Things to do in Wadebridge holiday cottages

Things to do in Wadebridge

Ruth King 21 February 2019

Offering the chance to explore the town, beaches and countryside, Wadebridge is a traditional Cornish town on the River Camel with a strong community spirit and an even stronger history. Only 8 miles from the coast, it’s the perfect base from which to enjoy Cornwall’s stunning beaches while also having the town’s many independent shops and delicious places to eat on your doorstep. Often included in the Sunday Times’ Best Places to Live list, it won’t take you long to realise why the locals love it.

Read on to discover all the best things to do in Wadebridge. 


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The beaches


Food and drink

The history



The sights

The shopping


About the town:

Wadebridge town

Originally known as Wade, the town straddles the River Camel and gained its current name after a bridge was built across the river in the 15th-century. A much bigger bridge was built in the 1990s, bypassing the town and giving easy access onto the A39 and towards Cornwall’s popular beaches on its north coast, as well an almost bird’s eye view over the stunning Camel Estuary Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), where the river meets the wild Atlantic Ocean.

The river is the hub for activity in the town and is a popular rest-stop roughly half-way along the Camel Trail – 17 miles of off-road track between Padstow and Bodmin, popular with cyclists, runners and walkers of all ages who enjoy the sights and sounds of the peaceful riverside route.

Wadebridge also boasts Cornwall’s highest number of independent shops and boutiques, so its easy to spend a day pottering around its winding narrow streets in search of a hidden gem. While previously passed over in favour of neighbouring Padstow (7.5 miles), Wadebridge’s historic pubs, cute cafes and popular weekly market make it an up-and-coming foodie destination in its own right. 

The beaches: 

Whether you’re looking for a romantic hidden cove, a long sandy beach for sandcastle-building or pounding surf to get your adrenalin pumping, some of Cornwall’s finest beaches can be found within a 10-mile radius of Wadebridge.

Polzeath bridge


Surfers, bodyboarders and thrill-seekers will love super-cool Polzeath (7 miles) and Constantine Bay (10 miles), while the country’s surfing capital, Newquay (16 miles), is only half an hour’s drive down the A39. Harlyn Bay (9.5 miles) is one of the most family-friendly beaches in the county, with a wide stretch of golden sand to run on and rock pools to explore. St George’s Cove (8.5 miles), Hawker’s Cove (9.5 miles) and Trevone (9 miles) all have picture-postcard sandy coves, sparkling sea and rugged rocks providing shelter and shade on those hot summer days.

The accommodation:

Whether you’re looking for a character cottage for a romantic couples’ getaway, or a large house with room for all the family, our Wadebridge cottages offer the perfect base for exploring this wonderful part of Cornwall. Whether you spend a day wandering in and out of the town’s boutiques or free-wheeling up and down the Camel Trail, a stay in this traditional town will always be remembered.

From charming cottages to stylish and modern apartments, and everything in between, we have properties to suit everyone. Lots are dog-friendly, too, so your four-legged friend can join in all the fun!

The food and drink: 

Only 5 miles downriver from Padstow, which is often regarded as Cornwall’s food and drink capital, Wadebridge has previously been disregarded in favour of its more popular neighbour. But no longer – the town offers a wide array of eateries, showcasing local produce to make the most of the town’s location between the sea and the countryside. 

Visit Wadebridge Country Market, held on Thursday mornings in the town hall, where you can discover this exceptional local produce for yourself, chat to the producers and pick up something special to create a delicious feast back at your holiday let.

Or if you fancy the night off cooking, dine on classic dishes with a Cornish twist at the Molesworth Arms, the town’s oldest watering hole, which has been providing refreshments to local and tourists alike since the 16th century.

If you need a pit-stop after a busy day cycling the Camel Trail, you’ll be spoilt for choice by the town’s many charming cafes. Stop at Atlantic Coast Express, a repurposed railway carriage on the trail itself, where you’ll find lemon drizzle cake to die for. Or try a traditional cream tea – jam first – at Mad Hatter, a short walk from the trail. Or if you’re heading back from a day of catching waves on the coast, coffee and cake at Strong Adolfo’s – just off the A39 – is perfect for a post-surf pick-me-up.

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We’ve got just what you need... and you know it! #fika #strongadolfos @hawksfieldcornwall #fikatime

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But it’s not just about the food. For a classy afternoon outing, Wadebridge has two vineyards within 6 miles of the town centre which truly take advantage of Cornwall’s terroir, Camel Valley Vineyard and Trevibban Mill Vineyard, which both offer wine tasting. You can’t leave Wadebridge without sampling Doom Bar – a bitter brewed by Sharp’s Brewery in nearby Rock – which is named after a sandbar in the Camel Estuary where mermaids are said to lure sailors to their doom.

The history: 

Wadebridge has stood as a settlement since at least the early 14th century, but the most interesting part of its history occurred in the 15th century with the building of the bridge that gave the town its name. Before the bridge was built, the only way for locals to cross the river was to walk across at high tide, which was so perilous that they would pray for a safe crossing at a chapel on one side of the river and give thanks for a safe crossing at a chapel on the other side. The local priest was concerned he kept losing so many of his parishioners, so he campaigned for a bridge to be built, which still stands today. Legend says it was built on wool, although this was probably because the wool trade was the main income for the wealthy locals who financed the bridge.

But that was not the end of the story for the famous bridge. In March 1646, Oliver Cromwell and 1,500 of his soldiers descended onto Wadebridge to take the bridge, due to its strategic importance in the English Civil War.

St Enodoc Church
St Enodoc Church

Another fascinating historical site is St Enodoc church near Rock (7 miles). Formerly buried in sand, the only point of entry to the 15th-century church was through the roof! It’s now more famous as the resting place of former poet laureate John Betjeman. More about the poet’s life and involvement with the area can be discovered at the John Betjeman Centre in the town centre.

Also worth a visit is St Breock (1 mile), which is home to one of Cornwall’s biggest prehistoric standing stones.

The attractions:

Wadebridge has long been a destination for those who love nothing more than spending a day on the golfing green, due to its proximity to three of the county’s most popular golf clubs. Tee up at St Enodoc Golf Club (7 miles), St Kew Golf Club (3 miles) or Trevose Golf and Country Club (9.5 miles), where a fun day out is par for the course.



History lovers will be delighted by trips to National Trust site Lanhydrock (9 miles), a late Victorian country house and gardens which give an impression of ‘upstairs-downstairs’ family life, and Prideaux Place (8 miles), a stunningly beautiful Elizabethan manor house.

If you’ve got little ones in tow, they’ll love Camel Creek Adventure Park (6 miles), which uniquely interprets the myths and legends of the area for an all-weather attraction the whole family will enjoy. Or take them to The Regal, the town’s 1930s cinema which often has a family-friendly film playing.

The festivals:

There’s no better time to visit Wadebridge than during one of its many festivals, where the town’s strong community feel and rich heritage is most evident.

Wadebridge is home to the Royal Cornwall Showground which in June hosts the Royal Cornwall Show, one of the major agricultural shows in the UK, providing a fascinating glimpse into rural life in the country. Also, in June is The Big Lunch, where locals come together to eat, drink and be merry for a huge street party on the pedestrianised Molesworth Street.

Held just outside the town, July’s main event is Rock Oyster Festival; an eccentric festival which celebrates local food, great music and the importance of getting together with loved ones.

Then in August, the Cornwall Folk Festival rolls into town. Showcasing some of the genre’s best musicians, the festival includes five nights of folk across the main stage, in local pubs and through the streets of the town!

The sights:

Situated by the river, close to the coast and surrounded by countryside, the best way to explore the sights of Wadebridge is to get out in the fresh air!

Camel Trail

Bike hire is available in the town centre for exploring the Camel Trail, or if you want to bring your own, many of our properties have lockable bike storage. Whether you head towards the rugged coastline at Padstow (5.5 miles) or to the beautiful bleakness of Bodmin (6 miles) – the choice is yours.

South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path near Wadebridge

The South West Coast Path is also a popular choice for those wishing to make the most of Wadebridge’s beautiful location. Stretching for 630 miles along the Devon, Cornwall and Dorset coastline, the path offers unrivalled coastal vistas from craggy cliffs and charming coves – and dogs are welcome, too.

If you want to get even closer to the water, take a boat trip from Padstow along the River Camel and through the Camel Estuary AONB. Choose from sedate cruises soaking up the rays or exhilarating speedboat rides – and it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins, porpoises and even basking sharks.

The shopping:

The perfect place for a spot of retail therapy, Wadebridge boasts the highest number of independent shops and boutiques in the county. Wadebridge has managed to avoid being over-run by high-street chains and so a shopping trip in the town is unlike one you will experience anywhere else.

Visit the pedestrianised Molesworth Street where you’ll discover bijou jewellers rubbing shoulders with traditional bookshops and stylish boutiques – and plenty of cafes to relax in after a long day of shopping.  

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Ceramic homewares from Bees Knees

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For a unique gift, visit Winifred & Mabel, a craft co-operative store with everything made by local artists and designers, who also run the shop. Surfers and thrill-seekers must visit Ann’s Cottage, a favourite since 1978, where they can find everything they need to get out in the waves and look good while doing it.

With spectacular rural retreats and barn conversions on farmland with a fine choice of beautiful walks and quality eateries, our holiday cottages offer the chance to enjoy everything Wadebridge and the wider area have to offer.  

Whether you’re a couple with a four-legged friend or a larger group or family, we have self-catering accommodation to suit everyone’s needs. Browse our collection today to feel inspired. 

Discover more of Cornwall:

Guide to Cornwall

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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