With lengthy airport security queues, flight cancellations and delays with which to contend, many people will be holidaying closer to home this year. Renting a motorhome is one exciting alternative, allowing you to explore at your own pace while packing home comforts and avoiding costly accommodation.
Plus, it’s a great way to try before you buy – especially in a market where even second-hand prices are surging. But where should you head to first once you’re behind the wheel? Well, there are few UK counties better for exploring than Cornwall.
In fact, there’s so much that you could include in a Cornwall road-trip itinerary that you might want to take multiple trips just to fit it all in. Below, we’ve highlighted five of the big hitters to help you to start planning.
Top Cornwall road-trip destinations
You’ll find loads to do in the pretty town of Falmouth, which sits on Cornwall’s southerly coast. It boasts the third-largest natural harbour in the world and has pretty ocean views to go with it. Where better to take it all in than Pendennis Castle?
One of Henry VIII’s coastal fortresses, Pendennis was designed to defend Cornwall from foreign invasion and played a key role in each of the two World Wars. Today, the setting is somewhat more serene, welcoming families and history buffs to explore its grounds.
If you have time on your Cornwall road trip, the National Maritime Museum is well worth a look. It’s the perfect place to learn about the county’s rich maritime heritage, plus some of the most urgent issues affecting our seas today.
Of course, you could simply park up and enjoy a beach or clifftop stroll instead. Falmouth is also the ideal jumping-off point for a range of boat trips in the area.
Marazion is another of the many pretty coastal towns with which Cornish residents are blessed. Mount’s Bay offers spectacular views towards the Lizard Peninsula and Land’s End in opposing directions, while Marazion Marsh hosts a wide variety of wildlife. But the area is most famous for the island and castle of St Michael’s Mount.
You’ll need to time your visit right, as this tidal island is only accessible on foot via a granite causeway at low tide. At high tide, you’ll need to pay a small fee to hop on a boat. Once you’ve made it across, you’ll discover a medieval church and a majestic castle, with tropical gardens to the rear.
Did you know: The St Aubyn family still live in the castle, so make sure to say hello if you get the chance!
No Cornwall road-trip itinerary would be complete without the charming seaside destination of St Ives. In truth, there’s so much to see here that you may want to park up and spend the night.
As well as admiring the town’s whitewashed houses and shops with an ice cream, you’ll have several opportunities to take in some art. The Tate St Ives gallery showcases modern British artists with links to the area. Round the corner, the St Ives Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Museum celebrates the famed sculptor’s studio and sculpture garden, where she lived and worked for 26 years.
St Ives isn’t short of sandy beaches and epic coastal walks, either. Porthmeor Beach is a sweet spot for a surf – or for a bit of something different, take a boat trip to Seal Island. As you might have guessed from the name, you’ll have a seal colony waiting for you on the other side!
The Roseland Heritage Coast
Fancy a change of pace away from crowds? The Roseland Peninsula is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with unspoilt landscapes and secluded bays galore. It’s bordered by the Fal Estuary to the west and St Austell Bay to the east, with plenty to discover in between.
There’s St Mawes with its castle and cute cafes, plus lots of beautiful beaches that are perfect for swimming and rock pooling. The mostly rocky Portscatho Beach is one to add to your list, while the sandier Pendower Beach is popular for water sports.
The area features several spectacular drives that are best discovered by veering off the main roads – if you dare disobey your GPS!
A few miles west of Newquay sits the bustling village of Perrenporth. The star attraction here is its golden beach which, as well as concealing a stunning rock archway, is ideal for experienced surfers and those eager to learn.
It’s one of the largest expanses of sand in Cornwall, in fact, stretching for over three miles at low tide. The beachside Watering Hole pub, meanwhile, hosts live music throughout the year, while Healey’s Cornish Cyder farm is also nearby if you’re still thirsty.
Life’s all about balance, of course, and Perranporth is an ideal spot to join the 15-mile cliff path between Newquay and St Agnes for a ramble.
You can find another vast Cornish beach at Watergate Bay, located only three miles north of Newquay. It covers two miles at low tide and makes for one of the most spectacular sunset panoramas in the county.
The drive to the bay offers amazing coastline views, plus you’ll find plenty of space to park up. The beach is dog-friendly all year round, too, which is relatively rare.
Your gang will have plenty of options at this stage in your Cornwall road trip. The beach is easy to access and hosts surf lessons for all ages, while the fancy restaurants and spa treatments at the famous Watergate Bay hotel are open to the public. Alternatively, score some takeaway chips and head off in search of a clifftop perch.
Five tips for a smooth Cornwall motorhome road trip
Choosing where to go on your road trip around Cornwall is only part of the fun. You could be handling a much larger vehicle than you’re used to, and it’s totally normal to feel nervous. In reality, though, driving a motorhome in Cornwall – or elsewhere – is easier than you might think, providing that you keep in mind a few tips.
Beware narrow country lanes
If you’ve been to Cornwall before, you’ll likely know how tight and high-sided the roads can be. The landscape can make driving in a two-door compact a little hairy at times, so there are some routes that you’ll simply have to rule out in a motorhome.
Where possible, aim to scope out motorhome-friendly journeys that avoid tight squeezes and other obstacles like low bridges. This might mean driving a few miles further, but you’ll save on plenty of time and stress in the process.
Many locals will tell you that Cornwall isn’t built for the volume of tourists that it now attracts, especially when it comes to roads and car parks. Always aim to park in spots of which you can get out as easily as you get in, then – and avoid blocking others in the process!
You’ll want to steer clear of anywhere with height clearance issues and make sure that you have permission for overnight stays. Plus, if in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask one of your travel buddies to get out and guide you into a space.
Bonus tip: Download a mobile parking app and register your vehicle to save time and hassle at each stop.
Take things slow
With so many attractions to tick off, it’s easy to overfill your Cornwall road-trip itinerary and start rushing. But part of the joy of motorhome holidays is the freedom to take things slow and get distracted along the way.
Aim to allow buffers for unplanned exploration in between your scheduled stop-offs. Plus, you never know when you might get caught in traffic or – whisper it quietly – suffer a breakdown!
Pick the right time
Cornwall is arguably at both its best and worst in the height of summer, depending on your preferences. You’ll give yourself the best chance of enjoying sunny days at the beach in July and August – but you could have to battle through crowds to get there.
If you’re taking children with you, then your holiday window is already decided but, if you have a little more freedom, May and September combine mostly good weather with quieter roads for your motorhome.
Make sure that you’re covered
Renting or borrowing a motorhome could facilitate a Cornwall road trip like you’ve never experienced before, as long as you have the right cover. Your standard car insurance policy is unlikely to cover you, so you’ll need temporary motorhome insurance on which you can rely. With our flexible, comprehensive cover, you’ll be well prepared for any bumps in the road.