Top places to live in Cornwall Penzance
A bustling quirky harbourside town with a vibrant arts culture, Penzance offers seaside living at (relatively) affordable prices. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
In common with a lot of Cornish towns, Penzance went through a low period being rather out of favour, but is now firmly on the up. The gateway to the far west of Cornwall, it is now one of the few places in Cornwall where you can find Georgian and Victorian architecture at anything resembling a reasonable price. Arty Penzance is full of culture, including a multitude of art galleries, music venues and theatres. In 2021 Penzance was named one of four Cornish towns to be a recipient for funding from the government’s Town Fund programme.
In the town centre itself you’ll find The Shore on Alverton Street, or grab a pizza at the beautiful turquoise Totti. The Cornish Hen deli is in Market Place, owned by one of the makers of Penzance’s own gin – also don’t miss Graze & Treats which opened in 2020, winner of Muddy’s best new Covid Biz at the recent awards.
Just down the seafront is Ben Tunnicliffe’s pub, The Tolcarne Inn at Newlyn (which made the national list of top 100 gastropubs in Jan 2022) and you’ll also find new fish restaurant Argoe, where the fish is literally taken off the commercial quay and onto their grills. Wine is by Lovetts, a little wine bar, from which you can also watch the queue at the Mackerel Seafood Bar.
For more pubs, just out of town you’ll find the The Victoria Inn at Perranuthnoe, Mexico Inn at Longrock and The Old Coastguard at Mousehole or head the other direction towards The Gurnards Head. Ten minutes drive in the other direction is the little harbour town of Porthleven where you’re spoilt for choice with Muddy Award winning restaurant The Square and sister restaurant Kota, plus The Mussel Shoals, based in theme if not the food on the famous American recording studio in Alabama.
Chapel Street has the loveliest independent shops including design shop No.56 Penzance as well as others including antiques, indoor plants and more. You’ll find Muddy Award winning bookshop The Edge of the World on Market Jew Street. The Exchange Gallery has a good gift shop and cafe. Penzance high street has more of the usual high street brands and there are several out-of-town supermarkets.
Take a drive round the West Penwith coastal road down to Porthcurno (where you’ll find muddy award winning theatre The Minack Theatre as well as the PK Porthcurno museum, offering a fascinating look into Britain’s role in global communications). From there you can head round to Lands’ End, pausing at St Just to catch Muddy Award winning gallery the Jackson Foundation Gallery, then on to Zennor and back round to St. Ives.
From Penzance you can also hop on The Scillonian Ferry or catch a flight (or helicopter) to the Isles of Scilly. Not enough time? Hire an EBike and see more of the mainland around Penzance, Newlyn and Mounts Bay – if you head to Marazion you can walk over the causeway to St Michael’s Mount.
The Newlyn Art Gallery and its sister gallery The Exchange have regular exhibitions and head to The Acorn for your fix of shows, theatre and music. On the sea front between Penzance and Newlyn you’ll find the Foster-Bolitho gardens as well as the skate park. Head out of town for the bigger sub_tropical gardens of Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, Trengwainton and Godolphin. Don’t miss the art-deco Jubilee Pool, with the newly opened geothermal heated sea pool, the first of it’s kind in the UK.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICES
£245,075. Terraced properties were the most sold property last year, costing an average of £216,315. Detached properties cost on average £341,322, with semi-detached properties costing £268,264.
For secondary, the outstanding Mounts Bay Academy is in Penzance as well as several good rated state primaries. If you’re after private education, the choice is limited to driving to St Piran’s School in Hayle or up into Truro where you’ve got the choice of Polwhele House School, Truro School, Truro High School for Girls and Truro Prep.
BEST KEPT SECRET
The Admiral Benbow pub on Chapel Street has a narrow tunnel underneath that was once used by smugglers and the entire place is decked out in items recovered from vessels wrecked on Cornwall’s coast over the past 400 years, earning the pub a CAMRA award for historical significance.
Penzance is the very last mainline station so you can be at London Paddington in a not-very commutable length of 5.5 hours, so it’s probably more of a weekly option. There’s also the option of the Night Riveria sleeper service to emerge meeting-ready at 6.45am in Paddington. Penzance is at the end of the A30 so you can whizz up to Bodmin in around one hour and Exeter in two.
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