There is something special about English seaside towns and beaches and it has nothing to do with sunbathing or perfectly-tanned bodies. Instead, it’s about wrapping warm, nibbling on fish & chips out of a newspaper cone, and finishing off days with rich dairy ice-cream. A road trip from London to Cornwall offers the perfect opportunity to sample the best that the English countryside has to offer – there are fields laden with flowers, quaint villages by the dozen, beaches, UNESCO Heritage Sites, stunning drives, and working farms that boast of orchards laden with fresh fruits.
It’s the perfect long weekend away from London.
It’s no secret that we love road trips. Driving is often the easiest and best way to explore a new country. In this case, a car is necessary if you truly want to explore the English countryside. That way, you can stop at a working farm for a quick meal, linger over a field full of wild flowers, chance on a picturesque village hidden from plain sight, or just picnic in the middle of nowhere on your road trip from London to Cornwall.
It’s easy to rent a car in London as long as you have a valid driving licence.
Now that you have a shiny car at your disposal, stock it with your favorite tuck-shop treats and get going. You’ll sense a change in atmosphere almost as soon as you leave London. Once you reach Dorset, let your body adjust to the relaxed rhythm of the countryside.
Dorset boasts of rolling hills, numerous areas of outstanding natural beauty, the English Riviera, rugged moors, and tranquil wilderness. Here are some of our favorite things to do in the area:
- Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove
Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove in Dorset are about 2.5 hrs away from London. These are two stops that need to feature on every road trip from London to Cornwall. This drive takes visitors along the Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural UNESCO Heritage Site. The stunning drive is littered with majestic panoramas, so it’s completely worth it!
Lulworth Cove is a crescent-shaped cove that boasts of turquoise waters and handsome cliffs in the background. Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch, is one of the most photographed locations in UK and one of the prettiest geological wonders in the entire world. I will let photos do the talking because words just can’t do justice to the beauty of these natural wonders. Pack a picnic and wrap warm because it can get really windy.
- St Ives
St Ives is a seaside town and port in Cornwall, England. There was a time, in the first half of the 20th century, when this fishing port with a thriving arts scene was considered as exciting as New York and more progressive than London. Some say it’s the clear light, turquoise waters and “Cornish palm” trees. Others love the milder climate — it is warmer here than most of the UK — and the two Blue Flag beaches, Porthminster and Porthmeor. St Ives is also home to Tate St Ives.
We stayed at the St Ives Bay Hotel. Our day in St Ives was accompanied by rain throughout but since it was V’s birthday, we decided to hit the Porthminster Beach and do a little celebration.
Later in the day, we meandered along the streets of St Ives (under our umbrella) and mugged up on the contemporary art scene in the town’s many commercial galleries, notably the New Millennium, Wills Lane and Belgrave galleries. There’s a good cross-section of local talent in the Penwith Gallery on Back Road West.
- Lizard Point
The Lizard is the most south-westerly point of the British mainland and boasts its own unique landscape and stunning views. This well-known peninsula is dotted with beaches and is the perfect base to explore Cornwall’s coastal scenery. Spend a day looking for hidden coves, relaxing by turquoise waters, and feasting on battered fish and chips.
- Cornish Pasty
When in Cornwall, you have to have the famous Cornish Pasty. We tried the ones at Ann’s Pasties near the Lizard Point Lighthouse. There’s nothing like having a warm Cornish pasty in the cool breeze of Cornwall!
Padstow is a charming working fishing port surrounded by glorious sandy beaches, at the head of the Camel River. Watching the everyday ebb and flow of harbor life is a perfect way to spend a day. This foodie destination with popular eateries such as Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, is the start and end point for the Camel Cycle Trail and a good base for water sports.
That’s it – everything you need to know about planning the perfect road trip from London to Cornwall. The English coast has everything from meandering streams, secret coves, and magical woods to rugged moors, secluded beaches, and the wild Atlantic Ocean and we couldn’t love it more if we tried!
Do you love the English countryside as much as I do?
Are you on Pinterest? Pin the images below to save for later!