Chapel rock Perranporth, Cornwall, UK

13 best things to do in Perranporth, Cornwall

by Jan

Perranporth is a vibrant seaside resort in Cornwall, with one of the most gorgeous beaches in England.  And although the beach is certainly one of the best things to do in Perranporth, this popular coastal town has plenty more to offer its visitors.

Perranporth has a breathtaking coastline with rugged cliffs, diverse wildlife, and remains of a rich tin mining heritage.  The South West Coast Path crosses through Perranporth, making it a great destination for walkers and nature lovers too.

Read on to discover the best things to do in Perranporth and why it’s the perfect location for a Cornish getaway.

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Go to Perranporth Beach

Perranporth Beach, Cornwall, UK

Without doubt, one of the absolute best things to do at Perranporth is a trip to the beach.

With three miles of golden sand, it’s a glorious beach which is perfect for families, walkers, and surfers.  The beach has everything you could need and is close to the town too.  In fact, it is so good that the Times have awarded it the prestigious Sunday Times title of “best beach in the southwest of England 2022“.

The Atlantic waves make Perranporth one of the top venues for surfing in the UK and there’s several surf schools for lessons.  The beach also has RNLI lifeguards for swimmers.

Perranporth Beach is extremely dog-friendly, and we even saw a horse whilst we were there.

And don’t just save the beach for a sunny day.  Even after a grey, rainy day in October the reflections on the wet sand of Perranporth Beach looked spectacular.

Climb Chapel Rock

View of Chapel rock, Perranporth, Cornwall, UK

One of the most famous attractions in Perranporth is the iconic Chapel Rock, which sits in the middle of the beach.  It is fifty feet high and easy to climb but becomes an island twice a day at high tide.

Flying on the top of Chapel Rock is St Piran’s Flag.  St Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall and converted the locals to Christianity.  It’s believed he built his first small chapel here in the 6th century, but you can’t see it today.

Visit St Piran's Oratory

As his congregation grew, St Piran built a church in the sand dunes.  This ancient church was engulfed by sand in the 10th Century but has since been excavated many times.  Close to the site of the oratory is a medieval cross and the more modern Piran’s Church.

To get to the oratory, take the coastal path up onto the sand dunes behind the Watering Hole pub and follow the sign to St Piran’s Oratory.

Take a dip in Perranporth’s natural tide pool

Perranporth's natural tidal port, Cornwall, UK

If you want a swim, but don’t fancy the sea Perranporth has its own sea water swimming pool on the beach.  This natural wonder is one of the hidden gems at Perranporth.

The natural tide pool is at the back of Chapel Rock near the sea front.  The water is filled twice a day when the tide comes in.  It’s only small but great for those who don’t want the waves of the sea.  Although hidden, it is a popular pool, especially in summer when the sun warms the water.

Explore the caves

natural archway on Perranporth, Cornwall, UK

At the south end of Perranporth Beach are a series of natural caves and archways.  You’ll find stacks eroded by the sea and passageways leading to the former mines.  It’s great for explorers, but children should not go alone as there is a risk of falling rocks.

Enjoy sunset at the Watering Hole

Sunset at the Watering Hole, Perranporth, Cornwall, UK

The Watering Hole bar has a prime location on Perranporth and is the perfect place to watch the sun go down.  In fact, it’s such a romantic spot that we shared a marriage proposal whilst there (not us!).  However, we did enjoy some local Cornish beer with the background sounds of some fantastic live music.

The pub has a regular line-up of live music and in the summer has its own beach festival.  Just above the pub is a stone bench, which serves as a memorial to the creator of Poldark, Winston Graham.

The Watering Hole is a large pub, which serves a selection of all day food, including burgers, steaks, Mexican food, and snacks.

Visit the Perranzabuloe Millennium sundial

Millennium Sundial at Perranporth, Cornwall, UK

High on the cliffs overlooking the beach is a giant sundial.  Get to the sundial by taking a short, steep walk up Cliff Road on the west of the beach.

The Perranzabuloe Millennium Sundial was built as part of a millennium project.  It has a large steel gnomon which casts shadows on the circle of standing stones.  Don’t be surprised if the time is not correct as the sundial gives the Cornish time!

The location of the sundial provides excellent headland views back over Perranporth Beach.

Take a hike to St Agnes

Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, Cornwall, UK

One of the best things to do in Perranporth is a coastal walk along the South West Coast Path.  And it doesn’t get much better than the breathtaking cliff top hike to St Agnes.

The route to St Agnes is about four miles long and takes about 90 minutes.  This is a stunning route and one of the must-do activities for any Poldark fans.  You’ll pass the former tin mines and get a good glimpse into Cornwall’s mining heritage.

On arrival in St Agnes, you can stop for lunch in Schooners Restaurant with a wonderful view of Trevaunance Cove.  Then, climb up Quay Road to explore the pubs and independent shops in St Agnes.

Click here for full details of the walk to St Agnes.

If you are looking for more ideas for Cornish hikes, click here for 50 Walks in Cornwall or the Ordnance Survey’s 25 Outstanding Circular Walks.

Explore Blue Hills Tin Mine

Chimneys at Trevellas Cornwall, UK

Trevella’s Coombe is the former tin mining valley between Perranporth and St Agnes.  You can still see the remains of the tall engine house chimneys and buildings used in the tin mining industry centuries ago.

You can see the Blue Hills Tin Mine, but unfortunately the Visitor Centre is no longer open to the public.

Take a coastal walk to Holywell Bay

Penhale Sand dunes, Cornwall, UK

Another of the spectacular coastal walks in Perranporth is across the cliff tops to Holywell Bay.

The walk to Holywell follows the South West Coast Path in the opposite direction through Penhale Dunes.  At 90m above sea level, these are Britain’s highest sand dunes and the biggest in Cornwall.  The dunes provide a unique habitat for some interesting flora and fauna.

As you walk, you’ll have a beautiful view of Perran Sands and can see the military bases and old mines.  The walk to Holywell is about two miles each way.

Once you reach Holywell, head down onto the spectacular Holywell Beach, managed by the National Trust.  You may recognise it from the tv series Poldark, as it is the secluded beach belonging to Ross Poldark’s rivals, the Warleggens.   If you are there at low tide look out for the wreck on an old Argentinian boat on the shore.

Play golf in the sand dunes

Hidden in the sand dunes above Perranporth Beach is a large golf course.  Visitors can play by contacting the golf club.

Mooch around the shops

Surf shop in Perranporth, Cornwall, UK

Perranporth has a long High Street, St Piran Road, with a variety of independent shops.  As well as the usual surf gear and bucket and spade shops, you’ll find galleries, boutiques, eco shops and alternative gift shops.  Perfect for a mooch on a rainy day!

One of the best advantages of Perranporth High Street is that it is only a few minutes’ walk from the beach.

Visit Perranzabuloe Museum

Perranzabuloe Museum, Cornwall, UK

Perranzabuloe Museum is the ideal place to discover more about Perranporth’s fascinating history.

The museum is located above the library in an old Victorian building near the High Street.  It has collections of memorabilia from Perranporth’s mining, farming and nautical heritage.  There is a quiz sheet for children and a trolley with family-friendly activities.

Admission to the museum is free.

Practical information for your visit to Perranporth

Accommodation in Perranporth

Perranporth offers a fantastic choice of self-catering accommodation.  We stayed at 5 Waves in Wheal Leisure, a stylish town house 5-minutes from the beach.  Other self-catering accommodations in Perranporth that are walking distance from the beach include Beach Haven and Currah.

Alternatively, Perran Sands is an enormous holiday park in the sand dunes above the beach.  Plus there are several campsites outside of Perranporth.

If you prefer to stay in a hotel, the Beacon Country House Hotel and St Agnes Hotel are both under a mile from the beach in St Agnes.

Eating and drinking in Perranporth

Eating in Perranporth, Cornwall, UK

Perranporth has plenty of choice when it comes to eating out.  Our favourites were the Jaipur Indian restaurant and No 4 Bistro.  The food here was delicious and the staff were very attentive.

You could also eat at the Summer House, which has a terrific location overlooking the beach.

Getting to Perranporth

Perranporth is in North Cornwall, in South West England.  It’s about six miles south-west of Newquay.

It is surprisingly easy to get to Perranporth .  If you are travelling by car, take the M5 and A30.  If you are coming from further afield it is only 15 minutes from Newquay Airport.

We travelled by train taking the Great Western Railway service from Paddington to Truro.  It’s a fantastic journey, with a scenic route along the Devon coastline.  There is also an option for an overnight sleeper train, the Cornish Riviera Express.

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What are your favourite things to do in Perraporth?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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