Fowey, pronounced “Foy”, sits on the west side of a charming estuary of the same name in Southern Cornwall. After spending a week enjoying its meandering lanes, relaxing beaches, and breathtaking views, I recently discovered that it is one of the most picturesque small towns in the whole of England. Plus, with a rich history dating back to the 14th century, there are lots of exciting things to do in Fowey. So, if you’re looking for a Cornish adventure, and wondering what to do in Fowey, here’s 10 things to get you started…
10 Things To Do In Fowey Cornwall –
1) Explore Fowey’s Charming Lanes –
One of the most captivating things about Fowey is its charming lanes. As a historic fishing village, it’s filled with winding passages and ancient alleyways that are populated by a unique mix of medieval and impressive Georgian buildings. As a result, the first thing I wanted to do after arriving in Fowey was simply to explore!
Luckily Fowey didn’t disappoint, as I quickly discovered that there’s a stunning view around every corner just waiting to be discovered… For the best views, I’d highly recommend walking along the Esplanade. The narrow street sits up high on the steep slopes of the estuary, meaning it provides fantastic glimpses of the village of Polruan across the water.
2) Do Some Shopping In The Town Quay –
The historic heart of Fowey Cornwall is the Town Quay. During my entire trip, it was always bustling with people! From those visiting quaint attractions and Fowey things to do like the town’s small museum and aquarium, to others simply watching boats sailing around the Fowey River. Thus, taking some time to tour the Town Quay, and enjoy the general seaside ambiance is certainly a must.
What’s more, the Quay is also where you’ll find many delicious and tempting independent cafes, bakeries, and restaurants! Along with most of the pubs in Fowey, such as the Ship Inn, which was built way back in 1570 by adventurer John Rashleigh.
3) Enjoy A Day On The Beach –
Without a doubt, one of the very best things to do in Fowey is head to the beach, especially if you’re blessed with some English sunshine… During my trip, we were lucky enough to visit during an (arguably rare) heatwave, and as such visited many of the nearby beaches.
One of the best is within easy walking distance of the centre of Fowey: the stunning Readymoney Cove. Readymoney lies in a small, sheltered, and sandy outcrop overlooking Polruan, meaning the views out into the bay are yet again beautiful! Plus, the facilities are great for families, with free toilets and a small shop for ice-creams.
However, if you’re feeling adventurous another nearby beach that is a must-visit is Lantic Bay. Actually voted one of the best beaches in England, it’s certainly remote requiring a steep 30-minute descent to reach. Nevertheless, the location is idyllic. It’s surrounded by tall green cliffs which seemingly hug the bay, and has crystal clear water that draws you downhill towards the dreamy white sand and shingle beach.
While it is possible to walk to Lantic Bay from Fowey, it would take over two hours! Instead, I recommend taking the Bodinnick Car Ferry, which easily connects the two sides of the estuary. From Polperro, it’s then only a short drive to a National Trust car park, which sits opposite the Lantic Bay footpath.
TOP TIP – At low tide, you can enjoy your very own private beach in Fowey… Whilst exploring, we discovered that if you walk along the Esplanade and then turn left down the alleyway just past the row of colourful houses, you’ll stumble upon a small hidden sandy beach that becomes fully submerged when the tide comes in.
4) Visit St Catherine’s Castle –
Sitting high on the cliffs at the entrance to the harbour, visiting St Catherine’s Castle is another of the top things to do in Fowey. Reached via a metal staircase on the far side of Readymoney beach, it requires a short woodland walk to reach St Catherine’s, which emerges on the edge of the cliff, along with some more fantastic coastal views.
Built-in the 1530s by Henry VIII to defend Cornwall against invaders, the use of the word ‘castle’ to describe St Catherine’s may be quite generous. In truth, the remains are that of a small old artillery fort. However, this does not make visiting any less worthwhile as it has an interesting history to uncover… The fort was modified throughout the 19th century during the Crimean and Second World Wars, to both house anti-aircraft guns and store ammunition.
5) Admire The Views From The Quiet Garden –
Completely free to visit, a hidden gem in Fowey that no one seems to be talking about is the aptly named “Quiet Garden”. Planted in the grounds of the Old Grammer School, this peaceful and tranquil escape right in the heart of Fowey has been flourishing since 1692.
We stumbled upon the Garden, which is located along the Esplanades, during our first day in Fowey and fell in love with the small green space! The vibrant plants are a delight and the uninterrupted views of Fowey’s beautiful waterfront are unrivalled.
6) Take The Ferry To Polruan –
You can’t visit Fowey without taking a trip across the estuary to Polruan. The tiny fishing village is just as charming up close as it is from a distance, and luckily it’s easily reachable via the Polruan ferry, which travels quickly across the water every 10-15 minutes until 9pm.
Once you arrive in Polruan you’ll be greeted by steep sloping hills, and snug winding backstreets. To me, wandering past the ancient fisherman’s cottages felt like stepping back in time… Overall, I found that Polruan has a much simpler feel than Fowey, and there’s not a whole lot to do other than perhaps stop at the Lugger Inn for a pint of local beer.
This said, I’d highly recommend making your way to the top of the village (towards the village hall), as you’ll get to enjoy a breath-taking outlook over Fowey. This counter perspective is a view that I would happily admire all day; however, it’s definitely best enjoyed at sunset!
TOP TIP: Taking the Polruan Ferry is just £2.50 for an adult passenger. Whilst this provides a cheap, fun and easy harbour experience, the journey is a quick one! Therefore, you may want to consider further Fowey boat trips such as hiring a self-driven boat from the Town Quay. Fowey Boat Hire is particularly reasonable, at just £30 for half an hour for up to 5 people!
7) Walk A Section Of The South West Coast Path –
With stunning views all around, another of the best things to do in Fowey is get your walking shoes on and explore the surrounding area! Owning much of the nearby land, the National Trust have some fantastic well-marked hikes, from easy and sheltered woodland strolls to a “rollercoaster walk” from Polruan to Polperro.
The latter is a long hike that requires taking the ferry across the estuary, and following the South West Coast Path; the UK’s longest and best-loved national trail, which runs all the way from Somerset, to Devon. I’ve walked sections of this historic path on previous Cornwall Breaks, but the portion by Fowey is said to be particularly beautiful as the trail not only hugs the edge of the cliffs but also slopes down to meet many white sandy beaches, such as the previously mentioned Lantic Bay.
8) Take To The Water –
As the Estuary and Fowey River is a real focal point of the town, it almost feels illegal to spend any amount of time in Fowey without enjoying some sort of water-based adventure! Luckily, from sailing and rowing to paddle boarding and kayaking, there’s a water sport suitable for everybody to enjoy in Fowey…
With over 25 miles of pristine shoreline to discover, we decided to book a two-hour Kayaking River Safari with Fowey River Hire. Having a guide made the experience all the more enjoyable, as local knowledge led us to some fantastic hidden spots on the river, such as the old boat graveyard. Meanwhile, we were also told some interesting stories, like the tale of the largest lobster ever caught.
In this way, exploring the peaceful maze of waterways was probably my favourite of all the Fowey things to do, as it gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation for the natural beauty of Fowey.
9) Stay the Night in Fowey –
You might be considering visiting Fowey just for the day… However, as it’s such a popular Cornish destination, you can only get a true feel for its charm and history by staying overnight… I discovered that in the evenings and early mornings the crowds disappear and Fowey is transported back in time to its quiet past as a fishing village. Therefore, if you’re searching for that tranquil coastal experience, you’ll want to spend a good few days/nights enjoying the town.
When looking at Fowey accommodation, you couldn’t ask for a better option than the Old Quay House Hotel. Located right on the harbour front, this small boutique hotel is where my family and I stayed during our time in the area, and I don’t have a bad word to say. From the stunning views from the rooms to the delicious breakfast, dinner, and cocktails, everything about the hotel is fantastic and I wouldn’t hesitate to return.
In fact, the Old Quay House Fowey is also home to the town’s best restaurant, as it serves fine dining food of the highest quality. For example, the experienced chef specialises in creating modern British dishes, which are all made with local fresh ingredients.
10) Visit the Eden Project (Things To Do Near Fowey) –
The last of my things to do in Fowey actually takes you slightly further away from the town itself. The Eden Project is one of the most visited attractions in the whole of the UK, and it’s only a 20-minute drive from Fowey. Thus, if you’re staying in the town and thinking about taking a day trip to explore more of Cornwall, visiting the Eden Project is a must.
With this list of the 10 top things to do in Fowey Cornwall, I hope you’re able to enjoy the very best of what the town has to offer. However, in truth, I think if all you do in Fowey is sit and enjoy the wonderful views and atmosphere you’ll be well on your way to falling in love with this stunning part of Cornwall!