An Insider’s Guide to the Best Things to Do in Port Isaac
Things to do in Port Isaac? We’ve got you covered to discover one of Cornwall’s real gems.
If you’ve been thinking about visiting Cornwall for some time now but aren’t quite sure where to go, I’m here to put the delightful little village of Port Isaac Cornwall on your radar.
Full of quaint stone cottages and cobbled alleyways, Port Isaac Cornwall England is one of the best English villages. Famous for its harbour too, it’s a great place to add to your itinerary. Made famous by the British series Doc Martin, visiting Port Isaac has always been a firm favourite for many.
Not just this, Port Isaac UK also has some great nearby walks and a culinary scene waiting to be sampled. Keep reading for our top things to do in Port Isaac and plan your perfect day out in Cornwall today.
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Read more: 17 Best Places to Visit in North Devon
Where Is Port Isaac
Port Isaac is a small fishing village located on the northwestern shores of Cornwall in South West England. It lies almost halfway between the popular towns of Polzeath and Tintagel. Port Isaac is a harbour town and best known for its beautiful harbour and quaint stone cottages sitting atop the adjacent steep cliffs.
How to Get to Port Issac
If you’re heading to Port Isaac and other destinations in Cornwall and South West England it’s best to drive. Public transportation in these parts tends to be quite limited.
If you don’t have your own car I’d recommend renting one from your base in England such as London.
I always use Discover Cars to find the cheapest rates for car rental in the UK. They generally have the best service, policies and deals. Click here to check rates for your dates with Discover Cars.
To drive to Port Isaac you’ll most likely head in via the A39- the main road that runs from Minehead, Somerset to Falmouth in South Cornwall. Port Isaac is about 10 miles towards the coast off the A39. For the best directions to Port Isaac, I recommend using a navigation app like Waze or Google Maps.
Port Isaac itself isn’t exactly made for driving. The village is full of narrow roads and alleys that are virtually impassable by car. Your best bet is to leave your car at Port Isaac Main Car Park (or St. Endellion Car Park if you can snag a spot) and walk from there.
From the main car park, it’s just a 10-minute walk down the hill into town.
How to Get to Port Isaac Cornwall from London: From London to Port Isaac there are a couple of different ways you can drive. You can take the M4 across to Bristol and then transfer onto the M5. Just past Exeter, you can follow the A30 all the way to Port Isaac.
Alternatively, you can take the M3 out of London transfer over to the A303 and then the A30. Both routes have a journey time of over 5 hours.
Top Things to Do in Port Issac
While Port Isaac England may be small there is a surprising amount of things to do in Port Isaac that will keep you busy. From wandering the idyllic streets to taking boat rides to enjoy the coast, here are the best activities in Port Isaac to consider on your itinerary.
Explore the Surrounding Port Isaac Beaches
Port Isaac itself is primarily a little fishing port and while there is a small beach, especially at low tide, it’s not the sort of place to roll out your towel and relax for the day.
There are however a few beaches that are long, sandy and perfect for relaxing on, having a long picnic or a leisurely stroll. Generally, though, the area in which Port Isaac is located is characterised by steep cliffs and a lot of rock.
Polzeath Beach is just 15 minutes drive away and is a lovely sandy beach perfect for the whole family to enjoy for the day.
If you’d like to combine a bit of walking on the Coastal Path with a day at the beach you can also walk the 5 miles along the South West Coastal Path going north to Tregardock Beach, a lovely dark sand beach that’s incredibly wild and quiet.
Alternatively, if you want to stay close and you don’t mind a bit of rock, Port Gaverne and Port Isaac beach are also an option, especially at low tide.
For long sandy beaches, I recommend driving up to the Croyde Bay area of North Devon or heading down to the Newquay area of Cornwall.
Read more: The Prettiest Beaches in North Devon
Explore the Culinary Scene
For such a small seaside village, Port Isaac has a handful of really great restaurants and cafes to sink your teeth into while exploring the local area.
The area is famous for its fish and seafood including crab and lobster which is worth trying if you eat fish. The famed Cornish Cream tea and Cornish pasty are also very popular in these parts. Below are some of the best restaurants and cafes in Port Isaac.
Fresh from the Sea – $- a small outdoor cafe with some of the best seafood in town. Come here for crab sandwiches, fresh lobster, salads, oysters and more.
Outlaw’s – $$-$$$- with two locations in Port Isaac this lovely restaurant specialises in seafood, local produce and fine Cornish ingredients. Come here for a set menu of the finest food you’ll eat in the area. Head to Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in the harbour for a more casual (and cheaper) dining experience.
Cornish Cove Tearoom -$- One of the best tearooms in Port Isaac for a Cornish Cream Tea or some ice cream.
The Golden Lion – $$- If you’re up for some pub grub, The Golden Lion serves good traditional English pub food with grand harbour views.
The Mote – $$- A lovely harbourside restaurant serving classic British seaside fare like crab sandwiches, fish and chips, shellfish, soups and burgers. Their bar is the place to come for a drink outside on the harbour.
If you’re a foodie then spending time eating your way around is one of the best things to do in Port Isaac.
Explore the Beautiful Village
Port Isaac is easily one of the most beautiful villages in Cornwall so you should definitely spend some time just walking around and familiarising yourself with the lovely streets, the steep hills and the narrow alleyways.
You’ll find quaint stone cottages with slate roofs on cobbled streets, cute tearooms and cafes, a stunning harbour and lovely little local businesses and boutiques.
If you’re planning to take some photos of the streets and I highly recommend you do, be sure to come early in the day. Port Isaac is a popular place to visit, especially during the summer and on weekends when it can fill up with crowds quite quickly.
Go on a Doc Martin Tour
Port Isaac rose to fame thanks to the 00s British ITV series Don Martin who was played by actor Martin Clunes. The series takes place in fictional Port Wenn Cornwall, which is actually real-life Port Isaac.
If you’re not British or like me not much of a fan of British TV series you might give this one a miss but if you did watch the series visiting some of the filming locations might be of some interest.
Sign up for this 90 minute Dr Martin tour and have your guide ( a Doc Martin extra) show you around Port Isaac. You’ll visit quite a few of the filming locations such as the house where Dr Martin lived, Louisa’s school and Mrs Tishell’s pharmacy. You can also learn more stories from the production of the hit series.
Go on a Day Hike to Surrounding Villages
Port Isaac is located on the South West Coastal Path, a 630-mile walking path in South West England. The South West Coastal Path runs from Minehead in Somerset and finishes in Poole and is one of the best things to do in this part of England for hikers and outdoors lovers.
Of course, we’re not suggesting you walk the entire path, but you can easily get on the trail at Port Isaac and follow it in whichever direction.
If you follow the coastal path south you’ll soon reach the little village of Port Quin, Lundy Bay and later Pentireglaze and finally Polzeath.
Going north you can walk the 9 miles to Tintagel passing Tregardock Beach (the village is a little inland) and Trebarwith Beach before getting to Tintagel.
When planning to hike a bit of the coastal path make sure to check out the distance calculator on the South West Coastal Path website. It really helps to plan your hike and you can get an idea of distances between places.
Walk to Port Gaverne
In the bay just to the north of Port Isaac, you’ll find Port Gaverne, another lovely hamlet with a small port/beach, a pub and some nice cottages. There isn’t too much to do in Port Gaverne but on a nice summer’s day, you can make the most of the beach or go for an afternoon drink at the local pub.
The walk to Port Gaverne from Port Isaac takes about 15 minutes and it’s incredibly picturesque with sea views as far as the eye can see. It’s definitely worth the stroll, even just for the scenery.
Check out the Cafes and Shops
Walking around Port Isaac you’ll notice all the lovely boutique stores and local businesses that are really worth popping into for a coffee or a unique piece. There are many cafes and stores on the street going down to the harbour, Fore Street and along Roscarrock Hill.
I highly recommend stopping for a coffee in a local cafe like the lovely Chapel Cafe while exploring as well as visiting shops that sell unique homeware pieces, gifts and more.
Take a Hike on Bodmin Moor
For those wanting to connect more with nature and witness some more of Cornwall’s stunning landscape make sure to head inland to Bodmin Moor.
Bodmin Moor is just 20 miles from Port Isaac and can be easily reached by car. You can then spend the rest of the afternoon hiking on the lush moorland hills where you’ll be able to encounter grazing wild ponies, Medieval bridges and Bronze Age cairns.
For more on hike routes and to plan your hike around Bodmin Moor you can use the GetOutside App by Ordnance Survey here.
Take a Trip To Tintagel Castle
Just north of Port Isaac, you’ll find Tintagel, another lovely little Cornish town famed for its King Arthur ties.
While the cute town is definitely worth exploring, it’s Tintagel Castle that everyone comes here to see. The supposed birthplace of King Arthur, Tintagel Castle is a historic site located right on the clifftops of Tintagel.
Visit Tintagel and walk through the ancient ruins of the castle and cross the rugged cliffs along the stunning suspension bridge. Even if the legend of King Arthur and ruins aren’t your thing, the coastal views from here are incredible so make sure to visit.
Continue a little further north from Tintagel and you’ll reach Boscastle, a National Trust-funded village with a beautiful harbour and quaint stone cottages that cling onto the coastal road. Quite similar to Port Isaac, Boscastle definitely is worth a walk around to explore its small, cobbled alleyways and beyond picturesque harbour.
If after Port Isaac you’re heading north to Devon, I’d highly recommend a stop in Boscastle for a few hours to stretch your legs.
Admire the View
Port Isaac has some seriously amazing viewpoints and to be honest almost every corner of this village is picturesque but there are some viewpoints that are particularly stunning and make the best photo locations.
One of the best viewpoints is from Bert Larges Chair on Google Maps. You’ll soon find it by just walking the Coastal Path in the southern direction just outside Port Isaac. As you ascend the steps and go up the hillside make sure to look down for spectacular views of Port Isaac harbour below.
On the adjacent hill, you also have Portwenn View. This is another amazing viewpoint just from a slightly different perspective. For the best landscape viewpoints of Port Isaac make sure not to miss these locations while exploring the village.
Go on a Boat Trip
There are a few different local boat operators in Port Isaac which organise boat tours. They are normally focused on seeing different wildlife in the surrounding area such as dolphins, seals and all the amazing seabirds that live nearby.
Wavehunters and Boaty and two companies we saw which do trips from Port Isaac. You can opt for a sea safari, a speed boat ride or even a private charter.
Where to Stay in Port Isaac
There are many different places to stay in Port Isaac such as B&Bs, Inns, Hotels and rental cottages. Here are some of the best in the area that we have on our bucket list.
The Old School Hotel – A hotel located in an old school building dating back to 1870. This converted hotel is in the heart of town and offers stunning sea views. It has comfortable and quirky rooms as well as a lovely bar and restaurant whose surroundings might transport you back to your school days. Check rates and availability here.
St Kew Escapes – For a dream cottage stay make sure not to let this gem slip through your fingers. With beautiful wooden cottages that are beautifully designed and decorated this spot will make you instantly feel at home. Located in St Kew, just a few miles from Port Isaac. Check rates and availability here.
The Blacksmith’s Shop – Another lovely cottage just outside Port Isaac with everything you need to self-cater. Beautiful garden and views for sundowners. Check rates and availability.
Are you ready for all these great things to do in Port Isaac? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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