48 Hours in Truro
PUBLISHED: 12:40 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 15:22 20 February 2013
Wander among Truro's network of streets and you'll find it difficult to resist this magical city's allure. From richly planted open spaces to tiny 'opes' or alleyways and imposing terraces of elegant Georgian townhouses, as well as its magnificent...
48 Hours in...Truro
Bernard Cole encourages us to spend time in Cornwall's vibrant city
Wander among Truro's network of streets and you'll find it difficult to resist this magical city's allure. From richly planted open spaces to tiny 'opes' or alleyways and imposing terraces of elegant Georgian townhouses, Truro has it all. Impressive Boscawen Street, with its Italianate Town Hall, is the perfect example. This lovely building stands just across the road from the Coinage Hall, which was built in 1848 on the site of the original hall that first stood there in 1351.
Truro (from the Cornish Tri-veru meaning 'three rivers') was a busy trading port for centuries. Until 90 years ago, ships came right into the city centre to unload their cargoes just 10 yards or so from what is now the entrance to the Hall for Cornwall. How times have changed. Today's city is universally loved for its architecture, its cool, calm and collected atmosphere, its great shopping, good restaurants and a wealth of things to keep visitors occupied.
Where can we stay?
Take your pick. From top-end hotels to quality B&Bs, Truro has it all. The Royal Hotel and its adjacent sister establishment, Mannings Aparthotel, on Lemon Street, (01872) 270345 offer luxury, city-centre hotel accommodation and apartments with oversized beds, down duvets, fluffy pillows, power showers and, in the apartments, fitted kitchens. The Grade II Listed Alverton Manor (01872) 276633 was once a convent for the nuns at Truro Cathedral. It is now a country house hotel offering luxury accommodation, superb cuisine and impeccable service, all within walking distance of the city centre. A little further up the road is the Brookdale Hotel (01872) 273513, an ideal base for exploring the city or venturing out into the surrounding countryside. There's also Premier Inn (08701) 977255 at Carnon Downs on the city outskirts, which is just coming to the end of a major extension build. If these don't tempt you, there are several other smaller hotels and B&B establishments to choose from.
For those who want to camp, this is Cornwall and there will always be a caravan and camping site not too far away. Chiverton Park campsite at Blackwater (01872) 560667 and Carnon Downs Camping Park (01872) 862283 are both open all year and are among the closest to the city centre.
Truro's Lemon Street is thought to be the finest example of Georgian architecture west of Bath. This imposing parade of listed buildings, completed in the 1830s to ease mail coach access, is now home to several of the city's professional firms, medical practitioners and banks. If in the area, duck into the Lemon Street Market - it's halfway up the hill on the right. The galleries, shops and cafs in this delightful covered space will divert your attention for a while but, if you leave the market at the rear door, you'll stumble upon Walsingham Place, one of Truro's hidden secrets. John Betjeman, the late Poet Laureate, loved this curving parade of Georgian houses and to this day it's still a peaceful oasis, yards from the bustling town centre.
Lemon Quay, the open and largely pedestrian space surrounded today by the Job Centre, the complex of shops that includes Marks & Spencer, the Hall for Cornwall and the Indoor Market, is a welcoming haven for local shoppers and visitors. Linger at a caf table in the sunshine while waiters buzz around with drinks and plates of food; watch the children enjoy the merry-go-round; or dive into one of the many stores in this delightful area of the city. This vibrant and welcoming space is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Shopping in Truro is a pleasure. Forget cloned shopping centres where every UK high street is the same. Truro city centre has a quality of its own. Although served by a combination of top national chains, independent stores, trendy boutiques and specialist outlets, its atmosphere is still one of relaxed activity. Pydar, Boscawen and King streets form the shopping-centre hub that leads through a series of quaint passages or 'opes' to a range of smaller food, clothing, jewellery and other specialist shops. For many, Truro is not only the South West's best shopping centre, it also delivers the region's most pleasurable shopping 'experience'.
Three things to take home
What about a memory from a night out at the theatre? Truro's Hall for Cornwall attracts major names from the world of showbiz throughout the year. September sees shows from, among others, Ken Dodd, Bucks Fizz, Pentangle, and the Royal Ballet.
What's Cornwall without a pasty? The baker's stall on the Wednesday and Saturday Farmers' Market on Lemon Quay sells the most delicious Cornish pasties, as well as an impressive range of artisan-baked breads and cakes.
How about some quality jewellery from Drakes Fine Jewellers' new store in King Street, which sells gorgeous Swarovski pieces?
Like most cities, Truro has lots of good eating places. Gaudi's (01872) 227380 is a small contemporary restaurant that serves outstanding freshly prepared, seasonal, local food and also has a gorgeous terrace available for al fresco dining. Bensons Restaurant (01872) 245011, on the other hand, sits alongside the cathedral and offers caf-style food of great quality and at a good price.
If trendy and modern is your thing then you really must try Stingi Lulu's (01872) 262300 next to the Royal Cornwall Museum. Here you can feast on local seafood, shellfish, meat and poultry with a Japanese, Thai and Indonesian twist. For a taste of Italy, there's Piero's Ristorante and Pizzeria (01872) 222279, which is always buzzing with life, very friendly and both the pizzas (handmade in the restaurant) and pasta dishes are fabulous. Then there's Bustophers Bar Bistro on Lemon Street (01872) 279029, where the open kitchen specialises in classic bistro dishes prepared in front of your eyes. Indaba (01872) 274700 is a 'modern European' restaurant well known among local foodies for its fresh fish.
But if all you want is a coffee or a drink to help you watch the world pass by, don't worry. Just head down towards Lemon Quay, settle at one of several canopied pavement tables, order your choice and enjoy the moment.
Things to do
With its amazing collections of objects - including its famous unwrapped Egyptian mummy - fine and decorative art, classical objects and a world-famous collection of minerals, the Royal Cornwall Museum is a great place to broaden the mind. Here you can discover more about Cornwall's amazing history, people and geography, and what it is that makes the county so special.
Truro's Hall for Cornwall is the county's premier entertainment venue; with an audience capacity of 1,600, it attracts major names from the world of showbiz throughout the year. This month it is hosting a 'Legends Series' snooker match between Jimmy 'The Whirlwind' White and seven-times World Champion Stephen Hendry, as well as an evening of music from the Camborne Town Band, Cornwall Boys' Choir and an exciting new performance from the Royal Ballet.
Apart from culture, Truro is also well placed to enjoy the spectacular surrounding countryside. At the head of the Truro River, which leads down to the sea, the area is a haven for those who love boats and things nautical, with miles of misty river creeks to explore.
A special treat is to take a cruise downriver from the city and past Malpas towards Trelissick and Falmouth. Cruises run every two hours on most days, tidal conditions permitting.
Until 13 September: Poldark's Cornwall at the Royal Cornwall Museum
4 September: Bucks Fizz and the Brotherhood of Man in concert at the Hall for Cornwall
14 September: Ken Dodd's Happiness Show at the Hall for Cornwall
20 September: Pentangle in concert at the Hall for Cornwall
27 September: Special fundraising concert at Truro Cathedral with Sir Tim Rice and special guest Rick Wakeman
Tourist Information Centre: Boscawen Street
River Fal trips with Enterprise Boats linking Prince of Wales Pier, St Mawes, Trelissick, Truro and Malpas
Newquay Airport: (01637) 860600,
Truro Bus Station: Green Street, close to Lemon Quay (0870) 6082608