It is possible to travel the southwest using public transport, but services to remote areas are limited; using your own wheels gives you more flexibility. Traveline South West (www.travelinesw.com) provides region-wide bus and train timetable info.
The region's bus network is fairly comprehensive, but becomes patchy away from main towns. National Express (www.nationalexpress.com) often provides the quickest bus link between cities and larger towns. PlusBus (www.plusbus.info) adds local bus travel to your train ticket (from £2 per day). Participating cities include Bath, Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Salisbury, Truro and Weymouth. Buy tickets at train stations.
First (www.firstgroup.com) One of the region's largest bus companies, operating in Bath, Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Portsmouth and Somerset. It offers subregional tickets, such as the Freedom Travelpass, covering Bath, Bristol and northeast Somerset (one day/week £13.50/59). Day Rover and Ranger tickets are available for each area.
More (www.wdbus.co.uk) Useful service across Wiltshire and Dorset and into the New Forest. It operates on a zone system: day tickets (adult/child £8.80/5.70) for Zone ABC cover the largest area and are the best value. An unlimited weekend ticket costs £7.50.
Stagecoach (www.stagecoachbus.com) A key bus provider in Devon, Hampshire and Somerset. Offers a range of Dayrider and weekly Megarider passes covering individual towns (eg Plymouth and Exeter) as well as wider areas (eg North Devon, South Devon). Most can be purchased within the Stagecoach app.
The main car-hire firms have offices at the region's airports and main-line train stations; rates reflect those elsewhere in the UK.
Tickets & Passes
Freedom of the South West Rover (three days travel in seven days adult/child £102.60/48.20, eight days travel in 15 days £144/72) Travel pass for trains and buses across Southwest England, including Salisbury, Bath, Bristol, Portsmouth and all places west.
It is available from mainline train stations.
Bristol is a main train hub with links including those to London Paddington, Scotland and Birmingham, plus services to Bath, Swindon, Chippenham, Weymouth, Southampton and Portsmouth. Trains from London Waterloo travel to Bournemouth, Salisbury, Southampton, Portsmouth and Weymouth.
Stops on the London Paddington–Penzance service include Exeter, Plymouth, Liskeard, St Austell and Truro. Spur lines run to Barnstaple, Paignton, Gunnislake, Looe, Falmouth, St Ives and Newquay.
Major companies servicing the region include Great Western Railway, CrossCountry and South Western Railway (www.southwesternrailway.com). All have useful travel apps which allow you to plan journeys and purchase e-tickets that are valid for travel. South Western Railway Train offers travel between London and the southeast to southwest destinations including Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Salisbury, Bristol and Bath, as far west as Exeter.
The Freedom of the South West Rover pass allows unlimited travel in an area west of, and including, Salisbury, Bath, Bristol, Portsmouth and Weymouth.