Heading to Cornwall, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place!
Cornwall is the peninsula that sticks out from southwest England. Famed for some of England’s most beautiful beaches, it’s a charming county that has a culture and atmosphere all of its own – in fact, many locals and tourists think that it deserves the same country status as Wales and Scotland.
Away from the beaches, there are so many more amazing places to visit in this country. Mine tours, smuggling history, moor walks and learning about Cornwall’s uniqueness as a county of England could all be a part of your Cornwall itinerary. But, with such a vast amount of activities, it’s unsurprising that you might feel a little overwhelmed.
So, I’m helping you out and putting together a one week Cornwall itinerary. This Cornwall road trip itinerary takes in the beaches, the culture, the food, and the interior landscapes of this spectacular part of the country.
How long do I need for Cornwall?
There are thousands of things to do in Cornwall. This Cornwall itinerary will take a week, and it’s pretty jam-packed, but you can extend it to two weeks or more if you prefer a more relaxed trip, especially if you are visiting Cornwall in the summer and want more beach time. Of course, if you have more time, you can customise this Cornwall itinerary to however long you want!
Where to stay in Cornwall
I will recommend somewhere to stay each night, but if changing your accomodation every day isn’t your idea of a relaxing Cornwall itinerary, you do have a few options.
It takes around two hours to drive from one side of Cornwall to another, so if you don’t mind driving, you can stay in two or three places rather than somewhere different every night.
You could either stay somewhere central-ish, like Truro, and be ok with driving a few hours some days. Truro is a nice city, but it’s not one of Cornwall’s best destinations, and it’s not by the beach – so there are some drawbacks to staying here for an entire week.
Or, you could stay on the north coast for half the week – somewhere central like Newquay would be ideal – and then on the south coast for the other half of the week, for example, in Penzance or the nearby village of Mousehole. You might need to change accommodation for your last day, but you could stay in Plymouth just over the Devon border and then backtrack to complete the last few towns on this Cornwall itinerary.
7 Days in Cornwall Itinerary
Day One: Bude to Bodmin
Today, we’ll travel from Bude, right near the northern border with Devon, to Bodmin, Cornwall’s old county town. You’ll mainly explore the coastline, but we’ll see some moorland as well!
Start in Bude, a small, chilled-out town in the northeastern corner of Cornwall, just over the border from North Devon. You can check out my North Devon road trip itinerary here – it’s worth adding on this part of the country too if you have time!
Bude has a pleasant town centre and lots of beautiful beaches. The highlights include:
- The laid back Summerleaze Beach, with the Bude Sea Pool, a great place for stand up paddle boarding or swimming in calm waters.
- Bude Castle, which is more of a mansion that looks like a castle, and was home to Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, a Cornish inventor. It’s now a museum dedicated to his creations, with some exhibits about Bude town as well.
- Bude Canal, which is a beautiful stretch to walk along just by town.
- Widemouth Bay Beach, which is just to the west of Bude. You can drive here easily from the town. It’s one of the best beaches in the area – think panoramic views from the clifftop above, where you can see for miles in all directions, and rough and wild Atlantic shores.
A small community and beach near Boscastle, Crackington Haven is another beautiful spot to visit. The sweeping beach is lovely for a walk, and there are a couple of pubs with great views!
This National Trust owned natural harbour and village is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Cornwall. The natural harbour is an incredibly photogenic spot, and you can have a lovely walk along the canal and coast. Also in Boscastle is the Museum of Witchcraft – currently closed due to COVID but hopefully opening soon!
For more information, check out my things to do in Boscastle guide.
Sat on a rocky outcrop against the crashing sea, Tintagel Castle is an English Heritage property that was supposedly where King Arthur was born. The two parts of the castle are now connected and accessible for the first time in 500 years, so there’s never been a better time to visit!
With a ticket, you’ll be able to cross the bridge, see the island and explore the remains of the 13th century castle.
Beware that during strong winds, the castle may close. If this happens, you’ll get a full refund from English Heritage.
Port Isaac is a beautiful traditional Cornish village to stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere.
It found fame as it became the fictional village of Portwenn in Doc Martin. The highlights of this village include a Doc Martin tour, snapping a photo outside of Doc Martin’s doctor’s house and seeing the school where Louisa works – which is now a restaurant and hotel.
Even if you’re not a fan of the Doc, there’s plenty of other things to do in Port Isaac. You can hike to above the village to enjoy the view, take a sea safari to see the Cornish coastline and dine at one of the many restaurants in the village.
To read more about Port Isaac, including where to park, what to do, and where to eat, check out my things to do in Port Isaac guide.
Polzeath is another small Cornish village where you can enjoy beaches, surf, and great food. If you want to have a surfing lesson, Polzeath may be the place; it’s got a massive beach with great waves, and lots of surf schools including Surfs Up Surf School.
Trevibban Mill Vineyard
It’s a little known fact that Cornwall actually has some excellent wineries. Trevibban Mill Vineyard offers tours on Wednesday at 4pm, and Thursday and Saturday at 3pm. It’s well worth the tour if you can visit then; it’s £15 per head, and you spend an hour learning about the vineyard and its processes and get to sample 5 different types of wines.
If you’re not around on these days or at this time, you can still visit the vineyard and do a wine tasting any time. There is a restaurant on-site if you want to have some bar snacks or even a late lunch or early dinner!
Finish your day in the town of Bodmin. You’ll be seeing the highlights of the town and moor tomorrow, so don’t worry about exploring too much today! If you didn’t eat at the winery or elsewhere, there are a few restaurants for dinner in Bodmin – you could have a curry at Viraj, or get some classic pub grub at The Weavers.
Where to stay in Bodmin
Priory Cottage Bed and Breakfast is a homely, comfortable B&B with large rooms and friendly staff. Enjoy a freshly cooked breakfast when you stay here, and be in a fantastic location for Bodmin town. Click here for rates and to reserve your spot.
The bright and cheerful Westberry Hotel has clean, comfortable en-suite rooms and a steak and Thai restaurant on site. It’s also in Bodmin town, so is a great location to enjoy both the museums and attractions of the town and the surrounding area. Click here for rates and to reserve your spot.
Waterside Cornwall is located in nearby Lanivet. If you want a more rural place to stay near Bodmin, these self-contained chalets are perfect! I would recommend staying in these if you have an extra day on your Cornwall itinerary and want somewhere to relax and chill out. Click here for rates and to reserve your spot.
Day Two: Bodmin Moor and Town
Today, we’ll check out all of the best things to do in Bodmin!
This is probably the spookiest part of Cornwall – today, you’ll traverse the moor, learn about Cornwall’s smuggling history, and take a tour of one of the most famous prisons in the country.
Keep yer wits about you, and enjoy your day!
Hike on Bodmin Moor
Most people don’t think of a brooding, enigmatic moorland when they think of Cornwall, but Bodmin Moor has actually sculpted the lives of Cornish people for centuries.
To get an idea of the wildness of it, why not spend a morning hiking on the moors? This walk takes you to its two highest points (the two highest in all of Cornwall), and is around 8 km.
Or, if you want something shorter, there’s a whole range of options here. Most of these starting points can be very easily drove to from Bodmin town.
Jamaica Inn for lunch
Jamaica Inn is a hotel with history. Located on Bodmin Moor, it’s the home of the Cornish smuggling museum and the Daphne Du Maurier Museum. It’s also an atmospheric place to have lunch (they do a great veggie pie and mash) and enjoy some local Cornish beers.
Jamaica Inn gained a reputation amongst smugglers as a safe haven to stay at when they were journeying from the south coast to the border with Devon. Police generally wouldn’t bother coming to the wild moors (there were no roads here then) and therefore, Jamaica Inn turned into a smuggler’s delight.
It was also made famous when a certain Daphne Du Maurier stayed here. She wrote Jamaica Inn, a story about some of the awful impacts smuggling could have on people, based on the hotel.
Nowadays, the hotel retains a lot of its history, while serving great food and offering comfortable rooms to guests.
Bodmin Military Museum
This museum focuses on all of the wars that the Cornish regiment has been a part of over the centuries. It tells some interesting stories, including a very thought provoking discussion of PTSD in soldiers.
There’s also a collection of guns and a piece of the Berlin Wall! If you’ve got some free time in Bodmin, it’s definitely worth checking out for an hour or so.
Another rather creepy attraction in Bodmin is its jail. Reopened in 2020, this jail was a model for other Victorian jails around the country, and was the first to provide heating and slightly more comfort to its prisoners – although they were still subject to gruelling punishments and unjust sentences.
A Bodmin Jail tour takes you on an immersive experience, with 3D video demonstrating some of the real life crimes people committed in Victorian Cornwall.
A word of warning, though – some of the content could be upsetting, particularly if you are triggered by hangings. I wouldn’t recommend this tour for someone who could find this topic upsetting, or for children under the age of about 13.
Check out my full Bodmin jail tour review for more information.
Spend another night at your accommodation in Bodmin. If you fancy a nightcap, the Hole in the Wall pub is the site of the debtor’s prison that was used before the Bodmin Jail was made.
Day 3: Bodmin to St Ives
Padstow is a beautiful beach town, but also home to a backdrop of beautiful countryside. At Padstow, you can check out the harbour, enjoy some of the Cornish classics on sale, check out Prideux Place – an Elizabethan manor house – and cycle along the Camel Trail. There are also some excellent restaurants in Padstow, including the Michelin Starred Paul Ainsworth at No 6.
These rock formations are one of those areas of Cornwall that make you think ‘I could so easily be in the Med right now…’. The granite stacks and stumps punctuate a gloriously blue sea – it’s a beautiful coastal walk around the area!
You can stop off here briefly, or take a picnic and enjoy the view. Unfortunately, you can’t walk down to the beach at the moment, as the steps to the cove have been deemed unsafe. However, you certainly can enjoy the view from above!
One of the most popular towns to visit in Cornwall, Newquay is home to beautiful beaches, plenty of restaurants, bars, and pubs, and a heck of a lot of surfing schools. If you haven’t surfed yet, now might be your chance!
It’s also worth checking out Fistral Beach, Newquay’s most famous and popular sandy spot.
Here are some of the best things to do in Newquay and a guide on where to stay in Newquay, if you fancy spending the night here!
A beautiful village dotted with pubs, bars and restaurants, Perranporth is one of the best small settlements along this stretch of coastline.
Be sure to check out its sweeping waterfront, and if you’re a cider fan, the Healey’s Cornish Cyder farm is close by.
Also check out the Perranzabuloe Museum, which is all about life in the local area.
You might be tiring of small, quaint Cornish villages by now – but Portreath is just as breathtaking as every other aforementioned village, and is well worth checking out if you have the time!
Its beach is popular with surfers, swimmers and tourists of all ages, but the whole village manages to stay slightly less touristy than elsewhere in Cornwall.
Walking along the cliff tops of Portreath is a great way to stretch your legs while on your Cornwall road trip. You could try the five mile walk south to Bassets Cove, or hiking north to Porthtowan.
One of the most popular towns in Cornwall, St Ives is absolutely beautiful – but busy! Do be prepared for crowds, but if you are staying in St Ives overnight as recommended, you should at least be able to park.
As you’re saving St Ives until the end of the day, you will have an advantage – the many tour buses that visit St Ives every day will have left by this point.
It’s a charming town to spend a night in – there are plenty of restaurants by the beach, so stroll along and take your pick, or opt for a Cornish pasty or ice cream. Just be careful if you’re getting food to take away – the seagulls are ruthless here!
You can stroll along the coastline to one of the hills overlooking St Ives, or descend down onto Porthmeor Beach for a surf. Also, check out the nearby beach of Carbis Bay which is a lot less busy!
If you have an extra day in Cornwall, or would rather do this than other suggestions on this Cornwall itinerary, visiting Seal Island is great fun! As the name suggests, there’s a seal colony over here that you can visit, and daily tours operate here in the summer.
For more things to do in St Ives, check out this post!
Where to stay in St Ives
I recommend that you spend the night in St Ives. It’s a charming town and it’s worth staying here for the night. You’ll be able to enjoy all of the restaurants and bars in the town, as well as watch the sunset and soak in the atmosphere.
If you’re backpacking or visiting Cornwall on a budget, try out Cohort Hostel. This hostel is well appointed with a bar, lounge, courtyard, movie room, and dormitories for backpackers. Click here for more information.
The Queens Hotel is a lovely little boutique joint with individually styled rooms. On site is a bar and restaurant, and the top floor rooms have beautiful sweeping views of the ocean. Click here for more information.
For a retreat-style place, check out the St Ives Harbour Hotel and Spa. Featuring an indoor pool, a sauna, a spa and treatment rooms, this is the best place in St Ives to relax and unwind. Some of the individually styled rooms have balconies looking over the harbour, and on site is a bar and restaurant. Click here to read more.
If you’re visiting St Ives in a group, check out Leo’s Cottage. Sleeping seven people, this cottage has epic coastal vistas and beachfront access from the house itself. With three bedrooms and one sofa bed, larger families will love this self contained property. To book, click here.
Day 4: St Ives to Penzance
St Ives to Sennan Drive
The St Ives to Sennen drive is known to be amongst the best in Cornwall – if not, the whole of Britain. On the road to Sennen is Zennor, a small village where mermaids supposedly frequented, Morvah, a settlement in a landscape with iron age history, and the National Trust owned Levant Mine.
If you want a quieter version of Lands End, head to Cape Cornwall, where there is a golf club which offers tea and coffee to tourists. This spectacular coastline isn’t quite the most south-westerly point of mainland UK, but it’s just as epic – you’ll be able to admire the craggy cliffs, and even look out for basking sharks and dolphins!
However, if the bright lights of Lands End do appeal to you, it’s a short drive to the UK’s most southwesterly point. Lands End is a tourist trap, there’s no doubt about it – but, if you walk away from the tourist exhibits, you’ll be able to find a secluded part of the ocean to stare into.
The Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is the brainchild of Rowena Cade, an inspirational woman who proved, in the 1920s, that girls can indeed think big and build things!
The theatre is built into the cliffs of Porthcurno, offering sweeping views of the bay beneath. You can enter and look around for £6, or if you do happen to be there while a play is showing, watching it while looking over the sunset is an excellent way to end a day in Cornwall.
Around the cape is the pretty village of Mousehole – a great place to grab some lunch. Mousehole is one of those idyllic spots that you’ll no doubt have come to Cornwall for.
Mousehole has a fascinating history – it was one of Cornwall’s most significant fishing ports in the Middle Ages, but was burned to the ground during a Spanish raid!
It’s not as exciting nowadays, but it will still be one of the most stunning stops on your Cornish road trip.
St Micheal’s Mount
St Micheal’s Mount is the Cornish counterpart of Mont St Michel in Normandy. The tidal island can be reached by foot (at low tide) or boat (at high tide). It’s important to plan your trip, as the island is not always open. Click here for more information.
Where to stay in Penzance
easyPZ hostel is a cosy place with friendly staff, as well as a guest kitchen and social area. It’s rated by many to be the best hostel in Cornwall – so if you’re backpacking, it’s a must stay! Click here for more information.
The homely Trevaylor Vean is a cosy accommodation offering either a double room or chalet accommodation. It’s got all the facilities you’d need – an en suite bathroom, a wall mounted flat screen TV – and you can enjoy some beautiful walks in the surrounding Trevaylor Woods. Click here to book your stay.
The Dolphin Tavern is a rustic Penzance B&B and pub. Enjoy delicious meals here after a day’s exploration, or wake up with a full English or Irish! The rooms are homely and clean, and all have a flat-screen TV. Click here to read more.
Or, try the four-star The Ship Inn. This boutique-style hotel has beautiful modern yet traditional rooms with views of the Penzance coastline. There is a rustic pub on site, and it is located a 10 minute drive from Penzance town. Click here to book your stay.
Day 5: Penzance to Truro
Geevor Tin Mine
If anyone knows mining, it’s the Cornish. Their main industry throughout most of their history has been mining, and they’ve taken their expertise all over the world (you’ll find Cornish mining colonies across the globe, from Australia to Mexico!).
If you want to explore a mine and learn about this side of Cornwall’s history while you’re here, you could check out the Geevor Tin Mine near Penzance. You’ll be able to descend into the mine and learn all about one of Cornwall’s traditional industries, which the county was very much built on over the years.
Helston Museum of Cornish Life
Helston is one of Cornwall’s oldest towns, and here you can visit the Museum of Cornish Life. With exhibits through the centuries on what it is like to live in the sea-surrounded, tin rich county of Cornwall, this museum is a fascinating place to visit. What’s more, it’s completely free!
Gweek Seal Sanctuary
The Gweek Seal Sanctuary is a lovely place where injured, ill or orphaned seals, penguins, sea lions and other creatures are rehabilitated, eventually released into the wild from, or given a permanent home if they won’t survive into the wild.
The sanctuary tries to re-release every seal, but there are a population of permanent residents who cannot be released due to permanent injuries or illnesses. However, they live a full and happy life at the sanctuary.
At the Gweek Seal Sanctuary, you’ll see seals being fed and looked after, and learn some fun facts about these playful creatures.
Lizard Peninsula Walk
You could spend a whole week on the Lizard Peninsula, but as you’re so close in Gweek, it’s worth driving down to check it out! There are plenty of walks here – if you’re pushed for time, try this one mile Lizard Rarity Walk.
Built by Henry VIII, this castle was supposed to protect Cornwall against invasion by foreign troops. It has worked as a structural defence since the age of the Tudors, and also proved significant in both WWI and WWII. Learn all about this history by visiting – click here for tickets.
Tonight, you could either return to your accommodation in Penzance, or stay in Falmouth or Truro.
Where to stay in Truro
Donnington Guesthouse has bright and airy single, double, and family rooms and is a great budget place to stay in Truro. Set in a house close to Truro centre, the guesthouse offers free wifi and parking. Click here for more information.
A short trip out of Truro is Pengelly Farmhouse B&B. This is a traditional farmhouse with exceptionally welcoming hosts. Enjoy the rustic features, the comfortable bedrooms awash with natural light, a sun terrace, and a delicious breakfast. Click here to read more.
Another beautiful boutique hotel is Townhouse Rooms. All individually styled rooms (some with a four-poster bed) are en-suite, a flat-screen TV and a desk. A breakfast is included, and there are some beautiful gardens to relax in. Click here to learn more about the hotel.
Where to stay in Falmouth
Poltair Guesthouse is a fantastic value place to stay in Falmouth. It has trendy decor both inside – with some beautiful bedrooms and bathrooms with exposed brickwork, and outside – with some beautiful gardens! And it’s just a 13 minute walk to Pendennis Castle! Click here for more information.
Anacapri is an AA 5 star bed and breakfast, offering en suite bedrooms, a lounge, bar and terrace. The rooms are well-appointed with traditional features, while still having all of the modern facilities that you need! It’s also relatively good value for money. Click here to read more.
With modern rooms bathed in natural light and beautiful deluxe bathrooms, St Michael’s Resort has 10 treatment rooms, sauas, rain experience showers and a hydrotherapy pool. There’s also a beautiful sun deck, and the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful. Click here to learn more about the hotel.
Day 6: Truro to St Austell
Truro is Cornwall’s only city and its county town. If you’re used to cities like London, you’ll be underwhelmed; it’s a very small place. However, there are a few things to do in Truro that make it a pleasant place to poke around in for a few hours.
The Truro Cathedral is Cornwall’s only one. You can enter any time before 4pm for free! Also check out the Royal Cornwall Museum and the Pannier Market.
If you’re in Truro in the summer months, you can also do a guided tour to learn more about the city’s history – and what it means to be the only city of Cornwall!
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
These 19th century botanical gardens are one of the best outdoor attractions in Cornwall. More like an outdoor museum than a garden, there are all sorts of weird and wonderful plants, statues and exhibits in the space, and are thought to be some of the best gardens in the UK.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan have been slowly and lovingly restored over the last 30 years (they were all but abandoned after WWI) and are a great spot for an afternoon stroll.
The Eden Project
The Eden Project is an enterprise that promotes sustainability and awareness about the natural world. The exhibition consists of two large biomes which are home to a range of flora from rainforest and mediterranean climates, as well as outdoor exhibitions with Cornish and British plants.
You’ll quite literally get ot walk through a tropical rainforest in Cornwall – it’s fascinating! Click here for more information about the Eden Project and to buy tickets.
Where to stay in St Austell
The Karmary Guest House is clean and cosy, with comfortable rooms and delicious breakfasts. It’s one of the best budget places to stay in St Austell. Click here for rates and to book.
Located in the nearby village of Charlestown, Rashleigh Arms has huge spacious rooms that are both perfectly clean and awash with natural light. Click here to read more.
Day 7: St Austell to Saltash (Plymouth)
The last day of your Cornwall road trip has arrived! Today, focus on the southeastern portion of Cornwall, before travelling to Saltash and eventually Plymouth.
Famed as being the home of Daphne Du Maurier, Fowey is set on the coastline but also has the River Fowey close by – kayaking or SUPing, anyone?
There’s a substantial amount of history in Fowey – you can explore St Catherine’s Castle, which was built under Henry VIII’s rule to defend the estuary, or the 13th century Place House.
Encompassed in an AONB, Polperro has beaches that some deem to be the best in the world. It’s well worth stopping off here for a picnic or grabbing a takeaway on your way east!
If you’re in Looe at the right time, a visit to Looe Island is well worth it. This island is teeming with wildlife, distinctly different to the mainland.
Crossing takes 20 minutes and you can only visit during an organised trip – you’ll have 2 hours to explore the island before the return ferry.
Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park
One of the most popular day trips from Plymouth, this country park has coastline, wooded areas, and historic buildings. It’s worth a stop off before Plymouth!
Then, either cross the Tamar to Devon, or take the boat across! Click here for ferry information.
If you want to extend your trip, you can spend the night in Plymouth!
Where to stay in Plymouth
If you’re travelling around on a budget, Plymouth Backpackers may be the answer. This family-friendly hostel has a kitchen (so you can make your own meals!) and a small social area. Choose from private rooms or dorms. Click here to learn more.
Jurys Inn Plymouth is a modern, city-centre hotel just walking distance from the main attractions. The staff are helpful and friendly, the rooms bright, modern, and clean, and there is a restaurant and bar on site. Click here for more information.
The historic Duke of Cornwall Hotel sits in a grand 19th century building on the edge of Plymouth city centre – walking distance to the ferry terminal and harbour, and easy access to Plymouth Hoe and the Barbican. The beautiful rooms all have classic features that will remind you of the history of the building. On site is a bar and restaurant. Click here for rates and to reserve your room.
If you’re looking for a luxurious place to end your trip, check out Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa. A little way out of Plymouth (on the edge of Dartmoor National Park), this hotel is more retreat-style, and has an on-site swimming pool, spa, and gym. With little touches that you’d only expect from a five-star country property, this is the ideal place to relax in after a busy week exploring Cornwall! Click here to learn more about the beautiful Boringdon Hall.
Where to next?
If you still have some time after exploring the length and breadth of Cornwall, why not check out Plymouth? Known as ‘Bristol’s Ocean City’, there is plenty to enjoy here over a few days! Check out this Plymouth itinerary to get planning!