Bude is a popular seaside town in North Cornwall close to the county border with Devon. Characterised by excellent beaches, quirky architecture and interesting maritime history, it has been a holiday destination since Victorian times. Bude is also fondly regarded as a gateway town to Cornwall, as it’s the first major place you encounter heading south along the A39 after leaving Devon.
With some of the prettiest sandy beaches in the north of The Duchy, Bude is a firm family favourite whether you are staying in a chic sea view apartment, a contemporary-style home-from-home, a stone cottage, a cosy spot at a fun holiday park, or a large farmhouse for extended family gatherings or reunions of friends. For surfers and outgoing visitors, we also have properties with secure space for surfboards, bicycles and kayaks, as well as many pet-friendly prospects.
Our guide is designed to show you the very best things to do in Bude.
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Food and drink
Bude is a refreshing and amicable fusion of the traditional Victorian-style beach resort and the cosmopolitan modernity of a surf spot.
The town has some great sporting facilities and visitor attractions including a golf course on the headland above the main beach; a large tidal swimming pool called the Sea Pool that has been blasted out of the rock face; independent shops and eateries galore; a historic sea lock and canal; a castle; and not one, but two of the best surfing beaches in North Cornwall: Summerleaze and Crooklets, with Widemouth Bay less than 2 miles off to the south. There are nightclubs and pubs all along Bude's canal for evening entertainment, and a 5-mile drive into the countryside takes you to the quaint Rebel Cinema, showing the best in Hollywood blockbusters. It's safe to say, there is no shortage of things to do in Bude during your holiday here.
The beaches in Bude:
Crooklets and Summerleaze are two long, wide sandy stretches of beach and both are easily accessible at low tide from the centre of Bude. Favoured by surfers and dog-walkers, Bude has beaches that offer space for everybody. You can hire beach huts, take surfing lessons, or simply build sandcastles with your kids – the beaches are a vast sandy playground when the sea is out.
Be sure to take a swim in the Sea Pool, a tidal outdoor swimming pool - a superb place to exercise. Often the pool is divided off into lanes and you will think you are at a regular swimming pool before long. There are lots of shops to buy a bucket and spade or hire a beach hut from in Bude – the same goes for surfing apparel. You can hire boards and wetsuits at the respected local surf shop, Zuma Jay. Less than 2 miles to the south is the village of Widemouth Bay which seems to exist solely for surfers and boogie boarders, and it’s a great place for accomplished wave riders to ‘get amongst it’.
The accommodation in Bude:
This pretty seaside town offers a fantastic range of accommodation for you to choose from, whatever you're after. Whether you're looking for a large cottage big enough for all your family and friends or romantic cottage with a hot tub, perfect for a couples retreat, we have a great selection of self-catering holiday cottages for you to choose from. Take a look at our cottages in Bude and find your next holiday home.
The food and drink in Bude:
A haven for gastronomes, the town plays host to the annual Bude for Food Festival. Don’t worry if your holiday doesn’t coincide with the event, you won’t miss out if you love food and drink. Bude has a broad mixture of restaurants and traditional pubs with a relaxed atmosphere. La Bocca offers widely regarded pizzas laden with all kinds of toppings. Try the quattro formaggi to sample some authentic Cornish cheeses.
Just next door, traditional pub The Carriers Inn is a great place to stop for afternoon refreshments. For light bite requirements, head into Coasters. This pretty little café serves a delicious cream tea and classic British lunches. Up at Wooda Holiday Park, try The Courtyard out for some delicious dishes made from local fare. In the nearby village of Stratton, you’ll also find The Tree Inn, a charming old pub with a beautiful beer garden. Serving scrumptious local ales and ciders, this is a fine choice for your afternoon tipple.
The history in Bude:
Bude has a potted history and many of its old buildings remain to tell the tales. The last few miles remain of the Bude Canal (completed in 1823) which used to run to Launceston via the West Country canal system and was used to ferry sand. The canal system was one of the most unusual in the country because of its lack of locks and the scale of elevation from sea-level to its peak at 132 metres – a true feat of Victorian engineering.
Today, the sea lock is still completely operational and can be visited in the town centre. Sea locks are uncommon in the UK and Bude is one of a very small number that has been preserved. The town’s heritage centre is housed in Bude Castle which stands close the seafront close to the lock. It was once the home of the inventor of the steam carriage, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney. Exhibitions and displays trace the town’s history back centuries and it’s interesting to glean some context about fascinating Bude. Bude has long been a popular seaside resort and that’s thanks to its beaches, excellent location on the North Cornwall coast, and its long standing as a great place to learn and perfect the art of surfing. There's no doubt that you will find plenty of things to do in Bude that will celebrate its past and present.
The sights in Bude:
There certainly is no shortage of things for holidaymakers to do in Bude. The South West Coast Path runs along the cliff tops at Bude and the centre of town. There are some grand viewpoints along the trail like The Breakwater and Compass Point. Bude Golf Club occupies much of the high ground in town so if you love golf – the views across to the ocean are exceptional. Over the Devon border, just north of the town is the Hartland Cornwall Heritage Coast where jagged black rocks jut out from the sea and each scene is more dramatic than the last. Head to the secluded beaches of Sandymouth, Welcombe Mouth, Duckpool Bay, and Widemouth. If you are planning to travel further afield Clovelly, Hartland Point, Tamar Lakes, Tintagel Castle, and The Milky Way (a theme park for children) are all within 25 miles of Bude.
The shopping in Bude:
Bude is the largest town in the region so people travel in from a wide area for the shops. The choice consists of a small selection of High Street favourites and independents selling everything from essentials to bespoke craft goods. Bude also has some banks and handy cash machines around too.
Stay in Bude on your next holiday to Cornwall. We have some lovely accommodation throughout Bude and the wider North Cornwall area.
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