Fun things to do in Mevagissey and the Roseland Peninsula

Things to do in Mevagissey - boats in the harbour

Looking for fun things to do in Mevagissey? Cornwall is one of our favourite spots in the UK, and we’ve just spent the perfect week in Mevagissey so can’t wait to spill the beans on what there is to see and do in this beautiful area. If you’re heading to the southwest for the first time or want to base yourself a little off the beaten track, then it’s always a good idea to consider stopping in one of the charming Cornwall fishing villages. Mevagissey is one of the most picturesque, and is perhaps less well known than some of its counterparts on the northern and western coasts, which means it’s not as busy and feels more of a local settlement than a tourist haunt – always a good thing!

There are plenty of places to visit near Mevagissey too, and we’ll be showing you around the Roseland Heritage Coast, which is also known as the Roseland Peninsula.

The pretty harbour at Mevagissey

Where is Mevagissey

One of the UK’s most delightful seaside holiday locations is the fishing village of Mevagissey in Cornwall. You’ll find it on the south coast, just a few miles west of St. Austell Bay. You can visit on a day trip or make it your home base for exploring the local area and indeed the rest of Cornwall. To give you an idea of travel times, here are a couple of examples if you’re thinking of taking a day trip to Mevagissey:

St. Austell to Mevagissey: 15 minutes (6 miles)

Newquay to Mevagissey: 45 minutes (21 miles)

Penzance to Mevagissey: 1 hour 15 minutes (43 miles)

The southwest coast path near Mevagissey

The southwest coast path near Mevagissey

Where to stay in Mevagissey

If you want to base yourself in the village rather than doing a day trip, there are lots of great places to stay in Mevagissey. Many holiday cottages in Mevagissey are quaint, with buckets of charm but there are contemporary bolt holes too, each giving you the chance to experience life in the heart of a traditional Cornish fishing village. There’s everything here from historical terraces overlooking the harbour to boutique apartments for a bit of rooftop living.

The luxurious Corner House Loft in Mevagissey

There are several luxury holiday cottages in Mevagissey, as well as affordable self-catering spots to suit all budgets. Since the village is less visited than popular destinations like St. Ives or Mousehole, prices tend to be a little lower.

Contemporary living at the Corner House Loft

During our trip, we stayed with Aspects Holidays who specialise in ferreting out the most charming Cornish cottages you can imagine. It took us ages to decide on a property, but the Mevagissey cottage we eventually settled for was the romantic and super luxurious Corner House Loft. Located right in the centre of the village, it was less than a minute from the harbour which made it ideal for popping out for breakfast and dinner!

The comfy lounge

The interiors were sleek and modern, and the bed was one of the comfiest we’ve slept in, which is always welcome after a hard day checking out all the things to do in Mevagissey! Cornwall never fails to deliver but staying in Mevagissey with everything right on the doorstep meant we had one of the most relaxing trips we’ve ever experienced in the UK. We even went a few days without using the car!

And even comfier bed!

Parking in Mevagissey

Wondering where to park in Mevagissey? The main offering is Willow Car Park on the outskirts of the village. There are usually plenty of spaces here, and it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk down to Mevagissey harbour. For Sat Nav, the car park postcode is PL26 6SX. Parking at Willow Car Park costs from £3 for 2 hours, to £8 for 24 hours. It’s sensible to leave the car here as the village streets are very narrow, and aside from a couple of smaller parking areas (which are usually full), there’s nowhere to stop.

Many Mevagissey cottages don’t have parking but there is often a free parking permit included with the rental fee. This is super important if you’re travelling by car, so do check your booking conditions if this is important to you.

The harbour at Mevagissey

The harbour at Mevagissey

Things to do in Mevagissey

So finally, what you’ve been waiting for, the ultimate roundup of all the best things to do in Mevagissey. Cornwall certainly knows how to do a fishing village, and this is one of the most beautiful coastal settlements in the county, so you know you’re in for a good time!

Mevagissey Harbour

First up is Mevagissey harbour. It’s the beating heart of the village and was once Cornwall’s main hub for pilchard and mackerel fishing. Mevagissey fishermen were so successful that they exported their pilchards to Europe, and sometimes even the Caribbean. In June each year, the Mevagissey Feast Week attracts revellers from near and far to celebrate the village’s fishing heritage, and it’s quite something to see everyone come together in the name of fish.

Overlooking Mevagissey harbour

Overlooking Mevagissey harbour

We began and ended each day in Mevagissey with a stroll around the inner and outer harbours, watching the boats and enjoying the spray on our faces as the waves crashed into the cliffs beside the walls.

Things to do in Mevagissey - waves crashing outside the harbour walls

Enjoying the sea spray

Whilst you’re wandering around the harbour walls, stop at the Cornish Potting Shed and pick up a cute little house plant as a souvenir and have a chat to the lovely chap who runs it, or pop to the Wet Fish Market for fresh crabs and fish to cook for dinner!

Potting shed in Mevagissey

The sweet little potting shed on the harbour wall

Polstreath Beach

This hidden gem of a beach near Mevagissey was our favourite find of the whole holiday. There are plenty of other sandy swathes around the Roseland Heritage Coast, but none seem as secluded and beautiful as Polstreath!

To get there, just follow the southwest coast path up from the harbour (walk past the She Sells café and continue up along the line of cottages). It’s then about a 10-minute stroll on a lovely trail lined with hedges and woodlands that are bursting with wildflowers during Spring and Summer. You’ll eventually come to some unobtrusive steps down to the beach, that culminate in a very steep set of steel stairs. If heights aren’t your thing, you might want to give it a miss, but if you’re up for an adventure, then crack on! Of all the things to do in Mevagissey, this is the experience that you’ll remember for a long time, and it’s also one of the more unusual places to visit in Cornwall.

Polstreath Beach steps

Descending to the stunning Polstreath Beach

The steps plunge down the cliff before depositing you on the beach, which is a pleasant mix of sand and pebble. During our April visit, we had the whole beach to ourselves, and spent a glorious morning rock pooling, scrambling, and playing chicken with the surf. Apparently, this is a good place to swim as the water quality is decent, but the waves were quite big whilst we were there so we’re saving that experience for another time.

Steep steps leading to Polstreath Beach

The steep steps!

Mevagissey Museum

The Mevagissey Museum is a must-see when you’re exploring the village. Small but perfectly formed, it sits halfway down the harbour and tells the tale of Mevagissey and its inhabitants through the ages. Built into the rock face, it was once part of a boat builders’ yard!

Things to do in Mevagissey - the museum

Visiting the museum is a must

Inside you’ll see everything from traditional cider presses to barley threshers, and a wonderful collection of photographs give an intriguing glimpse into 19th– and 20th-century life here in Mevagissey. It costs £2 to enter and is definitely one of the top Mevagissey things to do.

Mevagissey Aquarium

If you have a few minutes to kill whilst wandering around the right-hand side of the harbour and enjoying the views of Mevagissey Bay, you could pop into the small aquarium. It’s a charity project that aims to showcase local species, and in a former life, the building was the R.N.L.I. lifeboat house. Entry is free, but donations go towards the upkeep of the harbour which is of course the best of all the Mevagissey attractions.

The aquarium is housed in the old lifeboat station

Fishing trips in Mevagissey

If you fancy a day out on the open ocean, then fishing trips from Mevagissey are a great way to learn a new skill or polish some existing ones. There are several Mevagissey fishing charters available, so just take a wander down to the harbour and check out who is offering excursions during your visit. You can’t be considered a true local until you’ve landed a mackerel!

Boats in Mevagissey harbour

Lots of boat trips depart from the harbour in season

Fishing charter options include the Aquila, the Diligence, and Out the Blue. Some also offer wildlife watching trips where you may spot dolphins, porpoises, grey seals, and even whales. When it comes to fun things to do, Mevagissey boat trips are a must!

Mevagissey rib rides

Feel the need for speed? Scenic speed boat trips from Mevagissey are a fun way to explore the local coastline and Mevagissey Bay, with plenty of thrills thrown in along the way for good measure. The boats operate during summer and offer a unique opportunity to spice up holidays in Mevagissey for those wanting a bit of an adrenaline rush.

Mevagissey gift shops

No visit to Cornwall is complete without scouting out a few souvenirs, and the Mevagissey shops are a true Aladdin’s cave of crafts and curios. We came away with some new ceramic mugs from Philip Gardiner Pottery, some luxurious tableware from the lovely Brocante, and of course some sweet treats from the Cornish Fudge Shop. There are lots of art galleries to browse too if you fancy taking home a slice of Mevagissey for your walls. Souvenir shopping is one of many visitors’ top things to do in Mevagissey, and there’s absolutely no shame in that!

Colourful local shops and the oldest pub in Mevagissey

Colourful local shops and the oldest pub in Mevagissey

Where to eat in Mevagissey

Mevagissey is a great place to eat, and although we’d planned to self-cater for several nights during our week’s stay, we ended up cooking just once and eating out for the rest of the time. Because there are just so many Mevagissey restaurants to tempt you in!

Pubs in Mevagissey are a good bet if you want some no-nonsense, hearty fare like steak and chips. The Ship Inn and the 15th-century Fountain Inn are good choices, with the latter being the oldest public house in the village.

When it comes to searching for the best restaurants in Mevagissey, a few spots really stand out. We loved Sharksfin Mevagissey, both for its superb potion on the waterfront, and for the menu, which featured fresh seafood with an American twist. The fish tacos and scallops were delicious, and we can highly recommend the burgers too.

Fish tacos at Sharksfin Mevagissey

Fish tacos at Sharksfin

The Harbour Tavern is another good bet, and also enjoys a prime spot by the water. Here you’ll enjoy no-fuss favourites like seafood curry, spicy pizzas, and salt and pepper squid. Being right on the ocean means there’s clearly a bit of a theme here!

Battered tiger prawns at Harbour Tavern in Mevagissey

Battered tiger prawns at Harbour Tavern

Hands-down our favourite eatery in the village was She Sells Mevagissey, a café and creperie right on the harbour. Famed for their crepes and galettes, She Sells is a bit of an institution in Mevagissey. There’s nothing like starting your morning by tucking into an indulgent Mevagissey breakfast crepe whilst sitting on a bench, watching the boats bobbing up and down on the water.

Chocolate and strawberry crepe from She Sells in Mevagissey

Chocolate and strawberry crepe from She Sells

While the entire menu is totally tempting, what really got my vote was the impressive range of vegan options (including at least six different ice cream flavours and four types of cake, which is almost unheard of!). I’m dairy intolerant rather than vegan, but it’s rare to see a DF on a menu, so when I’m away I tend to go vegan as it’s easier. So top marks to She Sells for making eating out a pleasure rather than a chore.

Vegan galette from She Sells Mevagissey in Cornwall

Enjoying galettes with a view from She Sells

Finally, when it comes to fish and chips, Mevagissey knows what it’s doing. A quintessential part of any visit to the village is sitting beside the harbour, chomping away on a huge portion of locally caught fish and chips. The Fisherman’s Chippy, which is a stone’s throw away from the water, is the place to go.

Places to visit on the Roseland Heritage Coast and Peninsula

There are lots of places near Mevagissey that are well worth exploring, once you’ve ticked off all the sights in the village itself. The Roseland Heritage Coast is a stunning destination and one that’s far less visited than some of the more prominent northern and southern coastal areas. During our stay, we rarely encountered other tourists outside of Mevagissey, even though the sun was shining, and it was the end of April!

Here are some of the best places to visit on the Roseland Peninsula that we highly recommend adding to your itinerary:

Lost Gardens of Heligan

A Lost Gardens of Heligan day trip is a must if you’re staying in Mevagissey for a while. Located on the edge of the Roseland Peninsula, the garden is just a 10-minute drive from the village. This is undoubtedly one of the most popular gardens near Mevagissey, and you could easily spend several hours here discovering the different sections and enjoying lunch in the cafe.

sculpture of a woman in a forest made out of mud

The Mud Maid sculpture at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

There are 200 acres to explore at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, some romantic, some mysterious, and some just downright photogenic. You’ll be delving deep into lush jungle valleys, and walking across rope bridges pretending to be explorers. There are bamboo forests and nature sculptures too, as well as a farm section and kitchen garden. We’re not really huge garden fans, but absolutely loved visiting Heligan!

man walking across a rope bridge in a jungle

Traversing the jungle on a rope bridge

Caerhays Castle and Gardens

Speaking of gardens, the ones at Caerhays Castle are pretty splendid too, particularly in Spring when the magnolias are in bloom. The castle itself was designed by John Nash, and the surrounding grounds have been transformed thanks to several plant hunting expeditions by the owners in the 20th century.

Caerhays Castle on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall

The beautiful Caerhays Castle

You can stroll around the lawns and woodlands, admiring the rhododendrons and azaleas, or head down to the private beach for a dip. This is one of the hidden gems of the Roseland Heritage Coast, as it hasn’t yet been swamped by other tourists. Guided tours of the castle are also available on selected dates.

Portloe

Considered by many to be the best place to visit on the Roseland Heritage Coast (and we’re inclined to agree), the tiny fishing village of Portloe is picture-postcard perfect. There’s not a whole lot to do here besides walking the gloriously scenic coastal path or stopping for a spot of lunch at The Lugger, but this is perhaps its charm. The valleys on either side are steep which has kept development at bay, and it’s the sort of place where you feel like you’re stepping back through time. Smuggling has been a large part of the village’s history, and with this dramatic yet sheltered location, it’s easy to see why!

Looking down onto Portloe from the eastern cliff path

There’s a small car park at the top of the village with an honesty box, and then it takes a few minutes to walk down in the village. We recommend hanging a left and hiking up to the headland for the best views looking back over Portloe, before returning to the village. There’s also a pretty path leading along the cliffs on the other side of the village if you want to see it from all angles.

Fishing boats in the harbour at Portloe

The tiny harbour at Portloe

St. Just in Roseland Church

This place just blew us away and was by far our favourite inland stop on our Roseland Heritage Coast tour. Surrounded by tropical gardens and situated beside a sleepy tidal creek, the 13th-century church of St Just in Roseland really has to be seen to be believed.

The church at St Just in Roseland in Cornwall

The church at St Just in Roseland

It was like visiting a botanical garden in a hot country, there was everything from bamboo groves to palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. And amongst it all were ancient gravestones, some of which are slowly being taken back by nature. It’s a wonderful place to have your eternal rest, alongside the bluebells and the river, with the possibility of fairies more real than you’d care to admit.

Monument in tropical gardens of St Just in Roseland Church

The church sits beside a pretty tidal creek

You can explore the trails and visit the Holy Well (which wasn’t that exciting), or even walk along the coast path to St. Mawes. There’s a surprising amount of parking and a small cafe just up the hill from the church at St. Just so you could easily spend a couple of hours here, soaking up the tropical vibe.

Tropical grounds at St Just in Roseland Church

Tropical grounds at St Just in Roseland Church

Veryan

Just up the road from St. Just is the tiny village of Veryan. We’d read that it was one of the most beautiful settlements on the Roseland Peninsula, and even Cornwall, so decided to check it out. However, we were a little baffled by the accolade when we arrived. Sure, it’s a lovely little historic village, with flower-filled gardens, old buildings, and a bit of a green. But it didn’t wow us like we thought it should.

The roundhouses in Veryan

It’s mainly famous for its five thatched roundhouses, some of which are holiday cottages today. They mark the entrances to the village and are a pretty unique, if not earth-shattering, sight. The 13th-century St. Symphorian Church is quaint, and worth a few minutes of your time too.

The pretty little church of St Symphorian in Veryan

St. Mawes

Sitting across the estuary from its big sister Falmouth, St. Mawes is a delightful seaside village that seems to have escaped the ravages of mass tourism. It’s sleepy, scenic, and a great place to stroll along the shorefront with an ice cream, or even take a dip from the narrow beach that lines the sea wall. We felt the village had quite an exclusive vibe, and loved the well-kept tropical gardens that skirted the coast. Sailing is a big thing here in St. Mawes, and there are often racing events which are fun to watch.

St Mawes harbour

St Mawes village and harbour in Cornwall

You can visit St. Mawes Castle too, which is a 5-minute walk from the village itself and has great views out over the water. It sits right at the end of the Roseland Peninsula, which gave it a strategic position in times of war.

St Mawes Castle

St. Anthony Head

If you’re visiting St. Mawes, then do pop down to St. Anthony Head, which is just along the coast. There are some lovely coastal walks here, as well as a lighthouse, a bird hide, and a historic 19th-century gun battery that was used to protect Falmouth and the surrounding area from invaders back in the day.

Far reaching coastal views from St. Anthony Head

The views from here are stunning on a clear day, and it’s a great place for a picnic. The whole site is free to enter, although parking is payable if you’re not a National Trust member.

Leafy pathways are glorious in Spring when the flowers are in bloom

We were hosted by the lovely folks at Aspects Holidays during our stay in Mevagissey, but as always, words and opinions are our own. 

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