How To Get To Isles Of Scilly




Updated on

Since I started my journey as a digital nomad, I have been to England quite a few times.

There’s something about this country that draws me to it. And if I had to pick a favourite destination in England, I would go to Cornwall. 

This southwestern county has a rich coastline and a beach culture that you need to experience at least once. On that note, one of my most memorable trips to Cornwall was when I travelled to the Isles Of Scilly.

There’s only one word I would use to describe the Scilly Isles, and that is “breathtaking”! Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it – just travel there yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.

Hi! I’m Robert Scott and I have discussed how you can get to the Isles of Scilly in this guide. 

Where Are The Isles Of Scilly?

The Isles of Scilly is a small archipelago that is located off the southwestern tip of mainland Britain. It is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 45 kilometres southwest of Land’s End in Cornwall.

This archipelago is made up of over 140 islands and islets but only five of these islands are inhabited. These islands are St. Mary’s, Tresco, St. Martin’s, Bryher and St. Agnes. 

The islands are known for their stunning natural beauty, mild climate and rich biodiversity. That is why they are a popular tourist destination, particularly for those seeking a peaceful and picturesque getaway. 

I spent two weeks in the isles of Scilly, and I had an exciting experience during my time here. Truth be told – I was a bit sad to leave after a week’s stay in this place.

How Can You Get To The Scilly Isles?

Since it is located off the coast, you cannot get there on a single rail or road trip. You will have to switch between different modes of transport and I have discussed the journey in detail below.

1. Travelling To Penzance In Cornwall

Reaching the coastal town of Penzance in Cornwall is the first phase of your journey to the Isles Of Scilly. There are two primary modes of transportation to consider here, which are rail travel and road travel.

A. Reaching Penzance By Rail

If you prefer the convenience and comfort of rail travel, you’re in for a treat. The rail journey to Penzance train station offers breathtaking views of the British countryside, showcasing rolling hills, charming villages and picturesque landscapes along the way. Departing from various locations across the UK, you can sit back, relax and watch the ever-changing scenery unfold outside your window.

As the train glides through the idyllic countryside, you’ll have ample time to immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings. There are verdant fields, winding rivers and distant mountains throughout the route, which will create a soothing backdrop for your journey. 

Personally, I would recommend that you travel via train, for the experience is quite enchanting. Besides, it is much more cost-effective than travelling by car. 

On my trip, I was delighted to experience the gentle hills of the Cotswolds, the rugged landscapes of Devon and the coastal vistas of Cornwall through my train window. If you are a travel buff like me, then you will enjoy it too!

Of course, you will need to make the necessary plans and preparations before beginning the journey. Also, you will need to book the train tickets well in advance. 

B. Reaching Penzance By Road

If you want more flexibility and are not worried about the travel costs, then you can travel to Penzance via car. The well-connected road network allows you to embark on an exciting road trip. Travelling in a car, you will get to experience the freedom of the open road as you make your way towards the southwestern tip of England.

As you set off on your road journey, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the diverse landscapes of the UK. One of my friends in the UK told me about their road trip experience. Based on his colourful description, I can say that it is no less captivating than a train journey.

From winding country lanes and charming villages to rolling hills and coastal vistas, the road to Penzance is an adventure in itself. Along the way, you can make stops at notable landmarks, explore hidden gems or simply relish the joy of driving through scenic landscapes.

Naturally, you will need to plan your road trip beforehand. Before you start, you have to consider the route, estimated travel time and any necessary stops for rest or refuelling. Mapping services and GPS navigation systems are invaluable tools that can provide real-time traffic updates, alternative routes and points of interest along the way.

2. Travelling To The Isles Of Scilly From Penzance

The next phase of your journey will take you from the quaint coastal town of Penzance to your final destination – The Scilly Isles. To be more precise, you will be travelling to St. Mary’s Island, which has transit hubs connecting the isles to Penzance. Like the previous step, there are two transportation methods to pick from – sea and air travel.

A. Getting To The Scilly Isles By Air

For those seeking a quick and convenient travel option, Isles of Scilly Skybus provides regular passenger flights from Land’s End Airport to St. Mary’s Airport. So, if you want a thrilling aerial adventure, you can hop on a small fixed-wing aircraft and soar through the skies to reach St. Mary’s Airport. The flight duration is pretty short, lasting around 15 minutes, but the experience is nothing short of exhilarating. 

However, if you want to prolong your aerial experience and enjoy the thrills of air travel further, you can take a helicopter from Penzance Heliport to St. Mary’s Airport. This helicopter service is operated by British International Helicopters, and it is a bit more expensive than regular flights. But if you ask me, I’d say that the total experience is well worth the price. 

You can take a shuttle service from Penzance train station to the airport or heliport. And once you pick your craft and ascend into the air, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Isles of Scilly. From above, you can witness clusters of emerald isles fringed by glistening turquoise waters, which is a truly magnificent sight! 

It’s important to note that the Isles of Scilly Skybus flights and helicopter day trips operate on scheduled timetables. Therefore, I would strongly recommend checking the departure times and availability in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

B. Getting To The Scilly Isles By Sea

One of the most iconic ways to reach the Isles of Scilly is by boarding the Scillonian III passenger ferry. This passenger ferry, which is operated by Isles of Scilly Travel, offers a memorable maritime experience. Departing from Penzance Harbour, the Scillonian III ferry voyage provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the refreshing sea breeze and take in the panoramic views of the coastline.

The journey takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, offering ample time to relax on deck, savour light refreshments, and soak in anticipation of arriving in this picturesque archipelago. As you sail towards the Isles of Scilly, you should keep an eye out for marine life. 

While travelling on the Scillonian Passenger Ferry, I was lucky enough to spot dolphins and seals. I also caught a fleeting glimpse of the majestic basking shark that inhabits the waters around Cornwall. Aside from that, there are numerous seabirds that occasionally make appearances along the way, adding to the enchantment of the journey.

Like the air services, the daily service of the ferry follows a fixed timetable. And while it normally operates the whole year round, adverse weather conditions can occasionally impact the schedules and, in some cases, result in delays or cancellations. So, if you want to avoid any issues, you should stay informed about any updates or changes to the schedule.

3. Getting Around The Isles Of Scilly

For the best holiday experience, you should travel to the different inhabited islands in the archipelago. Believe me – this is what made my journey to the Isles so memorable. You can go shopping in Hugh Town, which is the largest settlement in St. Mary’s Islands. For travelling within the same island, you can take buses, taxis or bikes. 

If you love interacting with locals and learning about their cultures like me, then you should go on an island hopping trip. There are several inter-island ferries operating in the region, which should make it easier to travel between the islands. For example, if you want to travel to Tresco Island, you can take a direct boat from St. Mary’s Harbour.


This entire trip took me around four to five days, travelling all the way from Australia. But if you reside in the British Isles, the trip shouldn’t take more than two days.

Based on my experience and my conversation with the locals, It would seem that the best time to travel here is between the months of March And October. During this time, the weather remains favourable, and you can avail yourself of the ferry and air services without any issues.

About The Author


Reviewed by