If you are thinking of a road trip in the UK this summer, you might want to consider checking out Cornwall. Cornwall is the southwestern region of the UK and is typically not where most international tourists flock to. In actuality, this is where most families and residents of the UK tend to go on holiday. It has a beautiful coastline, is littered with fishing villages and is sprinkled with sandy beaches.
I am going to outline here for you my complete Cornwall road trip budget. I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect in terms of your expenses while road-tripping around the UK or more specifically, the coastal region of Cornwall.
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Our trip overview:
This Cornwall road trip budget consists of my personal expenses over the course of a 5-night and 6-day road trip. I was travelling with a friend of mine so keep in mind if you are travelling solo or with more people, your expenses will look different.
We decided that the best way to explore the region was to choose a central Airbnb and then take day trips from there. This worked really well for us and it was nice having one Airbnb to deal with instead of having one each night. We felt like we could unpack and get set up rather than live out of a suitcase every day.
I shared certain expenses with my friend (ie. accommodation and transportation) so in the budget outline, I list the total we paid and what that meant per person. For my personal food and excursion expenses, I listed what my individual costs were! But of course, food budgets can vary from person to person. If food is an area where you like to splurge, your food budget might look different than mine!
This road trip took place in June 2021, and it is important to note that prices might have been different since we were travelling during the school holidays. I was also living in London at the time of this road trip so this budget does not account for the costs of flights arriving to the UK. It does, however, account for our car rental and other transportation costs.
Where did we go:
I want to note that we didn’t spend the entire 6 days in Cornwall! But the majority of our time was spent there! Here is a quick summary of our itinerary!
Starting from London we took the bus to Bristol to pick up the car rental. We spent the afternoon in Bath on the way to Cornwall. We based ourselves there for 4 nights and then drove along the Jurassic coast on the way back to London. Next, we spent one night in Bournemouth in order to have a bit more time on the Jurassic Coast. And the last day, we stopped by Stonehenge on the way back to London and dropped the car off outside of the city.
🏨 Total: £ 373.75 (or 186.88 per person)
We had only one main Airbnb throughout the Cornwall road trip, as I mentioned above. I absolutely loved this Airbnb. The family was so kind and their property was gorgeous. They had beautiful gardens and we felt we were in the heart of the countryside. We also spent one night in a cheap Airbnb in Bournemouth on the way back home.
That means we spent £62.29 per night on accommodations (or roughly 31.15 per person). As I mentioned earlier, when choosing our Airbnb we were looking for something we felt was central to the region so we could visit as much as possible. We also chose something that would accommodate our car. I wouldn’t say that we splurged for this Airbnb, but we did choose one that had nice views and space!
Transportation Expenses (gas, parking and car rental):
Total: £546.5 (or 273.25 per person)
Transportation is where we spent the most money on our trip, but we believed that having the ease of moving about when and where we wanted to was something we prioritized. It saved us the time and hassle of trying to navigate public transit!
🚌 Total Bus: £ 24
We spent our first travel day taking the bus from London to Bristol. This was just under a 3-hour journey and was only £ 12 per person. We then picked up our car rental in Bristol and returned it just outside of London a few days later.
🚗 Total Car rental & Insurance: £ 411.51 ⛽️ Total Gas: £ 90.69
I personally think if you’re planning on exploring Cornwall, a car is necessary to get around. When we were trip planning, it didn’t look like there were many train options in the area and rather than trying to navigate bus schedules we opted for a car.
Reminder: most car rentals in the UK will be manual cars. There are options for automatic but they tend to be more expensive. They also drive on the left-hand side of the road in the UK.
I will note that the roads in Cornwall varied from high to lower visibility. There were definitely moments when they were very tight roads and stone walls or large hedges lining the street impacting your visibility. It is entirely doable but there were some tense moments for sure.
🅿️ Total Parking: £ 20.3
Most of the time parking was free by snagging a spot on the street. I would say that roughly each day we had one spot that required us to pay for parking in one of the lots or garages which cost roughly £ 4-6 for a few hours. The most expensive spot we paid for parking was at Lands End.
🐠 Total: £100-120 per person (roughly)
For this particular trip, we didn’t necessarily want to splurge on food. Our Airbnb had a kitchen so this is where we saved some money by buying groceries. We did of course eat out at a few restaurants, one specifically which is quite well known is Rick Stein’s Restaurant in Padstow. But most of the time we were snacking on Cornish pasties or making food back at the Airbnb.
Tip: Cornish pasties were the perfect filling and cheap snack to get in Cornwall. They are super popular in the region and were really tasty. Cornish pasties were historically made as lunches for mine workers going underground because they were a full meal wrapped in a pastry. They are a really great on-the-go snack!
🏰 Total: £40.3 per person
We did 2 main excursions in Cornwall: Tintagel Castle and Lands End. Tintagel was amazing and was a highlight of our trip for sure! It’s known as King Arthur’s Castle and is a really beautiful spot to visit. I highly recommend it! Lastly, we stopped by Stonehenge on the way back to London.
We did plenty of other excursions that were, in fact, free! We spent time hiking, exploring cute coastal towns and visiting sandy beaches! So there in fact ways to keep your activity expenses low while visiting Cornwall!
Miscellaneous Expenses (gifts, souvenirs etc.):
💸 Total: £10-20 per person
I didn’t buy many gifts or souvenirs. We bought thank-you gifts for our Airbnb host because they helped us out on our first night. And besides that, I personally bought a magnet and one or two small gifts. Most things we came across weren’t too expensive.
Summary: My personal Cornwall Road trip budget was roughly £630.43 (or 105.07 per day).
I was very pleasantly surprised by this region of the UK and our drive back towards London was also incredibly beautiful! Honestly, a road trip was the easiest way to get around Cornwall. I find you have so much more freedom and flexibility when you have your own car and don’t need to rely on other timetables during your day.
I also found that it was very easy to keep our expenses low in this particular region of the UK. Finding an Airbnb with a kitchen was definitely a game changer and even the fact that there were many free activities to do helped keep things cheap!
Just goes to remind you to escape London every now and then and explore more of the beautiful regions of the UK!