Cornwall Car Hire

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Cornwall is the UK’s most south-westerly point. It’s surrounded by the Celtic Sea, which meets the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. A haven for surfers, it has a thriving tourist economy.

Relatively unspoilt and with only one city (Truro) it’s excellent for leisurely driving, especially around its vast areas of unspoilt scenery such as Bodmin Moor. Check below for Enjoy Car Hire’s premier guide to Cornwall!

Currently a Toyota Aygo or similar (mini size) is just £13.84 a day in Cornwall, an economy size car such as a Ford Focus is just £15.23 a day, while a Kia Optima or similar (intermediate size) is only £23 a day and a premium-elite car like the Mercedes E-Class comes in at around £63 a day. Select your quality vehicle with Enjoy Car Hire and you can explore the idyllic Cornwall countryside, safe in the knowledge that you’re in good hands. Here’s a bit more about Cornwall:

About Cornwall: It’s one of the few English locations that wasn’t conquered by the Romans or Anglo-Saxons, so Cornwall (and Devon, plus parts of Dorset and Somerset) has remained a bastion of Celtic culture for centuries, as shown by the many Celtic place names still common in the county. Originally part of the Brythonic (Brittonic, Britons) kingdom of Dumnonia, it is related to Wales and Breton in north-eastern France and was ruled by chiefs of the Cornovii (Corn = ‘peninsula people’, wall = ‘foreigner’ or ‘Roman’) who have been established in the area since around 577 AD. As a Celtic nation it shares language and culture with other Celtic nations, particularly Breton. In the Late Bronze Age, it was part of a vast maritime trading network that included England, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Portugal and France.

Tourism makes up a quarter of Cornwall’s economy, and it’s easy to see why ̶ it has a very mild climate, extensive stretches of coast (it has 300 beaches!), Bodmin Moor (among others) is one of the many protected Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Newquay is a massively popular surfing hotspot. From the dramatic exposed cliffs of the north coast, to the idyllic Isles of Scilly, to wild moorland and tiny quaint villages, there’s much to occupy its 5 million annual visitors. Traditional industry in Cornwall was mostly tin and copper mining (there are ruins of mines throughout – a World Heritage Site, by the way), and there is evidence of Cornish tin as far afield as the Middle East. Modern industries include fishing and agriculture, but also, the Internet: Cornwall is the landing hub for 22 of the world's fastest high-speed transatlantic and undersea fibre optic cables, making it a vital nexus within Europe's Internet infrastructure. There are also plans to create a spaceport at Newquay Airport, and the Eden Project is basically a gigantic greenhouse structure built into a 160-foot-deep crater which houses plants from all global climes.

  • Airports & Access: the only national and international airport in Cornwall is Newquay (NQY), from where you can fly to several British and European destinations as diverse as Inverness, Alicante, Dublin and Dü However, Exeter International Airport (EXT) is 86 miles (140 km) from Newquay on the A30, a 90-minute drive in reasonable conditions, so you may want to fly there and drive into Cornwall after securing your quality vehicle with Enjoy Car Hire.
  • Driving Around Cornwall: there’s so much unique landscape to explore in Cornwall ̶ here are a few favourite trips:

Portreath to Godrevy along the Godrevy Heritage Coast cliff road takes you on a relatively short but dramatic drive along the B3301, with stunning cliff views and plenty of viewpoints.

Meanwhile, the Newquay to Portcothan road (B3276) is also a stunning yet relatively short coastal route which takes you past numerous beaches ̶ don’t forget to stop at breath-taking spots like Mawgan Porth and Bedruthan Steps.

Alternatively, try the St. Ives to Zennor route along the wild and spectacular Penwith Heritage Coast using the B3311 and A30 roads. There are plenty of little tea shops on the way (it’s a popular walking route), and you can wander along as far as Sennen for a more adventurous outing.

Meanwhile, Marazion to Mousehole along the A394 might be one of the south coast of Cornwall’s best drives, taking you past the magnificent Mounts Bay featuring St. Michael Mounts Castle Island. After Penzance Harbour you’ll also pass Jubilee Pool Lido (outdoor pool) ̶ it’s a great place for a bracing dip if you’re feeling the heat!

If you’re in Truro, you’ll definitely want to travel south to the Roseland Heritage Coast. It’s a pristine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that’s also a nature reserve, with beaches on three sides of the peninsula, and beautiful old fishing villages like Mevagissey. From here you can also take a passenger ferry to Falmouth.

  • Famous Cornwall: for a reasonably small and sparsely populated county, Cornwall has produced many notable figures. John Arnold, who was born in Bodmin, designed the first practical and accurate wristwatch. Captain William Bligh of the famous mutiny on the HMS Bounty was Cornish, Sir Humphrey Davy invented the precursor to the lightbulb (the Davy lamp), as well as being a chemist who claimed a number of firsts in that field.

In more modern times, famous Cornish people include Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, and Grammy Award-winning artist Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin), considered one of the world’s most important music producers (he was born in Ireland but grew up in Redruth). Legendary spy author John le Carré (real name Cornwell!) still lives in St. Buryan, while Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Thandie Newton (known particularly for a BAFTA-winning performance in the 2005 film Crash, and a starring role in the recent drama behemoth WestWorld, among many other acting credits) grew up in Penzance. Industry notables include Andrew Pears of the soap conglomerate, which is thriving still today. Furthermore, the Poet Laureate John Betjeman is Cornish, and Daphne du Maurier, the playwright, author, and novelist lived here most of her life and set most of her tales in Cornwall, some of which have been successfully adapted to the screen – Rebecca and The Birds being two striking examples.

Guide to Cornwall

Beaches and Cliffs

Known for wild coasts, unkempt moors, surfing and clotted cream, there are many reasons to visit Cornwall. For example, Falmouth is a resort which has one of Cornwall’s best castles, Pendennis Castle and there are a number of secluded sandy beaches around Pendennis Point. The National Maritime Museum has one of the country’s best collections of boats, while Swanpool Beach and Maenporth boast some of Cornwall’s most exhilarating cliff walks.

Penzance and Peninsulas

The Penwith Peninsula is home to the UK’s most south-westerly point, Land’s End. Also here is Penzance, where the painters of nearby Newlyn created a new and distinctive school of painting. St. Ives remains one of England’s liveliest cultural communities, and even has a branch of the Tate Gallery. Eight miles to the West of Mousehole on this peninsula is a stunning beach at Porthcurno, where a nearby white pyramid marks the site of the laying of the first Transatlantic Cable in 1880. Beyond this are the remains of the Iron Age fort of Treryn Dinas and the famous rocking stone, Logan’s Rock and, if you like splashing around in salt water, go to Whitesand Bay for the best swimming on the peninsula. As Cornwall is basically one large peninsula with smaller spits of land throughout, fans of coastal scenery or beaches will never be stuck for stunning sightseeing.

Sun Isles

The Isles of Scilly (‘Sun Isles’) are actually a tiny archipelago of 100 islands. Only five are inhabited, but their history and beauty make them essential Cornwall sightseeing. Par Beach on St. Martins is one of Cornwall’s prettiest, while the islands are dotted with prehistoric remains. Tresco Abbey Gardens hint at the area’s flower-growing industry (thanks to the climate), which is second only to tourism for the local economy. The waters here are thought to be some of the best diving waters in the UK, and the unspoilt nature of the Isles (there is no traffic or touristy attractions) is tempered only by the relatively high cost of going there and finding accommodation ̶ finding a reasonable deal can be challenging but it’s by no means impossible.

What to do in Cornwall?

A recent survey found that travel to Cornwall is most commonly done by train, although this can be twice as expensive as the bus! Instead, hire some four-wheeled-freedom at Enjoy Car Hire for truly independent touring around this remarkable area.

Kynance & Lizard Cove

This beach consistently comes top of all the beaches in Cornwall among visitors and locals alike, and people talk about it with an almost mythical awe. With clean white sand, turquoise sea, and colourful rocks snaking around the peninsula, it must be seen to be believed. There are scenic walks around the coast, and even in winter the area shimmers with preternatural allure.

Surf’s Up!

Fistral Beach is considered ‘only’ the region’s third best beach, but is consistently voted the number one activity in Newquay. Revered globally among the surfing community (it’s West-facing with regular 30-foot/10-metre waves), it has its own International Surfing Centre, excellent facilities, and numerous scrumptious eateries. The beach is safe for paddling and is well-monitored by the Coastguard, giving all the family peace of mind.

Theatre Under The Stars

Carved into granite in lush sub-tropical gardens (yes, even in the UK!) and overlooking Porthcurno Bay is The Minack Theatre. Created (basically, single-handedly) by a Victorian woman from Cheltenham, Rowena Cade, its peculiar individuality is hard to describe ̶ it looks like Ancient Greeks built an open-air theatre and then forgot all about it, only for it to be rediscovered millennia later. Suffice to say it’s possibly the highest-rated (non-beach) attraction in all of Cornwall and has to be seen to be believed.

Eating out in Cornwall

No mention of Cornish cuisine is complete without mentioning the Cornish Pasty, a savoury pastry filled with beef, suede, onion and potato. However, there is so much more to Cornish cuisine, thanks to its distinct cultural heritage, being encircled by the sea on three sides, and to a recent boom in fine dining – not to mention that Rick Stein is a celebrity chef most closely associated with Cornwall.

Michelin Rosevine

The Rosevine is set in a gorgeous Georgian country house with amazing views over Gerrans Bay. Lunch here is decidedly laid-back, while the à la carte evening menu is seasonal and seriously impressive ̶ try dishes such as grilled Pollock with mussels ragout, or seared wood pigeon with braised red cabbage and scotched quail eggs. This exceptional eatery is situated near Porthcarno in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Fish & Chips

Situated a stone’s throw from the Eden Project is Rick Stein’s Fish & Chips in Padstow on the North Cornwall coast. The range of fish is extensive ̶ choose from not only haddock and cod, but also hake, lemon sole, and plaice. Your fish will then be expertly battered in home-made batter flavoured with beef dripping (fat) and served with mushy peas, tartare sauce and curry sauce, and of course chips! All items have gluten-free versions too.

Proper Cornish Pub

Finally we have the Working Boat pub. Established in 1875, it sits perched on Falmouth Harbour and is a family-friendly, dog-friendly and serves large portions of proper pub grub and classic Cornish ales and ciders. A cosy and casual pub that was initially the first port of call for sailors from working (fishing) boats, it’s welcome to all. It even has a pontoon to moor your boat if you arrived on the ocean waves!

Transport in Cornwall

Airports

The main airport servicing Cornwall is Newquay (NQY), from where you can fly to many domestic and regional destinations and connections further afield.Exeter International Airport (EXT) is 86 miles (140 km) from Newquay on the A30 road, a 90-minute to 2-hour drive in decent conditions with no unexpected delays. We have an abundance of affordable care rental options in Cornwall at Enjoy Car Hire.

Trains

Cornwall is well served by various train stations and services ̶ Truro, Newquay, Falmouth, Bodmin and many other tourist destinations all have stations, providing connectivity with all of Southern England and beyond. The Atlantic Coast Line, the St. Ives Line, the Maritime Line are just some of the scenic routes in Cornwall, nestled between cliff and aquamarine coast.

Driving Tips

In order to fully enjoy driving around Cornwall, we’ve included some tips to keep you mobile and safe.

If you like a bit of drama in your drives, the coastline here is spectacular. Take care on the many winding roads and blind corners though!

Keep your headlights on all the time (dipped, not full-beam), even during the day. In some studies this has been shown to reduce accidents by 15% in normal weather, and by much more in very wet weather.

Although the Cornish climate is very warm and quite dry in summer, it’s worth feeling safe and confident in all driving conditions. In wet weather, double the space between your car and the car in front, and don’t drive in water that is more than 10 cm (4 inches) deep.

The usual checks are always a good idea before winter or long-distance driving, so please follow standard motoring guidelines and check local weather conditions.

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FAQs about car hire in Cornwall

Most frequently asked questions about hiring a car in Cornwall

This will vary according to car type, hire period (e.g. weekdays or weekend, 3 days vs. 1 week), driver’s age, among other things, but Enjoy Car Hire is always affordable.
Presently the cheapest (mini-size) car in Cornwall is just £13.85 a day with Enjoy.
The minimum age to hire a car in the UK is 21 years old, but for some of our hire partners it may be 22, 25, 26 or even 30, so be sure to check.
With Enjoy you can rest assured that all charges are clearly detailed from the start, so you don’t get any surprises in the fine print.
Yes – it’s normal to add drivers to a rental agreement, provided they hold a valid license. Usually an additional daily fee is payable.
If you’re mainly interested in day trips, town driving, or a mixture of both, something intermediate such as a Kia Optima may be best.
Third-party liability insurance and collision damage waivers are included as standard in almost all car hire packages at Enjoy Car Hire. Call 999 immediately if you have an accident.