Launceston, Cornwall’s ancient capital, sits just inside the border with Devon, offering visitors a charming blend of historical significance, stunning landscapes, and a warm welcome.

Known for its well-preserved Norman castle, narrow streets lined with independent shops, and its position as a gateway to both Cornwall and Devon, Launceston is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

Whether you’re drawn by the allure of history, the call of the countryside, or the charm of small-town life, Launceston provides a perfect base for your Cornish adventures.

Discovering Launceston

Launceston’s rich tapestry weaves through centuries of history, from its strategic role with the Norman castle to its status as a market town.

Today, it merges its historical roots with a vibrant community spirit, offering visitors an authentic taste of Cornish life.

Historical Highlights

Launceston Castle: Dominating the town’s skyline, the castle offers panoramic views across the Tamar Valley and a glimpse into Launceston’s medieval past. Explore the motte-and-bailey castle’s ruins and discover its history as a fortress, prison, and courthouse.

Lawrence House Museum: Housed in a Georgian building, this local museum, managed by the National Trust, showcases Launceston’s history through fascinating collections and exhibits.

St Mary Magdalene Church: Renowned for its intricate exterior carvings, this beautiful church represents a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture and is a testament to Launceston’s historical wealth and importance.

Planning Your Visit

Getting There

Launceston is easily accessible by road, located near the A30, which runs directly from Exeter to Cornwall.

The town is approximately an hour’s drive from Exeter and is well-signposted.

While Launceston does not have its own train station, the nearest stations are in Plymouth and Exeter, with bus services providing connections to the town.

Where to Stay

Accommodation in Launceston ranges from charming bed and breakfasts in historic buildings to countryside retreats and self-catering cottages.

Many options are situated within or close to the town centre, allowing easy access to Launceston’s attractions and amenities.

Eating Out

Launceston boasts a variety of dining options, including traditional pubs, quaint cafés, and restaurants serving both local Cornish produce and international cuisine.

The town’s market tradition continues with local producers offering fresh, seasonal produce that features prominently on menus around Launceston.

Maximising Your Experience

Explore on Foot: Launceston’s compact size makes it ideal for exploration on foot. Wander its narrow streets, discover hidden alleyways, and enjoy the architectural beauty of its historic buildings.

Visit on Market Day: Experience the town’s bustling market atmosphere, with stalls selling everything from fresh local produce to crafts and antiques.

Enjoy the Countryside: Use Launceston as a starting point for walks and cycles in the surrounding countryside. The Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers scenic routes for all abilities.

Tips for Your Visit

Parking: Launceston offers several car parks around the town. Be sure to check parking times and fees.

Local Events: Launceston hosts various events throughout the year, including food festivals and medieval reenactments at the castle. Check the local calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.

Support Local: Shopping in Launceston’s independent stores and eating in local restaurants are great ways to support the community and enjoy authentic Cornish products and hospitality.

Nearby Attractions

Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre: Just north of Launceston, this sanctuary offers the chance to see otters, deer, and other wildlife up close in a natural setting.

Bodmin Moor: A short drive brings you to the dramatic landscapes of Bodmin Moor, ideal for walking, horse riding, and connecting with nature.

Cotehele House and Gardens: This beautiful National Trust property is situated along the River Tamar and is rich in history and natural beauty.


Launceston is a town where history and community come together, offering visitors a unique insight into Cornwall’s past and present.

Its strategic location makes it an ideal base for exploring both Cornwall and Devon, ensuring that whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, Launceston is a perfect choice.

With its welcoming atmosphere, rich history, and beautiful surroundings, Launceston promises a memorable and enjoyable holiday experience.