Polperro Heritage Museum

Nestled in the heart of the picturesque fishing village of Polperro, the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling & Fishing offers a captivating glimpse into Cornwall’s tumultuous past.

Set against the backdrop of a stunning harbour and surrounded by tightly packed ancient fishermen’s houses, this museum dives into the intriguing world of smuggling and fishing that has shaped the village’s history.

It’s an essential visit for anyone fascinated by Cornwall’s maritime heritage, smuggling tales, and the hardy life of its coastal communities.

Discovering Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling & Fishing

Housed in the village’s old pilchard factory, right on the harbour front, the museum retains much of its original character.

Through a carefully curated collection of photographs, documents, and artefacts, visitors can explore the stories of daring smugglers, hard-working fishermen, and the life of the Polperro community over the centuries.

Highlights of the Museum

Smuggling Artefacts: Discover the tools and techniques of the smuggling trade that flourished in Cornwall during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Fishing Industry Exhibits: Learn about the evolution of the fishing industry in Polperro, from pilchard seining to lobster potting.

Shipwreck Stories: The museum recounts tales of shipwrecks along the Cornish coast, shedding light on the dangers faced by seafarers.

Planning Your Visit

Getting There

Polperro is accessible by road, though the village itself is pedestrianised, preserving its quaint and historical atmosphere.

Visitors can park in the main car park at the top of the village and enjoy a scenic walk down to the harbour and museum.

During the summer months, a tram service operates, offering an alternative way to reach the village centre.

Admission and Opening Times

The Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling & Fishing is open from Easter to the end of October, with a small admission fee that contributes to the preservation of this important cultural asset.

Opening hours can vary, so it’s advisable to check the latest information on the official website before your visit.


Accessibility: Due to its historic nature, the museum has limited accessibility for visitors with mobility issues.

Nearby Amenities: Polperro boasts a variety of cafes, pubs, and shops, perfect for exploring before or after your museum visit.

Maximising Your Experience

Take Your Time: The museum may be small, but it’s packed with information. Allow yourself time to absorb the stories and details of each exhibit.

Ask Questions: The museum staff are knowledgeable and passionate about Polperro’s history. Don’t hesitate to ask them for more stories or clarification on any of the exhibits.

Explore Polperro: Complement your museum visit by exploring the village’s narrow winding streets, beautiful harbour, and coastal walks to get a full sense of the environment that shaped the stories you’ve learned about.

Tips for Your Visit

Wear Comfortable Shoes: Polperro’s streets are cobbled and can be steep in places.

Check the Weather: Much of Polperro’s charm is best enjoyed on foot outdoors, so a check of the weather forecast can help you plan your visit accordingly.

Photography: While photography is encouraged in the village to capture its stunning views, please check photography policies inside the museum itself.

Nearby Attractions

The Coastal Walk to Looe: For the more adventurous, a coastal walk to the neighbouring town of Looe offers breathtaking scenery and a chance to spot local wildlife.

Polperro Model Village: A delightful model village that gives a whimsical overview of Cornish life and legends.

Talland Bay: A short walk from Polperro, Talland Bay offers beautiful beaches and a quieter setting to relax and unwind.


The Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling & Fishing provides an intimate and informative look at the lives of the people who have lived and worked along Cornwall’s coast for centuries.

It celebrates the spirit, resilience, and ingenuity of the Cornish fishing and smuggling communities, offering visitors a deeper understanding of this beautiful and historic region.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a maritime buff, or simply looking for a unique cultural experience during your holiday, the museum promises an engaging and enlightening visit for all ages.