Planning a road trip around Cornwall? Looking for the best Cornwall road trip itinerary? Here’s a selection of the best Cornwall road trips to help you find the best places to visit in Cornwall and plan the perfect Cornwall itinerary for your trip.
Whether you’re planning a 3-day road trip around Cornwall or a Cornwall road trip in 5 days, each of the six road trips can be made longer or shorter by stopping earlier in the trip or carrying on up the coast to the next road trip from three days to over a month.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.
Cornwall UK Map
Route 1: St Ives to Penzance Cornwall Road Trip Route
Length: 1 week
The far south-west of Cornwall is perfect for a short road trip. This area can be explored comfortably in two to three days, although there is more than enough to fill a week. It makes for a great road trip as the distances between attractions and beaches is short, giving you time to really explore as well as being wild and remote.
After exploring the seaside town of St Ives, visiting the Tate St Ives gallery and the beaches take the coast road towards Morvah past Rosewall Hill. The first of many coves to be explored is Zennor Cove before walking across moorland to Men-an-Tol, an interesting historic site with two standing stones and a third in the middle that is a circle with a hole through the middle.
Beyond the village of Pendeen, the tin mines become more obvious, and Geevor mine, Botallack mine, Levant Mine and the mine shaft on the exposed Cape Cornwall are all worth stopping to explore.
Sennen Cove just before Land’s End has a large beach with surf school and is a good base for the night. From here, you can follow the South West Coast path on foot to Land’s End and explore without the madness of parking at the attraction.
After Land’s End, the route (B3315) turns south and east first stopping at Porthcurno where the Minack Theatre is located. This village has a beautiful sandy beach and a museum telling the story of the telegraph cable that came ashore in the village.
From here there are various coves and beaches that you can explore before reaching the small fishing town of Mousehole. This is a beautiful village to explore with winding lanes and a small harbour. Mousehole is next to Newlyn, which is a much larger fishing and more commercial harbour and the last place before reaching Penzance.
Penzance is a large town with ferries to the Isles of Scilly and the end of the mainline train to London Paddington. If you want a little extension for a day, then just the other side of Penzance is Marazion and St Michaels Mount. This castle sits on a tidal island and can be seen from Mousehole across the bay.
This small road trip really does feel like an escape from the every day and gives a real taste of Cornwall.
By Suzanne, Meandering Wild
Route 2: St Ives to Newquay
Length: 2 weeks
St Ives – 4 nights | Hayle – pit stop | Portreath – 3 nights | Porthtowan – 3 nights | Newquay – 4 nights
The west coast of Cornwall is bursting with stunning sights, ample tourist attractions and picturesque villages. During this road trip, you’ll be able to explore the west coast of Cornwall towards North Cornwall on the coast road.
Start your road trip in the picturesque town of St Ives, one of the most popular tourist areas in Cornwall. There are five stunning beaches, a huge range of art galleries and stunning walks to discover. Try walking from Porthminster beach to Carbis Bay or from Porthmeor beach to Clodgy point or even on to Zennor.
When you’ve finished your time in St Ives, head up the coast slightly and stop in the town of Hayle, home of the famous Phillips pasties, Hayle Towans Sand dunes and the Upton Towans Nature Reserve. Stop the car at the beginning of Hayle and explore Millponds and the King George Memorial walk. You can view our full guide to things to do in Hayle here.
From Upton Towans Nature reserve, continue driving on the B3301 coast road (one of the most scenic drives in Cornwall) towards Portreath. On the coastal road, you’ll see Godrevy lighthouse, and North Cliffs – a popular stop on the southwest coast path. Basset Cove just after North cliffs, is another good stopping point on the south-west coast path.
Just before driving into Portreath, you’ll pass Tehidy woods – great for exploring with kids and getting off the beaten path a bit.
Portreath is another hugely popular tourist area. The village has a large beach, popular with surfers, a range of takeaways, cafes and village stores and some lovely holiday cottages. Make sure you try the fish and chip shop by the beach.
Driving on along the B3315 from Portreath, you’ll pass the picturesque Cornish villages of Bridge and Cambrose before reaching Portreath – one of the best beaches in Cornwall for families. Porthtowan is perfect to stop for a few days. Make sure you take a trip inland to see the mining heritage town of Redruth and the tiny Chapel Porth Beach just up the coast. You may even want to take a day trip to Truro – the capital of Cornwall with a stunning cathedral, ample shopping options and plenty of walks to try. You can view more things to do in Truro on our post here.
Your next stop is Perranporth. To get from Porthtowan to Perranporth, drive along the B3285. Before you reach Perranporth, stop off at the coastal village of St Agnes with its picturesque cove. There’s plenty of amazing walks on the south-west coast path to be done from here.
Perranporth is perfect for stopping for a few more days. The area features a huge beach backed by sand dunes so you’ll feel a sense of isolation.
From Perranporth, you’ll start your drive towards the final stop – Newquay. Take the long route from Perranporth to Newquay (B3285) via all the picturesque Cornish village of Cubert. From here, drive to the stunning Hollywell bay just outside of Newquay.
From Holywell bay, drive to the next beach along the coast, Crantock – one of the best beaches in Newquay. To do this, drive along Holywell Road before turning onto Trevowah Road.
From Crantock, take the quickest route to Newquay and stop for a few days. There’s a huge amount of this to do in Newquay whether it’s exploring the 12 beaches surrounding or visiting one of the family-orientated attractions including Newquay zoo and the Blue Reef Aquarium. There’s plenty of day trips to be done from Newquay too as well as accommodation to suit all budgets. Make sure you drive to Healey’s Cornish Cider farm and Castillick Ice Cream farm.
Road Trip Resources
- Great Cornish Family Bucketlist – FREE Printable
- Best Family Beaches in Cornwall
- Cornwall Travel Planning Guide
- Best Mines in Cornwall
Route 3: Penzance to Truro
Length: 15 nights
Penzance – 2 nights | Praa Sands – 3 nights | Porthleven – 3 nights | Mullion – 3 nights | Lizard – 2 nights | Kennack Sands – 2 nights
The South-East coast of Cornwall has a huge variety. The area is perfect for a road trip as it’s best explored by car. This road trip will take you all the way from the town of Penzance past stunning beaches to Helston before exploring the infamous Lizard Peninsula and arriving in the town of Falmouth, and exploring some picturesque villages before arriving in Truro.
Start your road trip in the town of Penzance. During your stay, you could explore the small fishing villages of Newlyn and Mousehole or Marazion and St Michaels Mount – a small island just off the coast of Penzance. You could also take a day trip to the Isles of Scilly via the Scillonian ferry from Penzance.
Drive on the A30 from Penzance before turning onto the A394 at the long rock bypass. Your first overnight stop will be Praa Sands, but there’s plenty of villages to explore before you get there.
Turn off the A394 towards Perranuthoe – a picturesque village and huge sandy beach. Back on the A394, you’ll pass the village of Rosudgeon, a traditional inland Cornish village with a fantastic pub. Turn off the road again towards Prussia Cove and explore the National Trusts Cudden Point. The area of Southwest coast path here is beautiful and well worth exploring. On the other side of Piskies cove to Cudden point is Keneggy Cove – another beautiful sight.
At the end of a long day exploring the Cornish coast – settle down for the night at Praa Sands and spend a few days here exploring the beach and the surrounding areas including walks on the south-west coast path to Wheal Prosper Tin Mine and Trewavas Mine or the picturesque beach of Nichols Cove.
Continue on your journey towards Porthleven – one of the prettiest coastal villages in Cornwall and a popular tourist hotspot.
From here, you should visit the town of Helston (either as a day trip or continuing towards the Lizard Peninsula). Helston is home to Flambards Theme Park – one of the best theme parks in Cornwall for families.
Now it’s time to explore the Lizard Penninsula. You should base yourself in Mullion and take day trips to the nearby coves and beaches. Make sure you visit Dollar Cove, Poldhu Beach and Pollurian Beach. To get from Helston to Mullion, drive along the A3083.
Your base for the next few days will be the small town – Lizard on the edge of the Lizard Penninsula. From here you can explore Kyance Cove – one of the best beaches in Europe and best beaches in Cornwall for families. Another must-see is Lizard Point.
Leaving the village of Lizard, you’ll be continuing up the Cornish coast. Nows your time to explore some of Cornwall’s most isolated villages, including Cadgwith and Ruan Minor, before arriving at Kennack Sands – another of Cornwall’s best beaches. From here, I recommend a day trip to Goonhilly. Back on the road, continue on the coast road stopping at the coastal village of Coverack and the inland villages of St Keverne before arriving back in Helston for a few days.
From Helston, you should take a day trip to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and explore the Helford River and the village of Gweek. The next day, take another day trip to Trebah Gardens.
Take the fastest route from Helston to Falmouth (A394) and base yourself here for a few days. In Falmouth, you can explore Maenporth Beach, Swanpool Beach and Gyllngvase Beach. There are fantastic shopping and world-class cuisine to try in Falmouth too. Click here to find out the best campsites and holiday parks in Falmouth for families.
Make sure you visit Pendennis Castle. I highly recommend taking a day trip from Falmouth to St Mawes – a tiny picturesque village and castle just across the River Fal. You can take a water taxi from Falmouth on the short journey across the river.
From Falmouth, drive towards Truro – the capital of Cornwall via the village of Feock (A39). Make sure you spend some time in Truro exploring Truro Cathedral and doing some shopping. You can view more things to do in Truro here.
Route 4: Truro to St Austell – The Roseland Heritage Coast
Length: 12 days
Truro – 1-2 nights | Porthscatho – 3 nights | Portloe – 2 days | Mevagissey – 2 nights | St Austell – 3 nights
This road trip takes in the coast and inland peninsula of north East Cornwall, exploring the villages and beaches of the Roseland Peninsula before heading inland to the town of St Austell. You’ll then explore the town of Par before taking in more of Northeast Cornwall’s towns, villages and beaches.
You’ll start the road trip in Truro – the capital of Cornwall where you can visit the towering cathedral, beautiful gardens and a huge range of shops. Click here for more thing to do in Truro with kids.
The next stop is the beautiful cove of Portscatho on the Roseland Peninsula. You can either drive around the River Fal via Tregony or catch the King Harry Ferry, which will take you nearer to Portscatho. Spend a few nights in Porthscatho exploring the nearby villages, beaches and coves. Popular trips include the village, castle and beach of St Mawes and Towan Beach further down the coast. Further up the coast you could visit Porthpean beach and explore the surrounding countryside.
Now its time to head further up the eastern coast of Cornwall towards the tiny village of Portloe. Make sure you stop at Carne beach on the way – one of the best beaches in Cornwall for families. The beach and surrounding area are part of the Roseland Heritage trust – a national trust protected area. The view of Kiberick cove is also a great stop on the way to Portloe. To get from Portscatho to Portloe, drive along the A3078. Head inland slightly, and you’ll reach the village of Veryan with traditional thatched cottages. Portloe is your home for the next two days.
Your next stretch is between Portloe and Mevagissey (B3273), with plenty of stops on the way. Continuing exploring the north of the Roseland Peninsula, you could explore Caerthy’s castle, Porthluney Bay Beach, Hemmick Beach, Little Perhaver beach, and Gorran Haven’s village.
From Gorran Haven, head straight to Mevagissey and base yourself here for a few days exploring the village and the surrounding areas. Tourist attractions in Mevagissey include the model railway and Mevagissey Aquarium. There are plenty of shops and restaurants as well as a lovely kids playground. From Mevagissey, you can visit the coastal villages of Portmellon and Pentewan.
Heading onwards from Mevagissey to St Austell (B3273)there are plenty more stops. First, visit the village and beach of Porthpean before driving into St Austell via the coastal road and visiting the nearby beaches and coastal villages. First, you’ll reach Dunporth Beach before exploring the village of Charlestown. From Charlestown, head inland to St Austell. Click here to view the best things to do in St Austell with kids.
Route 5: St Austell to Looe
Length: 1 week
St Austell – 2 nights | Fowey – 3 nights | Looe – 2 nights
This road trip starts in St Austell, one of Cornwall’s largest towns. St Austell is also home to the world-famous attraction – The Eden Project and the China Claywords – an important part of Cornwall’s mining heritage. You can view more things to do in St Austell with kids here.
Head towards the coast towards the village of Fowey (A3082). Your first stop is the town of Par, where you can explore Spit Beach, St Austell Bay Beach and Par Sands Beach. Head inland again towards Polmear, past the village of Lescrow towards Fowey. Fowey is the perfect place to base yourself for a few days. Make sure you explore Readymoney Cove Beach, St Catherine’s castle and Fowey Harbour.
There’s a small water taxi service towards Polruan, a picturesque village with a beautiful harbour and castle. If you fancy a walk on the southwest coast path, the walk from Polruan to Lantic Bay is perfect.
From Fowey, drive along the A390 and B3359 to reach Polperro, an isolated cove and village. View the best things to do in Polperro with Kids here.
Finish the day in Looe – one of Cornwall’s most popular tourist destinations. Spend a few days in Looe taking in the surroundings and going on nearby day trips. Popular trips include the Looe Monkey Sanctuary and the town of Liskeard.
Route 6: Newquay to Plymouth
Length: 15 nights
Newquay – 4 nights | Padstow – 3 nights | Wadebridge – 2 nights | Port Issac – 3 nights | Bude – 3 nights
This route will take you right across Cornwall’s north-west coast, exploring the coves and villages between Newquay and Padstow. You’ll explore Port Issac and Boscastle before basing yourself in Bude for a few days and exploring the amazing Bude beaches before heading inland to the Tamar Valley and Liskeard. One final stop will take you to Saltash on the border between Cornwall and Devon before crossing over the Tamar Bridge into Devon to visit the city of Plymouth.
Start your road trip in the seaside resort of Newquay – one of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall. Click here for some amazing things to do in Newquay with kids. Make sure you explore some of the 12 beaches that surround Newquay.
Continue your drive up the north Cornwall coast (B3276) past Mawgan Porth Beach – home of the world-famous Beruthan Hotel. Make sure you visit the Beruthen steps. You’ll then pass Pentire beach and Porthcothan Bay. Continuing up the coast, you’ll pass more stunning beaches, starting with Treyarnon Bay before passing Constantine Bay and Booby’s Bay.
Now you’ve reached Padstow, a smaller town than Newquay but still one of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall. Spend a few days in Padstow, taking in the surroundings and going on day trips to nearby beaches and attractions. Make sure you take the small water taxi to the village of Rock just across the river. View the best things to do in Padstow with kids here or read our top camping and holiday park choices here.
Continue your drive inland towards Wadebridge on the A389 and base yourself here for a few nights, exploring the town and driving to nearby attractions. Head back to the coast and visit the tiny seaside village of Port Issac (A39). Stay here for a few days. Make sure you take a trip to Tintagel and the famous Tintagel castle. View the best things to do in Port Isaac here.
Your next stop is Boscastle (B3314), a small village with beautiful surroundings. At the end of the day, continue on to the town of Bude, your home for the next few days. Make sure you make time for a visit to Summerleaze beach and Widemouth Bay beach – some of the best beaches in Cornwall for families.
After you’ve spent some time exploring Bude, head inland along the A39 to explore the village of Gunnislake in the Tamar Valley area. Next, take a trip to the town of Liskeard via the A390. Your final stop is Saltash (A38), the border between Cornwall and Plymouth. Stop in Plymouth for the final few days of your road trip, exploring the stunning scenery, attractions and nearby day trips.
Combined Road Trip Options
Route 1 + Route 3 – St Ives to Truro
Length – 22 nights
Route 3 + Route 5 – St Ives to Plymouth
Length – 1 month + 2 days