Do You REALLY Need A Car In Cornwall?

Cornwall has an incredible amount to offer visitors, however, as the region is situated on the southwestern tip of England getting around can at times be difficult in a car, a taxi, or on public transport.

While you can definitely explore Cornwall without a car, the experience could end up being both frustrating and expensive. It really depends on how far and how often you plan to travel away from your ‘base location’ within Cornwall.

In this post, I’ll be breaking down two scenarios to help you have an incredible trip.

Firstly, I’ll discuss the things you should think about if you have the option of travelling to Cornwall with a car and are simply undecided on whether or not it’s worth bringing.

Then I’ll cover what you’ll want to consider if you have no option but to travel to Cornwall without a car. These hints and tips will hopefully make your trip both more affordable and more enjoyable.

Should You Travel With A Car To Cornwall?

If you have the option to bring a car to Cornwall but are simply undecided as to whether or not that’s a good decision, then hopefully these scenarios will help you decide.

Distance From Home

Helen and I travelled roughly six hours each way from Leeds down to Cornwall in the car. This would have been financially impossible in a taxi and on the train, it was expected to take over ten hours.

This was pretty much the deal maker for us bringing our car on this trip. Even if we simply parked it up once we arrived in Cornwall, we really needed to bring it to minimise the stress and maximise the flexibility of this part of the journey.

Cost Of Hiring A Car

If you don’t have your own car then you might have to hire one to drive to Cornwall.

You’ll want to consider the cost of hiring the car along with the additional costs of running a car (petrol, parking, etc.) during your trip before considering whether or not this is a worthwhile expense given the benefits it’s set to provide for you during your visit.

How Many Day Trips You’re Planning

If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in Cornwall and going on a number of day trips while you are in the region then having a car is likely going to make your trip more affordable and more convenient when compared to a taxi or public transport.

For example, when we went from Newquay to The Eden Project the journey took us just over an hour in the car (one way). However, the cost of a taxi would have been in the region of £40 and the journey time on a bus would have been almost two hours.

Multiply that experience with maybe two or three days out and you’ll quickly find yourself not wanting to go somewhere on a whim because of the hassle or the cost.

However, if you’re planning on simply visiting a holiday park and staying there for your entire visit except for maybe one day when you’ll head to the beach well in that case you could get a taxi or a bus as a one-off to save yourself the hassle of the car.

Where You Plan To Stay In Cornwall

If you’re staying in a central location close to a number of amenities and facilities then the need for a car is likely going to be significantly reduced.

However, if you’re staying in a more remote location then you’ll likely find the benefit of a car more convenient for going to the shops, to the beach, or on day trips to nearby towns and villages.

While we did bring our car as a result of the distance we initially had to travel, once we were at our Bed & Breakfast in Newquay we could have easily gone without it as we were located just next to Towan beach in the heart of the town.

Five beaches and more than 100 shops and restaurants were all within a 20-minute walk of where we were staying.

Confidence Driving

If you’re not a confident driver then you may find the new roads, one-way streets, country lanes, tight car parking spaces, and lack of parking availability (especially during summer) incredibly stressful.

In this case, you could bring the car for the initial drive and simply park it up once you arrive using public transport and taxis to get around to nearby destinations when needed or leave it home entirely.

The Cost Of Parking

Parking in Cornwall isn’t cheap!

While the exact cost varies depending on the specific car park and the amount of time you stay we generally found that on average we were paying around £3 – £5 for an hour or two and £8 – £20 for a stay of twelve to twenty-four hours.

How To Have A Great Trip To Cornwall Without A Car

You can still have an incredible trip to Cornwall without a car, experiencing everything that this region of the southwest of England has to offer. However, there are a couple of things I think might make this experience go off without a hitch.

Plan Your Base Location With Intention

Your base location is going to save you a lot of time and a lot of money so choose it with intention.

For example, if you know you want to spend a lot of time during your trip at the beach then pick some accommodation within walking distance to a beach (or three).

If your base location is so far from the beach that the walk is tiring, or that you have to get public transport or a taxi then you’re going to waste a lot of time and a lot of money completing that journey – or worse still, not do what you want to do during your trip.

Even if accommodation near the beach (for example) costs more, the amount you’ll save in time and money is likely going to counteract this. Not to mention you’ll likely go to the beach more often and stay longer.

You’ll also want to consider your proximity to local amenities and public transport connections to places you might like to visit.

Plan Your Days Out In Advance

Knowing where you want to go during your visit to Cornwall in advance will allow you to plan the distance, the best form of transport, the amount it’s estimated to cost, and the estimated journey time.

This allows you to budget for the trip appropriately and set off with plenty of time to still experience everything you want to at the location you’re visiting.

If on the other hand, you decide after breakfast one morning you’d like to go on a day trip to another town, but the bus takes two hours and it’s already 10.30am well you’ve already wasted half the day.

Instead, you could have had breakfast at 8.30am and instead be arriving at your day trip location by 10.30am allowing you to maximise your time.

Consider When Your Visiting

During the summer season (from the end of May through to the middle of September) there’s a significantly larger number of people visiting the region of Cornwall.

As a direct result, public transport to/from major tourist attractions and regions is more frequent and this makes getting around significantly easier and quicker – despite the added traffic on the roads.

However, on Sundays and Bank Holidays the frequency of public transport will be significantly less. As such the availability and cost of taxis will also likely be higher.

Therefore, consider not only when you’re planning on visiting Cornwall but on what days during your visit you might want to use public transport or a taxi to go somewhere within the region.

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