While Cornwall is one of the most popular regions of the UK for holidaying Brits, cycling holidays in Cornwall are less well known. So what does the most southwesterly English county have to offer those who love to cycle?
Cornwall is a fantastic choice for those that love to climb, with plenty of steep hills, including some of the toughest climbs in the UK. Plus, of course, jaw-dropping scenery.
This article includes details of products and/or services that we have used ourselves or which we would consider using. Some are paid features or include affiliate links where if you click on a link and make a booking or buy something, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.
What’s special about cycling Cornwall?
In Cornwall, you’re never far from the sea and stunning views over Cornwall’s beautiful beaches are plentiful. Other scenic highlights include historic towns, fishing villages, moors and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Many cycle routes in Cornwall do make the most of this, as you might expect.
Thanks to its sandy beaches and myriad of tourist attractions, Cornwall is a great summer holiday destination. As well as some fabulous road bike routes, you’ll also find lots of pancake-flat family-friendly cycle trails. These can offer parents the perfect mix of rollercoaster rides in the mornings and leisurely family rides in the afternoons.
Where is Cornwall?
Before hitting the cycle trails of Cornwall, you need to think about getting there. The county is located in the far south west corner of England. It sits on a peninsula with the neighbouring county of Devon to the east, and is surrounded by ocean to the north, south and west.
Cornwall is a rural county with lots of picturesque seaside and estuary towns including the bigger places such as St Ives, Fowey, Penzance, Newquay and Falmouth and smaller villages like Polperro, Looe and Padstow.
Cornwall cycle routes
Cornwall has a huge number of different cycle routes to suit all abilities, from keen road cyclists who aren’t afraid of sharp hills, to families with children who want flat, traffic-free cycle trails. Family cycling in Cornwall is ideal for combining with a week or two of relaxation in the sunny southwest!
When considering cycle routes in Cornwall, the first thing to know about is the excellent Cornish Way cycle route. This initiative has linked up National Cycle Networks, Regional Cycle Networks and traffic-free cycle paths to create a network of 200+ miles of inter-linking lanes and trails that connect Bude, in the far east of Cornwall, with Land’s End in the west. This is a useful map of the Cornish Way. If you’ve got a gravel bike and are looking for awesome mountain bike trails in Cornwall, this network allows you to ride from east to west and coast to coast.
The Cornish Way is less good for loop rides, but there are some possibilities. Our suggested routes from Bodmin and Penzance include sections of the Cornish Way.
1. Bodmin cycling loop
We’ve got a very soft spot for this stunning area of Cornwall, having spent many summer holidays here as children. Plus the bike trails in Cornwall are a big draw.
As soon as you’ve escaped the straight, fast B3268 out of Bodmin you’re onto a network of ancient, high-banked lanes (Part of the NCR3 and the Cornish Way). These take you down through the timeless village of Luxulyan, past a turn that takes you to the world-famous Eden Project and then on to the charming, chocolate box seaside villages of Fowey and Polruan.
The car ferry, over the picturesque estuary dotted on either side with colourful houses to Bodinnick, is an experience in itself. Expect a stiff climb away from the estuary and on to Penpoll, Lerryn (and the lost-in-time Lerryn Stores) before finishing up at one of the National Trust’s most famous stately homes, Lanhydrock House.
While this is a pretty short ride, take note of the elevation gain. Be warned that the climbs in this part of the world are very much of the short and very sharp variety.
2. Falmouth cycling loop
This is the route of Falmouth Cycling Club’s 50 kilometres Audax event. So as Cornwall cycling routes go, it’s got a good pedigree. It also makes for a very beautiful ride.
It starts out with a scenic loop around Pendennis Point and Pendennis Castle, to the east of Falmouth.
You then head inland through farmland and to the small village of Porkellis. It used to be a boom town due to the mining around here – now there’s just one pub.
The route than laps round the Stithians reservoir. Make sure your visit doesn’t coincide with the annual agricultural show here in the summer. It’s been running since 1834, and attracts thousands of people annually.
From here it’s back into pretty Falmouth, with its impressive buildings and bustling high street.
3. Penzance cycling loop
This is a terrific route for cycling in the Penzance area. It also takes in some of the UK’s most iconic scenery.
The route starts in Penzance and heads along the coastline, past the Art Deco lido at the fishing port of Newlyn. It’s then on to Mousehole, a classic Cornish fishing port with narrow streets and a picture perfect harbour.
Turning inland, be prepared for the Raginnis hill climb and the false summit, which is in fact just a short respite before the road bends to the right and throws more gradient at you. Watch out for the headwind too: it can be one of the most blustery bike rides in Cornwall!
You follow the NCR 3 from here all the way to Land’s End, where you’ll undoubtedly meet traffic on the A30 and perhaps recoil from the blatant commercialisation of this beauty spot (you can always skip that part if you want!).
Heading north, there’s endless hills to contend with and lots of windswept morrland. From St Just you head towards the coast and wind around the coastland past mines around Botallack and Boscaswell.
The coast road between Pendeed and St Ives is famously beautiful, framed by moor, craggy cliffs and sea. This route doesn’t quite make it into St Ives, which is likely to be full of people whatever time of year you reach it, but you could always add a diversion in if you’re keen to visit.
You then head back across the peninsula and follow the Red River valley all the way back to the south coast, where the vista of St Michael’s Mount meets you and tourists cross the waters at Marazion. It’s then a short hop back to Penzance.
Family cycle routes in Cornwall
There are lots of great family cycling routes in Cornwall. After your main ride, an afternoon spent exploring one of these child-friendly trails might be ideal.
The Camel Cycle Trail
For families with children, the Camel Trail cycle route is among the top cycling routes in Cornwall and is not to be missed. This 18-mile route follows a disused railway line, so it’s completely flat and ideal for the youngest of cyclists. The most popular part of this trail is from Wadebridge to Padstow, which offers lovely coastal views.
Lanhydrock Cycling Trails
Lanhydrock Woods is a National Trust trail centre offering everyone the chance to explore Cornwall by bike. It has paved and off-road cycle trails, which are graded according to difficulty. The easiest trail is a one-and-a-half-mile gentle surfaced ride through the woodland. The moderate trails have some easy to moderate gradients, and the difficult trail is more off-road and ideal for older kids with mountain bikes.
Mineral Tramways Trail
If you want cycle trails in Cornwall with a sense of history, this could be the one. The county is dotted with abandoned mines, and there are six trails which follow the abandoned tramways. They all link together, so you can enjoy a family bike ride from one to fourteen miles. The routes have only gentle inclines and kids will love spotting the abandoned ivy-covered mining buildings that are a little eerie; yet also very beautiful.
Cornwall cycling events
There are lots of cycling events in Cornwall to choose from. Some of the most popular include:
The Rattler Pro Ride
A sportive with a difference, the Rattler Pro Ride offers rides guided by professional cyclists and the choice of three routes over 25, 50 or 100 miles. One of the best cycle routes in Cornwall, it’s named after the local tipple produced at Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm.
Coast and Clay Sportive
This event has four routes to choose from, offering something from the complete beginner to experienced cyclists looking for a challenge. Choose your own cycle tour of Cornwall with the easy 17-mile route, or opt for a tougher 104-mile ride.
Land’s End 100 Sportive
Among the top bike rides in Cornwall, this event has been popular for well over ten years. It offers a choice of three routes over 46, 71 or 105 miles beginning in Marazion, near Penzance.
Starting and ending at The Eden Project, you can enjoy a mass cycle ride with a choice of 36-mile, 60-mile or 100-mile routes.
Deloitte Ride Across Britain
For the ultimate UK cycling challenge, join over 800 riders on a 960-mile, nine-day tour from Cornwall’s Land’s End all the way to John O’Groats in the Scottish Highlands. Check out our list of ultimate cycle challenges for more details on this!
Where to stay
Remember to double-check accommodation bike storage arrangements (and any other services you need) before booking as policies often change.
Ruthern Valley Holidays
Ruthern Valley Holidays, Ruthernbridge, Bodmin PL30 5LU
Small family run holiday park between Bodmin and Wadebridge, set in 7 acres of mature trees.
- Accommodation for all pockets, including 12 self catering lodges, 9 glamping pods and camping pitches.
- Perfect for cycling holidays, this quiet site is 1 (flat) mile from the Camel Trail, 1 mile to mountain biking at Grogley Tracks and 2.5 miles to Bishop’s Wood. It’s also a 15 minute drive to Lanhydrock and Cardinham cycle trails.
- Guests can keep their bicycles at their accommodation.
- Bike wash area is available as well as a bike shed with tools and compressor.
- Small shop on site sells some bike essentials.
St Moritz Hotel
St Moritz Hotel, Trebetherick, Cornwall, PL27 6SD // 01208 862242
Stylish hotel above Daymer Bay in North Cornwall, with far-reaching sea views.
Fowey Hall Hotel
Fowey Hall Hotel, Hanson Drive, Fowey, Cornwall PL23 1ET // 01726 833 866
If you’re looking for a spot of luxury, look no further than Fowey Hall Hotel!
The best towns for cyclists in Cornwall
There are so many lovely towns and villages offering tourist accommodation in Cornwall, it can be difficult to choose the best for your needs. We hope these pointers help.
We particularly like Bodmin. It isn’t the swankiest of Cornwall’s towns, but it’s one of the most accessible bases for those driving from elsewhere in the country. Its central location means that you’ve got a great range of routes (not to mention both the north and south coasts) within striking distance.
There are several bike shops in Bodmin and plans have been submitted to create a holiday complex for cyclists as well as new cycling trails in the area.
Bodmin is popular with cycling families, as it’s close to The Camel Trail and the Lanhydrock cycle trails.
Stay at the highly rated four star Bodmin Jail Hotel, which is ideally situated for cyclists.
Another good option would be Penzance, which hosted the Grand Depart of the Tour of Britain in September 2021. It is also the start and finish town for the new West Kernow Way, a 150 mile (241 km) mixed on-road/off-road loop of West Cornwall.
This beautiful holiday town is close to Land’s End and St Ives. It makes a great base for a bike tour of Cornwall.
Stay at Hotel Penzance, which offers sea views, a pool and is only half a kilometre from the train station.
And finally, between Bodmin and Penzance lies lovely Falmouth, a traditional seaside town on Cornwall’s Heritage Coast. This larger place is a university town, so it offers good amenities. If the best bike rides in Cornwall for you are the most beautiful, then this could be the base to stay in.
Stay at Kinbrae House Holiday Apartments, close to the beach and under a kilometre from the centre of Falmouth.
Road bike hire in Cornwall
Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.
Cornwall has a huge number of bike shops, but most of them focus on mountain bikes, hybrids and kids’ bikes rather than road bikes. However, we did come across a few places where you can hire road bikes in Cornwall. These are:
Tips for road cycling in Cornwall
We recommend bringing a car with you when you want to tackle the roads and bike paths of Cornwall. The area is very rural, so a car will enable you to travel to various points to start your ride. If you prefer to fly, do consider hiring a car at the airport.
Cornwall is recognised as the warmest place in Great Britain and it can get very hot and crowded in June, July and August. We think May and September would probably be the best months for cycling holidays in Cornwall.
Consider your gearing before you arrive. It really is hilly! It would also be worth reading these tips for cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. While the two regions are very different to look at, they are both hilly and rural so many of the suggestions will be relevant.
How to get to Cornwall
You can fly to Cornwall from airports across the UK and Ireland.
High-speed train services run frequently from London Paddington to Penzance. There are also direct trains to Cornwall daily from Bristol and Bath.
Due to its location on the westernmost tip of England, Cornwall is the furthest point in the UK from many British cities.
Distance from major UK cities:
Interested in other UK cycling destinations?
Head to our UK cycling page here which has links to loads of articles on other UK destinations.
Please support Epic Road Rides
A huge amount of time and effort goes into the article you’ve just read, all with the aim of helping you!
If you found what you’ve read useful, I’d really appreciate it if you dropped something in the tip jar here.
It’s a way you can say thank you and help us carry on creating top quality content with no annoying ads and no pay wall.
Looking for an organised cycling trip?
If you want someone to help you plan and book your cycling holiday, fill out this form. We aren’t a tour operator/agent but we work with lots of people who are and will do our best to put you in touch with someone that can help (within 24 hours wherever possible)!
The contents of this website are provided for general information purposes only. It is not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on it. You should carry out your own due diligence and take professional advice. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our website is accurate, complete or up to date. If you use any information or content on this website, download from, or otherwise obtain content or services through our website, it is entirely at your own discretion and risk. Epic Road Rides Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the information and content on this website. Find out more here.