Penzance is perfectly positioned as a gateway to some of Cornwall’s most famous tourist destinations, including the Isles of Scilly. It’s only a few miles from places such as St Ives, Land’s End, and of course St Michael’s Mount.
As you wander up and down Chapel Street in Penzance you’ll encounter art galleries, second-hand book sellers, new age shops, and bijou boutiques, all of which add a slightly Bohemian feel to the area. Besides these you will find plenty of places to eat and drink including some of Penzance’s most iconic pubs. At the bottom stands St Mary’s Church, in a position that gives the town its name in Cornish, the Holy Headland.
The greener side
Penzance has one of the mildest climates in the UK, and one of the striking things about the town is the abundance of gardens full of sub-tropical plants, a sure sign that you have arrived somewhere unique. Have a wander around Morrab Gardens, landscaped in Victorian times and turned into a municipal park in 1889, complete with bandstand. Nearby Penlee Gardens are also home to an outdoor theatre in the summer months.
For a quintessential Cornish moment, grab some fish and chips, take a walk along the promenade, and enjoy the spectacular views out across Mount’s Bay. The more adventurous might fancy a plunge in the art deco Jubilee Pool, which now uses 21st century technology to pipe warm water from beneath the ground to heat a section, letting you swim all year round.
The Newlyn School
Towards the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, the nearby fishing villages of Newlyn, Mousehole and Lamorna became very popular with artists, who are now known as the Newlyn School. They mainly painted outdoor scenes, known commonly as ‘en plein air’ and over the years have become much sought after.
The Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance gives an introduction to the paintings by the Newlyn School of Artists, including works by Stanhope Forbes, Walter Langley and perhaps the most famous, Norman Garstin’s ‘The Rain it Raineth Everyday’.
For more cutting edge, contemporary art, The Exchange Gallery in Penzance is a large exhibition space featuring national and international works, alongside the best of those produced in the local area. It’s sister gallery, The Newlyn School of Art sits on the seafront just before you reach the village.
It’s not just Penzance’s bustling town, breath-taking views and close proximity to iconic Cornish landmarks that make it such an attractive destination. There’s its history, its gardens, its atmosphere and so much more that end up ensuring it is one of Cornwall’s worthiest visits.
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Penzance
From the M5 at Exeter, follow the A30 all the way down through Cornwall to Penzance. The largest car park can be found by driving past the railway station and following to road around to the left and then out towards the seafront. The carpark is on your left.
Other smaller carparks can be found in and around the town.
All trains through Cornwall terminate at Penzance, where the bus station is right beside the train station.
National Express also run to Penzance.
Penzance is the hub for bus services to and from many local towns and villages.
Penzance is the main departure point for the Isles of Scilly, both by boat and helicopter.
Planes can also be used and fly from Land's End Airport which is less than 10 miles away.
For marketing purposes Visit Cornwall class everything down the north coast from St Agnes westward as being in West Cornwall, and on the south coast from Porthleven. The main destinations are St Ives and Penzance but it also includes areas like Mount's Bay, Sennen Cove and Land's End.
No, not unless you are a National Trust member. Also, you now have to book in advance, even to get on the island. (November 2022)
To the east of Penzance the sandy beaches of Mount's Bay stretch along the coast to St Michael's Mount. It's a shallow bay, fine for swimming but also a favourite with windsurfers.
Infront of Penzance promenade there is a sand and shingle beach, often covered at high tide. People swim off of the Battery Rocks, whilst the Jubilee Pool now offers the luxury of geothermally heated bathing all year round.
Yes, it's the name of the local rugby club!, the Cornish Pirates, who play at the Mennaye Field in the town.
The Pirates of Penzance was a comic opera written by Gilbert and Sullivan in the 1890's, and was entirely ficticious, as far as we know!
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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