top of page

Penzance by Public Transport

We are often asked whether it's possible to stay at our properties without a car and still explore the area. Middle Colenso Farm is in a fairly rural location so we wouldn't advise it but The Bell Tower is perfectly placed for a car-free holiday. The flat is just a short walk from the station and excellent public transport links mean you can easily visit the major attractions.

Penzance by Rail

A Stanhope Forbes painting of Penzance Railway Station
Penzance Railway Station captured by Stanhope Forbes in his 1925 painting The Terminus

Penzance Railway Station opened in1852 but the first trains were just local. In 1859, however, the line was extended to Plymouth, connecting the town to the rest of the country. Passengers had to change at Truro due to different gauges between the two sections of track but through trains were operating by1866. The economic advantages were huge. Farmers and fishermen were able to sell their produce nationwide but there was another, more significant development.

Drawn by its mild climate, visitors were already coming to Penzance by the mid-19th century. Bathing machines for hire were advertised as early as1923 and numbers were significant enough to prompt the building of the famous Promenade in 1843 but it was the coming of the railway that transformed the town into a popular tourist resort. The town's first guide book was published in 1860 and The Queen's Hotel opened the following year.

Many people still travel to Penzance by train and to be honest we'd far rather be looking out of a train window than at the bumper of the car in front on the A30. The journey from Paddington takes about five hours and it's a lovely route. The line flirts with the sea at Dawlish and crosses Brunel's magnificent Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash and into Cornwall.

For a real treat, you can take the glamorously-titled Night Riviera Sleeper. It's just one of two sleeper services still operating in the UK and while it's not exactly The Orient Express, the carriages were refurbished fairly recently and are clean and comfortable. It's also great fun.

Once you're here, you may choose to explore on foot. There's plenty to occupy you in Penzance itself, especially if you're just here for a long weekend but Newlyn and Marazion are both within easy walking distance.

The St Ives Branch Line

Lots of our guests like to visit St Ives but parking can be a nightmare at the height of the season. Taking the train removes the hassle. From Penzance, simply change at St Erth and take the branch line to St Ives. If you're driving, you can leave your car at the St Erth Park and Ride. Trains run regularly and drop passengers off close to the centre of town.

It's a short journey, just 10 minutes, but it's incredibly scenic as the track skirts the Hayle estuary. Choose a seat on the right hand side of the train on the outward journey to make the most of the view.

We're also very fond of the little tea room at St Erth Station. It's a good place for a cuppa or snack while your'e waiting for your train.


An open top bus on the road in the Cornwall
The Land's End Coaster is a fun way to see the far west

If you're looking to explore further west, then grab yourself a ticket for The Land's End Coaster. The open top bus is an affordable and fun way to visit all of the major attractions. You can hop on and off at locations including The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Zennor and St Ives. I've already covered the route in more detail on The Journal and you can read more here.

Penzance is also well-served by regular bus routes. An all-day ticket costs just £7 while a weekly pass is £25. The bus station is next to the railway station and just a 10-minute walk from The Bell Tower. Here are some of the main routes but you can find out more here.

The Mousehole/M6

Choose this bus if you'd like to visit the harbour towns of Newlyn or Mousehole.

The Tin Coaster

Like the Land's End Coaster, this is an open top bus but will take you straight to the north coast where you can explore Cornwall's mining heritage at Botallack or Geevor. It also stops at St Just.

The 16

The main stops on this route include Zennor, The Leach Pottery St Ives and Carbis Bay.

The Tinner

The Tinner is a good choice for beach lovers, stopping at St Ives, Carbis Bay, Lelant and Hayle.

The U4

This is the bus to take if you'd like to visit Marazion, Praa Sands, Portleven or Helston. Change at Helston for buses to Falmouth, Truro or The Lizard Peninsula.


bottom of page