3 Days in Cornwall

Travel Itinerary

0 ratings

Dan Hill
Itinerary by: Dan Hill
a year ago
Duration: 3 days

If you're looking for a 3 day itinerary for Cornwall, then we've got you covered! Cornwall is a fabulous place for just about any length of stay. There's plenty of accommodation - including bed and breakfasts, hotels and camping. Just make sure to book in advance - and well in advance if you're planning on visiting during holiday seasons. For this itinerary, I recommend you book accommodation around the St. Ives area - which could include St. Ives itself, Carbis Bay or Lelant. Nearby Hayle has plenty of caravans and cabins in the Hayle Towans sand dunes, if that is something you are looking for. Getting to Cornwall might be your biggest challenge - as it's the most south westerly county in England. Driving to St. Ives in Cornwall from London takes about 5.5 hours . From Bristol, the drive to St. Ives is about 3.5 hours, and from Manchester it's about 6 hours. Once you reach Exeter on the M5, switch to the A30, which will take you as far as Penzance - which is nearly Lands End - if you want. Alternatively, you could take the train to Cornwall (change at St. Erth for St. Ives) - but you'll be very limited once you arrive without a car. This might be an acceptable option if you are intending to stay only in one location - e.g. St. Ives itself. Once you're down in Cornwall, get ready to enjoy the fresh air and nature. Since Cornwall is essentially a long peninsula surrounded by sea on both the north and south coasts, the weather is influenced heavily by the ocean. You can be lucky and have a week of glorious sunshine in the summer time - but you should always be prepared for showers. The climate is relatively mild - with average temperatures exceeding much of the United Kingdom. You'll see plenty of palm trees in Cornwall since the region rarely gets frosts of snow that would kill them off. Locals surf the waves in Cornwall all year around. Wetsuits are generally necessary - 3mm summer suits in the summer and 5mm in the winter. You'll find surf schools to teach you how to get started - such as St. Ives Surf School . Peak season (Easter and the last 2 weeks in July and August) can be a busy time to visit - so be prepared to meet lots of fellow visitors in the towns during this period. When eating out, if you eat fish, you should look for restaurants that serve the local catch of the day. The main fishing port is Newlyn, near Penzance - where there is a daily auction that buyers from all over the UK attend. The local "convenience food" is the Cornish pasty - a pastry based savoury that you'll find sold in all Cornish towns. If you're staying for longer, you could check out our 1 Week in Cornwall itinerary. If you've got time, you could check out our Day trip to the Isles of Scilly itinerary. If you like long walks, you can also take a look at our Zennor to St. Ives coastal path walk - which has some beautiful scenery.

Day 1

09:30 - 12:30
St. Ives, Cornwall
Wharf Rd, Saint Ives TR26 1LH, UK
Originally an active fishing port, today St. Ives in west Cornwall is a thriving seaside resort also renowned for its artist colony and surfing culture. With a population of around 11,000 people, St. Ives is a place to wander small cobbled streets and alleyways. There are shops selling artwork, and plenty of places to relax in the many restaurants, cafes and pubs. The town has five beaches, taken in walking order: Porthminster is a relatively calm watered beach with a cafe, restaurant and ample space for families. Walking toward the town, the small Lambeth Walk Beach can be found along a walkway behind the present day lifeboat house. Past the harbour, the next beach is St. Ives harbour beach - a relatively small sandy beach with a view of the boats. Walking to Smeatons pier, and turning left, you’ll find the tiny beach of Bamaluz - with rocks and sand. Depending on the wind, occasionally this beach is used by surfers. Continue around the coastal path and you’ll reach Porthgwidden beach - a small but lovely sandy cove with a cafe and a backdrop of the rocky point known as “The Island”. The sea here is generally calm. Continue walking around “The Island”, or take a short-cut across the car park at Porthgwidden, and you’ll reach the largest and main surfing beach of the town: Porthmeor. Here, you can arrange for surfing lessons. There is a lifeguard presence during the summer months here. When the conditions are right (generally when winds are offshore - and most frequently in autumn, spring and winter, but also sometimes summer), Porthmeor can give some great waves for surfers, body boarders and other water sports. Also of note in the town is the Tate St. Ives gallery and the Barbara Hepworth museum, exhibiting many of her works in her sculpture garden. Parking in the town can be problematic. There is a beautiful little branch line train route which runs from St. Erth to St. Ives - meaning that you can leave your car a few miles away, and enjoy a coastal train ride (highly recommended).
Article By: Dan Hill


Spend the morning walking around the picturesque streets of St. Ives, and admiring the art works and gift shops. A great take away lunch would be a local "Cornish Pasty" or treat yourself to fresh fish and chips! Do try to find all the beaches I've listed, and take a walk over "The Island" (see the Coast Guard lookout tower).

Getting there

If you're staying in St. Ives itself, then good for you! Otherwise, if you're driving here then there are 2 options. On a day visit, you could use the "Park & Ride" scheme from St. Erth - where you can get a wonderful scenic train to St. Ives (highly recommended). Alternatively, follow the signs once you have reached St. Ives to find suitable parking. Be warned that the streets are narrow - so you may be best parking at St. Ives Leisure Centre, which is a steep 10 minutes walk up or down the hill to St. Ives.

Travel time
0 hours 15 minutes
12:30 - 14:00
Tate St Ives
Porthmeor Beach, Saint Ives TR26 1TG, UK
Tate St Ives is a sister art gallery to Tate Britain, Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool. I remember this gallery being built on the site of a former gas works, when I was attending schooling in St Ives - so it still feels "new" to me - although it opened way back in 1993. A grand building, with a pillared entrance, it certainly stands out in a town otherwise dominated by small fisherman's cottages. The location of the gallery is one of its attractions - set back slightly from Porthmeor beach - with its golden sands and rolling waves. The view from the cafe terrace is superb - you can look left to the Clodgy Point headland or right to the rocky Island with its little chapel and coast guard watch. Straight ahead, admire the surfers riding the energy from the Atlantic ocean. No stranger to St Ives, Tate took over the management of the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden back in 1980. This gallery will really appeal to you if you enjoy modern works of art. Much of the work here is from local artists and especially the local modernist movement from the 1920s and onward. There are regular exhibitions featured - and I'd recommend a visit to the Tate St Ives web pages - linked to on this page - to check what's on during your visit. Photo Credits: By Sarah Charlesworth, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13926810
Article By: Dan Hill
Standard 9.50 - 10.50 GBP
Students 8.50 GBP
Members 0.00 GBP
Kids 0.00 GBP Under 18
Seniors 8.50 GBP


Enjoy the wonderful views from Tate St. Ives and grab a tea or coffee from the café there.

Getting there

The Tate St. Ives is located by Porthmeor beach - a short walk from the main Fore Street. Just ask any local for directions!

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
14:30 - 16:00
Godrevy - Lighthouse and Seals
Godrevy Towans, Gwithian, Hayle TR27 5ED, UK
About half a mile from the village of Gwithian lies Godrevy - an area of outstanding national beauty popular with surfers, walkers and bird watchers. There are two National-Trust-run car parks, and an excellent two-floor wooden cafe located at the lower car park. I have been here several times for coffee and cake and had lunch here twice - the food being both healthy and tasty. If you park at the car park by the cafe, and walk toward the right corner of the car park when facing the sea, you will reach a small river - cross it at the bridge. You can now wander freely across the sand dunes, or walk down to the beach. If the wind is favourable (generally, if it's off-shore), you can get some great surfing conditions here. Waves can be anywhere between 2 and 6 feet on the face. The beach is popular with surfers from all around, but non-experienced surfers should be cautious of the powerful waves and currents. If you park at the upper car park (another few hundred metres along the same single track lane passed the lower car park), you'll be parking up on the headland. There are public toilet facilities available here. Walk across the field along the path near the toilets and you'll reach fenced off cliffs. Stay well away from the cliff edge - keep children and pets under strict control. Look below and you'll see a local seal colony. There are signs advising you to be quiet in order to not disturb them. Look across the sea to see the 12 acre Godrevy Island - with the white light house landmark perched upon it. The island lies about 300 metres off the Godrevy Point shore. You'll also see "The Stones", which extend about 1 mile out to sea - visible throughout the bay of St. Ives. The Stones have caused many shipwrecks over the ages, and eventually lead to the construction of the lighthouse in 1859. The sandy beach at Godrevy extends 3 miles (5 kilometres) back toward the town of Hayle. When the tide is out, it is possible to walk the entire distance along the beach. Photo Credits Dan Hill
Article By: Dan Hill


Enjoy a stroll on the beach - which can be very long when the tide is out - or walk up to Godrevy point to admire the lighthouse, and see if you can see the seal colony below.

Getting there

To get to Godrevy, you're going to have to drive from St. Ives - about 11 miles. Follow signs for Hayle, then head to the National Trust car park, at the headland past Godrevy (pass through the village of Gwithian, then go over a very narrow stone bridge, and the turning is on your left).

Travel time
0 hours 26 minutes

Day 2

10:00 - 12:00
St. Michael's Mount - Castle on a Tidal Island
St Michael's Mount, Marazion, UK
St. Michael's mount is a tidal island located just off the coast of the town of Marazion, in west Cornwall. When the tide is out, a stone walkway allows visitors to walk across the beach to the island. When the tide is in, an amphibious vehicle drives across the beach, and boats across to the island. The mount was the site of a monastery between the 8th and 11th centuries. If you've ever seen Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, you might do a double take, because St. Michael's Mount is its Cornish twin, and both sites were run by the Benedictine order of Mont Saint-Michel. That was, until the war-in-France and in 1424, St. Michael's Mount was then gifted to the the Abbess and Convent of Syon at Isleworth, Middlesex. Arriving at the 57 acre mount, you encounter a harbour and a small village with a cafe and a few small shops. The village itself was damaged back in 1755 when the Lisbon Earthquake caused a tsunami and a sudden rise of 2 metres in sea level. By the 19th century, a total of 53 houses were present in the village. In 1954, the Aubyn family gave a large portion of the Mount to The National Trust, and entrance is therefore free for members. Once inside the "paid for" area, you gain access to The Gardens and The Castle. The Castle is divided into a private residence of the St. Aubyn family (whose ancestors have dwelled here since 1650) and a 15th century chapel, set of rooms, stairwells and terraces to publicly explore. There are suits of armour, weapons of old, paintings and stories to explore, set in a "living museum" type arrangement. To reach the castle, you need to walk up a cobbled and windy path, which is steep in some places. There are some magnificent views from the top of the castle across to the mainland. The gardens are set around the base of the mount and are immaculately tendered - and well worth a visit. A family of 2 adults and up to 3 children costs 21 GBP. Children under 5 have free entrance. Photo Credits: Benjamin Elliot on unsplash.com Dan Hill
Article By: Dan Hill
Standard 8.50 GBP
Members 0.00 GBP
Kids 4.00 GBP Under 18

Travel time
0 hours 30 minutes
12:20 - 13:30
Mousehole - Cornish Fishing Village
Mousehole, UK
Mousehole is a quaint village centred around a fishing port located a couple of miles south of Penzance in west Cornwall. There are records documenting the existence of Mousehole going back to 1283. The route you'll most likely use to get to Mousehole will be the coast road from Newlyn - which is called "Cliff Road" for good reason. The village was rebuilt after it was attacked and destroyed in 1595 by the Spaniard Carlos de Amésquita. The sole surviving building still stands today, with a plaque commemorating the death of Squire Jenkyn Keigwin. The village - current population around 700 - is mostly residential - with granite stone fisherman's style terraced cottages being the predominant buildings. The pub in the village is called "The Ship Inn", and it also sells local seafood. There are 8 other eateries in the village - my favourite being "2 Fore Street" - which I have visited twice. The restaurant is featured in the Michelin Guide 2020, and the food is modern and fresh, with some good options also for vegetarians. I would definitely recommend booking ahead if you're considering visiting this restaurant. The village is often cited as being the home to the last of the Cornish language speakers - toward the end of the 18th century. For many years, Mousehole was a very active fish port - there are records documenting 55 boats in the 18th century - with the caught pilchards (sardines) also being exported to France. To appreciate Mousehole, take a walk around the harbour - and the small streets. The village is highly photogenic, so don't leave without a few photos of this quintessential Cornish fishing port.
Article By: Dan Hill

Travel time
0 hours 20 minutes
14:00 - 15:00
Land's End - The Most Westerly Point in England
Land's End, Sennen, Penzance TR19 7AA, UK
Land's End is the name of the most westerly point in mainland England - right at the most south westerly tip of Cornwall. It's a famous landmark and the end point for many-a "John O'Groats (Scotland) to Lands End" expeditions. The geography at Land's End consists of tall grassy granite cliffs over the often rough sea below. There's a pathway that allows visitors to safely walk along the cliff tops. A sign marks the distance to New York (3147 miles) and John O'Groats (874 miles). It can be very windy on the cliffs at Land's End, so come dressed appropriately. Look out to sea, and 1.25 miles away, you'll see the 12 metre high Longship's Lighthouse - completed in 1873. The original paraffin light was electrified in 1967, and the new electric light could be seen up to 19 miles away. The lighthouse was automated in 1988, and today it is therefore no longer manned. In the late 80s, a theme park and hotel complex (The First and Last Inn) was built at Land's End. There's a playground for children, a 4D Film and a few other attractions for children. Twice a week, there's a firework and classical music spectacular "Magic in the Skies". There are 2 shops: "Penwith House" - selling nautically themed gifts, and "First and Last House" - selling Cornish Ice Cream, refreshments and toys for kids. At Land's End you'll need to pay for parking - which is currently 6 pounds.
Article By: Dan Hill

Travel time
0 hours 30 minutes

Day 3

10:00 - 12:30
Trebah Garden
Trebah Garden, Trebah Garden Trust, Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ, UK
If you're looking for a place to truly relax, I'd recommend a visit to the meandering pathways though the tree laden valley of the sub-tropical Trebah Garden. Once you enter the 26 acre Trebah, there are multiple routes to take - although all lead down the valley. Originally planned as a garden back in 1831, the garden fell into disrepair between the years of 1939 and 1981 following the death of the owner. In 1981, Tony and Eira Hibbert acquired Trebah and started what they thought would be a 3 year project to restore the garden. 25 years later, they were still working on the project - but by 1987 the gardens were formally opened to the public. By the year 2000, annual visitor numbers had reached 100,000. Fascinating for young and old alike, is the "Gunnera Passage" - an almost jungle like experience in the summer months - where you can walk through a plantation of giant 2 metre high Gunnera plants. Throughout the gardens, you'll find interesting plants that seem to sit well in their surroundings. There's a water garden and koi pool toward the top of the valley, and a stream that leads through the entire garden, passing through various ponds until it reaches the private Trebah beach ("Polgwidden") at the bottom. Here, you'll also be welcomed by a cafe selling teas, coffees, freshly made cakes and ice creams. You'll need to be refreshed before you start your walk back up the valley! Children under 5 receive free admission - and there's an adventure playground "Tarzan's Camp" under the trees for little ones to enjoy. Photo Credits: Dan Hill
Article By: Dan Hill
Standard 11.00 GBP
Kids 5.50 GBP Under 15


Don't miss the café in the private beach at the bottom of Trebah Gardens.

Getting there

To get to Trebah Gardens, its about a 55 minute drive via the A30. You'll definitely want to use your GPS to find the location - or have a good navigator with a map at the ready!

Travel time
0 hours 55 minutes
13:30 - 15:00
Paradise Park Wildlife Sactuary and JungleBarn
16 Trelissick Rd, Hayle TR27 4HB, UK
Following a successful career in copywriting in London, Mike Reynolds and his wife Audrey had a dream of opening a bird garden in which to house their growing collection of tropical birds. They found Glanmor House in Hayle to be an ideal location, and after much work, they opened "Bird Paradise" (as it was then known) in 1973. The park continued to expand - and today the park houses over 1,000 birds (130 species) - with the addition of red pandas, otters, donkeys, sheep and pygmy goats (which children can feed by hand). Located in Hayle near St. Ives in Cornwall, this zoo-style park is laid out among trees on the hillside - with the majority of the animals located in the outside. There's a pool for the penguins, and feeding demonstrations scheduled for throughout the day. One of the highlights is the flight demonstrations by the birds of prey - 3 eagles and a vulture. The Scarlet Macaws also fly free. For energetic kids, there's also the JungleBarn - an indoor play area with drop-slides for the older kids and ball pools and soft play for the younger ones. There is also a cafe serving coffees and teas and child-friendly food. The park also highlights its work with conservation groups to protect endangered species, and its various breeding programmes - including Operation Chough - to introduce the Chough back to its Cornish habitat. Photo Credits Photo by Sid Balachandran on Unsplash Dan Hill
Article By: Dan Hill
Standard 16.95 GBP
Members 0.00 GBP
Kids 13.25 GBP Under 15
Seniors 15.50 GBP

Travel time
0 hours 45 minutes
15:45 - 16:45
Porthkidney Sands / Lelant Beach
Saint Ives TR26 3DT, UK
Porthkidney Sands is a north facing and long beach accessed from the village of Lelant, near St. Ives in west Cornwall. It is a favourite setting for many paintings - including several of the most famous and much loved works of the artist John Miller - who passed away in 2002. I love this beach - there are great views along the Hayle Towans (3 miles of golden sands), a view toward Godrevy lighthouse in the distance, Hayle River estuary on the right (popular with bird watchers), a long array of sand dunes behind, and granite cliffs to the left. The tide goes out a very long way! There are a couple of access points to the beach - the easiest to describe being to park near St. Uny's Church in Lelant, and then walk to the left of the church along a public footpath. The footpath soon crosses the land of West Cornwall Golf Club - take head to follow any safety advice (basically, stay on the path until you reach the beach). At the end of the path across the golf course, you can choose to continue straight, underneath a small railway bridge and down some steps to reach the side of the estuary. Turn left here to head to the main beach. Alternatively, you can turn left instead of going under the bridge, and walk along the side of the golf course on the marked path. You will soon reach an iron railway bridge with a path to cross it on your right. Head along this path into the sand dunes, pass the lifeguard hut, and down to the beach. This route may require some scrambling down the dunes! The beach is dramatically different at each state of the tide. At low tide, it can be quite a long walk to the sea itself. You can bring your dogs on the beach all year - and indeed this accounts for the popularity of the beach with dog owners. But don't worry - this is a very large beach! The beach is mainly popular with walkers - most beach dwellers use the beaches of nearby St. Ives - so this could be a good spot if you fancy some relative peace and quiet.
Article By: Dan Hill
Standard Free

Travel time
0 hours 15 minutes
About the author

I founded MapADay to create a platform where anybody could share and promote their favourite travel itineraries - in a consistent format that travellers can easily follow. I've lived in 5 different countries: UK, France, USA, Canada and now Denmark, and love exploring new places with my family - near and far.

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