Cornwall is such a beautiful place to visit and so many people in the UK still haven’t been to Cornwall. This is mainly because of how far away it is, especially when looking at London to Cornwall!
But, a Cornwall Road Trip from London is a great idea because you will end up in this stunning beachy county, you’ll get to see lots of amazing places along the South of England whilst on the way to Cornwall from London and it will break up the long journey.
Options for getting to Cornwall from London include by train or by flight, but you’ll need a car once you get to Cornwall to get around and see the best places in Cornwall, so you might as well just drive from London, or hire a car in London and see some new places in the UK on the way!
In this Cornwall blog post, I’ll give you 12 brilliant ideas of where to stop on a London to Cornwall Road Trip, the best route to take from London to Cornwall and where to go in Cornwall when you arrive.
Cornwall Road Trip from London
How Far is Cornwall From London??
The distance from London to Cornwall is 250-300 miles depending on where you leave London from and how far South you go in Cornwall. The London to Cornwall drive will take roughly 5-6 hours with no stops and with good traffic.
I hope this firstly shows that a day trip to Cornwall from London is not really possible, and it is a long way to go if you only plan to spend 1 night in Cornwall. (If you have limited time, a road trip to Devon or Dorset is better.)
Cornwall is a great trip from London if you have a bit more time and to enhance the trip, the best way to do a London to Cornwall Road Trip is to stop along the way.
Depending on the time you have, spending at least 2 days and 1 night, or even 3 days and 2 nights driving to Cornwall will make the London to Cornwall distance much more manageable and you’ll get to see so many brilliant places on the way there and on the way back which I have detailed in this London to Cornwall post.
Best Route From London to Cornwall
When you put London to Cornwall into Google Maps for directions it’s going to give you 3 or 4 route options as you can see below, and the recommended best route to Cornwall from London as suggested by Google Maps will be the middle route.
The route I recommend taking when visiting Cornwall from London is the lower route going via Southampton. Google Maps is likely to show this as the longest route, but it’s worth it!
That’s because by taking the longer route you will go closer to the Coast and this is where you’re going to find the most beautiful places on the South Coast of England in Hampshire, Dorset and Devon as you pass through rather than going through the middle.
If you have time, the best way to do your route on the way home when driving from Cornwall to London is the route via Bristol on the M5 and M4 as there are some great places to visit in Somerset and the Cotswolds on the way back to London that is just off the motorway!
I have detailed all these best places to stop on the way to Cornwall below as there’s no way you can drive through all these places and not stop!
If you’re heading back to London after Cornwall which you probably will be, then you can go back another one of the 2 ways available and see even more on this Cornwall to London Road trip, which I’ll also detail below!
Car Hire for a London to Cornwall Trip
If you don’t have a car for this Cornwall road trip and you still need to hire one, I recommend Rentalcars because they search all of the top rental companies like Budget and Hertz to get you the best price!
Remember that to get the best priced rental car from London you are best to hire one from an Airport! Hiring a car from Heathrow or Gatwick will work well as you’ll be able to get out of London and head towards Cornwall straight away!
London to Cornwall Road Trip
Roughly 1 hour 30 minutes after leaving London and before reaching Southampton on then M3 you will go past Winchester. Winchester is a charming historic city is one of the most desirable places to live in England so it’s worth a stop!
With a few hours in Winchester, you can visit the main attraction which is the 11th century Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest in Europe! Make sure you visit Winchester College, the oldest public school in England and a place where Harry Potter and Les Miserables were filmed!
2. New Forest National Park
About 2 hours south of London, just past Southampton is the New Forest National Park and you literally have to drive through it along the A31 on this London to Cornwall road trip so it would be a shame not to stop and see some of it!
There are quite a few things to do in the New Forest and places to visit but Brockenhurst, which is just a 12 minute detour from the A31 at Cadnam is one of the most popular places to visit.
This village is full of Tudor-style houses and it was once declared Britain’s most beautiful place to live. The New Forest is also known for its wild New Forest ponies so be sure to keep a lookout for these and pull over during the drive for a walk to see more of this national park.
3. Durdle Door Lulworth Cove
After Hampshire, when doing the London to Cornwall drive, you will hit Dorset County.
Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove are by far the most popular and iconic places in Dorset and although I suggest visiting a few more places in Dorset below, I really do think that visiting these will complete this road trip from London to Cornwall and it’s worth the small detour!
From your rote along the A35, you can leave the A35 at Bere Regis and be in Lulworth Cove in just 20 minutes!
In order to see both Lulworth Cove and the iconic Durdle Door, the Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door walk is a great walk to do along the Jurassic Coast to get out of the car, stretch your legs and take in this amazing coastline!
4. West Bay
After East Dorset which is where Lulworth Cove is, you will have to drive to the West and further along the A35 is Birdport and West Bay and as these are rated as top places to visit in Dorset they are also great places to stop on the way to Cornwall!
What I love about the South Coast of England are the coastal footpaths and walking along the top of West Bay is an incredible walk, and a good one to stretch your legs!
5. Lyme Regis
30 minutes up the road from West Bay is the lovely town of Lyme Regis. This is a great place to spend a whole day as there are many things to do in Lyme Regis but it’s also a good place for an hour or two.
The beach in Lyme Regis is nice, so is the harbour and the shops in the town. It’s a great place to stop for lunch and a wander on a road trip to Cornwall!
Now from Dorset into Devon, there are lots of places in Devon to visit which I did on my recent Devon Road Trip however they are more of a detour South off the A30 and A35 down country lanes and therefore will take up much more time when visiting Cornwall from London.
Exmouth however is a good place to stop in Devon because it’s easier to access. Exmouth is a port town and popular seaside resort, it’s also at the end.. or start depending on how you look at it of the Jurassic Coast.
Exmouth could work as a good night stop on your London to Cornwall road trip so you are ready to drive further into Devon and then Cornwall the next day.
7. Dartmoor National Park
A lot of people do a Cornwall and Devon Road Trip which makes a lot of sense seeing as you have to drive through Devon to get to Cornwall.
The best route from London to Cornwall I have suggested will take you around the top of the Dartmoor National Park but if you have time, I definitely recommend detouring by 20 minutes to get into the heart of the National Park.
There are lots of footpaths, Tor’s and places to park along the side of the roads. I did the Haytor Walk Visiting Hound Tor & Saddle Tor in Dartmoor which I really enjoyed.
Launceston is actually in Cornwall, but it’s not far from the Devon Cornwall border and the A30 which is the road to Cornwall you will likely take goes through it, therefore it’s a good place to stop on the way to Cornwall.
This town is the ancient capital of Cornwall and still has a medieval south gate and the ruins of a castle. It has lots of shops, especially independent shops and cafes to enjoy while having a break from driving, and lots of nearby walks.
Now we’ll focus on places to visit after you have finished in Cornwall and are doing the road trip from Cornwall to London, or perhaps if you decide to drive along the M4 & M5 from London to Cornwall.
Most of us know of Glastonbury for the festival but did you know it’s a really good town to visit in Somerset with ancient and medieval sites and Glastonbury Tor which is one of the most famous landmarks in Somerset.
Doing the Glastonbury Tor and Glastonbury Abbey Circular Walk is a great way to break up the Cornwall road trip.
10. Cheddar Gorge
Not too far from Glastonbury and just 20 minutes off the M5 is Cheddar Gorge and the village of Cheddar.
This is a really unique place to visit and one of the top places to visit in Somerset. Here is my full Cheddar Gorge Guide but these limestone cliffs towering over a gorge you can drive through along with a beautiful walk and the chocolate box village of Cheddar are definitely unmissable places on a drive back to London!
11. Castle Combe
When doing your Cornwall from London road trip if you choose to drive along the M4 which connects London and Bristol you’ll drive through The Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is actually quite a big area and as I found out recently, it takes quite a while to visit all the villages because of the small country lanes,
However on this Cornwall to London route, the M4 runs really close to Castle Combe which is easily one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, in fact, it’s been named the prettiest village in England, so you should definitely plan to visit it on your London to Cornwall road trip!
The village is only very small so you don’t need much time there but you’ll be pleased you did!
Depending on where you are leaving or entering London from, you will probably pass close to Windor from the M4. If you’ve been meaning to visit Windsor and Windsor Castle for awhile and have never got round to it or you are visiting the UK and want to see some more iconic British sites, now is the time as it is just a short detour from the M4 near London!
Tours From Cornwall to London
If you’re reading this post but actually you don’t want to do the drive from London to Cornwall yourself and instead you want to take an organised tour, here is the best Cornwall to London tour on offer:
The reason these tours are limited is probably because of this distance from London to Cornwall,
So another option, if you don’t want to drive to Cornwall is to take the train to Cornwall from London and then book on a Cornwall tour, this will give you more options of trips from Cornwall to London.
For the best priced London to Cornwall train tickets I recommend using The Train Line to compare dates, times and prices!
Best Places To Visit in Cornwall
Lastly, here are some of the best places to visit in Cornwall once you get there.
For more information on driving in Cornwall, where to stay in Cornwall and Cornwall road trip itineraries, have a read of my Cornwall Road Trip Post!
- Harlyn Bay
- Botallack Mines
- Constantine Bay
- St Michael’s Mount
- Bedruthan Steps
- Watergate Bay
- Fistral Beach
- Treyarnon Bay
- St Ives
- Lands End
- Eden Project
- Kynance Cove
- Chapel Pool
- Port Issac
- Tintagel Castle
- Polzeath Beach
FAQ About a Cornwall Road Trip From London:
How long is the drive from London to Cornwall?
The drive from London to Cornwall will take about 5-6.5 hours depending on where you leave London from and how far West in Cornwall you visit. The driving time from London to Cornwall will also depend on how many times you stop and how heavy the traffic is.
How long does it take to drive across Cornwall?
It takes about 2 hours to drive from the most Easten side of Cornwall Launceston to the most Western tip of Cornwall.
How far is Cornwall from London by car?
Cornwall is about 280-320 miles from London by car depending which route you take, where you are leaving London from and where you drive to in Cornwall.
What is the best time to drive to Cornwall?
In order to avoid traffic, especially on weekends, Friday nights and during school holidays, the best time to drive to Cornwall is very early in the morning around 7am or much later on in the evening.
I hope this helps you plan your Cornwall from London Road Trip!
- For more posts of my posts to see the best of the UK and for trips from London see:
- How To Do A Cardiff Day Trip from London With Things To Do in Cardiff!
- 18 Perfect Road Trips From London & Short Trips From London By Car!
- How To Visit The Seven Sisters Cliffs from London On A Day Trip!
- How To Visit White Cliffs of Dover From London On A Day Trip!