View The Cornish Coast, Cornwall England in a larger map
If you don’t believe you can find palm trees in England, this road trip will help set you straight as subtropical climates do exist at the far southwestern corner of the country. Jutting out into the Celtic Sea, the Cornwall peninsula is full of botanical wonderlands, ancient Celtic ruins and seascapes dotted with whitewashed buildings making it an ideal road trip location. These road trip itineraries are brought to you by Best Western International.
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Below is the step-by-step itinerary with links to TripAdvisor where you can research more about each destination and find great hotel deals and compare prices.
Begin your trip in Penzance, the seaside resort town and unlikely setting for the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera The Pirates of Penzance.
From there head to St. Michael’s Mount, a tidal island that is the sister island to the more famous Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France.
Next head due east to Helston, the second oldest town in Cornwall dating back over 800 years and is home to the annual Furry Dance festival on May 8th .
This photo of Helston is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Journey further southward into the Lizard Peninsula until you reach Landewednack, the southernmost village of the British mainland.
From Landewednack head back up the peninsula to the fishing village of Cadgwith, which in Cornish means cove of thicket and likely refers back to when the coast was once covered in forests.
Head further up the Lizard Peninsula until you come to the port town of Falmouth on the River Fal. Once a major industrial port, Falmouth, with it’s five beaches, is now a popular tourist destination.
Cornwall is famous for its gardens, so while in Falmouth, consider taking a 15-minute drive south to visit the beautiful Glendurgan and Trebah Gardens, the former of which has a cherry laurel maze that was established in 1833.
This photo of Trebah Gardens is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Further up the coast is St. Austell which you can use as a base to visit to visit some of the wonderful gardens in Cornwall including the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey, one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK, and the artificial biomes of The Eden Project in St. Blazey.
The next stop, also on the coast, is the charming village of Polperro, but don’t try to drive into the village as cars are not permitted to drive on the narrow, quaint streets and visitors must park 1/2 mile from the village.
Now head to Bodmin in the center of the Cornwall, the scene of three unsuccessful uprisings throughout history due to this once predominantly Catholic county.
Cross back over to the northwestern coast to the seaside resort town of Perranporth, popular for its 3-mile-wide Atlantic beach.
A short drive away is the village of St. Agnes, another popular tourist town with an ancient history as a mining center.
Head back to the coast to the popular seaside resort town of St. Ives, awarded the ‘Best UK Seaside Town’ from the British Travel Awards in 2010 and 2011.
A little further down the coast is Zennor set atop a coastal promontory where you can visit the Zennor Quoit megalithic site a mile outside the village.
This road trip is one of National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime. Find out more about the Cornwall England road trip and other ultimate road trips on the National Geographic Traveler Website or purchase the beautiful hardcopy book of 500 ultimate road trips from the National Geographic online store for only $40. Buy Now