With powdery white sand and a protected amphitheatre setting, you’d be forgiven for camping down on Porthcurno Beach and not leaving. But there’s plenty more to do in this idyllic slice of Cornwall.  

Located on the far reaches of Cornwall’s dreamy coast, Porthcurno Beach is one of the finest in the UK. With soft white sand underfoot, an amphitheatre of cliffs on both sides and turquoise water lapping at the shore, you could easily spend all day lazing around. But if you are feeling energised by the picture-perfect setting, there’s other great things to do as well.

Attend a theatre carved into the cliffs with the sea stretching out beyond, hike a snippet of the magnificent coastal path, or (most importantly) visit our favourite beach in the UK just a short walk away.

Furthermore, in 1870, a submarine telegraph cable was laid from the sandy shores of Porthcurno Beach, linking Europe with India, reducing the time it took to transmit messages from weeks to minutes. Porthcurno became a hub for global communications and today a museum stands proudly behind the beach.

It’s strangely fitting that this area now has no phone reception.  But there are worse places to go off-grid than Porthcurno, here’s how to see the best of it.

walking along a coastal path high above a sandy beach
IN THIS GUIDE

VISITING PORTHCURNO BEACH, CORNWALL

HOW TO GET TO PORTHCURNO
THINGS TO DO AT PORTHCURNO
IN THE AREA
MAP
WHERE TO STAY

HOW TO GET TO PORTHCURNO BEACH, CORNWALL

Porthcurno beach is at the southern end of the Penwith Peninsula – the western point of Cornwall. It’s a glorious beach but being at the end of small country lanes in a remote part of the country, it can be a little tricky to get to.

Driving is by far the easiest way to get to Porthcurno, however reasonably regular buses run during summer months from Penzance.  

PARKING AT PORTHCURNO BEACH

Porthcurno Car Park is a 25-minute drive from Penzance or 45 minutes from St Ives, although in summer holidays – with the roads packed – it can take longer. The car park is large, but if fills up quickly on peak weekends and sunny summer vacation days, so it’s a good idea to arrive early or late in the day.

The parking machines at Porthcurno Car Park only take coins, so bring plenty with you. On our last visit (September 2021) it was £2.20 for up to 2 hours, £4.80 up to 4 hours or £6.60 for up to 24 hours. The car park has toilets and it’s located just a short walk from the beach.

If the car park is full, there is additional parking at Treen Car Park. It’s only a 5-minute drive away, but it will take about 25 minutes to walk along the Coastal Path to Porthcurno beach. Treen Car Park has toilets (20p, coin only) and takes cash and card (£2 for up to 2 hours, £4 all day).

BUS TO PORTHCURNO BEACH

During summer months buses run roughly hourly during daylight hours from Penzance to Porthcurno, continuing on to Land’s End before returning on a circular route. Please keep in mind that the bus schedule has become very erratic over the pandemic period and services are much less frequent in winter. Check times here in advance.

The journey from Penzance to Porthcurno takes 50 minutes. The bus stop is next to the car park which is only a short walk to the beach.

THINGS TO DO AT PORTHCURNO BEACH, CORNWALL

There are several beautiful beaches to explore in the Porthcurno area, making it one of the prettiest spots in the country. However, if idyllic beaches and stunning scenery is not enough for you, there are theatres and museums a short walk from Porthcurno Beach as well as sea caves and fishing villages only a short drive away.

1 – PORTHCURNO BEACH

Porthcurno Beach is a lovely triangle of sand hemmed in on two sides by high coastal cliffs, with shimmering turquoise water lapping at the edges. It’s a little wedge of paradise in a distant corner of the United Kingdom.

The sand is powder soft and perfect for sunbathing on a warm day. The sea, often protected from larger swells, is a great place for an easy swim in the ocean. Lifeguard service is provided by the RNLI from 10am to 6pm throughout mid-May to mid-September. There’s a café near the car park for coffee, beer, and a few basic snacks, but we would probably suggest bringing your own picnic.

There are few better beaches in the country for spending a few lazy hours but if you can tear yourself away there are some other great places to explore just a short walk away.

2 – MINACK THEATRE

At the western end of Porthcurno Beach, a series of steps cut into the cliff form the spectacular Minack Theatre. Following the natural contour of the bay, the views over the outdoor terrace theatre across the ocean provide a truly unique setting.

The first performance at Minack was in 1932. But continual improvements over subsequent decades have seen it listed as one of the world’s more spectacular theatres. Now it’s grand terraced seating set amongst beautifully maintained gardens welcome around 250,000 visitors a year.

During the day you can pay £10 to look around in pre-booked timeslots between 10am to 4:30pm. However, it’s a much better experience to come and see a show. Tickets can be as little as £20 depending on the performance.

The season runs from May to September, and the show must go on – performances will continue regardless of the weather (including rain) unless it’s dangerous. Bring a cushion to sit on and a blanket for some extra warmth. There’s a small bar where you can pick up snacks and drinks on the way in, but you can also take food and drinks in with you.

3 – PORTHCHAPEL BEACH

Walking west from the Minack Theatre, you can enjoy a lovely section of the South-West Coast Path on the 10-minute walk to Porthchapel Cove. There’s a short climb through a beautiful section of the Cornish coast before the path descends to the quiet cove, sheltered by granite cliffs.

At high tide the beach is covered, but as it retreats, a fine slither of powdery sand is revealed. With no facilities and the slightly remote location, Porthchapel is never crowded with people. However, it’s a popular spot for seals who are often spotted just offshore, possibly enjoying the quiet beach as well.

4 – PEDN VOUNDER BEACH

A 15-minute walk east along the coastal path from Porthcurno Beach will take you to Pedn Vounder. This mesmerising secret beach is possibly the most beautiful we’ve seen in the UK. Set under huge granite cliffs, at high tide, the sands are entirely covered by waves. But as the tide retreats, a golden sandbar rises out of the turquoise sea creating a shallow lagoon of rippling waters.

At low tide you can wade through the shallow water and laze on the sandbar, play in the surf that still pounds the far side or explore the coves either side of the beach. It is the closest Britain gets to a Caribbean idyll.

The beach only begins to appear about 90 minutes after high tide, with the sandbar visible 2 hours either side of low tide. The descent onto the beach is a little tricky, but if you are sure on your feet it’s definitely worth the effort. If you don’t want to scramble down, the views of Pedn Vounder at low tide from the clifftop above are still staggering.

Please note, it’s one of Britain’s naturists beaches so clothes are entirely optional. You can read more about it on our Pedn Vounder guide.

5 – PK PORTHCURNO, MUSEUM OF GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS

About 150 years ago the first international telegraph cable connected Britain to the rest of the world. This reduced the time it took to get messages from Britain to India down from 6 weeks to around 9 minutes. The telegraph cable came ashore at Porthcurno and by the late Victorian era, Porthcurno Telegraph station (codename PK), had become the most important in the world.

Today PK Porthcurno houses the Global Communication Museum. Set back behind Porthcurno Beach car park, it explores the progress of communications from electricity and Morse Code through to fibre optics. It offers a fascinating insight into a rapidly changing world. Book in advance on the PK Porthcurno website. There is a café and toilets onsite.

6 – LOGAN ROCK

Continue past Pedn Vounder on the coastal path and you quickly arrive at Logan Rock, an 80-ton rocking stone sitting on a dramatic wall of granite. It used to be naturally balanced and sway back and forth when pushed. However, in 1824 a group of sailors moved it, and were forced to return it after complaints from locals. Sadly, the move meant it now only rocks slightly, but it still retains the name Logan (meaning rocking).

The scenery on the walk from Pedn Vounder to Logan Rock is very attractive. The promontory is a mass of jagged fingers of rock with ponies grazing on the grass-covered clifftops. The remains of Treryn Dias iron age castle can also be found, although today they are little more than a few mounds.

OTHER PLACES TO VISIT NEAR PORTHCURNO BEACH

If you are staying near Porthcurno, there are some other great things to do in the area that are just a short drive away. Here are a few suggestions.

LOGAN ROCK INN

If the café at Porthcurno is not exuding the atmosphere you want, drive over to Treen, and grab a pint at the Logan Rock Inn. This 16th-century village pub does everything a local pub should, including a good variety of real ales and home-cooked food.

NANJIZAL SEA CAVE

Nanjizal Bay is a short drive west of Porthcurno Beach (or a 1 hour, 20-minute walk). It’s a wild and rugged part of the coastline best known for the ‘Song of the Sea’ – a towering arch carved by the forces of nature. It can be seen at any time but is best at low tide when you can make your way through the narrow passageway under the arch. Part swimming through sandy turquoise plunge pools, part scrambling over rocks, it’s a fun journey of exploration towards the other side. We have more information on our hidden gems of Cornwall guide.

45 QUEEN STREET PENZANCE

Looking for somewhere cool for dinner? Try 45 Queen Street in Penzance – a cavernous warehouse with a young vibe in an age-old fishing town. The menu is simple, just individual items you select to create a tasting board, but the ambience makes it well worth the visit.  

MOUSEHOLE

The lovely fishing village of Mousehole (pronounce Mowzel) is only a 25-minute drive from Porthcurno Beach. Its tiny harbour surrounded by stone houses and packed with bobbling boats is a slice of old Cornish life. Don’t miss Rock Pool Café perched above a tidal pool overlooking the ocean and The Ship Inn with atmospheric wooden beams and real ales in a cosy atmosphere.

MAP / THINGS TO DO AROUND PORTHCURNO BEACH, CORNWALL

Download our map which includes all our top attractions around Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall.

To save the map, make sure you are logged in to your Google account, then click on the star to the right of the title. To locate the map go to your Google Maps app, select saved, then maps.

WHERE TO STAY

A holiday cottage is a great way to experience the best of the English countryside during your stay in this stunning part of Cornwall. Classic Cottages have a wide selection of properties to suit all types of trips. Whether you’re looking for a dog-friendly escape, something with therapeutic sea views, or cosy woodlands retreat, here are some suggestions for your stay while visiting Porthcurno Beach.

VINTAGE CHARM

THE PIGSTY

The Pigsty is a beautifully appointed pad in a clean, fresh style, ideal for a relaxing country getaway. The barn conversion is in a lovely rural setting, but with Porthcurno Beach just a few minutes’ drive away, you can spend the days soaking up the sun and the afternoons unwinding in the enclosed patio.

CLASSIC COTTAGES

SAFARI TENT

BLUEBELL

Set in a delightful field, Bluebell is a spacious safari tent with two bedrooms, a living area, bathroom and a well-appointed kitchen. Relax on the deck overlooking the fields, laze in the hot tub, or take a stroll on the nearby coastal path before finishing the day with a BBQ in the field.

CLASSIC COTTAGES

SEA VIEWS

OYSTERCATCHER

In a prime position overlooking one of the top surfing beaches in Cornwall, Oystercatcher is an all-weather option. Head to the beach on sunny days or relax with stunning views as the waves pound under your doorstep. This is a family home with all the facilities you would need.

CLASSIC COTTAGES

MORE READING

As London based travel bloggers, we’re often exploring exotic destinations far from home, but there’s a wealth of great experiences to be had within the UK. Here are some of our favourite guides to our home country. For more see our Britain page.

SECRET BEACHES & HIDDEN GEMS – BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN CORNWALL
HOW TO VISIT PEDN VOUNDER, CORNWALL – THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH IN THE UK
SPEND ALL DAY EXPLORING THE MALVERN HILLS ON THIS MAGNIFICENT WALK
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PEMBROKESHIRE – HOTELS, HUTS AND B&B’S
MOST BEAUTIFUL LAKE DISTRICT VIEWS AND PHOTOGRAPHY SPOTS
OUR GUIDE TO VISITING THE STUNNING SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK
A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE GORDALE SCAR & MALHAM COVE WALK

This post was sponsored by Classic Cottages.


FOLLOW

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date.

INSTAGRAM // NEWSLETTER

SHARE

If you found this guide useful, shares on social media are much appreciated.