Things to Do in Penzance (Cornwall England)

We thought it will be very useful for every tourist an article about all the things to do in Penzance England. This Cornish port city is not far from the westernmost and southernmost points of the British mainland at Land’s Ends and the Lizard. The city is protected by the beautiful bay of the Mount, around the Mount of San Miguel, a magical tidal island. It is a city where you can find many beautiful places to see and many things to do.

12 Best Things to Do in Penzance (Cornwall England)

Cornwall is one of the few places in the country where subtropical and Mediterranean plants do well outdoors. Give yourself time to wander the gardens around Penzance, among the palm trees, ferns, and oversized gunnera (Chilean rhubarb) leaves. There are beaches, picture book villages made of local light gray granite, an enlightening culture in galleries, a sculpture garden, and the impressive Minack Theatre. In Penzance, you will find some of the best representations of Cornish cuisine at cheap prices and you will discover how it takes just a short distance from the coast to discover the many animal species that inhabit the waters and rocks in the ocean. We invite you to have a look below and to find out things to do in Penzance England.


1. Praa Sands Beach

12 Best Things to Do in Penzance (Cornwall England)
Photo by chris_baz, by Instagram

Some distance east of the city, Praa Sands Beach is a 15-minute drive away and lies between two headlands, Hoe Point and Rinsey Head. Mile-long and ringed by dunes, the beach has unusually white sands, made up of sea shells crushed into smooth grains by the waves. There are lifeguards from April to September, and the slight slope allows children and inexperienced swimmers to paddle in the shallows, while surfers can take breaks further out. To the rear, the village has shops and places to eat, while there are some interesting sights to investigate, including a 1,500-year-old peat bed and a 16th-century tower that once belonged to Pengersick Castle.


2. Mount Saint Michael

Mount Saint Michael
Photo by Pixbay, from YoannS

Mont Saint Michael, equivalent to Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, is a spectacular tidal island, accessed via an artificial granite causeway at low tide and home to 30 permanent inhabitants. The island is cared for by the National Trust and is topped by a castle and chapel dating from the 12th century and seat of the St Aubyn family for over 350 years. You can tour the castle, appreciating the historic arms in the Garrison Room and the plaster frieze in the ‘Chevy Chase Room’, before heading up to the turrets to inspect Mounts Bay. The castle gardens have subtropical species on steep terraces that benefit from the salty air, while you can also head to the village green for food and live music in summer. This is one of the best places to visit during your stay in Penzance England.


3. Market House

Market House
Photo by rosywillshire, by Instagram

The House of the Market is an emblematic and category I building, easily recognizable by its dome and its Ionic portico. Construction took place in the second half of the 1830s, and this multi-purpose building contained the city’s market on its west side and the town hall on its east. The latter sat on top of the prison cells, while on the market there was a bag of corn that also served as a theater. Today, the Market House is occupied by a branch of Lloyds Bank, whose logo can be seen on the dome and the pediment.


4. Morrab Gardens

12 Best Things to Do in Penzance (Cornwall England)

A stone’s throw from Penzance’s town center is a delightful three-acre garden surrounding a stucco villa. The ensemble was designed in the 1840s and later purchased by the council in 1888 and opened to the public. The house became the Morrab Library, while the garden was endowed with Victorian structures such as a fountain and a bandstand, both of which were listed. All kinds of sub-tropical and Mediterranean plant species grow here, flourishing in the mild Cornish climate, and were planted in the late 19th century thanks to donations from nearby estates.


5. Penlee House Gallery and Museum


At the end of the 19th century, Newlyn School was an art colony situated around the Newlyn village, just south of Penzance. This Victorian Penlee House museum is enriched with works by the movement’s leading artists, including Walter Langley, Norman Garstin, Stanhope Forbes, and Lamona Birch. The Penlee House Gallery does not have a permanent exhibition, but organizes exhibitions from its local art collection, and is normally closed between these exhibitions. The museum traces six millennia of history in West Cornwall, from Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery, through tools and weapons, to navigational instruments, coins, and a 17th-century carving of a ship. Opposite the house is the granite Penlee Cross, which was carved in the 11th century and once stood in Penzance’s Green Market.


6. Teatro Minack

12 Best Things to Do in Penzance (Cornwall England)
Photo from kasabubu, by Pixabay

Situated on a gorge with stunning views over the water and rugged Porthcurno Bay, the Minack Theater is a sight in itself. The theater stages 20 plays in the summer season, receiving companies from across the UK and America, and is open to the public at all other times. This classically styled outdoor space was founded in the late 1920s by Rowena Cade in the garden of a house built just after the First World War. Seats, boxes, and a stage are cut from the granite cliff, while succulent plants bring a splash of color to the gray stone.


7. Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

12 Best Things to Do in Penzance (Cornwall England)
Photo from Sarahwollie, by Instagram

Opened in 2012, this 22-acre garden sits in a secluded valley and features subtropical and exotic plants interspersed with artwork. James Turrell, Tim Shaw, Richard Long, and David Nash are some of the internationally renowned artists who have contributed works that interact with this mosaic of bamboo, ferns, succulents, and palm trees. The gardens are also on high ground and through the trees you can see Mount San Miguel in the bay. You can also shop for art, from sculptures to paintings, ceramics, and prints, at the newly opened Tremenheere Gallery.


8. Long Rock Beach

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To the east of Penzance, Long Rock Beach lies on the northern bend of Mounts Bay, between the city and St Michaels Mount. Being so close to the center of Penzance, Long Rock Beach is a favorite with local families, especially as the shore is so shallow and the surf is light. The beach is made up of sand interrupted by a band of pebbles in the wash. In summer, the eastern end of the beach is guarded by lifeguards, and through the A30, just behind there is a shopping area with supermarkets and restaurants.


9. Calle Chapel

Photo from Rosywillshire, by Instagram

Be sure to walk this street, which runs through the center of Penzance and is lined with beautiful flat-fronted houses and there is no shortage of restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. Heading east down the hillside you’ll see the tower of St. Mary’s Church, which is newer than it appears, dating back to the 1830s. At the west end of the street is the Grade I listed Egyptian House, also believed to have been built in the 1830s. This colorful building cannot be missed thanks to its pillars, busts, window frames, and stucco moldings in a style that became fashionable after Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt.


10. Southwest Coast Path

Photo from the southwest coast path, by Instagram

In Penzance, you’ll be on this National Trail, which runs over 600 miles around the peninsula of Great Britain’s southwest. This is great news for hikers, as every inch of the shoreline is served by a well-maintained, marked-out path. For an easy local walk, make the two-mile trip east to Marazion, taking in views of Mounts Bay and down to the Lizard and Mousehole village. If you’re feeling intrepid, you can plan a trip to Lands End, which may require an overnight stay, but justifies the trip so you can say you’ve been to the most westerly point of England.


11. Mousehole

Photo from mousehole camping, by Instagram

Along the coast from Penzance is the picturesque fishing village of Mousehole, which has retained its traditional character. This tangle of narrow streets has houses built from local granite, now occupied by tea rooms, mom-and-pop shops, and galleries. The port is imbued with this old charm and has only a small opening between its walls, which is protected by wooden beams during winter storms. During a Spanish raid in 1595, the entire village was looted, leaving only one house standing, the Keigwin Arms pub. This building survives today as a private house, with a plaque telling the story of a squire killed defending the building. This place is one of our suggestions about things to do in Penzance England.


12. Golowan Festival

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Midsummer celebrations with bonfires and arcane rituals took place in Cornwall until the 19th century and have distant pagan origins. The Golowan Festival in Penzance was revived in 1991 and has become the biggest event on the town’s calendar. This ten-day event overlaps with the Summer Solstice and features a series of atmospheric processions, including one to the pier behind a figure with a horse’s skull, known as a Penglaz. This takes place on Mazey Eve, St Johns Eve on June 23, but throughout the celebration, there are street performances and impromptu markets.


Things to Do in Penzance (Cornwall England)

  • Praa Sands Beach
  • Mount Saint Michael
  • Market House
  • Morrabales Gardens
  • Penlee House Gallery and Museum
  • Teatro Minack
  • Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
  • Long Rock Beach
  • Calle Chapel
  • Southwest Coast Path
  • Mousehole
  • Golowan Festival