Visit Penzance, Cornwall: Places to stay, things to do

 A short guide to the beautiful town of Penzance in the west of Cornwall during the off-peak season. 

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If you are thinking of making a swift get away this weekend, how about a scenic quiet retreat to Cornwall’s south coastal town of Penzance, where you can take in the sea air, scenery and history.

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Why go?
Penzance is located on the south-facing shores of Mount’s Bay. The town is the regional centre to West Cornwall, acting as a gateway to the beautiful beaches and stunning landscape. Its south-west location gives it a temperate climate, which is much milder than the rest of Britain. Although the summer months are far behind us, it doesn’t mean that Penzance sleeps until next season, as there is plenty more to see and do than just visit its beautiful beaches.
What to do?
This weekend there is a Christmas fair in Trereife, offering food and craft stalls all in heated marquees outside Trereife House which, along with the gardens, will be lit up by Newlyn Harbour lights for a magical atmosphere.
One of the most famous images of west Cornwall is St Michael’s Mount in Marazion, which is open throughout winter. Cross the causeway at low tide, or take a boat across at high tide and visit this iconic island and fortress, which is full of Cornish myths and legends.
Penzance also hosts the Montol Festival, which is a six-day arts and community festival based on Cornish traditions from 16-21 December.
Nearby Mousehole is famous for its fantastic display of Christmas lights, with floating displays in the harbour, colourful lanterns down tiny cobbled streets and a large Celtic cross acting as the centrepiece, from 15 December – 4 January.
One of the must-do items on any itinerary for Penzance is to watch a performance at the stunning Minack Theatre. There is one showing this winter of a concert of Christmas on 16 December.
However, full season starts from May, and makes another visit to Cornwall all the more worthy. The open-air theatre is built into the cliffs and spectators watch the performance on stone seats looking out to sea. It is best viewed in the evening, when the moon illuminates the performance.
Penzance is also home to Chysauster Ancient Village, a settlement built over 2000 years ago in the Iron Age, and the style of courtyard house can only be found on the Land’s End peninsular and the Isles of Scilly.
Other attractions also include Sennen Cove, which is highly popular with surfers, Geevor Tin Mine, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Penlee House Gallery & Museum and an Isles of Scilly trip.
Where to stay?
The Dock Inn offers three spacious en-suite bedrooms, contemporarily decorated, which lie in a traditional pub with real wooden floors and open fires. The B&B is located in the heart of Penzance’s historic harbourside area. There is also great Cornish pub food on the menu, and a brilliant roast dinner.
 
Where to eat?
Obviously, Cornwall is well known and loved for its traditional meat and potato filled Cornish pasty and its Cornish cream tea – jam and then cream! But there is more to Cornish cuisine than that. Cornwall’s peninsular location makes it abundant in coastal fishing, and therefore local seafood is must on the menu.
The Smugglers Inn uses fresh seafood for its fish-based menu. Ask for a window seat, and watch the comings and goings of the harbour while you are wined and dinned in this super building, dating back from 1700s.
 
Tell me a secret…
Kernow is Cornish for Cornwall and the Patron Saint of Cornwall is St Piran.
Cornwall’s famous fishing town of Padstow is home to the oldest festival in Europe, the Obby Oss.