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Advice for visitors

When to visit:

Looe, not surprisingly, is busiest in the middle of the summer, during school holidays (second half of July, August and first week of September). During this period the main streets, the beach, the shops and restaurants and the car parks are very busy. The crowds give a buzz to the place but if you don't like crowds avoid this high season period.

Looe has parking restrictions from end of May until end of September, but in this "shoulder" season (avoiding the high season of mid July to early September), Looe is probably at its best - the weather can be very nice indeed and there are enough people around to be lively but not so many as to be uncomfortable.

You can, of course, come in the "low" season - October to April, when, Public Holidays excepted, Looe is quiet, almost sleepy and you can have a relaxed wander around and quiet drinks in the pubs and unhurried meals in the restaurants and cafes.

Looe has been said (by the Sunday Times) to be one of the top four spots in Britain to celebrate New Year's Eve - huge numbers of people in fancy dress fill the pubs, restaurants and streets of this small town and have a great time. The night is capped off by a magnificent fireworks display on the Banjo pier at midnight (weather permitting). Prime spots to view this are the promenade/beach at East Looe (but very packed) or the eastern end of Hannafore promenade.

Parking

If you come by car, as most people do, and you come between June and September, don't waste time trying to find street parking in Looe (except in Hannafore). See the parking details on our "Location" page for where to park.

Crossing the river/harbour

The river bridge at the north (inland) end of Looe is where cars and pedestrians cross from East Looe to West Looe (and travel on to such places as Polperro, Talland, Pelynt, Polruan and Fowey). Depending on the state of the tide, pedestrians can cross the river further towards the sea by a small passenger ferry which, although a very short journey, adds interest. The ferry departs from near the small church in West Looe and crosses to near the Fish Quay in East Looe.

River and Sea trips

In good weather there is nothing so enjoyable as a trip out into Looe Bay, or to Looe Island, which for the past 35 years was owned by two remarkable sisters, (one of whom wrote two books about their experiences). Sadly both have now died, but they left the island to the Cornwall Nature Conservation Trust which now looks after the island and its flora and fauna. A landing fee is payable by each visitor.
(NB - see our page on Looe Island).

In good weather and depending on tides, there are a variety of short, half day and full day trips on offer from Looe harbour along the coast in the summer months - what is on offer can be found by walking along East Looe quay where noticeboards display what is available for the same and next day and you can add your name to the list of the trip that catches your fancy.

A good evening trip is to go up the West Looe river to the Watergate - no great distance from Looe town, but into a quiet and magical world of herons and other wildlife. Boards advertising the sea and river trips are displayed on the harbourside in both East and West Looe in season - availability and timings do, of course, depend on both weather and tides.

Shark (and other) fishing trips can also be booked or boats chartered.

Looe Valley railway

Although not so many people come to Looe by railway as could be the case (due partly to limited service and dubious reliability, especially of connection, poor information and too-small trains which cannot cope with the crowds in high season), the scenic line is a good holiday trip. Try and go at high tide when the East Looe river is full to the brim. The railway runs up the edge of the estuary/river, seemingly almost in the water, through a charming valley to Liskeard, where you can change for Plymouth or London in one direction or Bodmin or Penzance in the other. The brochure marketing the Looe Valley line is widely available from hotels, restaurants etc but, most infuriatingly, does not include a timetable (by what sort of misplaced logic it is impossible to say!). To get the timetable details you will have to go to a station, probably one on the line, or enquire of the National Rail Enquiries online or telephone service.
See also our buses and trains page

Walks

There are lots of short walks which can be taken immediately in and around Looe. A walk through the woods from the main Millpool car park just over the bridge in East Looe is exceptionally nice in good weather - and there are a number of walks of different lengths, well sign-posted and with explanatory details. Go into the main car park and drive as far across it as you can until you see a small parking area near the explanatory boards/map close to where the path goes into the woods.

On a good day, winter, spring, summer or autumn, if you have enough puff, there is no better walk than to take the coastal path through West Looe and Hannafore and then around the coast to Talland Bay and on to Polperro (about 5 miles one way, cliff path, rough ground in places, up and down quite a bit, sensible footwear). The path gives magnificent sea and coastal views as it passes through unspoilt scenery, much of it now owned by the National Trust.

Talland Bay gives the opportunity for refuelling at the Beach Cafe (Easter and May to October) and, in suitable weather, to take a swim or sunbathe. The return trip will make a very pleasant day out, with time to see Polperro and take lunch there. Alternatively, it is possible to walk just one way and get a bus back (but check the timetable before you go because buses are infrequent!) or get a taxi back.

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Most recent update - 16 October 2007