Newquay Car Hire

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Newquay is a seaside resort town in the south west of England on Cornwall's north coast. It's located 32km west of Bodmin, 19km north of Truro and 67km from the city of Plymouth. The wider Newquay area is home to around 30,000 people, although it's estimated the population swells to 100,000 during the peak tourist season.

An active fishing port nestled on Cornwall's Atlantic coast, Newquay is home to some of Cornwall's most beautiful beaches and has been named ‘Best Family Holiday Destination’ by readers of COAST magazine. This is a stunning scenic location with diverse accommodation options to suit all types of travellers and it's the home of the Boardmasters surfing championships, which are held at Fistral Beach and attract competitors from across the globe. An area permeated with historical attractions, human settlement here stretches back to the Stone Age and Cornish culture beautifully blends traditional and contemporary elements. If you love breath-taking beauty and bucketloads of diverse activities for all the family, welcome home.

Currently in Newquay you can hire a compact Vauxhall Astra for just £34.86 a day, a sporty Nissan Qashqai for £43.44 per day and even a Ford Focus Wagon ̶ perfect for throwing your surfboard in the back ̶ for £52.13 a day. Hire a car in Newquay and Cornwall is your oyster, but first, let’s take a look at some key information for this amazing part of Britain:

  • About Newquay: Cornwall's most popular tourist destination and Britain’s surfing capital, for several years Newport struggled to shake off its reputation for wild nightlife focused on a main thoroughfare peppered with amusement arcades and rowdy pubs and clubs. However, it has cleaned up its act in recent years and is now a more diverse destination where chic cafes, bijou bistros, trendy health food shops and boutique hotels are de rigueur, rather than drink-fuelled discos (although there’s still fun to be found for partygoers). There are no less than 12 gorgeous sandy beaches here where you can swim, surf or simply sit back and relax, and Newquay also hosts Cornwall's largest zoo, where you can get up close and personal with over 130 amazing species including penguins big cats and exotic insects. Meanwhile, Newquay Harbour is your starting point for fishing trips or seaborne sightseeing excursions and Trenance Gardens and Boating Lake is a gorgeous green space perfect for families.
  • Newquay’s history stretches much further back than the advent of tourism ̶ the Barrowfield and Trevelgue Head areas have ample evidence of prehistoric burial grounds and the remains of Stone Age and Iron Age dwellings have also been discovered. A small fishing village had established itself in the area now known as Newquay Harbour by medieval times, but Newquay was known by its Cornish name ‘Towan Blystra’ until Bishop of Exeter Edmund Lacey’s mid-15th Century campaign to build a ‘New Quay’ for the settlement.

    Around 1300 people lived here by the year 1800 and over the next 30 years or so the original wooden quay was gradually replaced by the current solid stone harbour. This soon became a major hub for lucrative Cornish industries including agriculture, fishing and tin mining. When a passenger rail link arrived in 1876 the tourism industry began and with beach holidays for wealthy citizens becoming highly fashionable in the late Victorian era, several luxurious hotels were built around the town to satisfy demand. As the 20th century progressed and holidays became more affordable, the tourist infrastructure expanded further, and surfing was imported from the US in the 1960s when it transpired that Watergate and Fistral beaches were particularly suited to the exciting new sport. The introduction of cheap commercial flights in the 1970s meant visitors from around the world could visit the area and it soon became popular with international as well as domestic tourists. Cornwall also has its own language and distinct culture, and Newquay is a brilliant base to explore the region’s unique historical sites.

  • Airports and access: Cornwall airport Newquay (NQY) is just 7.4 kilometres from Newquay and you can drive into the town centre in under 15 minutes. There are direct flights from Leeds, Faro Portugal, Durham, Alicante Spain, Dublin, and London, as well as indirect flights to New York, Toronto and Dubai.
  • Driving around Newquay: as you might expect with such a stunning location, there’s lots of delightful driving around Newquay.
  • Drive 34 kilometres southeast of Newquay via the A3058 and B3273 and you reach Mevagissey in less than 45 minutes. This picture postcard 15th Century fishing village is a hidden gem and as well as soaking up the scenic ambience you can stop off at the Lost Gardens of Heligan ̶ this ravishing romantic estate was the seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years before falling into disrepair, being rediscovered in the 1990s and restored to its former glory.

    Bedruthan Steps Beach is only 12 kilometres from Newquay via the B3276 road. This is one of Cornwall's most breath-taking beaches and you’ll marvel at the magical views as soon as you pull up in the clifftop car park. Access to the beach is by a steep staircase and when you reach the sands you'll see several rugged rock stacks rising from the water and lapped by the wild waves ̶ legend has it these are the stepping stones of a mythical giant named Bedruthan. The water here is a little too wild for safe swimming but it's worth a visit nevertheless and after you trek back up the steps you can refresh yourself with tea and cakes at the National Trust cafe at Carnewas.

  • Famous Newquay: eminent sons and daughters of Newquay include Lord of the Flies author William Golding, former Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday footballer Chris Morris and singer-songwriter James Morrison, while TV star Phillip Schofield attended Newquay Tretherras school and musician Richard David James (better known as Aphex Twin) also resides here. Finally, Newquay has also featured in the movies Wild Things, The Witches and The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.

Guide to Newquay

With sublime natural scenery, cool surf culture, awesome family activities and nightlife that ranges from laid-back to lively, Newquay is the perfect spot for a Great British staycation.

Newquay Gorgeous Beaches

There are beaches aplenty near Newquay and each one offers visitors something a little different. Fistral Beach is a beating heart of the British surfing scene and its expansive golden sands are split into three areas ̶ Little Fistral, the Main Beach and South Fistral. This is a dog-friendly beach with disabled access and amenities, cafes and surfboard hire outlets. Alternatively, Towan Beach is very close to Newquay and adjacent to the town’s harbour, affording it a sheltered location with calm waves which is perfect for families with young children. You can’t miss ‘the Island’ here, a dramatic rock stack at the eastern end of the beach which hosts a luxury house and is connected to the mainland by a suspension bridge. Meanwhile, the seductively named Lusty Glaze Beach is nestled in a natural arena of craggy cliffs and although it's privately owned you can access it for free. Located at the north end of Newquay Bay, it’s home to an adventure centre that offers exciting activities such as abseiling, bungee jumping, surfing and more.

Historical sites

If you're a history buff, Newquay has much to recommend it. For starters, Trerice Manor is a magnificent Elizabethan pile surrounded by stunning gardens where you can try ancient pastimes like Kayling, listen to Tudor tunes and watch exciting falconry and musketry displays. Meanwhile, the Huer’s Hut overlooks Newquay's beaches from Towan Head and has become a potent symbol of the town’s proud fishing heritage. The current building has existed since the mid-1800s, but its history stretches back to the 14th century. The ‘Huer’ was a type of watchman whose duties were focused on spotting shoals of fish from this prominent perch and sounding a horn that alerted fishermen in the harbour to launch their boats and head out for a bountiful catch. Reach this iconic spot by following the South West Coast Path from Fistral beach or Pentire.

Family Entertainment

Newport has a wide range of family-friendly attractions. At the Blue Reef Aquarium you can wander around themed displays featuring everything from stingrays to star fish, while Flambards theme park has thrilling rides aplenty. Alternatively, the Pirate’s Quest visitor centre is a swashbuckling interactive journey into Cornwall's piratical past and Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre features bombers, jet fighters and many more exciting aircraft. If you want a walk on the wild side, don’t miss Newquay Zoo ̶ here you can see everything from armadillos to pigmy marmosets, red pandas to penguins, and wildebeest to lions.

What to do in Newquay

From wonderful watersports to historical high jinks, you’ll never run out of things to do in Newquay.

Surf’s up!

If you fancy trying surfing, there's no better place in Britain to do it than Newquay. Lessons are available from various providers, but the Escape surf school is one of the most inclusive and welcoming. You can choose anything from a 1/2-day session to a 6-lesson course depending on your ability level (which expert instructors will ascertain when you arrive). Most lessons are held on Towan Beach and all equipment is included. From finding your balance on the beach to riding your first wave, learning to surf is a very special experience.

Inn-spiration

Jamaica Inn Is 48 kilometres North East of Newquay at Bodmin Moor and you can drive there in around half an hour. This charming coaching house has catered for passing travellers for nearly 300 years and inspired the 1936 Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name, which was adapted for the silver screen by Alfred Hitchcock and most recently as a 2014 BBC TV drama. First and foremost, this is a fabulous hotel and restaurant, but it also hosts a fascinating smugglers museum with an amazing array of smuggling artefacts.

Tiny train

The Lappa Valley Steam Railway is just 6.7 kilometres south of Newquay and if traffic permits you can drive there In under 10 minutes. There are three awesome steam railway routes here, all of which run through a lush environment buzzing with wildlife. As well as the signature miniature steam trains, kids can try canoeing, crazy golf and indoor play carriages. When you run out of puff, stoke your engines with sumptuous snacks from the whistle stop café.

Eating out in Newquay

Ocean-fresh seafood

If you're a seafood fan, The Boathouse should definitely satisfy. This popular street food market at Newquay Harbour specialises in fresh Cornish seafood as well as a stunning selection of international dishes. Try the piquant paella straight from the pot or lip-smacking pollock served with smoky bacon and creamy leeks. The 55 Yards Bar (named for its proximity to the beach) also serves locally distilled gin, spiced rum and refreshing Cornish lager and cider.

Mediterranean magic

Gusto Deli Bar is a Mediterranean-inspired takeaway spot which specialises in healthy salads, tasty sandwiches and homemade flatbreads packed with artisan falafels. You'll find traditional British fare here too ̶ the Sunday special is a takeaway roast dinner complete with roast potato, sweet potato fresh vegetables and handmade Yorkshire puddings. If you can't resist tucking in immediately there’s seating outside where you can munch away and take in the sea view.

Aussie delights

At Bush Pepper you can feast on fantastic fusion cuisine that skilfully combines Cornish and Australian ingredients. There's a grill section that features fantastic barbecued king prawns, succulent steaks and much more.

Newquay Transport

Airports

The nearest Airport is Cornwall Airport Newquay (NQY) and for a small air hub it’s very well connected by direct and indirect flights to destinations across the UK, Europe and beyond. Enjoy partners with several reliable car hire providers at NQY, the best known of which is probably Europcar.

Buses

The main public bus service in Newquay is operated by First Kernow and you can find bus timetables and maps when you pop in to their travel shop at the town's Manor Road bus station. The service is fairly extensive and efficient, with a range of tickets are available including family tickets, Explorer tickets offering unlimited daily travel, and regular singles and returns.

Driving tips

You always drive on the left side of the road in Newquay and the official Newquay tourism site confirms that touring the area by car is the quickest way to get around and see as many of the attractions as possible during your stay. It's crucial to stay safe on the road though, so please observe the following speed limits ̶ 70 mph (120 km/h) for motorways, 60 mph (100 km/h) for other main roads, and 30 mph (50 km/h) or 20 mph (40 km/h) if you’re in busy areas.

You should always carry your car hire documents and driving licence with you whenever you get behind the wheel, and drink driving and using hand-held mobiles are both strictly forbidden.

In Newquay and across the United Kingdom, the driver and all passengers should always wear seat belts.

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FAQs about car hire in Newquay

Most frequently asked questions about hiring a car in Newquay

Hiring a compact car like a Fiat Tipo costs from £24.38 in Newquay and a standard-sized Volkswagen Passat costs £41.06 per day.
You can hire a mini-sized Fiat 500 in Newquay from just £17.30 a day when you book in advance.
To hire a car in the UK the minimum age is 21 and you must have held your licence for over a year. Hiring larger/premium vehicles might mean stricter rules on age are applied, so please check.
No, not usually. Excess-free packages are standard for most Newquay car hire operators, and packages should have road-side assistance as well as theft protection included.
This is usually perfectly acceptable – extra drivers can be added as long as they hold a valid license and an additional daily fee is paid.
This depends on your itinerary and travel group, but a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso seats seven comfortably, so it’s the perfect size for family day trips out of town.
You should always inform your rental company right away if you have an accident. In the unlikely event you have a serious accident in Coventry, call 999 immediately for emergency services.