10 Things to Do in Looe for wonderful holiday memories

You’ve waited for what might seem like an eternity! Now it’s time to plan your holiday in Looe. If you don’t plan a little before you arrive, you might miss out on some of the treasures our lovely Cornish fishing and seaside town has to offer.

Let us put our 21 years of experience in running Polraen Country House near Looe to good use. As a family-run hotel B&B, we want to share with you the hidden treasures and well-known beauty spots in and around Looe so you get the most out of your holiday. After all, making happy memories is what it’s all about.

Table of Contents
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    1. Explore both East and West Looe and its beaches

    Looe is a town of two halves, joined by a historic bridge over a tidal river. Attracted by the fishing harbour, unique shops and restaurants, most visitors flock to East Looe and its safe family bathing beach, easily recognised by the Banjo Pier. But charming West Looe is more sedate and laid back. The beach at Hannafore has rocky outcrops, sandy inlets and amazing rockpools. Here, you can park for free, stroll on the flat or enjoy a cream tea gazing out to Looe Bay.

    Looe seaside town Cornwall
    2. Watch the fishing fleet unload its catch

    Looe is famous for landing the freshest fish in the UK. Why? Because the Looe fishing fleet is made up of day boats, going to sea and returning each day, ensuring their fish is fresh and of the highest quality. The trawlers land their catch on either side of the high tide. You’ll need to be on East Looe near the fish market when they come back to port – and as the Looe River is tidal we can’t tell you exactly when so grab a tide timetable.

    Fishing boats in Looe Harbour
    3. eat local fish and seafood in Looe restaurants

    Looe day boats catch sustainable fish varieties that are not caught in many waters. Expect to see names of fish on the menu that you might not recognise like megrim sole, spider crab, gurnard, John Dory so be adventurous and try them!

    Scallops and local seafood at Looe Restaurant Cornwall
    4. Discover Looe’s backstreets and pirate tales

    The quaint streets of East and West Looe spread inland from the quaysides, mostly shielded from the sea but not always the pirates! In 1625 they streamed onto Looe’s cobbled streets and took eighty locals off to North Africa as slaves. Today, the pirate tradition is kept alive by ‘Looe pirates, wenches & buccaneers’ who appear at festivals and events in the town. Find out more about Looe’s fascinating history at The Old Guildhall Museum & Gaol.

    Jolly Sailor Pub West Looe Cornwall
    5. Try fishing - book a boat

    A two-hour mackerel fishing trip will certainly create memories as long as you can find your sea legs! You can reserve a place on one of several boats by writing your name on the boards along East Looe Quay. Keen fishermen can book day-long deep-sea fishing and shark ‘tag and release’ trips in advance. Or try a more leisurely sightseeing trip on a glass-bottomed boat around Looe Bay or to Polperro, enjoying the views and spotting wildlife including Looe’s seals.

    Swallow fishing boat returning to Looe River Cornwall
    6. Visit Looe Island – getting there, what to see

    Looe Island – Cornwall’s only island nature reserve lies just off the West Looe coastline. As a marine nature reserve, visits can only be made on official trips, bookable in advance via the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. It’s such a magical unspoilt place where seals haul out on the rocks, where black-backed gulls, cormorants, shags and oystercatchers nest and you can feel totally at peace with the world. It takes 20 minutes by boat from Looe with about two hours to explore.

    Colourful spring thrift at Hannafore with Looe Island background
    7. family fun crabbing on the quayside

    Catching crabs from Looe quayside is such a popular and traditional Looe pastime that stations have now been set up to recycle the crab lines! Regardless of age, this activity fascinates and entertains. Our tips: Smoked bacon is a better bait than fish and greater success will be had either side of the high tide.

    8. Walk from Looe to Polperro or catch the bus!

    The Looe to Polperro walk takes a spectacular route on the South West Coast Path on a well-defined path arriving in the picturesque smuggling village of Polperro. Talland Bay provides a welcome pitstop en route where you can stop off for a swim or coffee. 

    You can create a circular day trip by combining this 9 km walk with catching the train and/or bus from Looe (or indeed from the front door of Polraen Country House in the Looe Valley) and spend a day without worrying about your car or parking.

    Looe to Polperro Walk - view Looe Island from South West Coast Path
    9. Eat these three things while in looe

    No holiday in Cornwall is complete without eating these three things. First, a Cornish Pasty, and in our opinion, the best pasty in Looe is from Sarah’s Pasty Shop where you can see them being hand made. Second of course is a Cornish cream tea. To do it the proper Cornish way, it’s always jam first, with lashings of clotted cream on top. The Island View Café at Hannafore gets our vote for the best cream tea experience in Looe.  

    Last, the ubiquitous fish ‘n chips, but not any old fish ‘n chips …… Looe fish ‘n chips bought at The Catch, Dave’s Diner or The Coddy Shack.

    Sarahs Pasties - the best pasty in Looe Cornwall
    10. Take this train journey
    The Looe Valley Line train runs on one of Cornwall’s most scenic branch lines between the market town of Liskeard and the fishing port of Looe. From Sandplace, it passes Polraen Country House travelling on the prettiest stretch to Looe. Skirting the banks of the river, you’ll see stunning views of the Looe Valley reflected in the water or when the tide is out, spot the wading birds on the mudflats. The train now runs daily until just past 9.30 pm.
    Looe Valley Line train journey viewed from Terras Bridge

    Just one more thing……..

    Although your holiday in Looe will be as wonderful as ever, Covid-19 has meant certain changes to the way things operate so here’s a couple of extra tips:

    Make restaurant reservations in advance
    Restaurants and eateries have reduced capacity to comply with social distancing. To get that table by the window or the prime evening dining slot on a particular night at that top restaurant, make your table reservations in advance of arriving in Looe, particularly if you’re visiting Looe July to September.

    Check transport timetables
    If you use public transport, you need to have your mask at the ready. Services may be amended due to Covid-19 so it’s always best to check timetables online. Most bus and train services are reluctant or even unable to take cash so be prepared to buy your tickets online via your phone.

    Pre-book tickets to attractions
    Many of the leading attractions like the Eden Project and the National Trust gardens have introduced visiting slots for which you have to book tickets in advance. Put simply, you will need to do more research, planning and pre-booking.

    So now you’re an expert with a bit of local knowledge! You’ll be so glad you spent time planning ahead before arriving in Cornwall where we hope you make many great memories of your holiday in Looe.

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    Looe Banjo Pier

    10 Things to Do in Looe for wonderful holiday memories

    You’ve waited for what might seem like an eternity! Now it’s time to plan your holiday in Looe. If you don’t plan a little before …

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    Telephone Gill & Martin
    UK: 01503 263956 / International: 00 44 1503 263956

    Telephone Gill & Martin
    UK: 01503 263956
    International: 00 44 1503 263956

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