Truro: The Complete Guide

Written by: Eliot Prince

Truro is the capital city of Cornwall in the UK. It is just inland from the south coast with a tidal river running through the centre into the river Fal and Truro natural harbour.

Although it is a city centred around a large historic cathedral, its overall size is more comparable to a large market town. With a population of just over 21,000, it is one of the largest settlements in Cornwall but relatively small compared to other metropolitan areas of the UK.

While Truro is not directly on the coast, it is ideally placed to explore Cornwall’s most beautiful areas. You can quickly get to the Roseland Heritage coast and Falmouth on the south coast. While a 15 minute drive takes you to famous northern beaches like Perranporth! Or you can venture further west to reach Land’s End.

Around Truro

Truro Daniell Street

Truro makes both a great base for Cornwall or as a destination to visit for a day or weekend.

The City centre is lined with historic buildings and architecture which revolve around Truro Cathedral. If you’ve ever lost then look up to spot the Cathedral spires to guide you back to the centre.

Walk the cobbled streets to take in Cornish heritage or sneak down alleyways to find cafes and secret local stores. If you’re around on Wednesday or Saturday then head to the market square for a delightful selection of locally-made treats – think pasties, cheese, and fish.

Outside of the city centre, you’ll mostly find residential areas (often up steep hills). If you’re planning to live in Truro then there’s a choice of expanding new builds or traditional stone cottages.

How to Get to Truro

Truro Train Station

One thing about Cornwall is that it can take a while to get to your destination. Truro is remarkably easy to access as it sits just off the A30 dual carriageway. From outside the county, you can easily drive down the M5 to Exeter before taking the A30 directly to Truro.

Public transport is regular too, with multiple direct trains to and from London Paddington every day. This means you can travel from London to Truro in just over 4 hours without needing to change trains. Easy peasy! Plus you can jump on and off in Reading, Taunton, Exeter, and Plymouth.

There is no airport in Truro but domestic flights do run to Newquay airport. From here it’s a 30 minute drive. Flight routes include London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, and Dublin.

What to See and Do

Truro Cathedral

There’s something for everyone to enjoy in Truro. Families can enjoy the local cinema and bowling alleys, particularly on a rainy day. When the weather is nice you can explore Boscawen park and Victoria gardens. For more excitement try your hand at Celtic axe throwing or virtual reality rooms. 

History addicts will love sauntering the streets to see what you come across. Of course, start with a full tour of the stunning Truro Cathedral, inside and out! Then head to the local museum to get to know the heritage in detail. Adding to this, the epic Viaduct is unmissable at the edge of Victoria gardens. And don’t forget to catch a live show at the Hall for Cornwall Theatre.

Walkers can get lost in the local nature with walks to Sunny Corner and Malpas which include woodlands and riverside along the way. Or go a little further afield to Idless woods and ‘Cornish Mars’ (also a hotspot for mountain bikers).

As you can imagine, there’s plenty of shopping, eating, and drinking to be done but we’ll get to that shortly!

If you’ve finished with Truro, then it makes a brilliant base to head deeper into Cornwall for surfing, kayaking, beach days, and heritage tours.

Read more about the top Things to Do in Truro.

Where to Stay

There’s no shortage of accommodation in Truro. However, you won’t find any of the major hotel chains in the heart of the city, this is reserved for local businesses plus there’s a wealth of apartments and Airbnbs in the area.

For luxurious stays then The Alverton is as grand as it gets, while the Mannings Hotel is perfectly located. A quick look for accommodation will also reveal a number of smaller guest houses. Self-catered apartments and homestays offer decent value for money such as Jago Cottage, Townhouse Rooms, and Pengelly Farmhouse.

It is not a huge city, so you’ll find wherever you stay is within walking distance or a short bus ride to the centre.

Shopping in Truro

Truro central shopping street

You’ll be spoiled for choice when shopping in Truro which is one of the major areas for retail therapy in Cornwall.

In the heart of the city, you’ll find a mix of local stores and major brands. You can pick you’re way through cool surf shops or find a gift in crafty stores. Lemon Street market must be on your list. The indoor permanent market offers an array of creators including local art, eco stores, and local alcohol collections. Plus a Wednesday and Saturday market in the main square is where you’ll find tasty treats, local fish, and meat. 

Truro Market

On the outskirts, there are all the major supermarket chains from Lidl, to Tesco to Waitrose depending on your tastes. Adding to this, there’s the Great Cornish Food store which is a remarkable experience. 

There are retail parks with big names like Homebase, Currys, and The Range towards Threemilestone. 

Eating and Drinking

Hubbox in Truro

Restaurants and bars in Truro give you a complete selection no matter what you’re in the mood for, we’re talking local pasties, world-class burgers, and seafood.

The Longstore takes the place of the best of the best with its freshly cooked meat and seafood with cocktails to suit. And it’s a perfect spot for a special brunch. Tabbs also serves a sophisticated European menu, Hooked and Sam’s give more seafood and meat options.

Elsewhere, you can find epic burgers at Hub Box and fresh Italian pizzas at Piero’s. Pub grub is on offer too with The Thomas Daniell and the Heron Inn at Malpas worthy of a notable mention. Read more about 9 Deliciously Tasty Restaurants in Truro.

For snacks and lunches, then it’s got to be a Cornish pasty… I’ll leave this up to your nose. You’ll quickly the scent of many local bakeries. But don’t be afraid to wander the streets to see what takes your fancy, there’s no end of cafes and eateries down every street, big or small!

The same can be said if you’re looking for a drink. The Old Ale House is most distinctive, the bar by local brewery Skinners. This is the starting point for beer lovers. A glass of wine can be found around most corners and On The Rocks is an elegant yet relaxed cocktail bar.

Surrounding Area

Perranporth beach in Cornwall at sunset

As I’ve mentioned, one thing I love about Truro is its location. You can get out and about in Truro very easily. With a car, you can get out onto the A30 which runs through the west country or whizz down to places like Falmouth.

Within a half an hour drive you can easily find yourself at any number of stunning beaches including Porthtowan, Perranporth, Loe, Gylly, or Gwithian. Ideal for surfers, paddle boarders, walkers, and sunbathers alike.

Adding to this, other famous coastal towns like Newquay, Hayle, St. Ives, and Padstow are close by. These offer no end of adventures, activities, shopping, eating and drinking. 

Truro City – The Heart of Cornwall

Truro makes for a perfect location to discover Cornwall far and wide. You can enjoy the relaxed quiet city, its heritage, amazing shopping, and eateries.

Getting here is painless with direct trains from London and direct access via main roads. Plus Newquay airport is 30 minutes away.

If you’re looking for beaches then you can pick from the north, south, and west coast (often depending on the surf forecast…) While other days can be used to get lost in local villages and epic countryside walks.

FAQ about Truro

Is Truro worth visiting?

Yes, Truro is a brilliant place to visit. If you’re staying elsewhere then it is a packed day trip with plenty of activities, shopping, eateries, and local heritage to enjoy. Adding to this, it is well located for a weekend trip or to discover the rest of Cornwall. 

What’s Truro famous for?

Truro is the capital city of Cornwall. In fact, it is the only city in Cornwall! It is famous for its history which you can still see as you wander the cobbled streets, and marvel at the architecture. The Cathedral is particularly famous which is a stunning creation over 100 years old, built in the 19th century.

Is Truro a good holiday destination?

Truro can be overlooked as a holiday destination as it is not on the coast. There is no beach in Truro, but it is less than 15 minutes from major Cornish beaches like Perranporth. Adding to this, there is plenty to see and do in the City along with nearby local towns.

Is Truro the biggest city in Cornwall?

Yes. In fact, it is the only city in Cornwall. That being said, its population is just over 20,000 and is nearer to the size of a large market town.