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Free Things to do in Cornwall

Monday 03 April 2023

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Cornwall is among the UK’s most popular holiday regions, and with so many wonderful places to visit, it is no wonder why. Cornwall boasts beautiful landscapes, sandy beaches, and cultural heritage – but the cost of a day trip or staycation can add up. However, there are plenty of ways to spend a day in Cornwall utterly free of charge.

To help you navigate the UK with your bank balance protected, we’ve put together a list of some of the best attractions, destinations, and days out that you can enjoy for free in Cornwall.

Heartlands, Redruth

Especially good for half-term days out on a budget, Heartlands is one of Cornwall’s most educational and enjoyable days out. Heartlands is a heritage site celebrating and exploring the history of mining in Cornwall, with areas to learn and play. Mining has played a significant role in shaping the history and culture of Cornwall, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site area that surrounds Heartlands is the perfect place to dive into the history of mining.

As well as the museum, you can find the Diaspora Gardens featuring plants native to Cornwall and exotics brought back to Cornwall from Cornish migration sites across the world. And if all that learning doesn’t wear you out, make sure to burn some energy on the adventure playground before you head home!

How to get to Heartlands:

Heartlands is conveniently located almost exactly between CrossCountry train stations Redruth and Camborne – so you can hop off at whichever you reach first depending on your direction of travel. From both stations, a bus journey of around 15 minutes will take you directly to Heartlands.

Bright blue sea and sandy beach at Polkerris in Cornwall

Explore the Beaches, Penzance

Cornwall is famous for its sandy beaches and mild climate, and none are better than the beaches at Penzance. With a wide variety of beaches; ranging from Battery Rocks’ rock pools, to lifeguard-protected sandy stretches at Marazion, to Longrock if you like dog-friendly beaches; Penzance is the perfect spot to head to if a beach day is what you crave. If you’re looking for an affordable day out in Cornwall, why not pack a picnic, put on your swimming gear, and head for a Penzance beach?

Getting to Penzance beaches:

Of course, the exact journey depends on which beach you’re heading to – but you can get to Penzance train station directly on a wide range of CrossCountry services from across the UK. From there, you can reach most beaches with a short walk or bus journey.

Rocky beach with people in the background, at Marazion in Penzance

David Weston Gallery, St Austell

Though Cornwall is beloved for its beautiful blue skies, bad weather does inevitably strike sometimes! Whether you’re a local looking for something to fill a winter day or an unlucky tourist on a wet weather holiday, this is one of our favourite free things to do in Cornwall in the rain. Nestled in St Austell’s windy streets, you’ll find the David Weston Gallery. Packed with beautiful paintings, many of which depict Cornwall’s natural beauty, this small independent gallery is the perfect place to wile away an hour or two and get some respite from the rain.

Getting to the David Weston Gallery:

Situated in Mevagissey, you can easily reach the David Weston Gallery by taking a 25-minute bus from St Austell station

Truro Cathedral, Truro

In one form or another, the Cathedral in Truro has been an important place of Worship since the 13th century. Formerly St Mary’s parish church, St Mary’s officially became a cathedral in the late 19th century, now Truro Cathedral is a breath-taking building that is a magnificent example of Gothic Revival architecture, lending a historical touch to the Truro skyline. Entry to the cathedral is completely free, so visitors of all religious orientations are welcome to explore the religious and cultural heritage of the cathedral.

Getting to Truro Cathedral:

Situated less than a mile from Truro train station, you can reach Truro Cathedral by taking a CrossCountry train from a variety of locations across the UK, followed by a 12-minute walk.

The front of Truro Cathedral with Gothic brickwork and dramatic clouds behind

The Camel Trail, near Bodmin

Perfect for hiking, running, or cycling; whether you’re solo, with friends, or as a family – the Camel Trail is a rural path running through the heart of Cornwall surrounded by lush Cornish countryside on the site of a disused railway line. If you’re on holiday in Cornwall, an active day on the Camel Trail, named after the nearby River Camel, is the best way to see the beautiful Cornish landscape and it is completely free of charge. With plenty of lovely cafes and tearooms lining the trail all the way to the picture-perfect Padstow, you can enjoy a full day out on a budget.

Getting to the Camel Trail:

Located near the CrossCountry train station in Bodmin, you can easily join the Camel Trail by taking a CrossCountry service from one of our many train stations across the UK – whether you’re local to Cornwall or travelling from further afield. If you are planning to cycle the trail, be sure to check our guidance around travelling onboard our trains with bikes.


If you’re planning a visit to Cornwall on a budget, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

The UK is bursting with fun activities. Whether you’re visiting one of the best historical places in the UK, the best forests in the UK, or the best cinemas in the UK, you can always travel by train. CrossCountry has services running up and down the country to ensure you can get to the places you need to be.

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