Cornwall, England’s most southern county, is perfect for a two day break. Whether you’re keen for a weekend trip or have a few mid-week days up your sleeve, this 2 day Cornwall itinerary will give you a chance to see some of the main highlights.
Having spent the better part of a year living in Cornwall, I’ve come to love everything about it – from the dramatic coastline to the cosy pubs.
During summer months, Cornwall offers some of the best weather in the UK. It also has miles of sandy beaches, making it great for a domestic holiday. Thanks to the size of the county, it lends itself wonderfully to a short visit. 2 days is a great amount of time to spend in Cornwall.
Plus, while it is best known as a summer destination, Cornwall is also beautiful in winter. Don’t let the rain turn you off, I think the Cornish coastline is even more spectacular when the weather is brooding.
So, rain, hail or shine – here is the perfect 2 day Cornwall itinerary.
2 days in Cornwall – Where to stay?
Cornwall is a deceptively large county – it takes about two hours to drive from top to bottom. Part of the reason for this is that the roads are mostly made up of country lanes, with only a few major thoroughfares.
Because of this, I recommend staying somewhere relatively central. This means you’ll spend less time meandering through the little laneways, and more time enjoying the Cornish sites.
A good base for your stay is the bustling town of Newquay. It’s roughly in the middle of Cornwall, on the coast. This means you can easily access the sites of both north and south Cornwall from it. Plus, it’s got a great beach that’s popular with surfers. Even if you can’t surf, it’s still fun to watch others do it! Thanks to the popularity with visitors, there is plenty of accommodation to choose from.
2 day Cornwall itinerary
There’s enough to do in Cornwall to keep you busy for weeks, but even with two days you can squeeze a lot in. Here are my top picks.
Day one – South Cornwall
I may be biased because it is where I live, but I say start with a bang and head to south Cornwall. Here, you’ll find some of the county’s most impressive coastline and natural sights.
From Newquay, it’s about an hour’s drive to St Ives, one of the most popular towns in Cornwall. Many artists have made this their home base, and it’s not hard to see why – it is totally charming.
In particular, don’t miss the pretty sandy beach as well as dropping in for a pint at The Sloop Inn. The 12th Century inn is one of the oldest pubs in the UK, and you can imagine its smuggler past while you’re there!
From St Ives, hug the coast as you drive down towards Land’s End. This is known as the Tin Coast, and it is super beautiful. The Tin Coast stretches for 7 miles, and has World Heritage Status. Keep a look out for the large mining towers that are dotted all over the landscape. You might like to stop in at Botallack, an eerie abandoned mine that clings to the cliff-face. The whole stretch was once alive with activity and miners, but now nature has taken over. Houses and mine shafts are being swallowed by the surrounding nature. It all makes for an impressive and imposing experience.
While you’re in the area, you might as well say you’ve done it! Drop in to Land’s End, the UK’s most south-westerly point. It’s a little bit touristy but good for a photo opportunity.
After stopping off at Land’s End, continue on about fifteen minutes to the charming town of Porthcurno. This is one of my favourite places in Cornwall, and a worthy inclusion on your 2 day Cornwall itinerary!
The first big attraction in Porthcurno is the Telegraph Museum. It may not sound like a lot of fun, but trust me – it is! There are lots of interactive exhibits like sending morse code messages and experimenting with magnets.
Within walking distance of the Telegraph Museum is the beautiful Minack Theatre, an open-air theatre cut into the cliff-face overlooking the sea. It is possible to actually watch a show here. In peak season, tickets can sell out up to 3 months in advance! Nearby, you’ll also catch a glimpse of the stunning Porthcurno Beach, which has been featured in lots of TV shows like Poldark. When you look out over the vast expanse of sea, sand and moors, it is easy to see why.
Optional: Church & Dollar Cove
If you’re not too tired out after all of those sites, Church and Dollar Cove is a worthy additional stop. It does take about an hour to get there from Porthcurno, but it’s vaguely on the way back up to Newquay.
If you ask me, this is Cornwall at its best. Beautiful beaches surrounded by dramatic cliffs, with an air of moodiness about them. It’s easily one of my favourites of the Lizard Peninsula’s coves and beaches.
The two coves are close together and both very unique. Church Cove has the 13th century Church of St Wynwalloe overlooking it. Dollar Cove takes its name from a 17th century shipwreck that left coins washing up on the beach for centuries. Plus, they’re both associated with Cornwall’s dastardly smuggling past.
Day two: North Cornwall
To really get a feel for the county, I recommend spending the second day heading up north. This is perfect if you are planning to drive elsewhere in England after your 2 days in Cornwall, since it’s probably on the way.
The first stop is close to home – Fistral Beach, Newquay’s most beloved surfing beach. It is also arguably the best surf beach in the UK, with annual competitions being held here. I’ve been utterly amazed at some of the surfing I’ve seen on the beach, and you might even like to give it a try! There are places to rent boards or even get some professional lessons at one of the surf schools. Otherwise, you can always just enjoy the sand and sun instead (if there is any – this is England!). There are plenty of cafes to shelter at if it does rain!
One of Cornwall’s most famous and ambitious projects is the Eden Project. It’s hard to miss these big spheres, with amazing gardens within.
The whole project is dedicated to inspiring a love of nature and it certainly worked on me! As well as just wandering through the amazing gardens, there’s also a pretty regular calendar of events including concerts, talks and workshops.
To get from the Eden Project to Tintagel Castle, you should journey through the eerie Bodmin Moors. These have a totally different feel than the rest of Cornwall, and are even a little spooky!
Cornwall is a land of many myths and legends, and none are more enduring than that of King Arthur. Although historians strongly suspect King Arthur never existed at all, his tales of heroism have delighted the masses for centuries.
His alleged birthplace is Tintagel Castle in North Cornwall. Here, you can see the ruins of the crumbling castle, and even climb inside ‘Merlin’s Cave’. This was said to be the home of the famous wizard Merlin. You have to cross a scenic bridge in order to get to the castle, which sits on an island. The crashing blue waves and howling wind makes an impressive backdrop for these 13th Century Ruins. It is highly recommended that you buy your tickets in advance.
Depending on how you’re going for time you might like to add an extra stop.
Only about 15 minutes away from Tintagel Castle, Boscastle is one of my favourite villages in Cornwall. It has a charming harbour as well as spectacularly atmospheric laneways and buildings.
If you like quirky things, then it’s also home to the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic. This museum was said to have served as inspiration for JK Rowling while she was writing Harry Potter, and it’s really fascinating. (Note: I don’t recommend this museum for kids!)
Where to eat in Cornwall
Don’t let Cornwall’s rural feel deceive you – it really punches above its weight when it comes to amazing food. Here are my recommendations for where to eat during your two days in Cornwall.
- For dinner, the Ship Inn in Mawgan. It’s a charming old country pub in an authentic Cornish village, but it does amazing food. It’s a little on the pricier side (about £15 for a main), but trust me – it’s well worth it. Mawgan is also roughly on the way if you are driving back to Newquay from Church Cove.
- For lunch, you could always grab a traditional Cornish pasty from the bakery at Land’s End. It’s affordable, and super filling! Did you know, a Cornish Pasty can only call itself that it if is made in the county of Cornwall?!
- Another great lunch option is the Porthcurno Beach Cafe. It does great coffee and light lunches, including delicious crab sandwiches.
- I am always a big fan of picnics. What is not to love?! They are cheap, and they always include food that you know you will like! Plus, you can always guarantee an amazing view with lunch if you pick your spot right!
- For dinner, I’m all about celebrity chef Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow. It’s totally delicious and Padstow itself is super charming.
- A more budget-friendly way to enjoy Rick Stein’s is to grab lunch at his fish ‘n’ chippie at Fistral Beach in Newquay. He also has one in Padstow. It is almost foolish to go to any coastal English destination and not try Fish and Chips. An absolute English rite of passage, and available in any country town. Fish and Chips is cheap, filling and always better when beside the seaside!
- If you’re not a Rick Stein fan, then Charlie’s Cafe & Restaurant in Tintagel serves up yummy British classics in a friendly setting.
Tips for spending 2 days in Cornwall
- This itinerary assumes that you have access to a car. It’s a bit difficult – although not impossible – to get around Cornwall without one. If you are relying on public transport, you’ll be able to access most of these sites using the “Tinner” bus network. You’ll just want to plan ahead.
- If you’re travelling in summer with dogs, be aware of the seasonal dog ban where dogs aren’t allowed on beaches including Fistral Beach and Church Cove.
- When visiting Cornwall’s coast, don’t stand too close to the edge. The coast is prone to rockfalls, and they can be dangerous.
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About the author!
Georgie Mack is an Australian travel blogger currently living in England. She loves travel that’s good for your wallet and good for the earth. You can follow her adventures in travelling and wine drinking at Journey with Georgie () or on Instagram at