Charlestown, situated on the south coast of Cornwall near St Austell, is a beautifully preserved Georgian port that offers a window into the maritime history of the 18th century.

Famous for its collection of tall ships and its frequent use as a filming location for period dramas, including the renowned series “Poldark,” Charlestown remains one of Cornwall’s most picturesque and historically significant destinations.

With its unspoiled harbour, shipwreck museum, and stunning coastal views, Charlestown attracts visitors looking to explore its rich heritage and scenic beauty.

The Allure of Charlestown

Charlestown’s appeal lies in its authentic Georgian architecture and the time-capsule quality of its historic harbour, which is home to a fleet of square riggers.

These tall ships, often seen dotting the harbour, underscore the village’s maritime legacy and create a dramatic backdrop that feels steeped in history.

The village is a designated World Heritage Site, recognised for its contribution to the industrial and maritime history of Cornwall.

Why Visit Charlestown?

Historic Harbour: Explore the original Grade II listed harbour, which still operates much like it did in the 18th century, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the past.

Shipwreck Museum: The Charlestown Shipwreck Centre houses an extensive collection of artifacts from over 150 shipwrecks, illustrating the perilous nature of historical sea voyages and the maritime history that shaped the region.

Film and Television Locations: Fans of film and television will recognise Charlestown from its appearances in numerous productions, which have utilised its historic backdrop to great effect.

Coastal Walks: The South West Coast Path offers spectacular walks from Charlestown, heading towards Porthpean in the east and Carlyon Bay in the west, providing stunning views of the rugged coastline.

Activities and Exploration in Charlestown

Historical Insights

Guided Tours: Participate in guided tours that delve into the history of Charlestown and its conservation, providing deeper insights into its unique heritage.

St Austell Bay Maritime Trail: Explore the wider maritime history of the area through this trail that connects various historical sites around St Austell Bay.

Nature and Wildlife

Beach Visits: Charlestown’s pebble beaches are perfect for relaxing, rock pooling, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty of the Cornish coast.

Botanical Discoveries: Visit the nearby Eden Project, a short drive from Charlestown, which offers a spectacular collection of global plant species in its massive biomes.

Plan Your Visit to Charlestown

Getting There

Location: Charlestown is easily accessible by car and is located just a few miles east of St Austell, connected via the A390.

Public Transport: Regular bus services run from St Austell, which has a major train station with services to major cities in the UK.

Best Times to Visit

Summer: Ideal for enjoying the harbour and coastal walks, though it’s the busiest season. Early morning or late evening visits can help avoid the crowds.

Winter: Experience a quieter visit and enjoy the dramatic Cornish weather, which adds to the atmospheric setting of the historic port.

Facilities and Amenities

Accommodation: Charlestown offers a range of accommodation options, from charming bed and breakfasts in historic buildings to luxury hotels with sea views.

Dining: Enjoy local seafood and traditional Cornish cuisine at the cafes and restaurants overlooking the harbour.

Beyond Charlestown: Nearby Attractions

The Lost Gardens of Heligan: Just a short drive from Charlestown, these restored botanical gardens offer a glimpse into Victorian garden design and plant collections.

Mevagissey: Visit this traditional Cornish fishing village, which features narrow streets, fishing boats, and quaint shops.

Tips for a Memorable Visit

Respect the Conservation Area: Help preserve Charlestown’s heritage by adhering to local guidelines and respecting the historic properties.

Explore the Local Area: Extend your visit by exploring the surrounding landscapes and attractions that make this part of Cornwall so special.


Charlestown is not just a destination; it’s a journey back in time. Its preserved Georgian harbour, rich maritime history, and stunning coastal environment make it a must-visit for anyone travelling to Cornwall.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply in search of a peaceful coastal retreat, Charlestown offers a captivating experience that combines the best of Cornwall’s natural beauty and historical significance.