For Labor Day weekend, we headed west on a 3-day road trip to Cornwall. Cornwall is a coastal town of England that is all the way west. Cornwall is a popular town due to its location and beautiful beaches and cliff views.
This was our first long road trip since we’ve moved to England. I believe that COVID-19 has forced people to take alternate travel methods to avoid large crowds of people that would be in airports, etc. So that’s what we did.
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Driving down the coast was pretty exciting. Being able to see these great iconic sites was incredible. Taking a 3-day road trip to Cornwall will give you a chance to see the breathtaking scenery and green open fields along the way.
There are so many beautiful places to see while driving towards Cornwall. This road trip down the coast of Cornwall would have anyone fall in love with England’s gorgeous countryside views, culture, and beautiful quaint villages.
So for us this is also a staycation road trip to Cornwall. We decided to do this staycation in the UK to Cornwall due to certain travel restrictions. And you know what? A staycation in England is perfect. I mean I live here now, but people from around the world visit England..ahh um..well mainly London since it’s such a popular destination. But there is so much more to England than just going to London..like..taking a road trip to Cornwall.
In this post, I will be going over an itinerary on our 3-day road trip to the final destination of Cornwall. We will make a stop at Bournemouth, then Jurassic Coast, and finally ending at St. Ives, Cornwall with some stops in between. So come along as we take this epic road trip down the coast of England to Cornwall.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my Ultimate Road Trip Packing List so you will have everything you need to pack before you drive off for your epic trip to Cornwall.
Here’s A Map of All the Places we Visited and Other Things to do.
Day 1- Bournemouth
The first day of this epic 3-day road trip is to head towards the coastal city of Bournemouth. It took us about 3 ½ hours from Bury St Edmunds. If coming from London it would take about 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours depending on what part of London you’re coming from.
Once you get to the hotel and park, if it’s still early then start your exploring. We stayed at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel. This hotel was very nice, clean, and spacious. Its name is true to its name and location too. We were staying high above on some cliffs and had a beachfront view.
Make sure you have some good walking and/or hiking shoes. Walking down the hill towards the beach was a piece of cake, but going back up…whew..it will tire you out real quick. But don’t let that stop you, because it is totally worth it.
Visit the lower gardens
This will be a nice place to start your exploring since the gardens is a short, brisk walk between Bournemouth Beach and the Town Centre. The gardens and the park are so pretty, clean, and well-kept. The gardens are considered Grade II of the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens.
People were out walking their dogs and taking a nice stroll themselves. If you want to just chill, bring a blanket, spread it out on the lawn. Have a picnic or just sit back and enjoy some beautiful weather as you watch people pass by. Just being outside with nature and relaxing is my favorite thing to do. Of course, being surrounded by the beautiful flowers is a bonus.
Visit the Upper Gardens
The upper gardens are a little further away from the Town Centre. I did not get a chance to do this but it would be another great option to put on your itinerary. However, from what I’ve seen on-line the gardens are quite beautiful, more quieter, and there are cute little red bridges that you can cross over water. These gardens also has a playground for the kiddos to run around and release some energy. To learn more you can go to the official Bournemouth Gardens website.Save $100 each time you rent with Hertz Free-To-Go Pass
After visiting the lower and upper gardens, go shopping. There are plenty of places to go shopping at like The Avenue or Bournemouth Shopping Arcade.
Also, there are high-end stores and specialty boutiques surrounding the outside of high street in the Town Centre. The Town Centre is a pedestrian area, so you don’t have to worry about driving your car. Everyting in this area is within walking distance.
While you’re out shopping, stop for a coffee and pastry or have afternoon tea. There are plenty of cafes to choose from.
If you are really feeling peckish (I know I sound so British), then stop at one of the surrounding eateries and grab some food for lunch. There is much to choose from Restaurants to pubs, or cafe’s.
Visit the Bournemouth Pier
This is one of the staples of Bournemouth when people visit. You have to pay to enter but it’s relatively cheap. Just 1.30 for an adult and even less for kids.
There are quite a few things to do on Bournemouth Pier. There are games and arcades available, this is especially great if you have young children. Not only that, but walk down a little further towards the middle of the pier and go to RockReef. In RockReef there are several indoor activities from The Pier Cave, Vertical Slide, to The Pier Cave, etc. I gotta tell you tho, so far this is nothing in comparison to the Brighton Palace Pier though, but it was still cute and something to do and see for a day trip.
Additionally, at the RockReef you can try your hand at Ziplining..if you dare. Now, this is one thing that Brighton Palace Pier didn’t have. The Pier Zip is the First Pier to shore Zip in the world!! Now that’s something…It’s worth a try. My daughter and fiance’ thought it was pretty fun.
Have lunch at Key West Bar and Grill
This restaurant is also located on the Pier. If you make a reservation at Key West Bar, then you could get on the pier for free. Save you a couple of bucks…LOL. It is located at the end of the pier. You would get great views of the bays while dining. Here, they offer drinks and British specialties.
Ride the “Observation” AKA Bournemouth Big Wheel
It’s like a traditional Ferris Wheel that will allow you to get 360-degree views of the city and beach shore. The tickets are only 6.00 pounds per adult and 5.00 pounds for children and they offer special family and senior citizen rates. If you love going high in the sky (100 ft) up to be exact, then this is the attraction for you and the entire family.
You cannot come to this coastal town and not explore the beach…It’s really nice. So, walk along this Golden sandy beach, as it goes on for miles and miles. There weren’t too many people there when we went. It was just the right amount. If going in the summer, this would be the perfect place to layout on the beach and bask in the sun. And if it’s warm enough you could even take a dip in the water.
Rent a Beach Hut
If you want to relax, hang out with friends while enjoying the beach shore views, then rent a beach hut. These colorful huts come with 3 deck chairs. We saw a few people just hanging out with friends drinking some beers while outside of their huts.
Head back to the Town Centre for Dinner
We decided to eat TGIFriday’s. I mean we are Americans so we had to eat at Friday’s. LOL. We would have eaten at the local Latin American restaurant Las Iguanas but it was closed due to COVID. If you ever have a chance to eat there then you should because they have amazing drinks and great food. Anyway, you don’t have to eat at TGIFriday’s as we did. There are plenty of other options to eat from like Indian, African, French, Thai, British food, and etc. It’s something here for everyone’s taste buds.
Day 2- Jurassic Coast
First thing in the morning after breakfast, of course, check out of the hotel and jump into the car to continue your 3-day road trip, and head towards Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Jurassic coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its vast landscapes, rock formations, and this is where the dinosaurs roamed almost 200 MILLION years ago!!! Like seriously, what!! This is so cool…don’t you think?!
The first stop was in Studland to hike up to the Iconic Landmark, Old Harry Rocks. Studland is the most eastern point of the Jurassic coastline. From there the Jurassic coastline continues on for 95 miles ending at Exmouth.
The cliffs of Old Harry Rocks are these huge white chalk cliffs. The hike to get to the cliffs wasn’t that far either. It was about a mile walk. But it was really easy to get there from the car park.
The views are absolutely incredible. Be careful though because there aren’t any barriers keeping you from accidentally tipping over these steep cliffs.
Bring water and wear good walking shoes. It’s a great area for your dogs too. Make sure they are on a lead as the cliffs are very steep.
Walk down to any of the four beaches of Studland Bay. Studland Bay is apart of and managed by the National Trust. Studland Bay stretches for four miles. While here, you could participate in watersports. Or if you want, you can rent a kayak to explore the waters and get close and personal to the rock formations. Or just hang out, there is even a section for nudists..oh my…
Next, Durdle Door
Jump back in the car..LOL..I know it’s a lot of jumping and go see one of the most iconic sites in Britain and in the world. This is another iconic stop on your road trip towards Cornwall that you will not want to miss
It is 150 million years old!!
So, there is a car park at Durdle Door that charges a fee to enter the park. This car park is at the top of the cliff above Durdle Door.
The walk to Durdle door from the car park isn’t that bad either. It’s only 900 m away. You are walking down a stretch of rocks/gravel carved out. The walk is going down-hill to see the view of the infamous Durdle Door.
Durdle Door is iconic because of its unique shape. It starts as a rock formation that goes into the sea, at which over time it has eroded to shape a big opening in the middle of the formation. It kind of looks like the shape of a horseshoe or upside-down U. This arch was formed naturally over time. It stands tall and protrudes out into the sea. Pretty much, something like you’ve never seen before. It is really cool if you ask me.
First, you will get incredible views of Durdle Door up high on a cliff. Next, walk down the steps to get to the beach to see the site up close and personal. The steps are pretty sturdy making it was fairly easy to walk down.
Once down the steps, you’ll hit the pebble beach, it wasn’t too hard to walk on. It was definitely a sight to see up close. This attraction is very popular, and there were all kinds of tourists out. We went mid-afternoon, so if you want to avoid the crowds try to get there early in the morning. The car park for Durdle Door opens as early as 9 AM.
***While there make sure to visit Lulworth Cove which is a short walk away from Durdle Door. It is a beautiful beach with shimmering blue waters shaped in a semi-circle. We didn’t go down to the steps to the beach, but was able to view it from the top of the cliffs.
The views were AWESOME!!
St. Ives, Cornwall
Now finally we make it to St. Ives, Cornwall. This is the last stop of day your road trip to Cornwall. Here is where you go check in to your next hotel and get settled in.
Go eat dinner
After you’ve settled in a bit, it will be time to eat dinner. It will be a good idea to make a reservation ahead of time. We decided to eat at an American Burger bistro. The on-line ratings were very good so we ate here. We didn’t make a reservation, however, we were lucky enough to squeeze in. Although, we had to wait about 40 minutes. They have good burgers and good drinks. Can’t go wrong with that. You can also have great views of the water, particularly if you sit upstairs on the balcony. Either way, it’s still a good option. You don’t have to eat just at a burger joint. All along the harbour are lined with different restaurants and pubs to choose from.
Stroll along the harbour
Just take a nice stroll down the harbour. It was pretty crowded thru the harbor but still a very nice, little quaint part of the city. There is a lot of hustle and bustle as this is one of the popular strips. And right by the water no less. There are options for doing a few water sports, like taking a self-drive boat out. But, be warned, it’s quite expensive.
Have dessert and Eat Cornish ice cream
What makes this smooth, velvety ice cream so special? Well, it’s made of Cornish clotted cream. Cornish clotted cream is thicker than regular cream and is made and harvested from the country farms right in the city of Cornwall. It’s rich, creamy, and oh so scrumptious. We had delicious ice cream from St. Ives Coffee and A Ice Cream Shop. But there are other choices if you walk a little further down the harbour you can also try Kelly’s of Cornwall.
Day 3- St. Ives Continued..
Wake up and have breakfast at your hotel or if you want something quick then visit Canary Yellow bakery for good coffee and great pastries. You must try the custards…it was amazing. It was flaky, buttery and had just enough sweetness.
Walk to Porthminster Beach
Next, take a stroll down this beautiful golden sandy beach. Catch the morning sun. This small, intimate beach has awesome views of the bay. This would be a great choice for families to take a swim as the waters are calm. Or just grab a lawn chair and relax for an hour or two, taking in the sun.
Next, visit St. Michael’s Mount
St. Michaels Mount is a castle sitting high above the hill on a little island. There is a unique and beautiful causeway that is made of cobblestone to get to St. Micheal’s Mount that cuts directly through the sea that connects the beach to the island. However, when the tide is high this pathway is fully submerged underwater. So go on the official website and check the tide before you make a drive there.
You would want to get there during low tide in order to cross. And, since COVID-19 you have to reserve a ticket to actually enter the castle and island anyway. There are time slots available that are in place to maintain social distancing by only allowing a certain number of patrons at any given time. For more click here.
You can purchase a ticket to visit the castle only. Or you could also purchase a ticket to tour and explore the beautiful gardens that are located beneath the castle. You must have a ticket to enter the castle and the surrounding village. Visit the village to talk to some of the 30 locals that live there, or have a bite at one of the pubs.
To get to St. Michael’s Mount from St. Ives, is a 16 to 25 minutes car ride.
Finally, visit Land’s End
Land’s End is located at the westernmost point of Cornwall and Britain. It is a renowned destination due to its location of being “At The End”. The Land’s End iconic signpost is pretty cool too, it shows that you were actually there…LOL. All the way at the end of Britain. However, much to my surprise, this iconic sign is tucked behind a rope and there is a fee to pay to take a picture with it. This was a kind of a bummer as I thought taking a picture with the sign would be free.
The Land’s End iconic signpost is pretty cool too, it shows that you were actually there…LOL.
Regardless, if you do decide to pay to take a picture with it, the employees will add your name, phrase, or whatever else you would like to have on the sign for your picture. I mean we didn’t pay, I didn’t think it was worth it personally but to each its own. Maybe next time I go I’ll pay the fee and take the picture.
While here, continue on and take in the beautiful landscapes and granite rock cliffs. You could have a chance to spot the lighthouse and the Isles of Scilly when the weather is nice and clear. The views are beautiful and the 100 acres of land that is here is a wonderful sight to see.
Walking along the paths in the open wide field was nice and brought a sense of calm. Being out there on this land being one with nature is amazing. The granite rocks cliffs are something out of a movie, it’s gorgeous.
If you get hungry there is an ice cream parlor where they sell the city’s famous Cornish ice cream. There are other quick bites that are available here too. As well as ciders, beer, ales inside the First and Last Inn. Or you can enjoy a full cornish breakfast meal at the Lands End Restaurant & Bar, or stay for lunch or dinner.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my Ultimate Road Trip Packing List so you will have everything you need to pack before you drive off for your epic trip to Cornwall.
Other things to do on your road trip to Cornwall.
I even passed by Stonehenge, even though that was not a part of the itinerary, but what an awesome sight to see.
Bath is a beautiful city where the Romans used to live and explore. The Georgian-style architecture is so amazing and romantic. Visit the Roman Baths or the Thermae Bath Spa for some relaxation.
3. The Eden Project
This is a gigantic botanical garden filled with other activities like zip-lining. We actually purchased tickets to go here, but we ran out of time.
4. Minack Theatre
This is an open theatre high on rock cliffs situated above the water. You would get spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. You can visit this site on your way to Land’s End. Make a reservation to actually see a show.
5. Tintagel Castle
This is further up north of Cornwall. The photos of this ancient castle that I’ve seen are beautiful.
That’s it, a 3-day itinerary to Cornwall. This is a perfect staycation for those living in the United Kingdom. And a perfect destination for those that want to see some beautiful landscapes and learn some history and culture.
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