A safe harbour on what can be at times a wild coastline, Porthleven is fast gaining a reputation as a centre for great art and great eating.
Things to do
Porthleven is all about the harbour. A gentle walk on a sunny afternoon is a must. Around the imposing double harbour there are good eateries, pubs and delis. Fishmongers sell the day’s catch of crab, mackerel and lobster and a lively market of local crafts and food is held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from May to October.
Experienced surfers flock to Porthleven to do battle with one of the finest reef breaks in Cornwall. This makes great viewing but don't attempt to tackle it unless you know what you are doing!
Nearby Loe Pool is Cornwall’s largest natural freshwater lake separated from the sea by the Loe Bar, a long wide stretch of sand. The pool and bar are part of the National Trust owned Penrose Estate, accessible from both Porthleven and Helston.
Food and Ink
The town is home to an ever growing colony of art galleries and craft shops promoting works by local artists. Choose from seascapes, abstacts, oils, watercolours, pen and ink or sculptures, etc. Pop in and buy a memory of your visit to Cornwall or just browse the woderful art on show.
The town is also gaining quite the reputation for food with award-winning chefs now based there including Jude Kereama. The annual Porthleven Food Festival is an award-winning, community-led, not-for-profit event which brings families and foodies together around the picturesque Cornish harbour. It celebrates many different cuisines with entertainment and cooking demonstrations, plus stalls around the harbour, with an amazing festival atmosphere it is not to be missed.
Much of the coastline around the town is designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or, is in the stewardship of the National Trust, making it a great base for walks.
The National Trust own the Penrose Estate to the east of Porthleven. This includes Loe Pool and the bar. They also own Godolphin, a medieval garden and historic house to the north. Both places offer a huge choice of walking routes.
This working fishing port, the most westerly on mainland Britain, faces southwest into the prevailing winds and has provided a welcome refuge for ships in distress along this hazardous stretch of coast for centuries. You’ll see exactly why on a stormy winter’s day when the raging waves crash over the harbour wall and batter the clock tower of the Porthleven Institute.
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Porthleven
There are several ways to reach Porthleven from the M5 to Exeter taking the A30 into Cornwall.
You could turn off for Truro. From Truro follow the A39 towards Falmouth before turning onto the A394 towards Helston then take the B3304 towards Porthleven.
You could stay on the A30 until Marazion, then double back up the A394 towards Helston.
Or you could come off the A30 at Camborne South and head down the B3303 to Praze an Beeble and beyond.
Parking in the town is limited. The best long stay car park is Kittos Field Car park.
The nearest National Express coach drop off point is in the centre of Helston at Coinagehall Street or in Penzance. Local bus routes and taxis can be picked up here for Porthleven.
Penzance is the nearest mainline train station. Local bus connections to Helston pass through Porthleven.
There is a sandy beach beyond the harbour wall that stretches all the way to Loe Bar at lower tides. Swimming can be particularly risky at low tide and when the sea is rough and local weather conditions should be taken into consideration. Popular with surfers, there are RNLI lifeguards during the peak summer months.
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.
The nearest beach to Helston is Loe Bar, about two miles away through the Penrose Estate. It's mentioned in the main section. This is not a beach you can swim from and there's no nearby parking.
The nearest beach that you can park close to is at Porthleven (4 miles), but like Loe Bar this is not recommended for swimming due to strong currents.
It's not all about celebrity chefs in Porthleven, it's about the food! With a harbourside full of fantastic places to eat, you can enjoy everything from a traditional Cornish pasty to a Asian delicacy.
If you do need to get your fix of celeb bites, then Michael Caines owns the Harbourside Refuge and Jude Kereama owns both Kota Restaurant and Kota Kai.
Although there are three glorious miles of sand stretching east towards Loe bar, swimming is not advised as there are strong undercurrents here and the beach shelves steeply.
Surfing, although popular, is only recomended to experienced surfers.
Please note: Dogs are welcome on this beach except between 1st July and 31st August (10am - 6pm) when a seasonal dog ban is in place (2022). This ban operates from the Harbour Wall eastwards to the flight of steps (known as the Blue Buoy steps).
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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