into the town’s historical significance as a coastal hub. From tales of piracy and smuggling to the evolution of navigation and shipbuilding, the museum is a treasure trove of stories and artifacts that captivate visitors of all ages. It’s a journey through time that highlights the bravery, adventure, and ingenuity of maritime life.

Opening times: Open year-round, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Closed Sundays.

Website URL: Penzance Maritime Museum

Entrance cost: Adults £16.90, Children £8.50.

Highlights:

  • Engaging maritime history exhibits.
  • Interactive displays for all ages.
  • Rare artefacts and detailed ship models.

7. Walk the South West Coast Path for breathtaking scenery

Best for: Nature lovers, hikers, photographers.

penzance part of the south west coast path hike
Photo credit: thegirloutdoors.co.uk

What it is: A section of the UK’s longest national trail, offering dramatic coastal views, rugged cliffs, and diverse wildlife.

Why go: Walking the South West Coast Path near Penzance immerses you in some of Cornwall’s most spectacular landscapes. The path meanders along the cliff tops, providing panoramic views of the Atlantic, serene coves, and ancient sites. Each step offers a new vista, a chance to spot wildlife, and the invigorating embrace of sea air. It’s a soul-enriching experience that connects you deeply with the natural beauty of Cornwall.

Opening times: Accessible at all times.

Website URL: South West Coast Path

Entrance cost: Free.

Highlights:

  • Stunning coastal panoramas.
  • Diverse flora and fauna.
  • Historical landmarks along the route.

8. Relax at the tranquil Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

Best for: Art enthusiasts, nature lovers, those seeking tranquility.

tremenheere sculpture gardens in penzance west cornwall
Photo credit: tremenheere.co.uk

What it is: A unique blend of exotic gardens and contemporary art, set against the backdrop of Mount’s Bay.

Why go: Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens is where art and nature intertwine to create an oasis of peace and beauty. The gardens are a canvas for large-scale sculptures by renowned artists, nestled among lush planting and with breathtaking views towards St. Michael’s Mount. It’s a place to wander, reflect, and find inspiration in the fusion of human creativity and natural splendour. It’s one of the most serene things to do in Penzance with stunning landscapes offering a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life around town.

Opening times: Open daily, 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM (March to October), reduced hours in winter.

Website URL: Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

Entrance cost: Adults £13, Children £6.50.

Highlights:

  • Spectacular sculptures in natural settings.
  • Exotic and subtropical planting.
  • Panoramic views of St. Michael’s Mount.

9. Take a boat trip to see the wildlife around Mount’s Bay

Best for: Wildlife enthusiasts, families, photographers.

boat trip to mounts bay in penzance cornwall
Photo credit: atlanticadventures.co.uk

What it is: A guided boat tour around Mount’s Bay, offering opportunities to see dolphins, seals, and seabirds in their natural habitat.

Why go: A boat trip around Mount’s Bay is an exhilarating way to connect with the rich marine life of Cornwall. The bay’s clear waters are home to a variety of sea creatures, including playful dolphins and basking seals. Guided by experts, you’ll learn about the wildlife and the conservation efforts to protect them. It’s not just a trip; it’s an adventure that brings you face-to-face with nature’s marvels, offering unforgettable memories and stunning photo opportunities.

Opening times: Tours are seasonal, typically available from April to October.

Website URL: Mount’s Bay Boat Trips

Entrance cost: Prices vary; check the website for details.

Highlights:

  • Close encounters with marine wildlife.
  • Expert commentary on local ecology.
  • Spectacular coastal views from the sea.

10. Experience the history at Chysauster Ancient Village

Best for: History enthusiasts, families, archaeology buffs.

Chysauster ancient village quirky things to do in penzance

What it is: An ancient Iron Age settlement, one of the best-preserved in the UK, offering a glimpse into prehistoric life.

Why go: Visiting Chysauster Ancient Village transports you back in time to the Iron Age, where the remains of stone houses reveal the daily lives of their ancient inhabitants. Walking among the ruins, you can almost hear the whispers of the past, telling tales of a community that thrived here over 2,000 years ago. It’s a place that not only educates but also ignites the imagination about the rich tapestry of human history woven into Cornwall’s landscape.

Opening times: Open daily, April to October, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Website URL: English Heritage – Chysauster

Entrance cost: Adults £7.50, Children £4.00.

Highlights:

  • Well-preserved ancient stone dwellings.
  • Panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Engaging interpretive signs explaining the site’s history.

11. Enjoy a performance at the Minack Theatre, carved into the cliffside

Best for: Theatre lovers, couples, families.

the minack theatre best places to visit in penzance
Photo credit: artistresidence.co.uk/

What it is: An open-air theatre dramatically set on the cliffs above the Atlantic, offering a unique cultural experience.

Why go: The Minack Theatre is not just a venue; it’s a spectacle in itself, carved from the granite cliffside with the ocean as its backdrop. Watching a performance here, under the stars and with the sound of the waves below, is an enchanting experience that merges art, nature, and the raw beauty of Cornwall. Whether it’s a Shakespearean drama or a modern musical, the Minack offers unforgettable moments of theatrical magic.

Opening times: Open year-round for visits, performance times vary.

Website URL: Minack Theatre

Entrance cost: Visit only: Adults £6, Children £3; Performance prices vary.

Highlights:

  • Stunning ocean backdrop for performances.
  • Beautifully maintained subtropical gardens.
  • Engaging daytime and evening shows.

12. Browse the local shops and markets for unique finds

Best for: Shoppers, souvenir hunters, foodies.

cool, local shops in penzance
Photo credit: artistresidence.co.uk/

What it is: A vibrant shopping scene, from independent boutiques to weekly markets, offering locally made crafts, art, and produce.

Why go: Penzance’s shopping experience is a treasure hunt for the unique and the unusual, reflecting the town’s artistic and culinary heritage. From quaint boutiques selling handmade jewellery and crafts to bustling markets offering the freshest local produce, there’s an authenticity and personal touch to shopping here. It’s an opportunity to take a piece of Cornwall home, whether it’s a work of art, a culinary delight, or a handcrafted keepsake and one of the most fun things to do in Penzance if browsing local shops is your vibe.

Opening times: Vary by shop and market; many are open daily.

Website URL: N/A – Explore Penzance’s streets and markets.

Entrance cost: Free to browse.

Highlights:

  • Unique Cornish crafts and artwork.
  • Fresh, local food products.
  • Friendly, welcoming shopkeepers.

13. Sample Cornish cuisine at Penzance’s local eateries

Best for: Foodies, families, anyone looking to experience local flavours.

cornish pasties best local food in penzance

What it is: A culinary journey through Penzance, sampling traditional Cornish dishes like pasties, seafood, and local ales.

Why go: Penzance’s culinary scene is a delightful exploration of Cornish traditions and modern interpretations. The Admiral Benbow, known for its nautical-themed interiors and hearty meals, offers a taste of local history alongside delicious fare. For seafood lovers, The Tolcarne Inn, a gastropub by the sea, serves fresh catches with a Cornish twist. Dining in Penzance is not just about the food; it’s about the stories, the atmosphere, and the connection to Cornwall’s rich maritime heritage.

Opening times: Vary by establishment; typically lunch and dinner hours.

Website URL: Check the websites for The Admiral Benbow and The Tolcarne Inn for more information.

Entrance cost: Prices vary by menu and establishment.

Highlights:

  • Savour traditional Cornish pasties.
  • Fresh, locally sourced seafood dishes.
  • Cozy pubs and seaside restaurants.

14. Visit Newlyn Art Gallery to see contemporary works

Best for: Art enthusiasts, culture seekers, solo travelers.

fun things to do in penzance at the newlyn art gallery
Photo credit: newlynartgallery.co.uk/

What it is: A contemporary art gallery showcasing the work of local, national, and international artists, with a focus on the region’s rich artistic heritage.

Why go: Newlyn Art Gallery stands as a beacon of contemporary art in a region historically known for its artistic community. The gallery’s exhibitions, often inspired by the area’s stunning landscapes and vibrant cultural scene, provide insight into the creative minds that have been drawn to Cornwall’s shores. Visiting the gallery is an opportunity to engage with thought-provoking art, attend workshops, and perhaps even find a piece that speaks to you.

Opening times: Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

Website URL: Newlyn Art Gallery

Entrance cost: Suggested donation £3.

Highlights:

  • Cutting-edge contemporary art exhibitions.
  • Beautiful views over Newlyn Green.
  • Engaging events and workshops.

15. Take a day trip to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance Harbour

Best for: Adventure seekers, nature lovers, photographers.

day trip to the isles of scilly around penzance in cornwall

What it is: An archipelago off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, accessible by ferry or plane, known for its pristine beaches, clear waters, and unique flora and fauna.

Why go: The Isles of Scilly offer a slice of paradise just a short journey from Penzance. Known for their unspoiled beauty, the islands are a haven for wildlife, with rare birds and abundant marine life. The trip itself is an adventure, crossing the Celtic Sea to land in a place where the pace of life slows, and nature takes centre stage. Each island has its own character, from the historical depths of Tresco Abbey Gardens to the rugged charm of St. Agnes.

Opening times: Ferry and flights available seasonally; check schedules in advance.

Website URL: Isles of Scilly Travel

Entrance cost: Varies by mode of transport and season.

Highlights:

  • Stunning natural landscapes and beaches.
  • Unique ecosystem with diverse wildlife.
  • Peaceful, slow-paced island life.

16. Explore the Penwith Peninsula for its ancient sites and landscapes

Best for: History enthusiasts, hikers, nature lovers.

rugged beach and coastline around penwith peninsula

What it is: The westernmost part of Cornwall, known for its rugged coastline, ancient monuments, and artistic communities.

Why go: Exploring the Penwith Peninsula is like stepping into a different era, where the landscape is dotted with prehistoric stone circles, Iron Age villages, and remnants of Cornwall’s mining heritage. The rugged cliffs, windswept moors, and hidden coves inspire awe and provide endless opportunities for discovery and adventure. Whether you’re tracing the steps of ancient settlers at Chysauster Ancient Village or marvelling at the dramatic coastlines, Penwith offers a profound connection to history and nature.

Opening times: Accessible at all times, but specific sites may have their own hours.

Website URL: NA

Entrance cost: Free; some sites may charge a fee.

Highlights:

  • Dramatic coastal scenery and walks.
  • Rich archaeological sites and history.
  • Artistic communities and galleries.

17. Enjoy the remarkable architecture at Egyptian House

Best for: Architecture enthusiasts, history buffs, photographers.

the Egyptian house in penzance

What it is: A remarkable example of Egyptian Revival architecture, this ornately decorated building stands out in the heart of Penzance with its detailed façade inspired by ancient Egyptian temples.

Why go: The Egyptian House is a testament to the 19th-century fascination with Egyptology, making it a unique architectural landmark in Penzance. Its intricate design and vibrant colors draw the eye, offering a glimpse into the period’s stylistic experimentation. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the building’s history reflects the broader cultural and architectural trends of its time, making it a must-visit for those interested in architectural history and the eccentricities of past design movements.

Opening times: The façade can be viewed at any time; interior access may vary.
Website URL: Historic England – Egyptian House

Website URL: NA

Entrance cost: Viewing the exterior is free.

Highlights:

  • Stunning Egyptian Revival façade.
  • Richly decorated with hieroglyphic motifs.
  • A unique piece of Penzance’s architectural heritage.

18. Enjoy a traditional Cornish cream tea in a local café.

Best for: Everyone, especially those looking to indulge in a quintessential Cornish experience.

cornish cream tea in penzance

What it is: The cherished Cornish tradition of cream tea, featuring scones, clotted cream, jam, and tea, served in charming local cafés.

Why go: For an authentic cream tea experience, The Honey Pot café is a must-visit, known for its homemade scones and welcoming ambience. Another gem is The Front Room Penzance, where the elegant setting complements the delicious cream tea, making it a perfect stop during your explorations. These cafés offer more than just a snack; they provide a moment of relaxation and a taste of local hospitality, making them a highlight of any visit to Penzance.

Opening times: Café hours vary; typically open from morning to late afternoon.

Website URL: Look for The Honey Pot and The Front Room Penzance online for current details.

Entrance cost: Prices vary; expect to pay around £5-£10 per person.

Highlights:

  • Homemade scones served warm.
  • Luxurious Cornish clotted cream.
  • A selection of fine teas in a cosy setting.

19. Explore Trengwainton Garden


Best for: Nature lovers, families, history enthusiasts.

wooden bridges in trengwainton garden in penzance west cornwall
Photo credit: National Trust

What it is: A historic garden spanning 25 acres, known for its exotic trees and shrubs, walled gardens, and magnificent views over Mount’s Bay.

Why go: Trengwainton Garden is a tapestry of horticultural styles, blending exotic species with traditional Cornish elements. Its sheltered walled gardens nurture a diverse collection of plants from around the world, some of which are rare specimens. The garden’s history is intertwined with tales of exploration and botanical innovation, offering a peaceful retreat into nature. The winding paths lead to hidden corners, lush plantings, and open spaces with stunning coastal vistas, providing a serene backdrop for a leisurely day out.

Opening times: Generally open from February to November, 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM. Check the National Trust website for specific dates and times.

Website URL: National Trust – Trengwainton Garden

Entrance cost: Adults £12, Children £6. Free for National Trust members.

Highlights:

  • Exquisite walled gardens with a global plant collection.
  • Breathtaking views over Mount’s Bay.
  • Family-friendly activities and trails.

FAQs

How do you spend a day in Penzance?

Start with a morning stroll along Penzance Promenade, enjoying the sea views. Visit the historic St. Michael’s Mount and explore its castle and gardens. Then stop for lunch at a local café, trying some famous Cornish cuisine. After food, spend the afternoon at the Jubilee Pool or wander through the Morrab Gardens. To finish up the day grab a tasty dinner at one of Penzance’s restaurants, followed by a performance at the Minack Theatre if you’ve still got the energy.

Is Penzance worth visiting?

Absolutely. Penzance offers a unique blend of historic sites, stunning landscapes, and cultural experiences, making it a worthwhile destination for various interests.

Why is Penzance famous?

Penzance is renowned for its scenic waterfront, historic landmarks like St. Michael’s Mount, its vibrant arts scene, and as a gateway to the picturesque Cornwall coast and the Isles of Scilly.

Are there many shops in Penzance?

Yes, Penzance boasts a variety of shops, from independent boutiques and art galleries to traditional Cornish markets, offering everything from local crafts to gourmet foods.

Is Penzance better than St Ives?

The choice between Penzance and St Ives depends on personal preferences. Penzance offers a rich history, a more laid-back atmosphere, and is less crowded, while St Ives is famous for its thriving arts scene, beautiful beaches, and bustling town centre. Both have their unique charms and attractions.

Want to learn how to build and monetise a blog just like this?

me and my camera travelling through india...

Share this post:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts
Subscribe!

Don't miss new updates on our freshest content!

Categories

ENTER THE COMPETITION

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD VOUCHER