A Brief Guide to Bude, North Cornwall

Since the Victorian era, Bude has been a popular destination for visitors from across the country.  These days, Bude offers an almost bewildering array of attractions to suit everyone.  We all have our favourites, and it would be impossible to list every option (although VisitBude does an excellent job on its website), but here are a few highlights that you can’t miss!  (If we’ve missed something worth mentioning, let us know in the comments below!)


For families…

Top of the list for most young families is ‘The Venue’ (formerly Harlequins) , situated near Morrison’s Supermarket.  This all-weather attraction offers 10 lanes of ten pin bowling, and a 4 storey soft-play area.  This can get busy on rainy days, and the area for toddler-aged children is a little small, but it is nevertheless sure to keep your little ones occupied.

Next door, you will find Bude Leisure Centre (formerly known as Splash), which offers a wave machine and a flume.

However, the top attraction for families in the Bude area has to be the beaches.  After-all, it takes a lot to beat a sand-castle and an ice-cream!

For shopaholics…

There are plenty of wonderful independent shops in Bude, offering everything from surfer chic, to gourmet treats.  Bude is small enough just to have a wander, and see what you find, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

Banfords on Lansdown road is a quirky shop with a wide range of gifts and knick-knacks, from pirate Playmobil to driftwood decor.

Family-run Spencer Thorn bookshop at the top of Belle Vue has been part of Bude for nearly a century, and has a good selection of books and gifts with plenty of local-interest items.

Revival on Belle Vue offers two floors of vintage fashion, furniture, homewares & books.

North Coast Wine on Belle Vue is a great place to pick up a local tipple to take home, offering all sorts from artisan gins to Westcountry scrumpy – but it also has a good range of wines too.

Seventh Wave Gallery on Belle Vue is one of the best places in Bude if you’re looking for a painting or a print to remind you of your visit to Cornwall, with items to suit every budget. 

Zuma Jay is a proudly independent and long-established surf shop tucked away behind Belle Vue.  It offers everything you might need to hit the waves, but also a good range of surf-wear too.  

For foodies…

Where to start?  Bude can now cater for every taste and every budget.  It would be difficult to list everywhere that will provide a great meal, so here are a few suggestions:

Life’s a Beach – a daytime café and night-time bistro specialising in seafood, overlooking Summerleaze beach.  Wonderful!

The Bank – a Spanish-style tapas restaurant next to the River Neet (Petherick’s Mill). 

The Deck – a great bar and grill on Summerleaze Crescent.  Think chargrilled seafood, steaks, and hearty portion sizes!

The Olive Tree – a pleasant cafe alongside the canal offering light-lunches and cream teas.

Margaret’s Tea-Room – a local celebrity, Margaret has been offering incredible cream-teas from her little cabin at Northcott Mouth. 

For walkers…

The entire coastline between Tintagel and Hartland is truly spectacular, and part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  You would be hard-pressed to be disappointed by any walk along this stretch of coastline.

At low tide, you can walk from Summerleaze beach near the sea-pool past Crooklets, and keep walking right up to Northcott Mouth – a circular walk of around 3.5 miles. 

The cliffs at Morwenstow are breath-taking – explore Reverend Hawker’s clifftop lookout cabin, or the ancient church, and finish it with a cream tea at the Rectory Tea-rooms.

You can also walk along the Bude Canal – an easy, accessible walk which is very pleasant on a sunny day. 

Check out the excellent website https://www.iwalkcornwall.co.uk/walks/near/bude for full details on many local walks – and as ever, please check the tide times before beach walks.

For history buffs…

The Heritage Centre at Bude Castle (near the library and canal) is a small but well-stocked museum with fascinating exhibits on the Civil War, local shipwrecks and more.  

For a more personal approach, seasonal guided tours are taken by local celebrity ‘Vicko’ – dates and times can be found on the VisitBude website.

The Poundstock Gildhouse is a unique structure, built between the 15th and 16th centuries by skilled craftsmen using traditional techniques and materials such as cob, local stone and slate.  Limited opening to the public, so check times before setting off.

For beach-lovers…

You’re spoilt for choice, with 3 brilliant beaches to choose from and countless others a short drive away.

Summerleaze is the main Bude beach, just minutes from the town centre with a fantastic sea-pool.  Popular with families, with excellent facilities (including hire beach-huts for hire).

Crooklets joins onto Summerleaze when the tide retreats, and the rocky outcrops provide some great opportunities to go rock-pooling.

Widemouth, just south of Bude, is a large wide-expanse of sand which offers much more space than the other Bude beaches, and fairly reliable surf conditions. 

Other beaches like Duckpool, Sandymouth and Northcott Mouth are most definitely worth a visit too.

For thrill-seekers…

Obviously the first activity that springs to mind is surfing.  A number of surf-schools operate in the area, with the hot-spots being Widemouth Bay and Summerleaze.

Companies such as Shoreline and Outdoor Adventure also offer activities such as coasteering and kayaking, the latter on offer along the canal and river as well as the sea (weather permitting).

Segway Bude is a relatively recent addition to the line-up, offering Segway adventures ranging from simple tours to more extreme courses, from its base just south of Bude.

Rainy Day Activities in N. Cornwall