How to Get to Cornwall

Cornwall is one of the trickiest places to get to in the UK – but I promise you, it’s worth it.

Cornwall is a rural place – its largest settlement, St Austell, has a population of just 34.7 thousand. Cornwall’s only city, Truro, has nearly half at at 18.7 thousand! I’ll use Truro as a point of reference in this guide because it’s kind of central and it’s also fairly easy to get public transport to. 

If you’re wondering how to get to Cornwall, I’ll answer all of your questions in this guide!

How to get to Cornwall by car

Whether you’re an international traveller or if you’re going on a Cornwall staycation, you’ll enter the county from the East, unless you’re in the Isles of Scilly. No motorways go into Cornwall, so you’ll have to rely on a network of A roads to get to where you want to go. 

If you are travelling from the north, you’ll find a combination of M5/ M6 handy to get down to the South West. This motorway will take you as far as Plymouth in Devon, but you might want to leave it earlier depending on where in Cornwall you are going. 

If you are driving from the South East, you’ll take the M3/ A303 heading westwards and then merge onto the A30/ A38 depending on where in Cornwall you are going. The A30 is dual carriageway for most of the way, making it a bit quicker than the single-lane A38. 

If you are driving to Cornwall in the summer, it’s highly recommended to avoid peak hours – there is often a lot of congestion from Devon onwards, and it could increase your journey time dramatically. The traffic is actually why I advise that the best time to visit Cornwall to be the spring or summer.

Here are the rough driving times from major UK cities to Truro.

Drive times 

  • London to Truro – about 5 hours
  • Bristol to Truro – about 3 hours
  • Birmingham to Truro – about 4 ¼ hours
  • Manchester to Truro – about 5 ½ hours
  • Newcastle to Truro – about 7 ½ hours
  • Nottingham to Truro – about 5 hours
  • Plymouth to Truro – about 1 ¼ hours
  • Exeter to Truro – about 1 ½ hours

Please note, these can vary wildly depending on the traffic situation, which in the UK, can be very very unpredictable. 

How to get to Cornwall by train

The London Paddington to Penzance Railway leaves daily, taking 5 hours 21 minutes.

It calls at Reading, Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and lots of other regional towns in Devon and Cornwall, including Truro, Redruth and Camborne.

There is also the Night Riveria Sleeper Service, which offers the option of luxury cabins.

The cabin on the Night Riviera sleeper night service from London to Penzance

There are also rail services from Bristol and Bath. People taking the trains from the north can connect in either city. 

How to get to Cornwall by Coach

National Express serves Penzance and other towns, and the Megabus stops in Newquay, Falmouth and Bodmin. 

Times vary wildly, but from London you’d be expecting an 8+ hour journey. There are also services from Birmingham – also is about 8+ hours – and Bristol, which takes 6+ hours. 

The advantage of coach travel in Cornwall is that it is a lot cheaper than taking the train. 

Should I Fly to Cornwall? 

If you are already in the UK, I would recommend another method of transport – while flights are quicker, the time it takes to get to the airport and get on the flight works out equivalent or more to taking the train.

If you are arriving into Cornwall from outside the UK, however, there are flights from Dublin, Faro and Alicante from Newquay Airport. These can sometimes be considerably more than flying from other UK airports, however, so it might be a good idea to check flights from Exeter and Bristol and organise transport from there.

How do I normally get to Cornwall? 

I normally drive to Cornwall; I always leave very early if I’m driving in the summer (from Bristol around 4 or 5am) and I don’t drive into the county on weekends. I have also taken the train from London to Newquay, which was a good, fairly relaxing journey. 

I hope that this guide on how to get to Cornwall has helped you decide your method of transport for visiting this beautiful part of the country! You might be thinking how to get to Cornwall is a bit fiddly, but I promise you that once you are here, it will all be worth it.

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