9th June, 2024

7 castles & historic gems to visit car-free this summer

Forget the hassle of parking and traffic this summer and explore some of Cornwall’s best castles and historic gems without a car. Here are some of our favourites:


One of King Henry VIII’s finest coastal fortresses, Pendennis sits high on a rocky headland overlooking the river, beaches and town of Falmouth below. There’s plenty to see, from the Tudor keep to the historic collection of guns and canons.


St Mawes is the sister castle to Pendennis and is one of the best preserved and most elaborately decorated of all the coastal forts. The best way to visit the castle is to arrive by ferry from Falmouth as you can enjoy some stunning views as you travel over the river and approach the castle.


Visit this beautiful estate and explore its formal gardens, woodland walks and impressive late Victorian house. The walk through the countryside to Lanhydrock is signposted from Bodmin Parkway station.


This iconic island with its working village and castle is a magical place to visit. The castle was once a priory and fort but has been the home of the St Aubyn family since the 17th century.

Top tip – check opening times when planning your visit, as not open every day.


One of the most fascinating castles in England, Restormel was built in the 13th century and used as a luxurious retreat by its medieval owners. The castle is in ruins, but you can walk around the inside of the keep and climb the stairs from the courtyard to take in the fabulous views of the area.


This fascinating estate has one of the most important 16th century gardens in Europe and is also home to a beautiful Grade 1 listed Tudor mansion. As well as the gardens there are plenty of woodland walks and remnants of the Cornish Mining era to explore and tea rooms to enjoy.


Tucked away in the Tamar Valley, Cotehele Estate is home to a beautiful Tudor manor house, working mill, historic quay and lots of lovely estate walks. In the 19th Century the area boomed, and Cotehele Quay was a hive of activity with boats and paddle steamers loading and unloading cargo.

Plus… Bodmin Railway

For a different type of historic gem, hop off the train at Bodmin Parkway and step back in time as you ride the 13-mile round trip on Bodmin’s historic steam railway!

Top tip – Get a Devon & Cornwall Railcard!

Live locally? Don’t miss out on great savings with a Devon & Cornwall Railcard (just £12 a year and now available online). Save a third on many fares for you and a friend. You can also bring up to four children for just £1 each.

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