Penzance

Penzance, Cornwall

Perhaps best known by Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic opera The Pirates of Penzance, the town is nestled in the middle of Mount’s Bay, and overlooks the iconic St Michael’s Mount. Penzance sits just six miles south of St Ives on the south coast of Cornwall. The bay remains sheltered and mild, a fact illustrated perfectly by the town’s abundance of palm trees and sub-tropical plants. Whether you’re visiting for the first time, or returning after a long trip, as you travel along the A30 towards the town you’re greeted by the sight of St Michael’s Mount peeking through the trees, and you know you’ve arrived.

History of Penzance and its Harbour

Pen Sans was the original name for the town of Penzance – coming from the old Cornish, ‘Pen’ meant point of land, and ‘Sans’ meant sacred or holy place. The town itself surrounds the ancient harbour. Although the origin of which is unknown, it’s thought to be built before the Tudor period, as confirmed in Henry VIII’s 1512 letter to the town.

The town is scattered with reminders of its rich history. One of the town’s oldest most picturesque streets, Chapel Street, homes the town’s oldest pub, The Turks Head. It was the first Inn in England to be named so, with others assuming the it later on. A short walk up from Chapel Street will lead you on to Market Jew Street, which is decorated with a grandiose statue of Sir Humphrey Davy – Penzance born chemist and inventor who created the Davy mining lamp in 1815.

During the Victorian period the town saw huge growth – with the building of Penzance’s promenade in 1844 and the arrival of the railway in 1852. The improvement of transport links made tourism in the area became increasingly important and to this day it remains a popular tourist destination.

Penzance’s Beaches, Coastline and Jubilee Pool

One of Penzance’s must-see highlights is Jubilee Pool – Penzance’s famous art-deco lido that was original built the early 1930s. In 2014 a heavy storm hit the seafront causing severe structural damage to the pool. However, after huge efforts from local teams the pool reopened in 2016 and was transferred into community ownership in 2017. Plans are now in place to add a heated a section to the pool, that stays at 35°C all year round, using natural geothermal energy. The new facility should open in Spring 2019.

Down from Jubilee Pool, a pebbled beach lines the promenade, stretching all the way to Newlyn. To the left of the pool is Battery Rocks, a popular swimming spot for locals at high tide. Beyond the harbour is  Long Rock beach, which is partly pebbled and partly sandy and is dog friendly all year round – making it a hugely popular walk for local dog owners.

Art & Culture in Penzance

Heading up the art and culture scene in Penzance is Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange. These two non-profit venues work in unison to support local artists and bring internationally acclaimed work to Cornwall. If you’re looking to learn about local history head to Penlee House & Gallery which features collections of archaeology, costume and textiles, decorative arts, photography, social and local history. There’s a host of beautiful gardens surrounding Penzance, including Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens and Trengwainton. 

Eating Out in Penzance – Restaurants and Cafés 

The culinary scene in Penzance features an abundance of fresh fish and traditional British cuisine; with local pubs serving up spectacular Sunday roasts, steakhouses and smokehouses plating up free-range meats from Cornish farms and excellent vegetarian fair from small, independent cafés. 

Accommodation in Penzance

No matter the time of year, if you’re holidaying in Penzance you’re sure to find something special. There is a plenty of choice from boutique hotels and luxury self catering apartments to friendly Bed and Breakfasts and affordable hostels. Penzance is extremely dog friendly; with a range of rooms, apartments and cottages offering dog friendly places to stay. With so much to offer we’re sure your holiday in Penzance will be something very special.

Find Out More About Penzance

Shopping in Penzance
West Cornwall’s Best Cream Teas
Best Cornish Beaches

Nearby Towns & Villages in Cornwall

St Ives
Hayle
Carbis Bay
Marazion
Mousehole
Newlyn
Cornwall