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How to Get to Cornwall

By Car: The easiest way to get to Cornwall is to drive. From the north (depending on where you come from) you’ll take the M6 or M42, from London it’s the M4.

As long as you make it to the M5, you’re on your way to Cornwall. Get on A30 and you’re now on Cornwall’s main road through.

By Train: Depending on where you are coming from and where in Cornwall you are heading to, you’ll most likely be taking a couple of trains with a 4-8 hour journey. Just be prepared and book early to save yourself some money!


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There are plenty of trains from London to Cornwall. All the trains to Cornwall leave from London Paddington with the Great Western Railway.


Looe Beach

Looe Beach


Just a few examples from London Paddington to Cornwall:

Penzance: 5 hours
Newquay: a little over 5 hours
St. Ives: 5 hours
Looe: just over 4 hours
Truro: 4 hours, 30 minutes

I always book my train tickets with, it makes life so much easier, especially if you have to book multiple trains or you have a couple of transfers.


Getting Around – First Time in Cornwall


Driving around Cornwall is an experience. The A30 is FAR from a major motorway and that’s the biggest road in Cornwall. There are plenty of single-track roads with no passing places and blind bends.

If you are a new driver or it’s your first time driving in the UK, I suggest you stick to the larger towns as they tend to have wider roads leading to them.


St. Ives beaches

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives


Always respect the small roads and leave yourself extra time to get to the destination, because the time on your Sat Nav is most likely wrong.

If you don’t have a car then you are limited to where you can explore. BUT don’t let it get you down! Plenty of trains and buses are available to get your fill of Cornwall.

Take a train to Newquay and then hike to the Bedruthan Steps, or head to Looe and take the coastal path to Polperro.


Where to Stay – First Time in Cornwall


Unless you are going to be sticking to one place in Cornwall… (maybe for a romantic getaway or solo soul-searching trip?) find yourself a good hub that’s accessible to a “major” road in Cornwall (A30, A39, A390, A38).

Most of the accommodations in Cornwall are holiday cottages and bed and breakfasts… and it’s not cheap! If you really want to stay in a hotel chain, check out the Premier Inn, they have a few locations scattered around Cornwall and most are budget-friendly.

If you’re dead set on staying next to a beach or a coastal retreat, then pick a place like Newquay (or the nearby Perranporth), Penzance is great for exploring the south, Bude in the north, and Looe in the south east.

Don’t need to be near the sea? Stay at the Jamaica Inn for exploring the north or Helston for the south.


Mevagissey and Portreath

Mevagissey Harbor (left), Fairy Stacks on the beach (right)


Accommodation Suggestions:




Village Wanderlust:



What to do if it’s your first time in Cornwall


Best Beaches in Cornwall


Of course you’re going to the beach during your first time in Cornwall! The county is known for its beautiful beaches, white sand, and turquoise waters.

You can even go hiking on the coastal path and find hidden beaches that are only accessible on foot (I’m looking at you Nanjizal Beach and Pedn Vounder)

The lizard peninsula has some of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall.


Kynance Cove and Nanjizal Beach in Cornwall

Kynance Cove (left), Nanjizal Beach (right)


If it’s your first time in Cornwall, you HAVE to visit Kynance Cove. If you’re visiting in the summer, get there early because the parking lot reaches max capacity by noon, also, make sure you check the tide times, because the cove is only accessible during low tide.

If you’re into wild swimming, then Coverack has a massive bay with mostly calm waters, perfect for a morning swim.

One of my favorite beaches in Cornwall is Trebarwith Strand, it’s an unexpected gem, enclosed by cliffs and rocks. It still gets crowded during the summer, but it’s not as touristy as the major beaches.


First time in Cornwall - beautiful beaches

Trebarwith Strand


If you are traveling with kids, make sure you choose a beach that has lifeguards like Perranporth or Carbis Bay.


Attractions in Cornwall


Not everything is sunning yourself and lounging on the beach in Cornwall.

There are plenty of other attractions to keep you busy for days.

If castles are your thing then visit St. Michael’s Mount (a magical castle on an island off the coast of Marazion) or Tintagel Castle (the birthplace of King Arthur).


St. Michaels Mount

Causeway to St. Michael’s Mount (left), Castle on St. Michael’s Mount (right)


If you like gardens then visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Glendurgan Garden, Trelissick Garden, or the Ultimate garden, the Eden Project (with the two massive biomes, one of which is the largest greenhouse in the world, housing the largest indoor rainforest).

If you’re big on waterfalls, don’t miss out on Golitha Falls or St. Nectan’s Glen!

For historic houses, visit Antony House, Cothele, or Lanhydrock. ALL National Trust properties! (FREE for members!)

The Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre is the perfect way to spend your afternoon if you are a big aviation fan or if you want to spend the hot day drinking in sun, check out Healey’s Cornish Cider Farm.


Tidal Pools


You will run into at least one tidal pool during your first visit to Cornwall.

There are tons of tidal pools or rock pools all over the county. Some are man-made, some are natural and most are only accessible during low tide (obvious reasons).


Perranporth Tidal Pool in Cornwall

Tidal pool in Perranporth


The Bude sea pool is by far the largest of all tidal pools in Cornwall. The pool walls are man-made, but the ocean fills the pool during high tide.

A more chill tidal pool is the one in Mousehole. It’s a short walk from the main area of the village, behind the car park and right below the Rock Pool Cafe.

If you don’t want to get sand in your toes, then visit the Jubilee Pool in Penzance. The good news is this pool is accessible during high tide, the bad news is you have to pay. However, this art deco lido should not go unnoticed.

There’s the main cold pool, but also a geothermal pool. You can book tickets for one or the other or both!


Tidal Pools in Cornwall

Portreath tidal baths (left), Mousehole tidal pool (right)


Perranporth has a great tidal pool that’s only accessible during VERY low tide. You’ll notice a giant rock in the middle of the beach… walk around the back and you’ll find the tidal pool!

Portreath is a little more chill with several “baths” carved out for Lady Frances Bassett on the left side and another tidal pool on the right against the wall; said to be blown out with dynamite.


Picture Perfect Villages


I have an entire post about the prettiest villages in Cornwall, so I’m not going to repeat myself too much *wink*.

Cornwall has some serious Instagram envy when it comes to its coastal villages and I wish I could promise that you would see them all during your first visit to Cornwall, but I don’t think it would be possible! (Because there are so many!!)

You are spoiled for choice!

Just know that most of the cute coastal villages you see when you google ‘Cornwall’ are quite hard to get to. They are normally at the end of a small (VERY small) and winding road.

I’m not going to tell you which villages are the best (because all of them are beautiful and unique), but I’ll give you my list of faves and you can decide.


First time in Cornwall - Cornish Villages

Portloe (left), Cadgwith (center), Boscastle (right)



Villages in Northern Cornwall:

  • Boscastle
  • Tintagel
  • Charlestown
  • Mevagissey
  • Polperro
  • Port Isaac
  • Rock
  • Portloe


Villages in Southern Cornwall

  • Mousehole
  • Lizard
  • Mullion
  • Sennen
  • Coverack
  • Cadgwith


Stunning Towns


Don’t stick to the villages, because the towns are equally picturesque!

If you’re looking for a bustling fishing port with ridiculously fresh fish, then check out Padstow or Looe.

Padstow is the hub for celebrity chefs Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth. Thanks to the fame, it’s made Padstow a trendy restaurant hub, but it also has a very attractive enclosed harbor in the center and unlike most fishing ports in Cornwall, Padstow is on the banks of the Camel River estuary.


View of Looe from the top

Looe, Cornwall


Once a year a charity cricket game is played on the sand bar right outside the harbor (at low tide, of course).

Looe might not have celebrity chef status, but the food more than speaks for itself. Fishing boats are constantly going in and out of the harbor and you can see the catch of the day going from the boat to the restaurant in the morning.

If you ever come across some bad weather in Cornwall (quite possibly), then head straight for Porthleven. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a storm coming to shore, but the pictures and videos I have seen are amazing.

The waves crashing up against the seawall and the clock tower can get massive! If you’re there on a nice day, head to the beach and walk along Loe Bar, a giant sandbar separating Cornwall’s largest freshwater lake from the ocean.

Perranporth is a very family-friendly town, with a massive beach and plenty of restaurants to choose from, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is ‘do you want to eat on the beach’ or ‘the cliff overlooking the beach’.

Make sure you visit during low tide so you can fully experience the huge beach, tidal pool, and caves that get covered up during high tide.


Porthleven and St. Ives in Cornwall

Porthleven (left), St. Ives (right)


If you are looking to purchase some artwork, then look no further than St. Ives, it has become a huge hub for artists trying to make their mark. The white, sandy beaches here are also perfect. The water is a bright, turquoise color (even during cloudy weather) and the drinks are flowing at the Sloop Inn!

Just be aware, that this is one of the most popular places in Cornwall, so during peak times in the summer, you can barely walk on the street without bumping shoulder to shoulder with someone.


Best Hikes


Cornwall has some of the best coastal hikes in the country (considering the UK is an island, that’s a big statement!). If you’re looking for adventure during your first time in Cornwall, then a hike is the perfect choice!

The South West Coastal path is the UK’s longest National Trail that stretches from Minehead in Somerset around Cornwall to Poole in Dorset.

If you’re up for a challenge then the 6-mile hike from St. Ives to Zennor will make you sweat, it’s one of the toughest stretches on the path.



If you’re looking for an easier section, the 2 1/2 stretch from Lizard to Kynance Cove is perfect, especially if you want to relax on the beach and dip your toes in the water after your hike.

Tired of coastal hikes? Then choose one of the circular walks in Bodmin Moor… you can even try your luck with a 60-mile hike on the Copper Trail.


Filming Locations in Cornwall


Some great shows and movies have been filmed in Cornwall.

If you’re a Doc Martin fan, then you can visit the real-life Portwenn! ITV’s Doc Martin was filmed in Port Isaac.

Alice in Wonderland was filmed at Antony House (a National Trust property) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was filmed in St. Ives (apparently Johnny Depp likes The Sloop Inn… #same).


First time in Cornwall - Charlestown and Port Isaac

Charlestown (left), Port Isaac (right)


And Then There Were None was filmed at Kynance Cove and the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon was filmed at St. Michael’s Mount.

If you’re a big Poldark fan, then you’ll know that the entire show was filmed all over Cornwall. Stand-out locations include Porthgwarra, Charlestown, and Holywell Bay.


What and Where to Eat in Cornwall


Cornwall was huge in the mining industry in the 1700s, placing it on the map as a global tin mining hub. Later copper was also mined here. The miners needed a lunch that would keep them going throughout the cold, damp, and long days in the mines, so the Cornish Pasty was born!


Cornish Pasty Cornwall


The pastry is packed with meat and veggies, the perfect lunch on-the-go lunch in Cornwall!

If you’re not in any rush, then grab a Cornish Cream Tea… it’s a pot of tea with scones, clotted cream, and jam. Just make sure you put your cream and jam on the scone in the correct order! The Cornish way is jam first, then the cream!

Jamaica Inn is one of the most haunted places in Cornwall and a great restaurant!! Always pre-book because it gets super busy for lunch and try the Cornish Pasty, you’ll thank me later! Oh, and yes, this is the famous Jamaica Inn in Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name.

The tiny Smugglers Cott in Looe is one of my favorite seafood pubs and Rick Stein’s St. Petroc’s Bistro in Padstow is my favorite seafood splurge (my second favorite splurge is Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac)!


First time in Cornwall - what to eat


You can get some of the best fish and chips in the south at the Ship Inn at Mousehole (definitely pre-book!).

One of my favorite “just chill” restaurants is The Waterfront in Perranporth… American style food *TONS of hot dogs and loaded fries*, a great selection of drinks, and the staff is more than stellar.

If you want something different, then head to Liskeard and grab some authentic Nepalese food at the Himalayan Spice.

Planning a visit to Cornwall for the first time? Where are you heading? Lemme know in the comments below!



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