Seaside escapes & historic towns: South Cornwall’s best bits

Cornwall is packed with handsome fishing villages and pretty market towns, and fortunately for dog owners, many of these are brimming with intriguing shops, dog-friendly pubs and quaint cafés ideal for afternoon teas or pre-dog walk coffees. In South Cornwall, stretching from the western banks of the River Tamar near Plymouth to the very southwest tip of England at the Lizard Peninsula and Penwith Heritage Coast, you’ll find that thriving seaside communities everywhere. If you’re bringing your dog to South Cornwall, these are the loveliest towns and villages to visit.

Written by Lottie Gross

St Ives

Perhaps one of the most famous towns on the South Cornwall coast, St Ives’ warren of twisting streets is a favourite among visitors to this region thanks, in large part, to the presence of some exceptional art galleries and the Tate St Ives. While the museums aren’t dog friendly, there’s still lots to love here. There are plenty of dog-friendly pubs (we love the Castle Inn, where artists like Barbara Hepworth once used to sip), and the small dog-friendly Bamaluz Beach with no restrictions year-round. Walks on the coastal path from here are truly spectacular, and you’ll quickly realise why so many artists were inspired to recreate the landscapes in this part of the world.

A view of St Ives beach with houses and boats


Spread across a hillside and spilling down onto the banks of a river with the same name, Fowey is a delightful little town on the South Cornwall coast. Its charms are so great it has attracted several celebrities over the decades -- most notably Dawn French, who still lives here today -- and it draws in visitors from all over the world for its beautiful estuary views. Dog-friendly attractions include St Catherine's Castle, Fowey Museum (dogs must be dry!) and an aquarium.


If you were a fan of the TV series of Poldark, you'll recognise Charlestown and its Georgian harbour from our screens, as it stood in for St Austell (another wonderful South Cornwall town to visit) in the BBC drama. Come here to stroll on its small, pebbly beach with the dog, enjoy coffee or wine on the downstairs terrace of The Longstore, and mooch in its tiny independent boutiques. Also don't miss a visit to the dog-friendly Shipwreck Treasure Museum, which charts the history of scuba diving and shipwrecks in the region's waters.


The university town of Falmouth has plenty of dog-friendly appeal! With a smattering of beaches (Castle Beach is dog-friendly except in July and August), and a high street packed with quirky shops and cafés. It also has one of the deepest natural harbours in the world -- which means you can watch huge ships coming in and out of the town's waterway. Come in June and you'll get to enjoy a sea shanty festival, and keep an eye out on the ocean for the region's famous gig rowers in their long boats. Don't miss a hike up the hill to Pendennis Castle, too, a dog-friendly attraction with some fascinating Tudor history.


If it's a classic seaside break you're after, look no further than Looe. While dogs aren't allowed on its glorious sandy beach, you can still enjoy the sea views from the promenade and its lengthy pier. On the seafront you'll find a handful of cafés for snaffling ice creams, while within its tangle of streets behind the water there are intriguing attractions, such as the old gaol (dog-friendly) museum, and across the estuary is Hannafore Beach -- a dog friendly spot perfect for paddling.

St Mawes

Sitting on the tip of the Roseland Peninsula, St Mawes is a remote but beautiful little seaside village in South Cornwall. The lovely Summers Beach is dog friendly from September through June, and it's home to a handsome coastal fortress built by Henry VIII -- one of a pair on the Carrick Roads (the other in Falmouth) that you can explore with your pet by your side. Simply strolling around St Mawes is a charming experience, but the highlight is the getting there! The best way is from Falmouth on the St Mawes Ferry, where dogs ride free and you'll get a gorgeous view on the South Cornwall coast.


Famous as the most southerly port in Britain, Porthleven has firmly cemented itself on Cornwall's foodie map, with myriad restaurants and cafés making waves in the local culinary scene. You can taste some of this fine talent on the terrace at Kota or The Square At Porthleven, or inside the lovely Ship Inn. Head to nearby dog-friendly Loe Bar beach (no restrictions) for a runabout, which is backed by the largest freshwater lake in Cornwall.

Written by Lottie Gross

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