As with any seaside town, if you’re looking for things to do the obvious answer is to head to Bude’s beaches, and there are plenty of them. However, if you’re visiting Bude on holiday, it’s likely that you’ll want to explore the local area beyond the beach.
We’ve put together our top ten things to do in Bude, from family fun to rainy day activities.
Visitor on the cliff top at Sandymouth, Cornwall. © National Trust Images Ben Selway
Cornwall’s craggy coastline doesn’t get much more dramatic than the stretch around north Cornwall. Dominated by the South West Coast Path, a coastal walk is a must when visiting Bude. It’s one of the best things to do in Bude with dogs too, as dogs are welcome along the whole stretch of the coast path (all 640 miles of it).
If you’re looking for a challenging walk, why not try Bude to Morwenstow? Around 8 miles of rolling coastal hills. You’ll feel the burn as you ascend at Northcott Mouth, but the make it worthwhile. You’ll also see Bude’s famous sea pool, pretty beaches Sandymouth and Duckpool (both owned by the National Trust) along the way and GCHQ’s impressive satellite dishes in the distance. Plus, all these beaches are dog-friendly too, if you fancy some time on the sand.
Bude Canal is often populated by bobbing giant swans and VW Beetles, fear not these are just large pedalos, or if you fancy something a little more understated there’s rowing boats with oars. Bude Boat Hire allows visitors to enjoy life on the water, and put their pedal power to the test. A great family activity, buoyancy aids are provided. Choose from rowing boats with oars or a jolly swan or beetle pedalo. You can’t miss them down at the Wharf. Why not reward yourself with an ice cream from LWC Ice Cream afterwards?
There’s no better place to channel your inner naturalist, than along Bude Canal path. A gentle family friendly walk, it’s situated to the south of the town centre and is one of Bude’s many highlights. Along this flat 3 mile loop, there’s a plethora of wildlife to be seen. Taking you past the Canal, Bude Marshes, Petherick’s Mill Local Nature Reserves and the River Neet with many reedbeds, pools and marshy areas it’s the perfect place for herons, common kingfishers, sedge warblers, reed warblers and little egrets to reside.
Adjacent to Bude Canal is the tow path which is bike-friendly!
The iconic sea pool, refreshed twice daily by the tides, is perhaps what Bude has become best known for. It’s free, you don’t have to book and is the perfect spot to enjoy a freshwater swim with no waves. It was built in the 1930s, to provide a safe place for locals to swim in and is now run by Friends of Bude Sea Pool, a local charity. It also runs free Swim Safe lessons on selected Saturdays throughout the summer, so it is a great place to build skills and confidence.
Monster Slip and Slide landed just outside of Bude last year and has been a popular attraction ever since. For some soak-filled family fun take on the 360ft long slide, which boasts four lanes. Thrill-seekers can choose from a single or double inflatable ring, or if you’re feeling extra daring take on the super-fast bodyboard and launch yourself off the Monster ramp.
Bude is renowned for its surfing beaches, but there are more water-based activities if you want to try something different. A number of companies offer coasteering, kayaking and other water-based sports, with Outdoor Adventure, Shoreline Extreme and Saltwater Safari at Crooklets all recommended. For those looking for a less adrenaline heavy activity, there is paddleboarding at the sea pool or along the canal.
Budehaven Recreation Ground is located near Bude Light and Bude Castle, and is buzzing with activities. We think there’s something for everyone, with crazy golf, tennis, bowling, putting, squash and table tennis. With affordable prices it’s a great way to spend a few hours.
It may be known as Bude Castle, but we’ll let you in on a secret, it’s not a real castle. It was the home of Cornish inventor Goldsworthy Gurney, who built it to prove a house could be built on sand back in 1830. The Castle was reopened to the public in July 2007 and now serves as a heritage, archive, gallery, exhibition centre and café which is free to enter. Situated on the ground and first floor of building, it’s divided into themed areas which represent key elements of Bude’s cultural heritage history.
For all things crafty, stick to the Wharf. Families can put their creative prowess to the test at The Kitchen Front for ceramic crafts. Running a full programme of workshops, try your hand at creating handcrafted kitchenware to pottery painting.
Nearby, Beau Nidol run stained glass workshops for those aged 12 plus. Choose from a fused glass class or Tiffany style stained glass workshop, where the edge of the glass is wrapped in copper foil, which then allows it to be soldered together to create a design. Your design will give you something to take home and remind you of your time spent in beautiful Bude.
You’ll always find a farmer’s market taking place somewhere in Cornwall. In Bude, down by the Canal, on a Friday farmer’s market day is the perfect opportunity to peruse and potter, finding local producers and crafters along the way. There’s often some tasty street food to tuck into, and plenty of stalls to pick up a gift or two.
Want to book your next getaway in beautiful Bude? Check out our collection of Bude’s very best luxury self-catering cottages and holiday homes for an unforgettable Cornish stay.