6 places to visit in Cornwall without using your car
Hankering after a Cornish break but don't fancy the drive and the parking? There's plenty of places totally accessible by public transport - here's six to bookmark.
Does the idea of reversing down small lanes and trying to find a parking space by the beach put you off? Or want to reduce your carbon footprint? Don’t bother lugging loads of luggage either – from golf carts to surf boards, you can rent everything you need as well.
How to get there? The most glamorous way is to book at a cabin on the sleeper from Paddington. Great Western Railway’s Night Riviera Sleeper departs at 23.45 and arrives at 8am into Penzance (board from 10.30pm and wake as you reach Cornwall). A more budget friendly option is the sleeper without a cabin, or, just the regular old day time train which takes around 5 hours. The station is just at the edge of town, so it’s a short walk, or a taxi, depending on where you’re headed.
Where to eat? In the town centre itself you’ll find The Shore on Alverton Street, or grab a pizza at the beautiful turquoise Totti. The Cornish Hen deli is in Market Place, owned by one of the makers of Penzance’s own gin. Just down the seafront is Ben Tunnicliffe’s pub, The Tolcarne Inn at Newlyn (which made the national list of top 100 gastropubs in Jan 2022) and you’ll also find fish restaurant Argoe, where the fish is literally taken off the commercial quay and onto their grills. Wine is by Lovetts, a little wine bar, from which you can also watch the queue at the Mackerel Seafood Bar. Coffee and a sandwich from Joel at The Roundhouse at the top of Causeway Head is a must.
What to do? Take a dip at the Jubilee Pool, the UK’s largest salt water lido, now with new geothermal warmth at one end. Check out the gorgeous indie shops on Chapel Street. You’ll find Muddy Award winning bookshop The Edge of the World on Market Jew Street. The Exchange Gallery isn’t just a nice gallery, it has a good gift shop and cafe, and there’s also Penlee House and Gallery within the town itself. Walk to Newlyn, or hire e-bikes and make a day of it with a trip to Mousehole or even further afield (or a ride and swim with Mor Swimmy at a local spot). Walk or bike to Marazion and over to St Michael’s Mount. Get the Coastal Hopper (a double-decker bus) round to Lands End, Zennor or even St Ives, departing and returning from the bus station (next to the railway station) in town.
How to get there? Take the mainline train to St Erth (around 5 hours) and then change to the branch line. One stop before St Ives is the little station of Carbis Bay, so you won’t even need a taxi to your final destination.
Where to stay? There’s loads of holiday cottages in Carbis Bay (like this 2 bed property to rent from Stay in Cornwall) or blow the budget and follow in Biden’s footsteps and take a beach front room with a hot tub at the Carbis Bay Hotel.
Where to eat? We absolutely loved our lunch at Ugly Butterfly, and there’s also Walters on the Beach, or, walk the coast path to St Ives itself where you’ll find a whole host of options – check out our insider guide here.
What to do? Gaze at Godrevy Lighthouse and read Virginia Woolf, who stayed at the hotel itself as well as St Ives and Zennor. Take surfing lessons at the beach – or hire kit to get on the water at the Ocean Sports Centre. Visit artist mecca St Ives (visit the galleries, or take painting lessons at the St Ives School of Painting. Walk the coast path. Wooden body boards can be borrowed free from Little Goat Gruff in St Ives.
Kingsand, Cawsand and Rame
How to get there? Take the train to Plymouth and then get a bus or taxi over to the Cornish side of the Tamar – destination the Rame peninsular and the tiny villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. If you arrive between April and October, you can catch the Cawsand Ferry over from the Barbican Landing Stage in Plymouth, which is a 10 min taxi ride from the station.
Where to stay? No.3 The Old School House is right on the beach and has its own kayaks. Boutique Retreats also have some beautiful self-catering cottages in both Cawsand and Kingsand which sound pretty awesome too.
Where to eat? The Stores is a coffee shop and deli open seven days a week, plus there’s plenty of pubs and restaurants. Ex-River Cottage chef Nick’s laid-back café-come-restaurant The Canteen at Maker Heights gets rave reviews and while it is a bit of climb to get to, it is worth the effort.
What to do? Cawsand is a pretty old Cornish fishing village so lots of pottering around, swimming and watersports (I once sea-kayaked there, which was super fun). Two miles inland you’ll find The Byre Gallery at Millbrook. The coastal walk round the Rame peninsular is often mentioned by Muddy interviewees as a favourite dramatic walk.
How to get there? Either by train (change at Par for the Newquay branch line) or fly into Cornwall Airport Newquay and get the bus into town.
Where to stay? You’ll likely need to get a taxi over to family-friendly The Esplanade as its above Fistral (but once you’re there you won’t need to get back in the car as everything is walking distance) or there’s self-catering options too. Adults only Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa is next door if you fancy a weekend without the nippers.
Where to eat? So many options – if you don’t fancy eating at the hotel restaurants then in the town itself is Cove 24 and the harbour food truck complex at The Boathouse. There’s also the Fish House restaurant just above Fistral Beach, where you’ll also find Rick Stein’s Newquay restaurant. You’ll also find cafes and restaurants including Canteen at the Orchard, Pavilion (other branches are in London Fields), Box and Barber, Jam Jar, Sushea, Gilmores (tacos and mini golf), Great Western Beach Cafe, The Fish House and various chef-led pop-ups including MMW Kitchen and ex-Fifteen head chef, Adam Banks.
What to do? Newquay still has its fair share of the attractions that made it stag-party-central including nightclubs, arcades, bars and so on, but there’s so much more than that too. From world-class surfing to fishing, boat trips, jet skis, yoga, golf, and seven different beaches within walking distance of the town, there are is plenty to do for everyone. For little ones there is also a zoo and an aquarium too – see more options in our guide here.
How to get there? Hop off the main-line train at Truro and get the branch line to Falmouth Town or, carry on to Falmouth Docks, where you’ll emerge, yes, you’ve guessed it, just opposite the docks (handy for the Maritime Museum, Rick Stein’s, and the shops. You might need a bus or taxi to get to some places if you have lots of luggage, but there’s plenty within walking distance of the stations too.
Where to stay? The Greenbank Hotel is also on the water, and has it’s own quay, so you could get the water taxi from the dock, otherwise regular road taxi is your best bet if you’ve luggage. The St Mawes ferry also runs from Falmouth, so you could head over to Hotel Tresanton for some grown-up glamour. Cornish Holiday Cottages have lots of self-catering options, as do Creekside Cottages, that are in the town centre itself.
Where to eat? So many options in Falmouth you could eat somewhere different for breakfast, lunch and supper and still not eat the same thing twice – but Muddy faves include Restaurant MINE, Verdant Seafood bar, Origin coffee warehouse, The Star and Garter pub and the restaurants at the aforementioned Greenbank, plus newby underground fine dining The Mulberry who just won best restaurant at the Muddy Awards this summer.
What to do? Well, we named Falmouth one of Muddy’s best places to live 2022, so loads! From art galleries and museums to shopping and cafes, there’s everything you need from a small city break, coupled with beaches, walks, watersports and more.
Isles of Scilly
How to get there? Being off the Cornish coast you’ll need to leave quite a few hours of travelling, but it is totally worth it. Take the train to Penzance (as above) and outside the station you can pick up a mini-bus which will take you to Lands End airport, from where you can take the Scilly Airbus. Or, those with stronger constitutions can head just across the harbour to board the Scillonian (it is not nicknamed the vomit rocket for nothing). Flying out and ferry back is an easier to stomach combination as the rolling is more pleasant on the way back. With dolphins and birds to view, you’d be crazy to fly both ways. Once on St Martin’s you can hire golf carts or bikes to get around the island, with boats to the ‘off-islands’.
Where to eat? Juliet’s Garden on St Martin’s had an amazing garden and there’s plenty of pubs, cafes and even fine dining to choose from in the summer. If you’re self-catering, the fish landed locally is amazing, as is the ice-cream!
What to do? I think part of the appeal of Scilly is that you don’t need to do anything at all. But, if you have to, take a walk along the coast path using the Coastal Timetripping app which brings to life Scillies history, including shipwrecks and stories. Swim with seals. Bird watch. Lie on the beach and pretend you’re not in the UK at all.