The Best Things to do in Fowey

Fowey is a picture-postcard seaside town near the mouth of the River Fowey in Cornwall.

Situated between Mevagissey and Looe, it’s around 25 miles from Plymouth. Neighbouring town Polruan sits on the other side of across the estuary.

For those of you looking to visit, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top attractions and most entertaining things to do in Fowey.

Visit St. Fimbarrus’ Church

Located at the end of the Saint’s Way trail, this 14th century church has the second tallest tower in Cornwall.

The church is dedicated to St. Finn Bar, the first bishop of Cork, and replaced an earlier Norman construction – its carved but unfinished font still remains.

An extensive restoration took place during the late 19th century and the western gallery was removed, with new roof, vestry, choir stall and pews added.

Notable features of the church include its pulpit, which is made from the panelling of a Spanish Galleon.

A memorial can also be found in the churchyard commemorating Fowey’s war dead.

Enjoy Fowey River Gallery

Step into the world of local creativity at Fowey River Gallery, which is central to the vibrant Fowey art scene.

The gallery serves as a canvas to a captivating spectrum of contemporary British art.

Wander through displays of thought-provoking paintings, tactile ceramics, intriguing sculptures, and meticulously crafted glassware and jewellery.

Carefully curated, the gallery celebrates both renowned artists and blossoming talents, offering a medley of artistic expressions.

With its ever-changing exhibits, Fowey River Gallery invites repeat visits, each promising a fresh dive into the rich tapestry of UK’s vibrant artistic landscape.

A must-visit if you’re looking for things to do in Fowey.

Experience St Catherine’s Castle

St Catherine's Castle

St Catherine’s Castle overlooks Readymoney Cove and was constructed by Henry VIII to protect against Spanish raids.

The castle, which is one of the most popular Fowey attractions, is one of many coastal fortifications found scattered along the South Coast.

Restored in 1855, it is now an English Heritage site and can be reached via winding steps from the beach below.

Although in ruins, visitors can still walk along the gun emplacements and battlements.

Immerse Yourself in Fowey Museum

Fowey Museum exhibits a number of literary, political and naval artefacts.

These include the cloak of General Garibaldi, the great Italian military leader and the mayoral chain of one-time London Mayor, Sir Charles Hanson.

Fowey’s famous seafaring heritage is also celebrated through a collection of painstakingly created models, maritime photographs and ship sails.

Meet the Inhabitants of Fowey Aquarium

Fowey Aquarium is a popular attraction that’s housed underneath the town hall.

The building previously formed part of the old market until converted in the 1950s.

It now offers fascinating exhibits of local marine life, some of which are accessible through a touch pool that allows visitors to view the species close-up.

One of the most visited family-friendly activities in Fowey.

Visit Daphne du Maurier Literary Centre

The Daphne du Maurier Literary Centre is another important attraction relating to the Fowey art scene.

It can be found in central Fowey and presents exhibitions of the famous author and other famous literary figures associated with the town.

These include Sir Arthur Quiller Couch, Kenneth Graham and Leo Walmsey.

There’s also a 15 minute video about Du Maurier and a gift shop selling her critically-acclaimed books.

Relax at Fowey Town Quay

The bustling town quay is one the town’s most picturesque locations and is the heartbeat of Fowey.

The buildings are a mishmash of working boat-houses and pubs. The King of Prussia is central to all this and stands out from the rest with its colourful hanging baskets and window boxes.

St Finbarrus Church and Place House, which are situated behind the King of Prussia both overlook Fowey and are often mistaken as the same building.

Mercifully, the streets are not crammed with cars and other vehicles.

The use of a one-way system and a collection of car parks keep traffic to a minimum and mean that the Fowey streets are pedestrian friendly.

Polruan

Take a Ferry to Polruan

The nearby Polruan, on the opposite side of the estuary, has a contrasting waterfront.

In contrast to the many Fowey attractions, the town waterfront comprises largely of working buildings such as boat-houses and ship-building yards.

Behind these, Fishermans’ cottages creep up the hill and look out over the wonderful harbour.

Although few shops remain in Polruan there is still a collection of popular pubs and inns such as the Lugger and Russell.

Ferries leave from Fowey to Polruan every 15 minutes using both Town Quay and the Whitehouse slip, depending on season.

Visit Ready Money Cove

Ready Money Cove is a popular sheltered beach that lies near the mouth of the Fowey River.

It is bounded on either side by St Catherine’s Castle and Neptune House. St Catherine’s Castle was built in 1536 by Henry VIII to repel Spanish raids and is managed by the English Heritage.

The castle, which is in poor repair, can still be reached by a short path that runs from the beach.

Point Neptune House also overlooks the cove and was home to Daphne du Maurier during the Second World War – a commemorative plaque celebrating this can be seen on its walls.

Escape to Polkerris Beach

Tucked away in a scenic cove near Fowey, Polkerris Beach is a tranquil sandy retreat that graces the edges of St Austell Bay.

Enclosed by towering cliffs, this cherished beachfront boasts calm and inviting waters, ideal for immersing in a swim, venturing out on a paddleboard, or navigating a sailboat.

The beach’s sheltered location is complemented by an array of amenities, including an excellent restaurant serving local delicacies and a fully-equipped watersports centre.

Spend a day soaking up the sun, diving into thrilling watersports, or merely surrendering to the mesmerising marine panoramas.

Polkerris Beach, a charming seaside oasis, promises a delightful blend of relaxation and recreation amidst Cornwall’s captivating coastal beauty.

Go to the Lostwithiel Museum

Lostwithiel Museum is located in the vicinity of Fowey. Housed in a 19th-century Cornish Georgian edifice, the museum boasts an array of exhibits that vividly chronicle Lostwithiel’s rich past.

The collections range from artefacts reflecting its medieval origins and importance as a stannary town, to memorabilia from the two World Wars.

Additionally, the museum maintains a comprehensive archive of photographs and documents, offering invaluable insights into local life over the centuries.

A visit to the Lostwithiel Museum is an intriguing journey through time, showcasing the unfolding narrative of a town steeped in Cornish history.

Fowey Estuary

Embark on The Hall Walk

Embrace the outdoors with The Hall Walk, a renowned circular trail located around Fowey’s estuary.

This path, extending roughly four miles, treats hikers to an enchanting array of scenery as it winds through serene woodlands, over creek bridges, and along the shoreline.

Landmarks along the route include the historic Ferry Cottage, previously a hideout for the Civil War’s Royalist soldiers, and Pont Pill, a tranquil creek nestled amid lush vegetation.

The route also offers spectacular views of Fowey and Polruan, making it an ideal photographic vantage point.

A trek along The Hall Walk offers a wholesome dose of natural beauty and local history, marking an unforgettable chapter of your Fowey adventure.


Facts about Fowey

Fowey has a proud maritime history that can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when it served as an important port for warships and galleons.

Many of the vessels that sailed from Fowey’s shores became involved in historical confrontations such as the Calais Blockade.

Other vessels commandeered by historical figures such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Both sailed from Fowey’s shores further strengthening the town’s reputation as a major seafaring town

During the 18th century Fowey also played an important role in the exportation of China Clay and was one of the main ports used for the trade.

And although tourism is beginning to take over the town’s economy, Fowey remains a working harbour.

It still exports 1.2 million tonnes of china clay per year with at least 40% of all South West cargo passing through the port.

Present Day Fowey

Fowey has a population of over 2,000 and lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Rows of pastel-coloured terraced houses sit on the west bank of the River Fowey and cling to the steep hillside that looks out over the bay.

These buildings are divided by a warren of narrow streets which are home to numerous antique shops, bistros and restaurants.

Most of these can be found in the flatter areas of the town.

Visitors will also find a collection of historical buildings around the town including Noah’s Ark; a timbered Elizabethan merchant’s house that dates back to the 15th century.

Famous Fowey Residents

Thriller writer, Daphne de Maurier resided most of her life at nearby Polridmouth Cove.

Her life in Cornwall influenced some of her greatest works such as Jamaica Inn.

She now has a festival held in her honour which attracts enthusiasts and influential literary figures from all over.

Wind in the Willows author, Kenneth Greene also spent much time in Fowey.

He first visited in 1899 to help his recovery from pneumonia and became friends with fellow writer, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (Q).

Leo Walmsley is another famous Fowey resident who wrote a great number of short stories relating to maritime life.

For information about top Fowey visitor attractions, visit the official tourist site.


View our range of featured Fowey cottage properties!

Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.