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Penzance is a seaside town in the west of Cornwall.


It is a market town and port with a varied and interesting history, famous for its association with the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Pirates of Penzance. Penzance is an ideal base for exploring the Penwith area of Cornwall and is increasingly attracting those interested in cultural tourism because of its long association with the arts.

The Market House Penzance.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

A 5-6 h drive from London via the M4, M5 and A30

By train[edit]

Daily from LondonPaddington (8 a day, 5 h) and Plymouth (15 a day, 2 h), also via Bristol (4 h), Birmingham (5 h) and onwards to the North (Crewe, York]], Newcastle, Edinburgh (1 a day, 16 h) and Glasgow (2 a day, 16 h)). There is also a overnight sleeper train "The Night Riviera", the excellent service, arguably the most relaxing way to Penzance, most nights to/from London Paddington. (Have a night out in the West End of London before you jump in a taxi to Paddington, get the 23:50 sleeper train to Penzance, wake up at 8:00 as the train pulls into Penzance and the sea air will quickly get rid of any hangover from late-night boozing in the train bar!)

By coach[edit]

National Express or Megabus Coach Services from London Victoria (8-9 h). Tedious but usually cheaper.

Get around[edit]

Penzance and the surrounding area are well served by local bus services. More information is available from First Bus Cornwall[1]. Note that Sunday services can be quite limited. Routes catering tourists will run only in the summer.

  • See entry on Newlyn/Mousehole - villages 2-4 mi away on Mount's Bay.
  • Trips to the Isles of Scilly via ship (the Scillonian III) or fixed-wing aircraft (from Land's End Airport). Minibuses run from Penzance station to the irport.
  • Fishing and sailing trips from the harbour.
  • Bus service to Land's End.
  • Fishermen's Memorial statue - Newlyn Promenade.

See[edit][add listing]

The Egyptian House

Throughout the town there are numerous examples of Regency and Georgian Architecture. Penzance is also home to a lengthy promenade built in the 1840's. Admire the cool white art deco Jubilee Pool and see the "ballet of the waves" as they crash into the sea wall (particularly spectacular opposite the handsome Queen's Hotel which is worth visiting for its splendid paintings from Newlyn School artists.) Morrab Gardens situated in the centre of the town is a fine example of a 'sub-tropical' public garden. Penzance has an array of interesting buildings including 'The Egyptian House' built in an 'Egyptian' Style, The Market House -described as one of the finest examples of regional architecture in the UK, and many other examples. The walk down Chapel Street towards St Mary's Church and the harbour is a delight! Look out for the quaint Turk's Head Inn and the pirate on the roof of the Admiral Benbow pub! The 'Union Hotel' in Chapel Street was allegedly the first place in Britain where the death of Admiral Lord Nelson was announced. At the rear of this hotel were the remains of a Georgian Theatre but they have not been preserved. St Johns Hall (Penzance's Town Hall) is one of the largest purely granite structures in the world.

Do[edit][add listing]

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  • Penzance is the home of Penlee House museum and gallery, which is home to a wide selection of paintings from the 'Newlyn School' of painters, including Stanhope Forbes.

Penlee House [2]

  • Penzance is home to the Golowan Festival, which occurs ever year at the end of June. This festival is part revival of ancient midsummer customs practiced in the Penzance area (and throughout Cornwall) and part arts festival. Golowan Festival [3] Mazey Eve, Mazey Day and Quay Fair Day form the core of the festival and attract many thousands of people.
  • Look out for concerts by local choirs including Newlyn Male Choir, Penzance Choral Society, Mounts Bay Singers, Ladies Orpheus Choir.
  • Looking for action? Visit a state-of-the-art outdoor laser tag (lazer combat) site called Covert Combat [4].
  • Cinema - visit the Savoy in Causewayhead. Built in 1912, one of the earliest in the country! There is plenty for the young (and the young at heart!) to do in Penzance.
  • Guided walks with Western Discoveries. Historical and folklore based tours of Penwith's ancient monuments.[5]
  • Penzance has a good selection of sports facilities including the Penwith Leisure Centre [6].
  • Excellent Tennis facilities are also available at the Penzance Tennis Club [7] site which has been recently revamped,
  • Penzance is also home to a large open air art deco style swimming pool called the Jubilee Pool[8].
  • Tate Gallery has opened at The Exchange, with installation art and a smart cafe.
  • Nearby Newlyn is host to the Newlyn Fish , which is held on the last Monday of August every year [9].
  • Mousehole and Newlyn are famous for their Christmas Lights.
  • Coasteering: Penzance is situated in the heart of the Lands End peninsula, which boasts some of the finest cliffs in the country. Take a oasteering tour to explore cliffs, caves and hidden coves during this high-adrenaline activity [10]
  • The Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole town trails are available from the Penzance Town Council offices [11] and local outlets. Its planned walks are excellent ways to see the unique history of those areas.
  • Penzance has excellent private library, The Morrab Library[12], with a Celtic studies section.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Penzance has a reasonable selection of shops including national retail chains and small independent outlets.

  • Good secondhand bookshops in Causeway Head and Chapel Street. New books from shops in Market Jew Street and Chapel Street.
  • Art galleries (shops) in Causewayhead, Market Jew Street and Chapel Street.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Market Plaice Fish Bar [13] has been serving the community with fish and chips for 50 years.
  • Admiral Benbow, 46 Chapel St, 01736 363 448, offers traditional British food and has a maritime feel.
  • The meadery There are several in Penzance. They started as medieval theme eating places but have evolved into almost a Cornish tradition. Recommended is the Waterside meadery situated next to Penzance Harbour.
  • Muffins, Bread Street. Excellent range of healthily-made home-cooked meals, cakes and refreshments. There is an art gallery also!
  • Green Bean Coffee Co [14] Penzance's best coffee served with a smile, and the food is good.
  • The Sea Palace is Cornwall's No.1 destination for traditional Cantonese and Peking Cuisine, offering an excellent dining experience in a truly unique atmosphere. Reservations arw recommended to avoid disappointment.
  • Poolside Indulgence [15], situated next to the open-air pool, the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. The home made cake is a must!
  • Taj Mahal [16] serves the Tandoori and Indian cuisine. Great food in a modern setting, just a stone's throw from the sea front.
  • 35 at the top of Market Jew, behind Lloyds Bank. Very clean and attractively decorated, friendly and obliging staff. Menu limited but tasty, inexpensive, reasonable wines by the glass or bottle. Lunch is fresh, local and cooked to order (the fishcakes are really good).

For those seeking to eat a Cornish pasty in Penzance, the best in town are served in Lavenders, Alverton Street. (It is correct to eat pasties from the end, not in the middle!)

Drink[edit][add listing]

Penzance and the surrounding area have a large number of pubs. Particularly good is the Turk's Head in Chapel Street. Also, The Dolphin, right by the harbour wall, is full of character and has a great jukebo

Live music sometimes happens at the Acorn Theatre, and there is an excellent monthly comedy night there as well.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Various B&Bs all over the town, the best are in Regent Terrace facing the sea and some in Alexandra Road. Penzance Tourist Information Centre (TIC) 01736 335530 can check availability for you.
  • Queens Hotel - on the promenade - victorian style, but a bit run down in recent years.
  • Blueseas Guest House, 13 Regent Terrace, 01736 364 744, [17]. Guest house overlooking the sea and the Promenade. Well known for their breakfasts.
  • Youth Hostel - located about 2 miles from the town centre.
  • Penzance backpackers - a more central youth hostel.
  • Shoreline Guest House 17 Marine Terrace, The Promenade, Penzance. Tel: 01736 365 821. Directly on the seafront with amazing sea views. [18].
  • Mounts Bay Caravan Park, Marazion nr Penzance. 5 star small exclusive, family run park.  edit
  • Wharfside Holiday Homes, 25 Wharfside Village, Wharf Road, Penzance (in a villa style development above the Wharfside Shopping Centre), 07803862076, [19]. Wharfside Holiday Homes have 4 x 2 bedroom apartments in Wharfside Village. Central location, secure parking, fully equipped comfy and stylish self catering accommodation. A great place to stay. Highly recommended.  edit

Get out[edit]

Good base for trips to Hayle, St Ives, Marazion, Porthleven, Helston, Truro, Redruth and Camborne.

  • Sennen - about 9 mi from Penzance, with a lovely beach, busy in summer.

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