Travelling to the Isles of Scilly - Friendly Guides

Travelling to the Isles of Scilly

How to get to the Isles of Scilly.

The Isles of Scilly are located 40km (25 miles) west of Land’s End in Cornwall and on a clear day are just visible on the horizon.

Arriving in Penzance By Car.
Head for Exeter then follow the A30 to Penzance. The A30 can be very busy on summer Saturdays and bank holiday weekends. To avoid the queues, aim to arrive on the Cornish border (about 1¼ hours from Penzance) before mid-morning or leave it until late afternoon/early evening. Flying from Exeter avoids Cornwall’s congested trains and roads in the summer.

Car Parking in Penzance.
You can’t take your car to Scilly but there is secure parking at Land’s End Airport, Penzance Heliport and in various locations around Penzance. Some secure parking sites are on the outskirts of Penzance so book parking when you buy your travel tickets and make sure you arrange a shuttle bus or taxi to take you to your departure point.

Arriving in Penzance by train.
Penzance Station is served by direct trains from London Paddington and the North. The Night Riviera sleeper train leaves Paddington late evening and will get you to Penzance by about 8am the following morning. A shuttle bus runs between the station and Land’s End Airport (12km/7½ miles) and Penzance Heliport. You will need to book a seat in advance and should aim to leave Penzance Station one hour before your scheduled take-off time. You can also get a taxi from the station forecourt. Passengers for the Scillonian can simply walk along the harbour to the Lighthouse Quay.

By sea on the Scillonian to Hugh Town on St Mary's.
The Scillonian III sails to Scilly from around mid-March to the end of October. It usually departs Penzance at 9.15am with the return sailing leaving St Mary’s at 4.30pm but departure times can vary depending on the tide and weather. The journey takes about 2¾ hours and you get a scenic view of the West Penwith coastline on the way.

In the busiest periods, there are two sailings a day, one departing Penzance at about 6am and one at 1pm. The return sailings from Scilly are at 9.30am and 4.30pm. Day trips to St Mary’s from the mainland are possible if you leave on the early sailing. Many people book a late flight back on the Skybus to get the most time out of their day.

If you are staying overnight on Scilly, load your luggage into the container for your island at Penzance Harbour and attach a colour coded label to your bags. If you’re staying on St Mary’s you can have it delivered to your accommodation for a small fee (write where you’re staying on your luggage label) or pick it up on the quayside when you arrive. Some accommodation providers will pick up you and your luggage by arrangement, otherwise you may need to book a taxi.

If you’re staying on an off-island your luggage will be automatically transferred onto your off-island ferry at Hugh Town Quay and will be unloaded at your destination quay. Most accommodation providers will arrange to meet you at the quay to help you with your bags when you arrive.

By Skybus from Land's End Airport to St Mary's Airport.
Skybus flies to Scilly all year round from Land’s End Airport. You can also fly direct to St Mary’s Airport from Newquay and Exeter airports; this is a more seasonal service. The flight from Land’s End Airport takes about twenty minutes, from Newquay about thirty minutes and from Exeter about sixty minutes. A shuttle bus runs between Penzance train station and Land’s End Airport – you will need to book a seat in advance and should aim to leave the station an hour before your scheduled take-off time. You can also get a taxi from the station.

By Helicopter from Penzance to St Mary's Airport and Tresco.
There is a helicopter service from Penzance Heliport (near Sainsbury’s as you come into Penzance on the A30) to St Mary’s Airport and Tresco. The flight time from Penzance Heliport is about 15 minutes. On-site secure parking is available, as well as a shuttle from the train station. Bookings can be made on or by calling T: (01736) 780828.

These extracts are from our Isles of Scilly Guidebook and our Scilly Island by Island books.