Last Updated on 23rd September 2018 by Sophie Nadeau
Deep in the heart of the South West, in a place where the sea meets the land and the crashing waves never cease to stop, Polperro is one of the most beautiful places in Southern Cornwall. Here’s a stunning Cornish photo diary and why you need to visit Polperro ASAP!
Why you need to visit Polperro
Situated in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, Polperro finds its roots in medieval times and still retains a certain historic ambience to this day. Between the cobbled lanes leading to the narrow passageways mazing their way through the heart of town and the ancient fishing cottages with their sagging rooftops, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit Polperro.
Some of the best reasons to visit Polperro include the village’s infamous history of smuggling. Fans of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn may well already be familiar with the fact that the practice was prevalent in Cornwall right up until the end of the 18th-century.
At that time, high taxes meant that even the most basic of goods were exorbitant in price. Cornwall’s windswept location on the fringes of England, as well as its length and wild coastline, meant that it was attractive for smuggling, and this was especially true of Polperro. Tobacco, brandy, and gin, among other things, were smuggled in to be sold for a fraction of the cost of their taxed counterparts.
Aside from its fascinating history, Polperro is well-known for its foodie scene which is largely driven by sea-inspired menus throughout the town (though beware of some inflated tourist prices!). There’s also a number of independent shops, as well as a tidal pool at the base of Chapel Cliff.
It was an overcast day as we pulled up the car. The kind of September day where the leaves are beginning to change colour and a crisp salty breeze whistles through Polperro. From the pricey car park, it was a walk of several hundred metres before the touristic centre of the town began to reveal itself to us. I was visiting with my friend Shannon (One Sweet Rose) and was eager to show her many of the unique and quirky attractions which Polperro has to offer.
Things to do in Polperro
Polperro Harbour: In the very middle of town, a still-working harbour takes pride of place as the beating heart of Polperro. Filled with fishing vessels and crab pots, this historic port town is home to some one thousand residents and dates all the way back to the 14th-century. Most places of interest in Polperro are focused around its harbour, which is surrounded by pubs, cafes, and bars.
Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum: Located just above the water’s edge, the heritage museum is dedicated to all things regarding smuggling and local fishing history. Costing just a few pounds (even for adults), things of note within the museum include photographs dating back to the 19th-century and an extensive collection of ship models.
Hike to Talland Bay: A couple of miles over, via the South West coastal path, the beautiful turquoise waters of Talland Bay are home to some incredible wildlife. The beach at the heart of the bay is one of the best secret beaches in Cornwall, while a nearby cafe serves hot and cold refreshments throughout the day.
Shell House: During your time in Polperro, you’ll surely want to snap photos of the unusually appointed shell house. Situated a little bit back from the seaside, this abode is covered in all manner of shells. Most unusual of all, this house features a depiction of the Eddystone Lighthouse
Tips for visiting Polperro
Due to its incredible popularity, the town is best seen in the shoulder seasons, so as to avoid the crowds which inevitably pour into Polperro come summertime. After all, this Cornish destination is one of the few places in the area which can actually accommodate coach tours.
If you are planning to bring your car along, then it’s worth noting that the car park is some 750 metres from the historic fishing village. As well as this, the parking is pretty expensive (£4 for 3 hours and £6 for longer)! For those wishing to eat in town, it’s well worth booking in advance. This is especially true in summer when dining spaces fill up fast.
If you want to go on coastal walks nearby, then be sure to bring along your walking boots and camera as there are plenty of beautiful locations to snap photos of along the way. While the weather may seem warm, the sea breeze can blow in rapidly, meaning that you’ll likely want to bring a jacket with you on a spring or autumn’s day.
Other attractions nearby to Polperro include the Eden Project (though I’m personally not a massive fan of this incredibly commercialised green space), as well as the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The pretty town of Looe is just a few miles from Polperro and a visit there can easily be combined with a trip to Polperro.