Whether you wish to walk, cycle, watersport or dine your way round the stunning seaside town of Bude and its many places to eat, rest assured there’s oodles to satisfy everyone from the kids and grandparents to couples and dogs. Come rain or shine, you’ll find an activity or attraction to suit.
Spectacular scenery: tick. First-rate facilities: tick. Family-friendly amusements: tick. In short - and as silver winner of 2019 British Travel Awards ‘Best UK Seaside Town’ - Bude boasts all the box-ticking credentials you’ll need for an ultra memorable stay. Here are our favourite things to do in Bude.
A water wonderland
Not only does Bude back onto the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, but it also offers a plethora of other aquatic places to enjoy. From beaches to pools and even a canal – the town has a unique mix of watery spaces for all the family.
Bude Sea Pool is set in the rocks at the town’s centrally-located, Summerleaze Beach, providing a safe sea environment with its part natural, part man-made structure – making it especially ideal for children. Free and open all year, the tidal pool is seasonally manned (depending on the conditions) and deck chair hire is also handily available.
Stacked with seaside spoils, Bude’s beaches are a particular highlight. Surfers’ favourite, Crooklets Beach presents a wide golden expanse of sand and rock pools alongside beach hut hire, a play area, café, showers and skate park (it's also home to the famous Christmas Day swim for those brave bathers); while dog-friendly Northcott Mouth Beach is equally as stunning, offering rock pools, a stream, and fine soft sands connecting Crooklets and Duckpool.
Sandymouth’s (dog friendly, seasonally lifeguarded) two-kilometre stretch includes a café, parking and toilets - as well as a waterfall and array of rock pools – to ensure a safe and fun family day out. Similarly, Widemouth Bay Beach is ideal for kids courtesy of its large open sands, seasonal lifeguard cover, and facilities including parking, rock pools, toilets and a café. Or for anyone wanting a more off-the-beaten-track beach escape, head to Duckpool, Black Rock and Millook beaches for dramatic cliffscapes and wild waters (so do be cautious).
Hit the ocean or Bude Canal for the energised likes of surfing, rowing, coasteering, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and stand up paddle boarding, or opt for a different on-the-water adventure with a trip to offshore playground, Lundy Island.
And reserve some time for Bude’s newest aquatic attraction – The Monster Slip and Slide. Located just inland from Widemouth Bay, the summer attraction presents a 360ft-long water slide for both adults and kids to enjoy via bodyboard or inflatable ring (both of which are supplied, with wetsuits to hire, free parking and refreshments also available).
Walking, cycling and other outdoor activities
For those wanting to keep dry, an incredible mix of land activities can be found in and around Bude. With a stack of walking and cycling trails such as the stunning South West Coast Path and nearby Bodmin Moor, Bude and its surrounds offer a great variety of scenes to explore at your own pace.
Particular walking routes of note include an amble south to Crackington Haven and the path to Compass Point, where you’ll be greeted with gull’s-eye views stretching as far as Morwenstow and Lundy Island.
Home to a pair of top notch courses, Bude Golf Club and Ivyleaf both offer gorgeous greens overlooking the coast, while other nearby courses include Bowood, Thethorne and Launceston.
Cycling is another popular pastime, since the nearby Camel Trail permits 20 miles of traffic-free routes winding through some of Cornwall’s most prized landscapes.
In addition, the River Neet is another not-to-be-missed route that follows the water’s fringes through the nature reserve and on to the Sustrans Route and beyond if your pedalling power allows.
With archery, horseriding and mountainboarding along with pitch and putt and various play areas scattered throughout the main town and its vicinity, you’ll be pushed to pack it all into your itinerary – leaving you little choice but to plan your return visit.
A nature-lover’s paradise...
There’s a brilliant variety of gardens and nature reserves in and near Bude, allowing kids, adults and dogs alike the opportunity to relish the great outdoors and all it has to offer. Lundy Island is a designated Marine Nature Reserve that lies 11 miles off the coast and can be visited by boat for an unforgettable wildlife watching trip. Meanwhile, closer to home just outside the town, Bude Marshes remains an ever-popular choice, where wildlife and soul-stirring scenery will meet you at every awe-inspiring turn.
Phillips’ Point presents picturesque cliffs presiding over views of Widemouth and Hartland Point, while wild woodlands can be found at Upton Meadow and traditional farmland nearby at Beales Meadow. Maer Lake, or The Pool as the locals have dubbed it, is another natural beauty to behold, as are the green space trio of Lower Lewdon, Marsland Mouth and Dunsdon Nature Reserves.
A year-round schedule sees everyone from food and film lovers to music and cinema fans satisfied as Bude continues to gain repute for its events and festival scene.
From foodie favourite, Bude For Food to the ever-popular Bude Jazz Festival, Bude & Stratton Folk Festival and regular Rebel Cinema evenings, markets, tours, craft fayres, socials and workshops – Bude is always buzzing with things to do.
Attractions for all ages...
Spoil the family with an entertaining day out in and around Bude either as a special treat or rainy day adventure. In the vicinity, you’ll find a fabulous mix of places to visit, from kiddie-friendly adventure parks to cider farms and historic must-sees.
The Wharf, Bude EX23 8LG
Bude Castle is not just the town’s striking architectural centrepiece, but provides a wealth of features including a heritage centre, art gallery, archives, shop and restaurant. Plus – families can embark upon the canal trail or the quiz trail around the Heritage Centre, or hire outdoor games to play on the Castle Green such as croquet, quoits and pick-up-sticks. Discover more about the town and area - along with the castle and its former inhabitants - and peruse the latest exhibition in its ever-changing programme before enjoying coffee and cake in Café Limelight in the company of stunning coastal views.
Crooklets Road, Bude EX23 8ND
This not-to-be-missed free attraction can be found smack bang in the centre of town, offering a fantastic space to explore Bude completely undercover. Running from the Sainsbury’s car park to Crooklets Road, the 70metre-long architectural wonder continues to enthral crowds from across the globe with its unique structural beauty.
The Big Sheep
Abbotsham Road, Bideford EX39 5AP
The Big Sheep is across the border in Bideford, and is an award-winning attraction combining indoor and outdoor play areas, live shows, animals and rides along with a whole host of other family-centred entertainment. You might also want to whip over to nearby theme park, The Milky Way, which presents a similarly fun-filled series of adventures.
Tamar Lakes Country Park
Kilkhampton, Bude EX23 9SB
Traversing the Cornwall-Devon border, this country idyll is the perfect place to while away an hour or entire day while absorbing the sights and sounds of this stunning natural space. A network of footpaths of varying lengths will delight walkers (with a level route around the lake suitable for bikes, mobility scooters, wheelchairs and pushchairs), while kids of all ages will excite at the interactive play area. Refresh at the café and enjoy wildlife and bird watching as you immerse yourself into this extraordinary space where water meets land to enchanting effect.
Haywood Farm Cider
St Mabyn, Bodmin PL30 3BU
A 40-minute drive south will take you to Haywood Farm Cider. Situated in the stunning Allen Valley, take an orchard walking tour (dog and child-friendly, but not suitable for pushchairs/wheelchairs) to admire the scenery and learn all about the farm’s history and cider-making process, sup on a glass of their lip-smacking brew, and tuck into a cheeseboard and Haywood farm chutney to treat your taste buds to some proper traditional Cornish fayre. Combine your day out with a trip on Bodmin & Wenford Railway, which can also be found a few more miles inland.
Want to see more of Bude? Peruse our holiday cottages to pick between barn conversions, townhouses, couple’s retreats, village boltholes, and waterfront apartments.