Fowey, Cornwall travel guide: a hidden gem by the sea


There are so many beautiful towns and villages in Cornwall that it can be difficult to choose where to stay. But if you’re looking for a slightly quieter area than hotspots like Newquay, Padstow and Falmouth, Fowey is a great option.

Pronounced Foy, this picturesque port town on the River Fowey has everything you would expect from a visit to Cornwall, plus connections to one of the UK’s most famous writers – Daphne du Maurier. Author of iconic books like Rebecca, Jamaica hostel, My cousin Rachel and The birdsthere is plenty to see and do in the area, whether you are a fan of his books or not (Hint: it’s my mom, which makes this the perfect mother-daughter weekend).

where we stayed

We settled into the Fowey Harbor Hotel. A few minutes walk from local shops and the harbour, and with stunning views of the river and sea, highly recommend.

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Completely renovated in 2019, this boutique hotel is modern, has a huge garden to soak up the sun with a good book, and a wrap-around terrace perfect for sipping cocktails before dinner.

Most rooms have views of the estuary and harbor (exactly what you want when staying on the coast) and decor is sufficiently light and airy, with a subtle nautical vibe but not in your face. Speaking of which, in a move I’m sure old sailors would certainly approve of, every room comes with free gin and sherry. Perfect for a nightcap when lounging in front of the TV after a long day of sightseeing. In addition, the super comfortable beds and the quiet location allow you to spend dreamy nights.

Fowey Harbor Hotel & Spa rates start from £236 per night B&B, via

Fowey Harbor Hotel Sea View Double Room

Fowey Harbor Hotel

What we have done

One of my favorite things about the hotel was its location. For starters, it’s minutes from a cute little beach right in front of the hotel. There isn’t much space on the sand (it’s a tiny hidden cove), but there are benches and a covered shelter right next to it.

Whether you’re heading here or to a larger beach, the hotel will lend you free blankets, windbreaks, and folding seats, plus fun extras like kites, buckets, and shovels. You can also request a packed picnic from the hotel (£12-25 pp) which trust me is well worth getting.

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The walk to the small fishing town of Fowey only takes about five minutes and there are some lovely shops to browse. We enjoyed Heather Jane & Co, Fowey Sweet Shop, Kittows Delicatessen, Tarquin’s Gin Shop and Brocante.

My biggest recommendation is to take a walk along the South West Coast Path. If you continue heading southwest along the Esplanade towards Readymoney Road, the street turns into the South West Coast Path. You’ll see the Château Sainte-Catherine, before passing various secluded beaches. Although not open to the public, Menabilly is further inland – the house is said to have inspired the infamous Manderlay in du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, where she lived for many years. So it’s believed that one of the coves you’ll pass was the setting at the end of the book.

south west coast path lantic bay cornwall england near fowey and polruan with turquoise blue sea on a beautiful summers day

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Make sure to save your energy because when you pass Polridmouth Cove you will see a white and red striped tower. This is Gribbin Daymarker and sits at the top of a steep hill… the one you will be climbing. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be pretty exhausted by the time you reach the top. So pack some snacks, take a break and enjoy the view.

We suggest leaving Fowey around 10.30am to avoid the midday sun and arrive just in time for lunch at Sam’s On The Beach on Polkerris Beach. We had a delicious halloumi salad and spent the afternoon lazing on the sand. There’s a shortcut that takes about an hour, but we just booked a cab because #lazy. The whole walk took just over 2 hours at around 4.5 miles and the views were amazing. It’s really worth it!

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If you’re completely on that Daphne du Maurier hype, take the ferry to Bodinnick, where you can spot Ferryside. It was a second home for the London-based du Maurier family, where they spent a lot of time and eventually fell in love with the area. It’s also worth visiting the Fowey Museum for more history about the area and how it influenced his books.

Always looking for more to do? Head to Fowey Town Quay Landing and take a boat to Polruan and take a short walk to the castle for great views of Fowey. You can do it in an hour or two, or extend your time on this side of the river by walking east along the opposite side of the Southwest Coast Trail.

where we ate

One of the main reasons to stay at Fowey Harbor Hotel is the amazing food. For dinner, I started with a delicious crab and smoked salmon salad, followed by grilled tiger prawns with garlic butter and glasswort, and grilled scallops with bacon crumbs. Delicious and definitely the best meal we’ve had for both taste and value. Even if you are not staying here, come for brunch, lunch or dinner. There’s also an extensive cocktail menu and I would highly recommend the afternoon tea (plus, have you really been to Cornwall if you didn’t have scones, jam and clotted cream?).

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In the city there are good places to have a coffee and lunch. Brown Sugar did a delicious brunch, while the Cornish Bakery has a great selection of baked goods and pastries, including a rhubarb and custard pastry. I am not joking.

There are plenty of laid back places around town like Captain Hanks Crab and Snack Shack, for or a mid-range option Fitzroy and Appleton’s, and for something fancier, Fowey Hall Hotel.


If you are coming from the south, take the train – the route along the south coast runs along the beach and is one of the most scenic routes you will find. The nearest station is Par and takes around 10/15 minutes by taxi – but book ahead through your hotel or a local company, as the station is small and not where you can expect taxis to be sitting outside waiting.

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