Picturesque Padstow is a very popular place, especially with the current trend for south-west ‘staycations’. With sea views, a harbour, and plentiful fresh air, Padstow is the perfect premier resort for a stay or a day visit. If you enjoy cafe society, then Padstow’s ‘sitting outside people-watching’ vibe is for you. Time passes a little more slowly here. Its friendly, alfresco lifestyle with some of the best seafood restaurants in Cornwall, and its working harbour gives you a chance to totally relax. Sublime food, sun and sea – it’s a no brainer.
As with most of Cornwall, Padstow is easiest to reach by car. The most direct driving route from London is via the A303 and A30, but from other areas, you will take the A30 from the M5.
If you’re driving to North Cornwall in a plug-in electric vehicle, see our list of charging locations here.
A train from London Waterloo involves a change at Exeter St Davids and ends at Bodmin Parkway, from where a bus to Padstow runs (at the time of writing) hourly.
You may be lucky to find parking on-street in Padstow depending on when you are visiting, so look down by the quay and the lobster hatchery for your best chances. Most people use the car parks as they are easier.
Padstow Town Council owns two car parks: the Railway, which provides level access to the town centre and the Camel Trail; and The Lawns next to the library with a 10-minute downhill walk into town (and – remember – uphill on the way back!)
There are two Cornwall Council owned long-stay car parks: Link Road (312 spaces), by the fire station, and Porthcothan Bay (174 spaces). At Link Road, an hour costs £2.20, and 24 hours is £1o (as of 2023) at the time of writing.
Parking for the Park and Ride service is available on the A389 Wadebridge Road, near Tesco, with onward travel provided by bus down into the town. Parking costs £6.20 for the day. This service is seasonal, operating Easter and Spring bank holidays through to the end of September, but provides a good stress-free option with buses every 15 minutes.
It has to be said that celebrity chef, Rick Stein, helped to put Padstow, once a small fishing village, firmly on the map, when he opened his exclusive Seafood Restaurant there back in 1975. So big an impact did he have on the town that it earned the nickname ‘Padstein’. The Stein empire has grown to incorporate eating, Stein at Home delivery service, and accommodation. His fish and chips are a cut above the average and his cafe is popular. Stein’s Deli on the quay has fabulous fresh fish, so try a bucket of seafood and wonderful garlic aioli.
Now there is other competition. Chef Paul Ainsworth has made Padstow his own with No 6, and Caffe Rojano. Prawn on the Lawn opened in 2015. They change their small plates every day and are regulars in the Michelin Guide.
Tuck into The Pig’s 25-mile menu just outside of Padstow at Harlyn Bay. The Pig at Harlyn opened in 2020 and offers a creative which is wholesome, and unbelievably fresh.
For a traditional Cornish pub, try The Shipwrights. It is a beautiful traditional brick built pub on the far side of the harbour, originally built to serve fishermen and tradespeople in the bustling port. The Golden Lion and The London Inn are beloved by locals and both have a great atmosphere. Cherry Trees is fabulous for afternoon tea and cake, or light lunches.
© lateef photography
The original food lovers destination, Padstow brings the best of Cornwall’s food scene to your self-catering holiday. We have brought together our favourite luxury holiday cottages in Padstow, to inspire your Cornish escape.