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The Can’t Miss Pubs of Cornwall

Cornwall is England’s most southwesterly county and is famed for its ravishingly rugged coastline, beautiful beaches, quaint fishing villages and temperate climate.

This Celtic county is also home to a rich history and a fiercely independent population that is proud as can be of its seafaring and mining heritage.

In fact, you are bound to spot more black-and-white Cornish flags flying here than red-white-and-blue Union Jacks.

Part of that history includes pubs, as Cornwall is home to many centuries-old bars full of character that are still filled nightly with characters. Some were even the haunts of both pirates and smugglers, as the latter flourished on desolate stretches of the Cornish coast.

The Turks Head: Penzance

The Turks Head is reputed to date from 1233 and is located on the prettiest street in town: Chapel Street. The bar’s unique name comes as a result of a Turkish invasion of Penzance during the Crusades, and it was the first in Britain to use the moniker.

Tunnels were dug underneath the bar during later centuries in order to help smugglers get their goods from the harbor without detection. There was even a cell in the rear where unruly drunks could be locked up.

Today, you will find weathered dark woods, a brick fireplace and cask ales on tap inside, with a lush tropical garden outside.

Tinners Arms: Zennor

This pub was founded in 1271 as a residence for masons who moved to Zennor while constructing the local stone church. Since that year, The Tinners Arms has been the hub of activity in this picturesque village. Cozy features like a roaring fireplace, low ceilings and wooden barrels abound here.

After a couple pints of their signature Tinners Ale, you may even swear that you see the legendary Mermaid of Zennor, who is rumored to have lured a local man to live with her under the sea centuries ago.

Sloop Inn: St. Ives

With a spectacular setting directly on the harbor, The Sloop Inn is simply the best place for al fresco drinks in St. Ives. While the pub has been open since “circa 1312”, the current building dates from the 17th or 18th century.

That fact doesn’t detract from the character of the interior, as you will find nautical trinkets, a fireplace and snug nooks.

Cornwall is famous for its sunshine, however, so you will find the outside terrace full of sippers sunning themselves under squawking seagulls most days of the year.

Jamaica Inn: Bolventor

Perhaps no other watering hole in Cornwall is as infamous as the Jamaica Inn. This pub’s location on rugged Bodmin Moor had a reputation for smuggling—there is even an onsite museum dedicated to the dark trade—inspiring author Daphne Du Maurier to pen the novel Jamaica Inn.

In the book, a young woman is sent to live with the landlord of the pub, and she is quickly enveloped in the treacherous world of contraband. Visit for a pint or stay the night to pen your own chapter.

Pandora Inn: Mylor Bridge

Dating from the 13th century, this thatched-roof beauty on the shores of the serene Restronguet Creek is the epitome of the word “pleasant.”

Inside, you will find a roaring fireplace and a wooden ship’s helm hanging on the wall, but the star feature of the Pandora Inn lies outside.

There you will find a pontoon loaded down with picnic tables that juts out into the water—as idyllic of a setting for a pint as you will ever find.

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