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Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary [with logistics + practical tips]

Are you planning a road trip around the beautiful English county of Cornwall? Use our Cornwall road trip itinerary with destination information, travel tips and more to help plan your own perfect trip

There is so much to see and do in Cornwall it really is essential to plan your Cornwall road trip itinerary carefully if you want to include your ‘must-see’ places.

Booking tickets, checking tides and making reservations at accommodation plus taking into consideration travel times, where to park and what to pack are just some of the considerations when planning a Cornwall road trip.

This article is a summary of our Cornwall road trip itinerary from summer 2022 (with around 16 hours of daylight*) As you follow through with our itinerary you will notice that we have added a couple of options to help you choose your own must-see places.

We have also included an approx idea of the time and distance between places we drove to and also a link to the Automobile Association map of the drive with an approximate time to allow for your journey. (Times do not include additional times for stopping off along the route)

*During winter months travel daylight hours are reduced to approximately 8 hours.

Note – We actually started and ended our road trip around Cornwall in the neighbouring county of Devon as Doug wanted to ride on the Dartmoor train line from Crediton to Okehampton. This line reopened after being closed for 50 years. Also on our penultimate day, we returned again to South Devon to ride on the Dartmouth Steam Railway.

Prefer to avoid driving as much as possible (or even at all) in Cornwall why not book a private driver-guided tour for one day, two days or more with Meneage Tours? Our preferred partners Meneage Tours offer a wide range of tours and can organise a bespoke tour with you to make the most of your time in Cornwall. Click here for more information!

Day 1 – Exeter – Clovelly – Tintagel – Bodmin Moor

Start – Exeter

Visited – Clovelly, Tintagel

End – Bodmin Moor

We took the train to Exter St David’s train station from Salisbury and spent the evening in Exeter before picking up a hire car mid-morning from outside the train station.

The car we selected to hire was a small SUV.

Exeter to Clovelly

Clovelly 1
  • This is an easy drive with increasing rural beauty
  • Park at the top of the village at the visitor centre in a pay/display car park (Card payment)
  • 1h 32 drive along the A377 road
  • 52.8 miles (83.4 km) distance

Visitor Information & things to do in Clovelly

  • The harbour village is privately owned and does not allow vehicle transport through the steep cobbled streets.
  • The cost of entrance to the village is £8.50* for an adult
  • Note: Wear comfortable shoes because the path is steep, cobbled and in places a bit slippery when walking.
  • A land rover operates to take you back up the steep hill, £3.50 per adult*
  • Explore the:
    • Craft workshops
    • Donkey Sanctuary
    • Fishermans Cottage & Kingsley Museum (Charles Kingsley wrote his famous book, ‘The Water Babies’ here)
  • Visit the pub at the harbour called the Snug & Harbour for a drink and some lunch.

(*Feb 2023)

Clovelly to Tintagel

Statue of King Arthur at Tintagel.
  • Drive to Tintagel via the A39 road
  • This is a leisurely drive along the coastline into Cornwall.
  • If you wish you can stop off at Boscastle, a beautiful village reached by turning onto the B3263 road at Trengune (well sign-posted) and visit the museum of witchcraft and magic.
  • In Tintagel park at one of several pay and display car parks.
  • I hr via the A39 road.
  • 35.2 miles (56.6 km)

Visitor Information and Top Things to do in Tintagel

  • Pay and display car parks, not all take bank cards, the one we parked at took £1 coins.
  • The car parks were very busy when we visited but we found by driving through the village we found a quieter car park.
  • Visit Tintagel Castle and Merlin’s Cave, both associated with the legendary King Arthur.
    • Merlin’s Cave and the nearby headland can be accessed for free.
    • Visit the King Arthur statue, accessible over the footbridge and at the headland.
  • NOTE: The walk down the hill is a bit steep in places so wear good footwear.
  • Refreshments/toilets are at the bottom of the hill.
  • A transport service offers a ride back up the hill at a cost.

Tintagel – Bodmin Moor

Gate on Bodmin Moor.
  • Accommodation on Bodmin Moor – Shepherds Hut. Blackthorn Cottage PL30 4NS
  • 45 mins
  • 19.7 miles (31.7 km)

Shepherds Hut

We decided to stay somewhere a bit different!  Also somewhere a little remote but still relatively central in north east Cornwall and somewhere with easy access to the A30 and other parts of Cornwall.

We particularly enjoyed the quietness and the regular sight of Bodmin moor ponies, sheep and cows,  not to mention all manner of bird species and the most amazing clear night views of the stars.

Click for more information about the Bodmin Moor Shepherd’s Hut

Day 2 – Bodmin Moor – St Michael’s Mount – Mousehole – Porthcurno (Beach/Minack Theatre) – Land’s End – St Ives

Start – Bodmin Moor

Visited – St Michael’s Mount, Mousehole, Porthcurno, Minack Theatre, Land’s End, St Ives

End – Bodmin Moor

Bodmin Moore to St Michael’s Mount (Marazion)

  • Bodmin Moor – From the Shepherds Hut drive to Marazion in West Cornwall on the shoreline of Mounts Bay. 
  • We left plenty of time for this drive to arrive at the car park overlooking Mounts Bay to be sure of parking the car before catching the boat we had booked to take us the ½ mile boat ride to St Michael’s Mount.
  • We needed cash for this pay and display car park.  
  • I h 15 mins via A30
  • 54.4 miles (87.5 km)

Visitor Information and Top Things to do in St Michaels Mount.

  • Walk or catch a boat to St Michaels Mount (island) – check tide times and crossing times
  • Crossing by foot on the ancient causeway takes around 15 to 20 mins to cover the ½ mile to the island and time spent on the island is anything from around 2 hours.
    • We spent about 3 to 4 hours on a hot sunny day exploring the gardens and the castle before taking refreshments in the lovely cafe.
  • NOTE. The castle and the gardens are separate tickets.
  • Castle – This was first a Priory then a castle and from around the 1600’s the home of the St Aubyn family.
  • Gardens – Terraced sloping gardens with plants that benefit from the amazing local micro-climate on the island.

Marazion to Mousehole

  • Drive to Mousehole from Marazion- stay off for a look around or drive through, 
  • 20 mins via A30 and B3315
  • 8.1 miles (13 km)

Visitor Information and top things to do in Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel).

  • A beautiful, picturesque fishing village around 4 km (2.5miles) from Penzance on the shore of Mounts Bay, Cornwall that dates back to the 13th Century.
  • Enjoy the narrow streets, the harbour walls and the beautiful fishing village cottages. Take care, some of the streets are steep to walk!
  • Rich literary past, termed, “the loveliest village in England” by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
  • See the harbour and take a boat cruise trip or visit the famous Ship inn for lunch, often visited by Dylan Thomas.
  • A vast array of cafes and shops are available, and a must to try is the Cornish ‘Stargazy pie’ made from herrings or pilchards (sardines), eggs and potatoes under shortcrust pastry. 
  • Local walks exploring the local coves and pathways are a popular visitor past time, including the walk to Newlyn and Penlee.
  • Parking is not easy in this popular village, and with the one way traffic system and narrow streets, particularly in Spring and Summer this area can be very very busy.
    • We passed through quite quickly as we were unable to find a parking space.
  • Parking is available in Quay street and the harbour walls.

Mousehole to Porthcurno

Porthcurno 1 1
  • Drive to and explore Porthcurno and Porthcurno beach from Mousehole.  This drive took about 45 mins because of the traffic congestion and narrow roads on the approach to Porthcurno.
  • 26 mins via B3315
  • 8.6 miles (13.9 km)

Visitor Information and Top Things to do in and around Porthcurno and Porthcurno beach.

  • Beautiful scenic and greatly photographed far South West Cornish coastal village and beach.
  • Famous for golden sandy family beach and blue waters.
  • Easily reachable along a sandy path 250 yards from a pay-and-display car park.
  • Overlooked by granite cliffs on both sides of the beach, including on the west side the famous open-air Minack Theatre.
  • Minack Theatre is carved into the granite cliffs and set in beautiful gardens that overlook the Porthcurno Bay.
  • Allo plenty of time for this drive, because of the narrow roads and the traffic congestion to Porthcurno and the Minack Theatre (there was a show on that afternoon), the journey took about 45 mins to drive and then we had to wait for a car parking space too.
  • Nearby are multiple beaches and coves including the Logan Rock and the 16th Century pub The Logan Rock Inn.

Minack Theatre

Minack Theatre 2
  • Drive to and visit (if showing) a performance at the Minack Theatre
  • 4 mins via signposted route
  • 0.6 miles (0.9 km)

Minack Theatre to Land’s End

Lands End
  • Drive to Lands End and visitor centre. A short drive, a large amount of parking is available with payment at a kiosk on the entry to the large car park. Entry to the visitor centre is free.
  • 14 mins via B3315
  • 4.1 miles (13.9 km)

Visitor Information and Top Things to do at the Lands End visitor Centre.

  • Land’s End is the westerly headland in Cornwall and a popular location for visitors to have their photo taken at the signpost showing the distances to global locations.  Visitors can pay to have professional photos taken with their home location on the signpost.
  • Also popular with visitors planning to also visit the most Northerly point of mainland Great Britain at John O Groats in Scotland.
  • Visitor attractions at the centre include cafes and kiosks for food and drink including the First & Last Inn, a 17th Century smugglers bar but now a great place with excellent food and real Ales.
  • Other attractions include the Experience Ticket, Aardman presents, A Grand Experience as well as an array of gift shops.

Land’s End to St Ives

Drive to St Ives

By this time of the day (late afternoon), we decided to drive the coastal B3306 road to St Ives to enjoy a leisurely drive on a summer afternoon and enjoy the scenery.  

Whilst driving we passed local historic attractions dating back to the Cornish Tin mining heritage. 

Included below are the two route options, one to reflect a direct drive to St Ives and the second to stop off at one or both of the attractions. As detailed below we had not booked either attraction in advance having already decided it would be too much of a rush to visit on this trip…. definitely on our next visit.


  •  If following our itinerary if you choose Option 2 you will have to allocate sufficient time to the attractions. 
  • See below for opening times and note both Levant Mine and Beam Engine and Geevor Tin Mine are by pre-booked tours only.

Option A – Drive to St Ives via coast road B3306

  • 40 mins via B3306
  • 20 miles (32.1 km)

Option B – Drive to St Ives via coast road B3306 and stop off at the Geevor Tin mine and the Levant Mine and Beam Engine at Pendeen near St Just].

  • 51 mins via B3306- Plus additional time to explore if chosen (we did not have time on this visit but will definitely visit on our next road trip around Cornwall)
  • 21.8 miles (35.1 km)

Levant Mine and Beam Engine (National Trust)

  • Open all year round.
  • Appears in the BBC series Poldark, doubling up as Tessiders Rolling Mill.
  • The only Cornish Beam Engine (in the original location) that is still working.
  • Steam engine is dated from around the 1840’s.
  • OpeningTimes- Monday and Wednesdays ONLY.
    • Open 1030 until 3pm
    • Tour only. Takes around 1 hour.
    • Cost £11 (2023) for non National Trust members.
  • Site of a mining disaster in 1919.

Geevor Tin Mine (Privately owned)

  • Open all year round
  • Only a 10 minute walk along the coastal path from the Levant Mine and Beam Engine.
  • OpeningTimes- Sundays to Thursdays ONLY.
    • Open 9 am until 4 pm
    • Tour only. Takes around 1 hour.
    • Visitors usually spend around 2 hours visiting.
    • Cost £17.70 (2023)
  • Refreshments on site – Count House Cafe

St Ives to Bodmin Moor

  • For visitor information and top things to do in St Ives see Day 4
  • Drive from St Ives to Bodmin Moor
  • Shepherds Hut. Blackthorn Cottage PL30 4NS
  • I h 13 mins via A30
  • 54.4 miles (87.5 km)

Day 3 – Bodmin Moor – Lost Gardens of Heligan – Looe – Jamaica Inn

Start – Bodmin Moor

Visited – Lost Gardens of Heligan, Looe, Jamaica Inn

End – Jamaica Inn (Bodmin Moor)

  • Bodmin Moor Shepherds Hut (Blackthorn Cottage PL30 4NS) and drive to the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey on the Cornish coast.
  • 49 mins via A30
  • 26.5 miles (42.6 km).

Visitor Information and Top Things to see at the Lost Gardens Of Heligan and nearby.

  • 19th Century Victorian restored gardens in the gardenesque style set in 200 acres.
    • Open daily (except 24th/25th December).
    • Opens 10 am until 5 pm.
    • Cost from £18.50 for an adult.
  • Features of the Gardens
    • Giants Head
    • Mud Maid
    • Grey Lady
    • Woodland Walk.
    • Visit the shop and enjoy lunch at the Heligan Kitchen cafe.
  • Surrounding Area attractions include:
    • Eden Project  – Cornwall.  Globed gardens enclosed within tropical biomes.
    • Mevagissey and Bay – Beautiful harbour and fishing village.

Train Ride to Looe

Train to Looe
  • Drive to Liskeard train station to catch the train for the short train ride to Looe. Really easy to park the car at the train station which was a pay/display car park.  Paid with a card, really easy with no problems.
  • NOTE: There are 2 parts to the train station, one for the main train line and a separate part for the Looe Valley branch line to Looe. 
  • 49 mins via A390
  • 26 miles (41.8km)

Visitor Information and top things to do in Looe

  • Liskeard to Looe by train.
    • Approx 30mins, direct service, approx cost £10 for an adult return ticket. 
    • We checked the time of the return train to make sure we could get back easily.
  • Looe – A popular Victorian destination of Looe with a rich fishing heritage providing the usual array of seaside town shops, restaurants, amusements and individual boutique shops.  
  • A town of two halves separated by a bridge over the tidal River Looe. We explored the harbour area and the famous Banjo peer during our time here and of course had an ice cream and sat and enjoyed the afternoon relaxed beach atmosphere and luckily on this day, a hot sunny summer’s day.

Liskeard to Jamaica Inn (Bodmin Moor)

The Lost Gardens of Heligan 5
  • Drive from Liskeard train station to Jamaica Inn and Museum on Bodmin Moor via the B3254 road.
  • (Jamaica Inn made famous from the 1936 book by Daphne Du Maurier, the Inn dates back to 1750 when it was a coaching Inn) – We had dinner and drink here too.
  • 25 mins via B3254
  • 11.2 miles (18.1 km)
  • Drive from Jamaica Inn to Shepherds Hut (Blackthorn Cottage PL30 4NS on Bodmin Moor) a tranquil, beautiful scenic road, be careful of the wild ponies and the sheep, both may be on the road and as we found just around a bend in the road, so take it slowly!
  • 15 mins via A30
  • 8 miles (12.8 km)

Day 4 – Bodmin Moor – St Ives

Start – Bodmin Moor

Visited – St Ives

End – Bodmin Moor

St Ives –  We decided on this day to visit St Ives to spend longer there after only passing through on Day 2 and being train lovers, made a last minute decision to take the train from St Austell instead of driving. Also part of this consideration was that we might encounter difficulty in parking the car at this very popular seaside town.

Included below are the two route options, one to reflect a to St Ives and the second is the train option from St Austell. We had not booked any train tickets or reserved any seats in advance but this presented no issues at all as St Austell is a staffed train station.


  •  If following our itinerary, if you choose Option 2 you will have to allocate sufficient time in your plans to find car parking in St Ives or as a further alternative park the car at St Erth and catch the train for the short train ride to St Ives.

Option – 1 St Austell to St Ives by train.

Drive to St Austell train station and park the car (pay and display, pay with card at the ticket machine). Paid parking for the day.

  • 36 mins via A30 and A391 roads
  • 21 miles (33 km)
  • Approx 1 hr 15 mins train journey, with one train change at St Erth, approx cost £12 for an adult return ticket. 
  • We made sure to check the time of the return train to make sure we could get back easily.

Carbis Bay

On the return we also stopped off the train at /Carbis bay for a look around, this has a very steep down to the bay from the train station and an even steeper climb back up!

The return journey was straightforward and relaxing. 

Option – 2  Do not catch the train but drive to St Ives from the Shepherds Hut

Drive from Bodmin Moor to St Ives.

  • Ih 14 mins via A30
  • 56.4 miles (90.8 km)
  • NOTE – Return drive to the Shepherds hut with a stop at the beautiful Carbis Bay.
  • Time and distance as above but remember to allow time to explore the Carbis Bay area, stop off at the popular Carbis Bay hotel for a meal or afternoon tea.

Visitor Information and things to do in St Ives

  • Tate, St Ives
  • Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.
  • In St Ives, we had some of the very best fish we have ever tasted at the Harbour Fish and Chip shop.
  • Porthmeor Beach.
  • Carbis Bay beach.
  • Boat trip to seal island
  • Read more – Things to do in St Ives

Day 5 – Bodmin Moor – Port Isaac – Padstow

Start – Bodmin Moor

Visited – Port Isaac & Padstow

End – Bodmin Moor

Drive from the Shepherds Hut to Port Isaac on the North Cornwall Atlantic coast.

  • 44 mins via A30 and B3267
  • 19 miles (30.6 km)

Visitor Information and top things to do in Port Isaac

  • Port Isaac is the village where the popular TV program Doc Martin is filmed when the fishing village becomes Portwenn. 
  • We parked at the top of the village and walked down the hill, explored all the known filming locations and walked back up the hill via the cliff-top walk.
  • Drive from Port Isaac to Padstow further around the north Cornwall coast.
  • 31 mins via A39 and A389 roads
  • 15.7 miles (25.3 km)
Port Isaac 2
Doc Martin’s house

Visitor Information and things to do in Padstow

  • Explore the harbour area and had some of the famous fish and chips from the popular TV Rick Stein owned restaurant,
  • Drive back to the Shepherds hut on Bodmin Moor, stopping off to explore the Moor area and take in the natural beauty of the moor and to stop off for some photographs along the way.  A relaxing leisurely drive.
  • 32 mins via A39 and A389 roads
  • 16.9 miles (27.2 km)

Day 6 – Bodmin Moor – Paignton – Dartmouth

Start – Bodmin Moor

Visited – Paignton, Dartmoor

End – Bodmin Moor

  • Drive from the Shepherds hut to Paignton (in South Devon) to take the Dartmouth Steam Railway and also taking in a boat trip across the River Dart.
  • A longish drive and a day that can be replaced with an alternative itinerary option if steam trains are not your thing. Consider exploring the south Cornish villages of Fowey and Polperro instead.
  • Paignton – We took the drive conscious of the need to arrive 30 minutes before the train departed to collect our booked tickets and also to allow time to find car parking.
  • 1H 42 mins via A30 road.
  • 74.1 miles (119.3 km)

Dartmouth Steam Railway

Dartmouth Steam Train
  • The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company is based in the South of the county of Devon, the neighbouring county to Cornwall, and is an incredibly popular attraction that includes steam trains with a coastal view, a boat trip on the River Dart and also a lovely paddle Steamer.
  • We caught the early train at 10 am from Paignton train station, the Steam Railway station next to the national rail station.
  • Multiple tickets are on offer but we chose the ’steam train’ option which included the train to and from Kingswear and also the ferry to and from Dartmouth.
  • Unfortunately on our day of travel, the weather was very hot, dry and sunny so for safety reasons the steam train locomotive was replaced with a diesel locomotive. Still an incredible experience.
  • Dartmouth – From here the Pilgrim Fathers departed for the new world in 1620.
  • For more information click here

Dartmouth to Bodmin Moor

  • Return drive to Bodmin Moor Shepherds Hut (Blackthorn Cottage PL30 4NS) as per reversed earlier journey or consider a return via a different route.  
  • We took a longer route through the Dartmoor National Park (still in Devon) back to the Shepherds hut.
  • Ih 56 mins via B3357 
  • 65 miles (91 km)

Day 7 – Bodmin Moor – Exeter

Bodmin Moor 3

Start – Bodmin Moor

End – Exeter

Drive from the Shepherds hut to Exeter in Devon to return the hire car. We allowed plenty of time for this, not forgetting to fill the car up with petrol before returning the car.

  • 1h 5 mins via A30 road.
  • 59.4 miles (95.6 km)

Tips & lessons learned during our 7 day Cornwall road trip itinerary

Although we planned each and every day of this road trip itinerary thoroughly we still had to make adjustments along the way.

A few tips to consider based on our trip

  • Allow plenty of time to park.
  • Carry change for parking meters (though not all accept cash)
  • Roads can be narrow, single file, and livestock on the roads so be careful!
  • Book meals even at pubs especially for evenings and weekends.

Although we had planned to drop off our hire car at Exeter St Davids we had a change of plan and continued to Newbury for the next stage of our journey a visit to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) Read more about visiting Highclere!