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Cornwall Visit questions

Where is the best place to stay in Cornwall? What is the best way to travel there from London? What is the best things to do if we stay in Penzance?

Posted by
7195 posts

We had a great trip to Cornwall planned for last year but it had to cancel because of COVID19. I did a lot of research and booked in a small hotel in Truro.

We were planning for this trip when many would be on the road and we decided to book our rental car out of Exeter and take the train from Heathrow to Exeter, spend a couple of days and pickup the rental car at the end of our time in Exeter.

Posted by
15118 posts

Surfdoc, people could more easily answer your questions if you say why you are interested in Cornwall in the first place. Cornwall is a large area and the “best” place to stay for you depends on your wants and needs. Are you thinking of driving or do you want to stick to public transportation (train, bus and taxi?

Also, what time of year?

Posted by
220 posts


I went in March of 2019. I traveled there via flight into Newquay (newkey) (1 hour), and then took a car and drove to Marazion (which they call Marazine). You could also potentially go by train (though this takes longer- around 5.5 hours). I opted to stay in Marazion, since I wanted to see St.Michael's Mount (built by the same monks that did the one in France- although this one is smaller) and then we drove around to Penzance and St.Ives. I stayed there for 3 nights at the Marazion Hotel. They had a good sized lot and were great. Very friendly, good breakfasts, you can walk to places nearby. After that I drove to Saltash and stayed at Pentille (amazing! Super awesome owner who was very attentive and helped us after a lovely diesel spill on jeans and some boots-- he even volunteered to take them somewhere if we wanted but cleaned them himself). And then I stayed in Bridport at a farmstay (meh). Penzance itself is kind of boring unless you go in the summer and plan to take a boat to the scilly isles for a day or two. I would say Penzance is a VERY tiny town. I expected it to be like St.Ives. Things to do in Penzance include walking around by the water and harbor area (it has some great views out)- or you could hop a bus (more likely) and go to Porthcurno and the Penwith heritage coast.

One thing that is not to be missed in Penzance is a restaurant called Mermaid Alley- (but make a dinner reservation in advance). We LOVED it there and went back and out of our way to eat there a second time it was so fabulous. Nearish to Penzance is the Trengwainton Garden. You can probably catch a bus to it. Its a national heritage site.

Hope this helps a bit.

Posted by
5818 posts

It’s been years since we visited Cornwall, but when we did we stayed in Truro and Tintagel. We had a rental car and went to Cornwall after using Bath as a base for day trips.

Posted by
6113 posts

There is no quick way to get to Cornwall from London. Flights are sporadic at present, so your options are train or drive.

Cornwall is best avoided during the school summer holidays - when would you be visiting? I would also avoid St Ives, Rock, Padstow and Port Isaac (far too busy and touristy) and would stay in Truro, Fowey or Mevagissey (also touristy, but not as bad). My actual preference would be to stay in Devon rather than Cornwall - easier to get to from London.

Penzance is a long way south from much of the county. What do you want to see in Cornwall? It’s a 6 hour train journey door to door to say Truro from London, so I would want at least 5 days there to be worth the hassle of getting there. You would benefit from hiring a car when you get there.

Posted by
25588 posts

Travel within Cornwall isn't particularly rapid even if you have a rental car, and traffic within the little towns can be nightmarish. It's not easy to see a great deal of that area from a single base, and I agree it's not a good idea to go there for a short visit because of the travel time from London.

Cornwall doesn't have enough restaurants to meet the demand during busy periods. It's critical to make dinner reservations unless you'll be satisfied with dinner from a fish-and-chips truck eaten on a bench--in which case be prepared to fight off the seagulls.

Posted by
79 posts

The clever way to get to Cornwall for Americans is (or was) via Dublin and then short flight down to Newquay Airport. Unfortunately the regular Aer Lingus service was operated by the recently defunct Stobart Air. Covid put them under. Hopefully Aer Lingus will get a new regional partner and reopen the service. Speaking to locals there they liked the service and the option of flights out of Dublin versus distant Heathrow.

Posted by
99 posts

Great Western from London to Penzance. However I'd do research and make sure you really want to go to Penzance as it's quite a hike from London

Posted by
167 posts

And of course you will research the cheapest train ticket by using the Trainline website,
I preorder using my Visa card and pick up the actual tickets at the station dispensing machine (under [prepaid tickets').
This month my younger sister ordered my ticket on her laptop, and had the Devon hotel print it off on A4 paper.
It still costs a fortune to travel by train in the UK. See if any new bus lines open up. Europe has Flixbus now.
As noted, Cornwall and Devon are very crowded in the summer. After Brexit and Covid, Brits are even more UK bound.

Posted by
470 posts

Do not use Traintrain, they are a third party seller who charge a fee. Always best to buy from any of the Train Operating Companies
Great Western operate the route to Penzance and i am seeing Advance Single Fares from £39.10 Paddington to Penzance
Depending of make up and age of your party you may benefit from one on the Rail Cards which give a third off journeys
see for information on rail travel in UK

Posted by
418 posts

If you wish to break up the trip from London to Cornwall you could take the train to Plymouth, stay at the Holiday Inn by Plymouth Hoe area by the ferris wheel with views of the sea and then rent a car from there. The Barbican area in Plymouth has the Mayflower steps, great pasties, Sutton Harbor, and the Promenade on the Sound. You could continue on and stay inexpensively at the Premier Inn in Bodmin and see the Landydrock Estate which is part of the National Trust and well worth a visit in central Cornwall. The Bedruthan Steps and Mawgan Porth are pretty areas on the coast. The Falcon Inn Restaurant in St. Mawgan has great food. Truro would be another good place to stay. We stayed at the Carlyon Bay Hotel in St Austell which is very nice, but more expensive. We have not been to Penzance.

Posted by
3576 posts


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