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Top 10 things to do in Mount’s Bay

St Michael’s Mount, the majestic island castle pitched into the Channel, always tops the itinerary, but wander along the rest of the bay and you’ll discover masses to see and do, from watersports on wide sandy beaches to galleries, gardens and great places to eat and drink. Here’s our top 10 things to see and do in Mount’s Bay.

Visit historic harbours

Harbour near holiday cottages in Mousehole by Forever Cornwall

Aside from the iconic island castle, this place is packed with history to experience first-hand. On the opposite end of the bay, Mousehole (pronounced “mouzol”) is a pretty fishing village and harbour with winding streets and granite cottages worn by the salty sea air — you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Moving along the coast to Penzance you get a feel of the importance of this place’s maritime history. A highlight is The Admiral Benbow, a swashbuckling pub that was the inspiration for Jim Hawkin’s home in Treasure Island.

Glorious gardens

There are a couple of glorious gardens to potter around in Mount’s Bay. The beautiful Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens on the outskirts of Penzance are home to 22 acres of exotic, subtropical plants and inspiring art, sculpture and installations, like the James Turell’s Sky Space — plus a restaurant, plant nursery, shop and the Tremenheere Gallery (one of the largest purpose built galleries in Cornwall). Also worth a visit are the gardens at Trewidden House between Penzance and Newlyn, with over 300 magnolias and camellias and a maze of pathways meandering and small gardens such as the rock garden, the pond garden and the walled garden. There’s a great little tea room/art gallery and gift shop on the grounds serving light lunches and artwork.

A potter around Penzance

Recently voted as the best place to live in Cornwall, Penzance is one of Cornwall’s most vibrant, creative communities, an eco-minded hub full of art and culture, independent shops and galleries, top notch places to eat, a beautiful coastline and some amazing places to visit nearby. You could easily spend a morning popping in and out of local boutiques, such as the beautiful Handworked Shop, stopping off for a delicious lunch in Penzance centre before taking in an exhibition at The Exchange art gallery followed by a dip in the Art Deco lido on the seafront.

Bathe in geothermal waters

After a huge renovation project, the Art Deco lido on Penzance’s seafront was opened to the public in 2020. The largest seawater pool in the UK, it contains 5 million litres of water and can be used by up to 600 saltwater swimmers at any one time. The separate geothermal pool (you’ll need to prebook tickets), which remains at a balmy 35 degrees, works by extracting warm water from a geothermal well nearly half a mile below ground, making it one of the most carbon efficient pools in the country. The Jubilee Pool Cafe, which serves local, seasonal produce as well as craft beers and wines, is a great place for a bite to eat afterwards.

Cross the causeway

The imposing St Michael’s Mount has to be one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks. Time your trip with low tide and you can cross to the island on foot via the causeway. Learn about the tale of Cormoran the giant and the history of the castle, wander around the subtropical and terraced gardens surrounding the castle (seasonal opening times), explore the harbour and village, visit the art gallery or enjoy afternoon tea at the Harbour Loft at the top.

Beautiful beaches

Curving in a long half moon shape from Penzance to Marazion is an uninterrupted sandy beach. Swimming is safer here and lifeguards watch Marazion beach during certain months. For those more adventurous people, wind and kite surfing is popular in this area. We particularly like the Hoxton Special, a humble shack offering watersports equipment hire and lessons, yoga classes and very good coffee.

Walking

The Mount’s Bay section is one of the most scenic and most accessible sections of the South West Coast Path. With almost no hills and a reliable pathway, this is a stretch of walking that anyone can take part in. We recommend starting in Mousehole for breakfast, going through Newlyn and Penzance, down the beach to end in Marazion for a well-deserved gin and tonic opposite St Michael’s Mount!

Out on the water

Those after an adrenaline hit can take to the water on a kite surf, windsurf or paddleboard from the team at Hoxton Special in the neighbouring fishing village of Marazion, whilst those wishing to fling themselves off rocks into the sea (and the rocky coastline here is a great place to give it a go) can try coasteering with Kernow Coasteering. Or join local photographer and snorkel instructor Katie on one of her tailored snorkelling trips which help educate people about marine conservation and introduce snorkellers to Penzance’s underwater world.

Eating out

With seafood being landed daily in harbours all along this stretch of coast, you’re guaranteed freshest fish in the country in Mount’s Bay. Some our favourites include the Tolcarne Inn which is a stone’s throw of Newlyn’s harbour, or The Shore in Penzance with it’s small but very well crafted menu. In Mousehole, 2 Fore Street serves up delicious bistro-style meals, or, for a cracking Sunday lunch with a view, head to The Old Coastguard. In neighbouring Newlyn, Mackerel Sky is a seafood bar serving tapas-style dishes, whilst at the other end of the bay in Porthleve, check out the Mussel Shoals on the quay or the award-winning Kota set back behind the harbour.

If you like the sound of a Mount’s Bay escape, have a look at our handpicked selection of places in the area.