Where’s your happy place? Ours is Fowey (appropriately rhymes with joy) on Cornwall’s south coast. It’s a place we’ve only been to for short visits – just two or three nights at a time – but it gives us our much-needed burst of sea air and a break from our norm. We love the choice of things to do in Fowey as much as we love just sitting still and taking in this views.
The harbour town of Fowey is about an hour’s drive west of Plymouth and is easily accessible from the A30. Once there you’re in a maze of small streets set around a natural harbour with views across the Fowey River to the village of Polruan. It’s still a working port, exporting China Clay from the deep water harbour.
Things to do in Fowey
There’s plenty to do in the town itself as well as lots of options for trips in the surrounding area, including The Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the National Trust’s Lanhydrock. For this post I’m leaving the car parked and staying local. I’ve chosen a few of our favourite activities for you to mix and match to create your own perfect day in Fowey.
Duration: 1hour – or as long as your patience lasts
Location: Pontoon just off Fore Street car park
If you haven’t got your own crab line and bucket you can pick some up from many of Fowey’s shops. We bought ours, along with the bait, at Fowey Aquarium. Locals recommend the pontoon as the best place, sitting on the pontoon itself, as close to the steel columns as possible. Though we didn’t have much luck on the day we tried (my excuse is that the family next to us appeared to have ALL the crabs in their bucket) I’m sure you’ll do much better.
Fowey Estuary Walk
Duration: 2 hours
Location: Start at Caffa Mill car park, finish at Town Quay
Cost: Bodinnick Ferry £2 per adult, 80p per child; Polrun Ferry £2.20 per adult, £1 per child, 80p per dog
This is a lovely walk which includes in two short boat rides, offers great views across the harbour to Fowey and takes a winding route through a forest. We visited in May and the smell of bluebells and wild garlic in the woods was almost overpowering. For a more detailed overview of this walk take a look at the Fowey walking blog I wrote for the Little Trekkers Ambassadors Go Large blog which gives a little more detail about the walk as well as another, longer walk, to Polkerris and back.
Duration: as long as you like!
Location: Readymoney Cove
For a family with young children Fowey’s own town beach is a great place to spend a few hours. It’s a sheltered cove with safe paddling. Older children and adults will enjoy swimming to and jumping off the pontoon in the bay. It’s not a dog-friendly beach however. We’ve never spent more than an hour here, but we’ve never been in high season or in really warm weather. For the nearest beach which allows dogs drive to Polridmouth Cove, near Menabilly (or walk – it’s about a 45min walk along the coast path). It’s a much larger beach with plenty of rocks and rock pools to explore.
Duration: 1 hour
Location: Town Quay / Lostwithiel Street
Cost: £4.50 per adult, £2.50 per child (age 3-13)
A rather unassuming place at first glance, but take the time to look carefully in the tanks and you’ll be surprised at how much is actually there. Most sealife on show is obtained from local fisherman and anglers, and the water in the tanks is pumped in from the sea daily, so you’re only seeing what naturally occurs in the local waters. This includes octopus, eels and sponges. The kids will love the touch pool where they have a chance to stroke the starfish and touch a crab. The staff are always ready to answer any questions.
Duration: 1-2 hours
Location: Town Quay
Cost: £30 for an hour boat hire; £8 per adult and £4 per child for a 45min guided river and harbour cruise
Rent your own boat to explore Fowey Harbour and Fowey River. The engines are an almighty 4 horsepower which meant that we were happy to let our kids take the wheel for a while. Take a picnic and enjoy pootling up and down the river and meeting the locals on the water. If you’re not up for driving your own boat, join a tour of Fowey Harbour and River and learn about Fowey’s industrial history. Both the boat rentals and boat tour are dog-friendly.
Location: Town Quay
Cost: £5 per adult, £3.50 for children over 5
A fun ride in a land train which takes visitors up and down Fowey’s hills and shares its interesting history. Dogs allowed.
Where to eat
Here are some of our favourite foodie spots in Fowey
- Sam’s – a local favourite and always busy. Get here early to get a table (it opens at 12pm). In the evening be prepared to wait for a table, but they do have a stylish cocktail lounge to wait in. They are very welcoming to families (even in the bar!). Our kids love it here
- Havener’s – a lively place for breakfast, lunch, drink and dinner. Right on the Quay, it’s a great place for people watching and taking in the views across the harbour. The food, for such a busy, popular place, is good quality. Disappointingly boring kids menu, but luckily our were allowed starter portions of their favourite mains (ie mussles!)
- Havener’s Fish n’ Chips – a central place to get your takeaway traditional fish and chips
- The Cornish Bakery – you can’t visit Cornwall without having a Cornish pasty! We liked the choice of fillings in this small café on Fore Street
- Brown Sugar Café is a small, friendly place to pick up your morning coffee or a tasty treat
Where to stay
For the ultimate treat in Fowey book yourself into Fowey Hall Hotel. It’s part of the Luxury Family Hotels group, and they really have thoughts of everything to make your trip special. From two hours childcare a day, to kid-friendly breakfasts, children’s supper times and baby-listening, an indoor swimming pool and fun garden, it’s a perfect place to kick back, relax and enjoy spectacular views.
If you prefer to self-cater then Fowey is has cottages available for every budget. We found a great little two-bed, dog-friendly place on AirBnB which has a terrace overlooking the town.
On our next trip to Fowey we will probably try to rent either stand-up paddleboards or kayaks and explore the smaller tributaries off the River Fowey a little more.
Cornwall makes a great destination for a family break as we discovered on our road trip around Devon and Cornwall in a campervan. Where’s your favourite place to visit in Cornwall?