Port Isaac - Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary

Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary, England

Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary: 3 Perfect Days in Cornwall, England

Cornwall is wildly poetic. Forming the south-west tip of England, the county of Cornwall is defined by rugged cliff lines, darling fishing villages, and secret coves. As you explore this region, you might feel like you’re stepping into a historical film or high fantasy novel. It’s that bewitching. 

The best way to experience Cornwall is on a road trip. Though a car is essential in getting around Cornwall, driving in Cornwall isn’t the “objective.” Roads are very narrow, and unlike other coastal destinations, vehicle traffic isn’t prioritized over foot traffic. That means you shouldn’t expect sweeping views of the Cornish coast from the road, like in California, Iceland, Montenegro, etc… And herein lies the greatest asset of Cornwall. A long-distance walking trail – called the South West Coast Path – closely hugs the entire Cornish coast. So, if you want to seek out the best stretches of coastal scenery, you have to walk. And, as you walk, you’ll hear the wind, the waves and the calls of seagulls. You won’t hear, or see cars! 

Below, we’ve outlined our 3 day Cornwall itinerary. This corner of England deserves far more than 3 days. However, if you have limited time, you can use this Cornwall route to guide your planning. This road trip is fast-paced and packs in a ton of walking. 

 

Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary Overview 

  • Day 1: Tintagel – Boscastle – Port Isaac
  • Day 2: Port Isaac – The Rumps – Bedruthan Steps – St. Agnes to Perranporth – St. Ives
  • Day 3: St. Ives – Gurnard’s Head – Botallack Mine – St. Michael’s Mount – Lizard Point – Kyance Cove – Polperro
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Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary, England - 3 Days

Cornwall Road Trip Guide Overview

  • Cornwall Road Trip Map
  • Cornwall Travel Tips
  • Cornwall Itinerary Day 1 
  • Cornwall Itinerary Day 2 
  • Cornwall Itinerary Day 3 
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Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary - The Rumps

Cornwall Road Trip Map

Cornwall Road Trip Destinations
  • Tintagel - Boscastle
  • Port Isaac
  • The Rumps
  • St. Agnes - Perranporth
  • St. Ives
  • Gurnard's Head
  • Botallack Mine
  • Saint Michael's Mount
  • Lizard Point - Kynance Cove
  • Polperro
Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary - 3 days - Botallack Mine

Cornwall Travel Tips

Bring Coins for Parking

In Cornwall, almost all transactions can be handled with credit cards. However, parking lot machines are the exception. You’ll need pound coins for all parking fees. And, you have to pay for parking everywhere.

Eat Dinner Before 8:30 p.m.

While traveling in Cornwall, be mindful of the time. Kitchens in restaurants and pubs typically close at 8:30 p.m. (9:00 p.m. latest). We nearly missed dinner each night, because we were out walking.

Pack Sturdy Walking Shoes, a Bathing Suit, Towel

Swimming and walking go hand in hand in Cornwall. If you seek out Cornwall’s most beautiful beaches and coves, you’ll need sturdy shoes to get there.

 
Cornwall South West Coast Path - Cornwall 3 Day Itinerary

Cornwall Itinerary Day 1

Drive to Cornwall - Tintagel - Boscastle - Port Isaac

Drive to Cornwall

Chances are you’re starting your trip somewhere far, far away from Cornwall. We started in Brighton, and it took us 6 hours (with one short stop) to reach Tintagel, the starting point of our Cornwall road trip. If you’re coming from London, plan on 5 hours of driving without any breaks. It’s best if you can get an early start today so that you can enjoy the dazzling Cornish coast for sunset.

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. Brittain’s legendary figure was first linked to Tintagel in the 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Overlooking the sea, the castle ruins occupy the eroding Tintagel Island and part of the mainland (see entrance fees here). Though it’s the Arthurian legend that continues to breathe mysticism into this medieval site and thus entices visitors to come, it’s the natural beauty of the headlands that will leave the most lasting impression.

Where to Park in Tintagel: Tintagel Country Club Car Park

  • 1 Hour – 1 GBP
  • 2 Hours – 2 GBP
  • All Day – 3 GBP

Tintagel Castle to Boscastle, South West Coast Path

Trailhead: Tintagel Haven
Destination: Boscastle
Distance: 5.5 miles, 8.7 km one-way
Difficulty: Easy
Time Needed: 3 – 4 hours one-way

Grab a cornish pasty at the Cornish Bakery on 1A Castle Road before walking down Castle Road to Tintagel Haven. During low tide, you can access Merlin’s Cave from the beach. During high tide, the cave fills up with water. Just past the Tintagel Castle Cafe, you’ll find a trail that leads east in the direction of Boscastle. We highly recommend walking along the South West Coast Path for a few hours, taking in the flower carpeted cliffs awash with vibrant yellows, purples, and whites. You don’t need to walk all the way to Boscastle to enjoy this path, as the views are glorious throughout. 

If you arrive early in the day, you could take bus 95 from the Tintagel Visitor Center to Boscastle and then walk back to Tintagel. This is ideal. 

Stay in Tintagel, or Port Isaac

You could stay tonight in the town of Tintagel, perhaps in the stately Camelot Castle Hotel.

Or, you can continue your journey to Port Isaac, one of the most scenic fishing villages in Cornwall. 

Budget | Paths Ends is situated 9.7 km from Port Issac in the small village of St Teath. We felt very comfortable here for a one-night stay, though we wouldn’t recommend staying here for multiple-nights. It’s a bit shabby and dated. Breakfast is included. And, there’s a lovely pub, called the White Hart, located nearby.

Mid-Range | Signal Field is a bread and breakfast located directly in Port Issac. With it’s excellent location and coastal views, this top-rated guesthouse is a perfect place to stay.

Luxury | Port Gaverne Hotel is located in the secluded cove of Port Gaverne, a 5-minute walk to Port Isaac. Dating back to the 17th century, this atmospheric inn is full of character and heart. You can expect excellent service, divine seaside views, and delicious food. The hotel restaurants serve seasonal produce, locally-caught fish and freshly-baked bread.

 
St. Agnes to Perranporth, Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary

Cornwall Itinerary Day 2

Port Isaac - The Rumps and Pentire Point - Bedruthan Steps - St. Agnes to Perranporth - St. Ives

Visit Port Isaac

Port Isaac is a tiny fishing village on the Atlantic Coast of North Cornwall. Whitewashed cottages line the green cliffs around the Port Isaac harbor. A few fishing boats float about the sheltered waters. And, locals and visitors follow the coastal pathway around the village, taking in the wondrous views of this perfect place. Port Isaac manages to exhibit a harmonious relationship between nature and humankind. After an hour or two of walking around the village, grab a pastry at May Contain Nuts, and hit the road. 

Where to Park in Port Isaac: New Road Long Stay Car Park

  • Up to 1 hour – 70 p
  • 1 – 2 hours – 2.20 GBP
  • 2 – 3 hours – 3.40 GBP
  • 3 – 4 hours – 4.50 GBP
  • 24 hours – 5.20 GBP

The Rumps and Pentire Point Walk, South West Coast Path

Trailhead: Lead Mines National Trust car park (Pentireglaz)
Destination: Boscastle
Distance: 4.2 miles, 6.7 km loop
Difficulty: Easy
Time Needed: 2 – 3 hours

The Rumps are a twin-headland in Northern Cornwall. Extending ceremoniously into the sea, the Rumps can be experienced by walking a section of the South West Coastal Path. The Pentire headland walk (see map) begins at the Lead Mines National Trust car park. From the carpark follow the trail to the coast. When you intersect the South West Coastal Path, make a left. The trail continues to the Rumps and ultimately to Pentire Point. From here, you can continue following the trail to Pentireglaze Haven (Beach) and then ultimately across a field (look for the sign) and back to the Lead Mines car park. 

Carnewas at Bedruthan Steps

The Bedruthan Steps is a beach dotted with large granite rocks, north of Watergate Bay. The name was inspired by legend of Bedurthan, a giant who used the rock stacks as stepping stones in order to walk across the bay at high tide. You can enjoy the view from the clifftops, but to appreciate the sheer size of the stacks, head to the beach during low tide. Though swimming out into the sea is unsafe, there were lots of families bathing in the small pools at the base of the stacks (only possible during low tide).

Where to Park at Bedruthan Steps: Carnewas at Bedruthan Steps National Trust Car Park

  • March 1st – October 31st: Up to 2 Hours – 2.50 GBP; 2 – 3 Hours – 3.50 GBP; 3- 4 hours – 4.50 GBP; All Day – 6 GBP
  • November 1st – February 28th: 1 GBP per Visit

Walk from St. Agnes to Perranporth, South West Coast Path

Trailhead: St. Agnes
Destination: Perranporth
Distance: 3.6 miles, 5.8 km one-way
Difficulty: Easy
Time Needed: 2 -3 hours one-way

The walk from St. Agnes to Perranporth is spectacular. This stretch of coast is especially vibrant because of the red and yellow sandstone cliffs. Each bend in the trail offers moving landscapes, making it quite impossible to progress through this hike quickly.

Recommendation: Park in St. Agnes, take the Bus to Perranporth and walk back. Use this site to find out what bus to take.

St. Ives

St. Ives conjures up images of the perfect English seaside holiday. Lovely cafés, bakeries, pubs and shops line the promenade. Sandy beaches buttress the town, a plethora of fishing boasts fill up the harbour and the occassional seal makes a well-received appearance.

Where to Park in St. Ives: Barnoon Long Stay Car Park or Porthmeor Carpark.

Stay in St. Ives

Budget | The Queens Hotel is a centrally located boutique-style guesthouse in St. Ives and a mere 2-min walk to the harbour. Rooms are bright and comfortable. Food is locally sourced and excellent. On-site gastropub.

Mid-Range | Tregenna Castle Resort is set amidst 72 acres of private grounds. Overlooking the Cornish coast, Tregenna Caslte Resort features an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor seasonal swimming pool (late May to September), a golf course and two on-site restaurants.

Mid-Range | 27 The Terrace is an exceptional guesthouse in St. Ives. Rooms are airy, bright and beautiful. Guests have access to a garden, bar, and shared lounge. Breakfast is fantastic.

 
Polperro - Road Trip Itinerary 3 days

Cornwall Itinerary Day 3

Gurnard’s Head - Botallack Mine - St. Michael’s Mount - Lizard Point - Kyance Cove - Polperro

Gurnard’s Head

Gurnard’s head is a rocky headland located on another staggeringly beautiful stretch of coast in Northern Cornwall. If you explore around the headland in both directions, you’ll be met with mindblowing views. You can spend 10 minutes here, or a few hours here. To reach Gurnard’s head, continue west from St. Ives to Treen. On B3306, you’ll see the mustard-colored roadside pub called Gurnard’s Head. Park here, and follow the residential road and then the footpath to the coast. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk from the pub across the field to the South West Coast Path. Enjoy!

Botallack Mine, Tin Coast

Dramatically postioned at the foot of ocean-side cliffs, the Crowns engine houses of Botallack mine are a photographer’s dream. With it’s extraordinary cinematic quality, it’s easy to see why sequences of the BBC historical drama Poldark were filmed here. The remains of the mine are also a window into the Cornish mining industry, which dominated the region in the 19th century. Botallack was a submarine mine, stretching half a mile under the seabed.

Where to Park at Botallack Mine: The Count House, Botallack Mine (1 GBP / Hour)

St. Michael’s Mount

St. Michael’s Mount is a small tidal island, crowned with a castle, in Mount’s Bay. During high tide, you can visit Michael’s Mount via boat. During low tide, you can walk to the island. We drove past this famous attraction in Cornwall, and decided to skip it due to the amount of people swarming about.

Lizard Point to Kyance Cove, South West Coast Path

Trailhead: Lizard
Destination: Kyance Cove
Distance: 3 km one-way
Difficulty: Easy
Time Needed: 45 minutes one-way

Lizard Point to Kyance Cove is a popular coastal walk in Southern Cornwall. The trail begins at the carpark at Lizard, the most southerly tip of Britain. We set off on this walk in thick fog, hoping it would lift. It didn’t, unfortunately. Kyance Cove might be the most photographed place in all of Cornwall.

Where to Park in Lizard: Lizard Point Short Stay Car Park

  • Up to 1 hour – 1.60 GBP
  • Up to 3 hours – 4 GBP
  • 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. – 1 GBP

Polperro

We stayed one night in Polperro and immediately regretted not staying two. Polperro is a dream – one that inspires you to wake up one day, buy a fishing boat, and assume a new lifepath. White-painted cottages are clustered around Polperro’s harbour. Guesthouses and pubs are effortlessly integrated into the historical village. And, seagulls make their presence known. This well-preserved fishing village dating back to the 13th century. It’s history is one of smuggling, privateering, and intrigue.

Where to Park in Polperro: Polperro Car Park

Important: all day and overnight visitors must park at the very large Polperro car park, just off A387. Only very few accommodations offer free private parking (e.g. The Claremont Hotel and The Crumplehorn Inn & Mill).

  • Up to 3 hours – 5 GBP
  • Up to 6 hours – 7 GBP
  • Up to 10 hours – 9 GBP
  • Up to 24 hours – 12 GBP

Stay in Polperro

Budget | The House on the Props is a welcoming guesthouse situated directly at Polperro Harbour in an unbeatable location. Breakfast is included. Rooms are cozy, clean and comfortable.

Mid-Range | The Crumplehorn Inn & Mill is a friendly and welcoming guesthouse with it’s own private parking lot (free parking). It’s a 10-min walk to the harbor from this Cornish Inn. With its historic pub, charming atmosphere, superb breakfast, guests are more than satisfied with their stay here.

Mid-Range | The Claremont Hotel is a very fine Adults-only accommodation in Polperro. Tastefully decorated and beautifully furnished, the Claremont is a very enjoyable place to stay. Bonus: free private parking.

 
Cornwall, Cornish Coast - 3 Day Road Trip
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