How to get to Cornwall: expert tips!

Are you wondering how to get to Cornwall? Here are driving directions and bus and train instructions.

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

It’s a very rural part of the UK – Cornwall’s largest settlement, St Austell, has a population of just 34,700.

Cornwall’s only city, Truro, has nearly half of these at 18,000!

It’s served by two A-roads – the A30 and A38 – and does have a railway line spanning westwards towards Penzance. There are also a few bus links.

Here’s how to get to Cornwall!

How to get to Cornwall

Here’s a quick run-down on getting to Cornwall:

  • Driving: This is always possible, but it can take quite a while – especially in August. Expect it to take around five hours from London!
  • Train: GWR trains run from London – expect it to take 5-6 hours. You can also take CrossCountry trains from Bristol, Birmingham and Northern cities – there’s even a daily train from Aberdeen.
  • Bus: Coaches do run to various places in Cornwall, but they take rather a long time!
  • Flying: Newquay has an airport which flies to a few destinations around the UK.

Driving to Cornwall

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, take the M6 and then the M5 to get down to the South West.

This motorway will take you as far as Exeter in Devon – you’ll either want to take the A30 from Junction 30 of the M5 or join the A38 when it ends.

If you are driving from the South East, you’ll take the M25, the M3 and then the A303 heading westwards.

Then, you’ll merge onto the A30, either following this or joining the A38 depending on where in Cornwall you are going.

Take the A30 for destinations in North and West Cornwall, whereas if you’re heading to the south coast of Cornwall you’ll want the A38.

If you’re driving to Cornwall in the summer, avoid peak hours – there’s 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 CrossCountry rail services from Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh – a train even connects Aberdeen with Penzance (it’s the longest train journey in the UK).

Train tickets to Cornwall can be very expensive, so here are a few tips to save your money:

Use Trainline: I always use the Trainline app to book my rail tickets in the UK. I love the user interface which lets me know about any delays or last-minute platform changes. I also utilise Trainline’s Splitwise feature to book tickets, which saves money by finding the cheapest combination of individual tickets. Click here to read more about it.

Get a Railcard: If many people are applicable for a Railcard; consider purchasing one if you’re under 30, over 60, a veteran, have a disability or frequently travel with one person. A railcard is affordable and you’ll save 30% off all of your rail travel for a year. I often find it pays itself back after just one journey! Click here to take a look at it.

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 taking 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 – but it depends on how OK you’re with about spending a long time on a bus!

Should I Fly to Cornwall? 

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

Plus, taking the train is much more environmentally friendly.

If you are arriving to 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 to see if they’re cheaper.

How do I normally get to Cornwall? 

I live an hour from the Cornish border in Exmouth, Devon.

Often, I’ll drive to Cornwall, especially if I’m staying somewhere that’s not on the rail network or driving back later at night.

I leave very early if I’m driving to Cornwall in the summer, especially in August (although I try to not visit this month!).

However, if I’m heading to any of the larger towns with train stations, I’ll usually jump on the train – it’s an easy journey from Exeter.

Now you know how to get to Cornwall

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!

Travelling to Cornwall is a bit fiddly, but I promise you that once you are here, it will all be worth it.

Take a look at the rest of my Cornwall archives or feel free to reach out on Instagram if you have any questions about visiting the Duchy.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *