Have you got 3 days to spend in Cornwall and are looking for the perfect Cornwall road trip itinerary? Look no further!
Cornwall is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, with plenty of sandy beaches, leafy woodlands, and interesting landmarks. For Brits, it’s the ultimate “staycation” or mini-break destination. And for overseas visitors, it’s often high on the agenda for those who know a little more about the UK outside of London.
Cornwall Itinerary: 3 Days Road Trip
In this 3 days Cornwall itinerary, I’ve decided to focus on Southern Cornwall, and want to show you the absolute best of what the West Country has to offer. Are you ready? Let’s go!
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Day 1 – Land’s End, Porthcurno and Minack Theatre
Your first day (and before) will likely be spent driving into Cornwall. Depending on where you’re starting your road trip, it will obviously take different lengths of time. This itinerary assumes that you’ve already made it to the outskirts of Cornwall by this point, so do bear that in mind.
For a 3 days road trip, I’d recommend heading straight to the very end of Cornwall, and then spend the next few days slowly making your way back up. This is why I recommend starting at Land’s End (quite literally, the end of the country).
Land’s End is the UK’s most south-westerly point and is one of the most well-known landmarks in the country.
There are spectacular coastal views here, as well as traditional funfair attractions and games. If you’ve got time, I’d recommend parking at nearby Sennen Cove, which costs £2.50 for 4 hours (noticeably cheaper than at Land’s End itself). Parking at Sennen Cove also means you can make use of the popular coastal path to help stretch your legs (taking about 1 hour to walk to Land’s End and back).
However, if you’d prefer to spend less time here and just see Land’s End, then you can park at the attraction itself, although you will be required to pay closer to £5 for parking.
Heading in a South-East direction from either Sennen Cove or Land’s End, your next stop should be Porthcurno, which is about 15 minutes away by car.
Porthcurno Beach is where I’m going to suggest you spend your afternoon. It’s a lovely sandy beach with beautiful turquoise water perfect for dipping your toes in. As it’s the UK, swimming might be out of the question unless you’ve packed your wetsuit!
Please note: There is a seasonal dog ban in place throughout the summer months. Sorry pups! If you’re travelling with dogs, Bude in North Cornwall offers some great dog friendly beaches you can choose from though!
Overlooking Porthcurno Beach and the ocean is the Minack Theatre, which is an incredible open air theatre set right into the cliffs.
After spending the afternoon at the beach, there’s nothing better than spending the evening catching a show! For popular shows (and peak times), you’ll need to book your tickets in advance — at least 3 months ahead in order to secure the best prices.
You’re welcome to bring food and drink with you to a theatre show, but space is quite limited where you sit, so you’ll need to bring it in something that doesn’t take up too much space. A picnic basket, for instance, is NOT a good idea!
Also, as the seats are carved into the cliffs, you can expect that they’re not very comfortable. You’re essentially sitting on stone. So bring a cushion! Otherwise, you can hire out cushions at the theatre for £1 each.
Additionally, many shows go ahead come rain or shine, providing it is safe to do so. So you’re recommended to bring blankets, coats and multiple layers. Even in summer, it can get quite nippy by the coast, especially once the sun sets.
But all this aside, a trip to Minack Theatre is guaranteed to provide you with an unforgettable evening. Maybe you’ll even see a clear sky and bright full moon like we did the last time we went?
Day 1 – Where to Eat in South Cornwall
On your first day, I’d recommend taking a picnic with you to Land’s End. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a simple picnic while looking out across the sea. It’s also pretty romantic if you’re road tripping with your partner! Either that, or you could eat a traditional Cornish pasty, which are on sale at Land’s End.
For dinner, you have a few options. You could eat fish ‘n’ chips, which is a must when visiting the seaside in Britain. I’d suggest the Cable Station Inn for some simple pub food. Or you could simply hold out for your Minack Theatre picnic… or have both (you’re on holiday after all)!
Day 1 – Where to Stay in Porthcurno
If you’ve decided to follow this 3 days Cornwall itinerary, then it’s recommended you stay in or around Porthcurno. It’ll be quite late into the evening that you’ll be coming out of your show at the Minack Theatre (likely 10-11pm), so you won’t want to have to drive too far to get some rest.
Here are my recommendations of where to stay in Porthcurno:
- Tater-du: Stunning self-catered holiday home with sea views
- Porthcurno Bay View: Another stunning self-catered holiday home with log burner and large freestanding bath
Day 2 – The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Mevagissey
On your second day, I’m going to recommend that you head to The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the fishing port of Mevagissey.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Lost Gardens of Heligan have a fascinating history, and are beautiful to see today.
The original gardens date back as far as 1766, but what’s really fascinating is that the gardens became neglected during the First World War. It wasn’t until 1990 that the gardens were discovered again, prompting a full-scale renovation project spanning an entire decade.
Today, you can see that the gardens have been lovingly restored, but there is still an air of mystery when you visit thanks to unusual stone statues, overgrown spaces and an area of the garden aptly named ‘The Jungle’.
To truly enjoy your visit without rushing, I’d aim to spend 3-4 hours here. You can even bring your dog!
Mevagissey is somewhere that is certainly lesser known in Cornwall, but is a charming and very traditional Cornish fishing village.
It’s a great place to while away a couple of hours watching the boats and eating traditional fish ‘n’ chips — a must when by the seaside in Britain!
If you wanted, you can even hop on a fishing tour to see how the fish are caught!
Day 2 – Where to Eat in South Cornwall
The Lost Gardens of Heligan has a kitchen and bakery on-site, which offers some delicious lunchtime options such as sandwiches, pies, quiches, and salads.
For dinner, I’d recommend scouting out fresh fish in Mevagissey itself. After all, locally caught fish is their speciality!
Salamander and The Fish Grill & More are definitely the best options within the town. You will need to book overhead for Salamander, whereas The Fish Grill is handy if you just want to grab a takeaway and sit overlooking the harbour – just watch out for pesky seagulls!
Day 2 – Where to Stay in Mevagissey
Personally, nothing could make this itinerary better than sleeping in Mevagissey itself for a traditional Cornish experience.
Here are some recommendations for where to stay in Mevagissey:
- Mevagissey Bay Hotel – for the views!
- Tremarne Hotel – for the food and comfort
- Trevalsa Court Hotel – for the location and luxury experience
- The Little Cornish B&B – for the cute, home-from-home vibe and amazing staff
Day 3 – Eden Project
On your third and final day in this South Cornwall road trip itinerary, you shouldn’t leave Cornwall without exploring everything that the Eden Project has to offer. As you can easily spend upwards of 4 hours here, I’d recommend devoting your whole last day just for this attraction.
One of the most popular attractions in Cornwall is the Eden Project. It’s essentially several dome-shaped biomes containing thousands upon thousands of different plants, flowers and foliage.
Even if you don’t have a single green finger in your body, if you simply love looking at beautiful flowers and walking through nature, then you’ll love what the Eden Project has to offer. You can even climb some steps to see one of the biomes from above – perfect for the more adventurous among you.
When visiting, I’d highly recommend wearing thin layers and carrying plenty of water with you. It gets incredibly hot, humid and rainforest-like inside the Eden Project, so you’ll want to be able to strip off a little bit, and drink plenty of water during your walk around. You may also want to tie up long hair as it can end up sticking to the back of your neck otherwise.
Day 3 – Where to Eat Near the Eden Project
However, if you’d rather eat off-site and explore a little more of Cornwall in the process, then I can highly recommend either The Kings Arms in the stunning Luxulyan Valley, or Sams On The Beach at Polkerris.
Day 3 – Where to Stay in Lostwithiel
There are lots of small towns and villages around the Eden Project that you can book a stay in. But if you don’t mind a short drive from the Eden Project to the town of Lostwithiel, then I’d highly recommend staying there. It’s a charming riverside town for the utmost in relaxation and peace.
Here are some of my recommendations for where to stay in Lostwithiel:
- Tremont Bed and Breakfast – delicious breakfast and a very comfortable stay
- 1 Rose Cottages – a charming holiday home with views of the river
- Penrose Bed & Breakfast – great breakfast, good location and super friendly staff
Bonus 5 Days Cornwall Itinerary – St Ives and Tintagel
If you have an extra couple of days to spare in Cornwall, then I’d also highly recommend visiting both St Ives and Tintagel if you’re able to.
St Ives is a charming seaside town, offering lots of beautiful sandy beaches, a bustling harbour and picturesque views, while Tintagel and its castle are famous for being the supposed home of King Arthur.
If you can spare the time, I’d recommend turning this 3 days Cornwall itinerary into 5 days by chilling out in St Ives on your first day and visiting Tintagel during your final day before heading home.
I hope you find this Cornwall road trip itinerary useful! I absolutely adore Cornwall, choosing to holiday there once every couple of years, and I hope you enjoy your time there. Just remember to make the most of the beautiful beaches, coastal walks, cream teas and fresh fish – all of these are a must when in Cornwall.
Looking for more UK road trip inspiration? Check out these itineraries:
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