Trains from London to Cornwall
If you’re a visitor to this end of the UK, it’s fair to assume you’ll be taking in the sights and sounds of London, which is also the UK’s leading travel hub and a great starting point for your journey to Cornwall. Trains from London to Cornwall frequently leave from Paddington Station so you have plenty of opportunities any day of the week to add a coast-bound train trip to your itinerary. We recommend using your trusty Railcard to get a discounted cost, and don’t forget the effect that rush hour can have on your London to Cornwall train price, so look for off-peak times.
If you want to enjoy even greater savings, then why not catch a London to Cornwall coach? Before you quiver in fear of a 7.5-hour bus ride, we’d like to inform you that these coaches aren’t your average commuter bus. Think comfy seats, leg room, air con, power sockets, toilets, WiFi and an onboard entertainment service and suddenly a laborious journey is an excuse to kick back and binge watch your favourite shows, all on wheels.
Maybe London to Cornwall isn’t your route of choice, and that’s no problem either! Trains run from Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and Bath too with either direct or single changes needed. On the other hand, if you like to embrace train changes then it’s perfectly possible for you to get all the way from Aberdeen in Scotland down to Penzance provided you have 20 hours to spare.
It’s all well and good talking about trains to Cornwall to get you there by day, but something very special occurs along those very same train tracks when night falls…
The Night Riviera sleeper train
With so many magical places to visit in Cornwall (don’t worry, we’ll fill you in on all of them in a minute) you’re sure to have a memorable time whether you’re painting in Penzance or sunbathing in St Ives. But, if you want to make absolutely sure that your trip will be one to remember, then try Cornwall’s sleeper train.
Yes, we might be a bit more excited than is reasonable when talking about this amazing night train (what can we say? We love trains), but just wait until we tell you all about it, and we think you’ll be pretty hyped as well.
Following a recent revamp, the Great Western Railways sleeper train is now as shiny as the promise of the coastal paradise it delivers you to. You can choose from one of two options for your overnight train journey, either a seat in the carriage which offers plane-style seating and plenty of comfort, or a slightly more plush affair with a private cabin complete with beds. You’ll get WiFi and power sockets, as well as access to a café for both options but the cabin will give you a VIP treatment, with station lounges and breakfast to name a few. Now, we’re definitely not saying this is the best way to travel to Cornwall, but it’s pretty high up there.
This magical night train will get you to Cornwall in about 9 hours depending on the day of the week, which is the perfect amount of shut-eye to have you wake up energised for a day of Cornish fun.
A Devon detour
So, whether you took a train, enjoyed a London to Cornwall coach trip or slept in one of the coolest cabins around, we’re sure you’ll make it to Cornwall in comfort and style. So what next? Well, allow us to backtrack a little because (with the exception of the night train, perhaps, because you should lap up every second of it) it's well worth stopping off at some of your trains calling points before you hit Cornwall proper (see, Devon? We still love you).
Your inner child is sure to start getting excited once you enter Devon – the sea from here is only a short train ride away in almost any direction. Your hands are likely to start itching for the sun cream and bucket and spade, so why not celebrate your arrival in the patch of England that boasts some of the best beaches by exploring all it has to offer? Exeter is your first major stop in Devon and is a great way to ease you into your relaxing getaway.
Not quite coastal, Exeter is still set along the river for some lovely river walks and is famed for its cathedral, medieval sites (try a subterranean wonder through its underground passages if you dare) and its much more modern student scene. Sure, it might not be the seaside getaway that is the zenith of this trip, but why not see what this thriving city has to offer while you’re passing through?
Where you can see the sea! Plymouth has long been a staycation hot spot, and for good reason. The striped lighthouse (a.k.a. Smeaton's Tower) is the perfect embodiment of nautical charm, try climbing to the top for stunning views over the ocean. If you have any interest in American history, then the Mayflower Steps are where the pilgrims set off in search of the new world. There are more ancient relics scattered around too, and there are several trails you can take to find them all. For adrenaline junkies, take on some water sports like windsurfing, and for nightlife, this student town is hard to beat.
If you want to get away from it all, Dartmoor is also nearby, and one of the UK’s best examples of wide open spaces, for more nature and fewer people.
We also recommend you enjoy a Devon cream tea, not only is it indulgently delicious, but it also gives you the perfect excuse to try it again in Cornwall and see if spreading the jam first and not the cream really makes any difference, ah the sacrifices we must make in the name of research.
On the subject of detours, while heading coast-side might be your Plan A, you can also try Plan B – if B is for Bristol and Bath. Your train from London to Cornwall will stop at both these cities too, and they have plenty on offer, from the cute cobblestone pathways of Bristol to the awesome Roman ruins of Bath, your adventure doesn’t have to be exclusive to your final destination!
Alright, trains took, Devon down, we made it, so let’s talk about the best places to visit in Cornwall!
This cute little town has found itself on the world map thanks to homing one of the most famous places to visit in Cornwall: the Eden Project, 30 minutes from the station by bus. Just in case you don’t find taking the train rewarding enough in itself, the Eden Project will offer discounted entry to anyone who arrived by public transport, the greener alternative to cars. Away from the awesome domes of this educational centre, St Austell has lots worth seeing, including the Charlestown Shipwreck which has various artefacts from shipwrecks throughout history, and the local brewery where you can toast your Cornwall staycation.
Par and the Atlantic Coast Line
One stop before St Austell depending on your route, Par is where you can board one of the most scenic trains in the UK, The Atlantic Coast line. Reaching the coast via the Luxulyan Valley and travelling through the Goss Moor, this train route gives you beautiful views of the coast before arriving in the family-friendly resort of Newquay, a perfect classic seaside holiday that also offers excellent surfing. As for Par itself, it's also the starting point for the ever so enjoyable Rail Ale Trail which is a (probably not entirely necessary but very welcome) excuse to visit ten pubs along the rail route.
St Erth and the St Ives Bay Line
Just like Par, St Erth is the starting point for yet another scenic train journey, and this one points you to the gorgeous St Ives. You’ll be able to enjoy breath-taking views over golden beaches and blue seas, so you’ll be well and truly itching to make a splash when you arrive at the beautiful beaches of St Ives.
Part family resort, part elegant getaway and completely stunning, St Ives is one of the most scenic places to visit in Cornwall, if not the whole country. Home to four glorious golden beaches, its own Tate museum, awesome surf opportunities, some of the UK’s best weather and a vibrant artsy scene, St Ives is the premium way to enjoy a seaside getaway.
A charming city set more inland, Truro is a lovely day trip from the coast. Truro Cathedral is the city icon and boasts some of the most beautiful stained glass of any UK church. Learn more about Cornwall at the Royal Cornwall Museum, which even has an Egyptian mummy on show, or take in all of the city on a walking tour.
Less pirates and more palm trees, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you had left the UK altogether as you enjoy the mild climate of this seaside location. Lovely beaches invite you to lounge in the sun or take a dip, while some amazing local restaurants are sure to entice any foodie. St Michael’s Mount sits just out from the coastline, for a magical trip into history, wait for low tide and walk out to see the castle that towers from its peak. The art deco lido is the perfect place to swim al fresco if the sea doesn’t quite take your fancy, and remember to treat yourself to a Cornwall cream tea and further your noble research into deliciousness!
Can’t wait to head off? Get your tickets for a train to Cornwall today and start an amazing adventure!