When planning a trip to the UK, you may wonder where to go to find the best of the British weather, the tastiest culinary delights, and where you can discover some of its rich history. With secret beaches, Cornish pasties, and coastal castles, we have the perfect 7-day Cornwall itinerary to guide you around the countryside and coastline in this historic county.
Cornwall enjoys a mild oceanic climate in the southwest corner of England. The warm summers are the perfect time to explore its quaint fishing villages, surf beaches, country manors, and medieval castles.
Cornwall 7 Day Itinerary
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Planning Your Cornwall Itinerary
Regarding the weather, it’s best to plan your Cornish adventure in the summertime. Although this is when the seaside towns are at their busiest and prices at their highest.
Getting around Cornwall is easiest by car. A rental car will give you much more freedom than public transport options, and you will be able to stop off as you choose.
The public transport options to move around Cornwall include bus, coach, and train, but journey times will be a little longer than by car too.
How to Get to Cornwall
Train: Cornwall is connected to England’s north, east, and south with regular train connections. The most popular train route to Cornwall is operated by Great Western Railway and runs between Paddington and Penzance and takes around 5 hours. Four main branchlines—the St. Ives Bay Line, the Looe Valley Line, the Maritime Line, and the Atlantic Coast Line—make it simple to travel within Cornwall from the mainline to popular holiday destinations.
Coaches: The UK’s two main coach services run regular services to Cornwall from most UK cities. The two companies are National Express and Megabus:
National Express: Serves various towns as far west as Penzance
Megabus: Serves Bodmin, Newquay and Falmouth
Driving: While driving to Cornwall is a great option because it gives you more freedom to explore and enjoy our itinerary whilst there, you need to plan carefully. During the summer months and on public holiday weekends, traffic can be very heavy on the roads into Cornwall.
You should take the M4 motorway from London to Bristol, and then join the M5 towards Exeter.
From the northwest, the M6 will take you to the M5 and then on towards Exeter.
From the northeast, take the M1 towards Coventry, then join the westbound M6, which will take you across to the M5 towards Exeter.
If you’re thinking of driving to Cornwall, why not try one of our Cornwall road trip itineraries?
Flying to Newquay Airport: A quicker alternative to travelling by road or rail is to fly to Cornwall. Newquay Airport currently receives year-round daily flights from London Gatwick and Manchester, with additional seasonal routes in the summer months available from other UK airports. Flights to Newquay are also possible from Ireland, Germany, and Spain.
While it’s true that the cost of living in Cornwall is relatively high when compared to the rest of the UK, it’s also true that you can plan a more budget-friendly trip to the county.
With some luxurious 4- and 5-star accommodations available, it’s easy to blow the budget, but with careful planning, costs can be kept down. There are plenty of holiday parks and AirBnbs to help reduce the accommodation outlay, and there are plenty of outdoor activities which won’t cost an arm and a leg—beach days and coastal walks being two examples. Check out these stunning family-friendly hotels with a pool for example >>>
Day 1 in Cornwall – Bude
The northern Cornish coast is known as the “home of UK surfing.” So, why not kick your Cornish holiday off with a morning surf lesson on one of Bude’s excellent beaches? Big Blue Surf School in Bude runs regular two-and-a-half-hour morning surf lessons to help you make a fun-filled start to your holiday.
A morning on the waves will surely leave you with a healthy appetite, and what better way to refuel than with a traditional Cornish pasty? A short stroll from Summerleaze Beach will bring you to Pengenna Pasties in town. A Cornish pasty is the quintessential Cornish treat that simply must be tried.
Once replenished with pasties, it’s time to enjoy the afternoon. Bude is a great place for coastal walks. The Cornish coastline can be wild and rugged, and you can explore it via the South West Coast Path. If the surfing has wiped you out, a more gentle option is the trail alongside the Bude Canal.
Where to Stay in Bude
Widemouth Manor – A warm friendly pub/ hotel with views out over the bay.
Day 2 in Cornwall – Bude to Padstow
A coastal drive and a visit to a castle enshrined in Arthurian legend are on the agenda for the morning of Day Two. Mythological accounts of British history mention Tintagel as the place of King Arthur’s conception, and a morning exploring the castle will immerse you in rich Cornish history.
Another short drive along the coast will bring you to Polzeath. For lunch, head to the Atlantic Bar & Kitchen atop the cliffs, overlooking Polzeath Beach.
After lunch, you can enjoy the beach below the cliffs or explore the Pentire Headland to the north of Polzeath Beach. Pentire Point offers a great lookout over the rugged cliffs and maybe the chance to spot seals or falcons.
A thirty-minute drive from Polzeath will then take you to the quaint fishing village of Padstow. A stroll around Padstow Harbour and fish & chips are the order of the day here. You can splash out on fish & chips at celebrity chef Rick Stein’s restaurant on the front, or for a more budget-friendly option, pop to the local chippy. You can view the best things to do in Padstow with kids here >>>
Where to Stay in Padstow
Summer Breeze @ Seven Bays – Excellent accommodation with a restaurant, a bar, a garden and free WiFi.
Day 3 in Cornwall – Padstow to Newquay
Time for another short drive along the coast to Newquay. Newquay is one of the UK’s most popular seaside resorts, famed for its excellent beaches. Fistral Beach is the best-known of the beaches in Newquay and is a great place to while away for a few hours. You can also use your Bude surf lesson here or enjoy relaxing on the beach. If you are traveling with kids, Great Western Beach may offer calmer conditions for swimming.
When the hunger kicks in, head to the Mermaid Inn for a bite to eat. This family-friendly beachfront eatery is located at Porth Beach.
Porth Beach is also a great location to spend an afternoon. Kids enjoy the rock pools at the sides of the beach, and you can also take a stroll along either of the headlands which flank the beach.
Where to Stay in Newquay
Pentire Hotel – Excellent location, with views over Fistral Beach
Day 4 in Cornwall – Newquay to St. Ives
Porthminster Beach, St Ives
The next morning can be spent exploring the coastline on the drive down to St. Ives, with Perranporth Beach and the St. Agnes Heritage Coast two possible stops on the way. The coastline around St. Agnes is a popular hiking destination with excellent views across the Atlantic Ocean. There are plenty of excellent spots for a bite to eat overlooking the sea here, too.
After lunch, it’s time to continue to St. Ives, where you can enjoy the afternoon exploring the beaches and the harbour. If the weather isn’t playing ball, you can wander around the Tate St. Ives art gallery, the sister gallery to the Tate Modern in London.
A great place for a bit to eat in St. Ives is the Porthminster Beach Café, with its stunning views across St. Ives Bay. If you enjoy seafood, you will definitely not be disappointed…
Where to Stay in St Ives
The Western – This historic building is in the centre of St Ives and also offers a traditional Cornish pub with a beer garden.
Day 5 in Cornwall – St Ives Day Trip to Land’s End and Penzance
No trip to Cornwall is complete without a trip to Land’s End, the westernmost point of mainland England. Pose for a photo at the iconic signpost and pick up some souvenirs from the shopping village before heading off to Penzance for lunch.
After a bite to eat, enjoy exploring the town of Penzance, wandering around its shops, and maybe popping into a traditional Cornish pub or two (if you’re not driving). Or, depending on the tide, head across the bay to St. Michael’s Mount. This tidal island with a castle is accessible by boat or, if the water is low enough, by walking across the causeway. Check the tide times first, and make sure you don’t get stranded by an incoming tide.
From Penzance, it’s a twenty-minute drive back to St. Ives.
Day 6 in Cornwall – St Ives to Falmouth
Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
Time to hit the road again. The drive from St. Ives, on Cornwall’s north coast, to Falmouth, on the south coast, takes around an hour, but we can add a little detour to Lizard Point. Lizard Point is the southernmost point on mainland Great Britain and offers great views across the English Channel and to the Lizard Lighthouse. For great photos check out this self-guided photography tour.
After leaving the Lizard Peninsula, head to Falmouth, where you can enjoy an afternoon on the beach or explore Pendennis Castle. The castle was built at the behest of King Henry VIII to keep an eye on the French across the Channel.
Where to Stay in Falmouth
St Michaels Resort – Opposite Gyllyngvase Beach, St Michaels Resort is a short walk from Falmouth town and harbour. The 4-star hotel features an award-winning restaurant, a luxury spa, and a Health Club with a swimming pool.
Day 7 in Cornwall – Falmouth to Saltash
Views from Saltash to Plymouth
From Falmouth, you can head towards St. Austell, stopping at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. These sub-tropical Victorian gardens are a great way to see how Cornwall’s climate affects the flora in the region, with palm trees to prove the point.
After exploring the gardens, you can continue to St. Austell for lunch and wander around the shops. Once sated, head along the coastal road for a relaxed drive to Saltash.
You can make a stop along the way at Looe. Looe is a fishing town, with the River Looe running through it. Head to the Island View Café for an excellent Cornish cream tea, with views from St. George’s Island.
From Looe, head on to Saltash, on the banks of the River Tamar, the border between Cornwall and Devon.
Where to Stay in Saltash
China Fleet and Country Club – A luxurious hotel with mini golf, a spa, a kids club and fantastic accommodation options.
Bio: Kids to Cornwall is a family travel blog that helps people plan the perfect trip to Cornwall with kids, whether it’s discovering the perfect family hotel or exploring some of Cornwall’s stunning beaches.