Penzance is in Cornwall. It is a market town and port with a varied and interesting history, famous for its association with 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.
Penzance is also the home of the major links to and from the Isles of Scilly
via Helicopter service and ferry.
- By road: 5-6 hour drive from London via the M4, M5 and A30 (including the new piece of dual carriageway by the Newquay turn which should alleviate traffic jams in the summer)
- By train: Trains run daily from London Paddington (8 daily, 5 hours) and Plymouth (15 daily, 2 hours), also via Bristol (4 hours), Birmingham (5 hours) and onwards to the North of the UK (Crewe, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh (1 daily, 16 hours) and Glasgow (2 daily, 16 hours)). There is also a overnight sleeper train "The Night Riviera", this excellent service is arguably the most relaxing way to Penzance. It runs Sun-Fri nights to/from London Paddington. (Have a night out in the West End of London, before jumping in a taxi to Paddington, get the 23.50 hours sleeper train to Penzance, wake up at 8am 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: National Express Coach Services from London Victoria (9 hours). Tedious, but can be a cheap option (buy a funfare London to Plymouth for £1, then a return Plymouth to Penzance for £6, as long as your funfare is on a Penzance bound coach you won't need to change at Plymouth).
Penzance and the surrounding area are well served by local bus services.
More information is available from the First Bus Cornwall . Note that Sunday services can be quite limited. Routes catering tourists will often only run in the summer months.
- See entry on Newlyn/Mousehole - villages 2-4 miles away on Mount's Bay
- The Western Greyhound (formally Sunset) Bus route to St Ives is very picturesque and stops at Zennor on the way. Grand coastal and moorland scenery all the way!
- Trips to the Isles of Scilly via ship (The Scillonian III), helicopter (the heliport is near Tescos) and fixed-wing aircraft (from Land's End Airport). Mini buses run from Penzance station to the heliport and airport.
- Fishing and sailing trips from the harbour.
- Bus service to Land's End.
- Fishermen's Memorial statue - Newlyn Promenade.
- First's 300 service is an open-topped double-decker tourist bus that travels around Penwith, from Penzance to Land's End via Mousehole and Newlyn and then back to Penzance via Cape Cornwall, Pendeen and Zennor.
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.
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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.
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 Mazey Eve, Mazey Day and Quay Fair Day form the core of the festival and attract many thousands of people. From December 2007 Penzance will be also home to the new Montol Festival Festival website a celebration of the Cornish traditions of Christmas and midwinter, culminating on December the 21st each year with Montol Eve.
Look out for concerts by local choirs including Newlyn Male Choir, Penzance Choral Society, Mounts Bay Singers, Ladies Orpheus Choir.
Penzance is also home to Trereife House, a fine 18th Century manor house set in the grounds of Trereife Parkon the outskirts of Newlyn and Penzance. As well as boasting the availability of a fascinating tour of the house and its history, the grounds also play host to a beautiful parterre garden and walled garden, a children's play area, regular art exhibitions, plus a traditional cafe and tea room (homemade cakes, homemade scones with jam and cream, and homemade pasties, anyone?!). As of 2007, the grounds have also been the venue for a state-of-the-art outdoor lazertag (lazer combat) site called Covert Combat.
Cinema - visit the Savoy in Causewayhead. Built in 1912, one of the earliest in the country!
Penzance has a good selection of sports facilities including the Penwith Leisure Centre Penwith Leisure Centre.
Excellent Tennis facilities are also available at the Penzance Tennis Club site which has been recently revamped .Penzance Tennis.
Penzance is also home to a large open air art deco style swimming pool called the Jubilee Pool Jubilee Pool Pictures
Tate Gallery has opened at The Exchange. Installation art and smart cafe.
Nearby Newlyn is host to the Newlyn Fish Festival which is held on the last monday of August every year Newlyn Fish Festival
Mousehole and Newlyn are famous for their Christmas Lights.
The Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole town trails are available from the Penzance Town Council offices  and local outlets these planned walks are an excellent way to see the unique history of these areas.
For those interested in all things book related Penzance has excellent private library - The Morrab Library  includes a Celtic Studies section.
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.
- Market Plaice Fish Bar Serving the community with Fish & Chips for 50 years
- Admiral Benbow, 46 Chapel St, phone 01736-363448. offers traditional British food, has a maritime feel.
- The Meadery There are several meaderies in Penzance. These restaurants started as medieval theme eating places but have evolved into almost a Cornish tradition. Recommended is the Waterside meadery situated next to Penzance Harbour.
- Abbey Restaurant, near Chapel Street Area. Expensive but good food.
- The Ganges, Chapel Street area. Good value and Good Quality Indian Restaurant.
- Muffins, Bread Street. Excellent range of healthily-made home-cooked meals, cakes and refreshments. Art gallery also!
- Green Bean Coffee Co. Penzance's best coffee served with a smile, and the food isn't to bad either!!
- 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 recommended to avoid disappointment.
- Poolside Indulgence Situated next to the open air pool, this is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. The home made cake is a must!!!
- The Lime Tree Lounge/Bar and Restaurant with a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, serving delicious locally sourced food
- Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant The Tah Mahal serves the finest Tandoori and Indian cuisine in Penzance. Great food in a modern setting, just a stones throw from the sea front.
For those seeking to eat a Cornish Pasty while in Penzance - The best in town are served in Lavenders, Alverton Street. (Tip - it is correct to eat pasties from the END, not in the middle!)
Penzance and the surrounding area have a large number of pubs. Particularly good is the Turk's Head in Chapel Street.
- The Dolphin, right by the harbour wall is full of character and has a great jukebox!
Late night drinking is normally confined to the towns 2 night clubs which are normally open until 3-4am at the weekend:
- Club 2000 - near the train station, sometimes live music and big name DJs, lots catering for the Ecstasy culture.
- The Barn Club - 1 mile out of town near the Tesco supermarket - free buses run on Friday & Saturday nights from most pubs in town - just follow the drunk people. Cheesy music and fat girls. Worth visiting once in your life, but get it whilst it remains hot; there are plans to turn this popular dancing venue into a strip club.
Live music sometimes happens at the Acorn Theatre, and theres an excellent monthly comedy night there as well.
- Various B&Bs all over the town, lots along Alexandra Road. Penzance Tourist Information Centre (TIC) 01736 362207 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, . Guest house overlooking the Promenade .
- Youth Hostel - located about 2 miles from the town centre.
- Penzance backpackers - a more central youth hostel.
Good base for trips to Hayle, St Ives, Marazion, Porthleven, Helston, Truro, Redruth and Camborne.
- Isles of Scilly - day trips or longer stays available via Helicopter, ferry or fixed-wing aircraft.
- Sennen beach - about 9 miles from Penzance - lovelly beach, although busy in summer.