St Mawes' Holiday Guide & Visitor Info

St Mawes Holiday Guide

St Mawes Holiday Guide

Date Posted: 14 Apr 2022


Why you should visit St Mawes?

Picturesque St Mawes (from the Celtic St Maudez) on the Roseland Peninsula, is a very special spot to book your luxury holiday home in Cornwall – but it really needs a car to travel around and make the most of this delightful area.

Perched at the end of the beautiful Roseland Peninsula opposite Falmouth, sits this charming village (with a reputation for being one of the ‘hippest’ places in Cornwall and indeed, the UK) known as the capital of Roseland. This lovely compact fishing village sits surrounded by gentle hills and the sea.

Facing south across the Fal estuary, the village retains a strong sense of community, all centred around the harbour and waterside. With its cobbled narrow streets and delightful arcade collection of shops, galleries, and restaurants, it is an ideal destination to relax, enjoy the sea air, eat fabulous seafood and explore.

How to get there

The easiest route to Cornwall by car is to join the M5 to Exeter. Then take either the A30 over Bodmin Moor (usually the fastest route) or the A38 and B3212 via Plymouth. Either way, you are skirting the edge of dramatic Dartmoor. .

The nearest airport is Newquay, from where you can hire a car. If you need a taxi, contact Jose at St Mawes Private Hire, 07748 700528.

By train, the journey is more protracted. The number 50 bus serves Tregony, Portscatho, St Just and St Mawes from Truro, but it only runs every 2 hours and does not run late into the evening.

If arriving in Truro by train you will need to take an additional 5 minute bus ride from the railway station down to the bus station from where the number 50 departs. Alternatively, travel to Falmouth by train and then take the ferry across to St Mawes.

Where to park in St Mawes

There is a long stay car park behind the Rising Sun in St Mawes.

Debit/credit card payments are accepted at the meters.

Quay Car Park is a short stay car park in the centre of St Mawes on the quay.

Best places to eat in St Mawes

For takeaway fish and chips or moules try The Watch House for harbourside dining (it becomes a smart restaurant at night). It serves classic cod and chips, and uses locally sourced seafood in dishes such as curries and pastas.

St Mawes may be tucked away, but it is a foodie village. With much of the village framed by the harbour, local restaurants and cafes focus on freshly caught seafood, with fish dishes featuring prominently on the menus of many eateries. Set in an area of unrivalled Outstanding Natural Beauty, surrounded by secluded coves, lush countryside, scenic cliffs, charming creeks and tranquil beaches, it is a beautiful place to explore, but also to dine out.

The Hidden Hut above Porthcurnick Beach has feast nights, ‘bring your own drink and cutlery’ events, a real foodie adventure. If you have a sweet tooth that craves scrummy sweetness, look no further than down on the harbour to Fudge and More.

Why not enjoy a boat trip along the Fal, stopping off for a pub lunch, or try a culinary cruise on Tethra?

What to do:

This place is gloriously pretty, looking out over the Fal, with steep, narrow and, in places, cobbled streets to the harbour. Traditional pastel and whitewashed cob cottages are still there along with some superbly smart houses. In nearby Falmouth, you can soak up the independent galleries and shops, then return back to the peace and tranquility of St Mawes.

Child-friendly activities in St Mawes

Pop off with the children on a little fishing trip aboard the Madeline Rose.

You will find coves, creeks, rural villages and inland woodland near St Mawes, so it is a perfect centre for your stay.

There is also a ferry across to Falmouth which takes you to the waterside right by the centre of town, and offers informative commentary en route.

St Mawes Recreation Ground, with a skate and scooter ramp, will appeal to the children wanting to burn off some energy, so don’t forget to pack their kit.

Fal River 2


Attractive to the boating and yachting fraternity, St Mawes has numerous moorings and anchorages, plus local sailing clubs which are very active.

The estuary is more of a boating, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) spot than a surfing mecca. These activities are fun, easy to learn and appeal to all age groups. SUP dates from old Hawaiian practices used by Polynesian watermen, but it takes most people only around 2 hours or less to become proficient. For more information, check out Get on Board SUP.

Or try St Mawes Sit on Kayaks. Kayaks are great for paddling, either alone or as a twosome. You get guidance where needed, a perfect activity for all age groups.

Get On Board
st mawes kayaks

Art & Crafts

The Square Gallery, St Mawes is located in the arcade next to the entrance to the main car park in St Mawes, home to works by contemporary painters, printmakers and makers. It puts locally crafted items, paintings and prints on display, many of which take clear inspiration from the surrounding area.

Nearby, try Veryan Galleries, The New Gallery, Portscatho and Spindrift, Portscatho

Best beaches to visit in St Mawes

St Mawes does not have miles of golden sand, but has small rugged beaches hugging the shoreline.

The two small beaches here are fine for rock pooling: Tavern Beach, looks towards the harbour, with a garden area behind it; while Summers Beach, with views of the estuary, is tranquil and natural.

There is a steep incline at Tavern Beach so be careful if swimming. Legend has it that St Mawes sat on a rock in the cliff here to preach to villagers, but was repeatedly interrupted by a seal! Close to St Mawes Castle, where you can park, Tavern beach is dog-free; but there are also no lifeguards.

Summers Beach is minutes away from the large car park. It is larger than Tavern Beach and south-west facing. Mainly pebbles, it has rock pools and a wooden platform floating in the bay which children enjoy swimming off. For more comfortable seating, try the sea wall. There is also a slipway to launch small craft. No dogs in summer allowed, and no lifeguards available, however.

St Mawes


Check out this selection of independent shops which add to the unique character of St Mawes. They sell everything from designer clothes to unique souvenirs and gifts. Along the harbourside and tucked into the narrow winding streets are an array of these local small businesses.

A lovely little gift shop on the waterfront in St Mawes, just along from the harbour, is Grace & Favour. Superb kids’ clothing, gifts and many other items. Perfect if you are looking for that special present!

St Mawes Sea Food brings fish from trawler to trailer, with fish caught on the Celestial Dawn. Zero food miles – and fish doesn’t come any fresher. Meanwhile, Mr Scorse is a gourmet deli for sandwiches, gin and wine.

Mr Scorse
Grace & Favour

Things to do on rainy days in St Mawes

Perhaps an afternoon/evening of cinema appeals at the compact The Hidden Cinema. Or, by far the easiest solution, is to pop across to Falmouth for the Maritime Museum.

Something different

Lamorran House Garden is a gem which celebrates the diversity of foliage, with tantalising views of the sea; it is largely (as it is frost-free) Italianate in design.
Reel Fishing Trips is a little different, where you will be able to observe nets being pulled up and spend a couple of hours understanding more about the life of a fisherman.

Why not visit St Mawes Castle, one of the best-preserved of Henry VIII’s coastal fortresses? If you are an English Heritage member, take your card.

St Mawes Castle

Best walks in St Mawes

Originally, St Mawes was part of the 16th century coastal defences so it has a small but splendid castle commissioned by Henry VIII, owned by English Heritage in a Tudor military style. It is well-preserved, with epic views from the keep and an oubliette where prisoners were held. It is severe, but with fabulous views down to the Fal.

Despite the harshness of the castle, the rest of the area is rather lush, with lovely inland areas plus a fair smattering of coastal scenery. On your walk, why not visit St Just Church, one of the prettiest in Cornwall reached via the coast path from St Mawes castle? It takes around 45 minutes but the walk is level. Or you can travel by speedy water taxi.

Fal River 2

St Just to St Mawes circular walk: A circular walk on the Roseland peninsula to the castle at St Mawes from the Celtic Holy Well and subtropical gardens of St Just church, along Carrick Roads. Here, Europe’s only fishery entirely under sail, fish for oysters using traditional methods. It is a moderate walk of about 6 miles.

St Anthony Head walk. St Anthony is a National Trust property. This circular walk from St Mawes follows the Carrick Roads, so you enjoy some spectacular views.

Special things to know about

Some years ago, St Mawes became something of a hotspot with its hotels Idle Rocks and St Mawes. There is even a St Mawes Monopoly Board, perhaps indicative of the rise in property prices here, though it is a limited edition.

Local sailing clubs and tennis courts appeal to not only visitors but people who want a lifestyle change, too, so a strong community exists here.

A hidden secret is the 25-seat St Mawes Hidden Cinema held at the hotel for movie nights and live arts.

St Mawes Weather

Waterside, positioned within the gulf stream, the climate is mild here all year round, so that the summer might even feel like a trip to the Mediterranean, with flora and fauna to match. Pack a picnic and get outside.


There are public toilets close to the Visitor’s Centre.

Why choose St Mawes?

  • Fishing village
  • Roseland Peninsula location
  • Family-friendly
  • Foodie location
  • Ferry to Falmouth
  • Rockpooling
  • St Mawes Castle
  • Mild climate
  • Pretty surroundings
  • Lovely walks
  • Boat and fishing trips

Categories: Things to do

Related Things to do