Bude: The Complete Visitor Guide

Written by: Ben Pike

Are you in need of a good old-fashioned seaside holiday?

Well, you’ve gone far enough!

Located no more than a pasty’s throw over the Cornish border is the charming coastal town of Bude.

Known for its beautiful beaches, stunning coastal walks, and fish and chips so good they’ll make your taste buds do a jig. 

But Bude isn’t just about lounging on the beach and stuffing your face with chips (although let’s be real, that’s a pretty big part of it). The town and its surrounding areas are packed with activities to keep you entertained. 

The north Cornwall beaches around Bude are some of the best in Cornwall, with miles of golden sand and crystal-clear waters. There are plenty of water sports to enjoy, from surfing to kayaking, and the beach is a great spot for a picnic.

For those land-lubbers among us, there are plenty of walking trails in the area, with breath-taking views of the coastline.

Or, is anyone hungry for adrenaline? Bude’s got ample rock climbing, coasteering and kitesurfing.Β 

So, what I’m trying to say is that it’s the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure whilst escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Around Bude

With its tiny population of less than a thousand people, navigating Bude is an oceans breeze.

The town is divided into two main areas – the town centre and the seafront. The town centre is where you’ll find most of the shops, restaurants, and cafes.

The seafront, as the name suggests, is where you’ll find the beaches and the Bude Canal. The town centre is also home to the Castle Heritage Centre and the Bude Heritage Centre, which offer a glimpse into Bude’s past.

The seafront is also home to Summerleaze and Crooklets beach. Summerleaze beach is known for its golden sand and clear water, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Whilst Crooklets is famous for its surf culture with some of the highest-grade waves in the country.

How to Get to Bude

welcome to bude sign


Step 1: Acquire a car. This may seem obvious, but trust me, it’s a crucial first step. 

Step 2: Fill up your tank with gas. We recommend a mix of premium and unicorn tears for optimal performance.

Step 3: Navigate to Bude using your trusty GPS. Ignore any detours or alternate routes suggested by the GPS, as they will only lead you to disappointment and a lack of sunshine.

Step 4: As you approach Bude, you may be tempted to speed up and rush to your destination. Resist this urge and instead, take your time to appreciate the beautiful Cornish countryside. Stop for a quick game of “I Spy” and continue to ‘Step 5’.

Step 5: Once you arrive take a picture with the Bude sign, park your car, and take a deep breath. You’ve made it! Now, go forth and conquer the waves, the cliffs, and the ice cream shop.

For an alternative, you could just follow the A30 from Exeter, then turn onto the A39 until you reach Bude. It’ll take you about 4 hours from London or 2 hours from Bristol.


You can take the train from London, Paddington to Exeter, St Davids, then switch to the Great Western Railway to arrive in Bude. The journey takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes.


National Express offer a direct coach service from London Victoria Station. The journey takes about 5 hours and 30 minutes, and you can purchase tickets online or at the station.


The closest airport to Bude is Newquay Cornwall Airport located approximately 37 miles away. There are flights to/from a variety of major cities such as London, Manchester, and Bristol. From the airport, the best (but more expensive) way to reach Bude is by taxi, which will take about an hour and a half. There is also a Western Greyhound bus that runs from the airport to Bude, taking about two hours.

What to See and Do in Bude

bude canal

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day, an outdoor adventure, or a cultural experience, Bude has a slice of it all.

Some of the first to roll off the list include:

  • Exploring the stunning coastline on a coastal walk
  • Surfing or bodyboarding at Crooklets Beach
  • Swimming in the Bude Sea Pool
  • Taking a boat trip along the River Neet
  • and exploring the historic Bude Castle.
  • For a unique experience, take a ride on the Bude Canal, which is a restored Victorian-era canal. 

Summerleaze Beach

Bude beach

A day out at Summerleaze Beach is like a trip to a tropical paradise, minus the need for a passport and a giant metal bird to get you there. The sand is hot, the water is cold, and the seapool is just the right amount of salty! Wake up early, because we all know the early bird catches the best spot on the beach.

As you approach the beach, you’ll be greeted by the sound of seagulls singing, waves crashing and the smell of fish and chips in the air. If the waves are a little on the large side there’s a large natural Seapool carved out of the rocks to swim in.

Bude tidal pool

There are also plenty of food options available on the beach, from traditional fish and chips to exotic paellas.

Bude Heritage Aquarium

A place to have a meet and greet with the local Cornish sea creatures. Home to over 40 species of fish, seals, starfish and more, learn about their behaviour and habitat and discover the secrets of the ocean without getting seasick. 

Bude Castle

Bude Castle is like a fortress of fun, where you can step back in time and imagine yourself as a medieval knight or a drunken pirate. It’s a place where you can let your imagination run wild and explore the castle’s history, from its origins as a medieval fortress to its later use as a coastguard station. You can climb to the top of the castle and take in the stunning views of the coast, and imagine yourself on lookout for incoming ships. Also, housed in a purpose-built museum is a collection of national and local fossils.

Bude Canal

bude canal in the sun

A guided boat tour on the Bude Canal is an experience like no other. As you glide along the tranquil waters, surrounded by lush greenery and the gentle chirping of birds, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a different world. The tour guide, a quirky and knowledgeable local, will entertain you with witty anecdotes and interesting facts about the history and ecology of the canal. You’ll see all sorts of wildlife, from graceful swans to plucky little moorhens, but the highlight of the tour is without a doubt, the stunning architecture of the historic locks and bridges that line the canal. Each one is a work of art in its own right.

The South West Coast Path

south west coast path

One of the most popular activities in Bude is to take a stroll along the South West Coast Path. This stunning coastal walk offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area. The walk starts from Bude and goes all the way to Hartland Point, and it’s about 8 miles long. 

Eating and Drinking

From the cosy cafes to the bustling Taverns. The seafood restaurants offer some of the freshest catches around, and the local pubs are a great place to relax and enjoy a pint with friends. No matter your taste itch, Bude has a restaurant to scratch it.

The Beach House

This seaside eatery serves up fresh seafood with a side of panoramic ocean views. The service is top-notch, and the staff are as friendly as a school of dolphins. And let’s not forget the atmosphere, it’s like dining on a beachfront paradise, with the soothing sound of waves in the background. Just make sure you come hungry because the portions are off the plate.

The Bank at Bude

Not only is the view of the river absolutely breathtaking, but the food is out of this world. The menu is a fusion of traditional British dishes with a modern twist, and the chefs clearly have a passion for creating mouth-watering masterpieces. If you’re looking for a dining experience that will make you feel like royalty, look no further. Just don’t blame me when you start planning your next visit before you’ve even finished your first meal!

The Falcon

From the moment you walk in, the atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the staff are friendly and attentive. The menu is a delightful mix of traditional and contemporary dishes, all expertly prepared by skilled chefs. But what really sets The Falcon apart is their commitment to using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients. If you’re looking for a dining experience that will have you soaring like a bird of prey, then here it is. Just don’t expect to be able to fly home afterwards, because you’ll be too full!

The Cornish Deli

The Deli offers a wide variety of sandwiches, pastries, cakes and other delicacies all made with the finest and freshest ingredients. The staff are friendly and helpful and will be more than happy to aid you in navigating the delicious sea of options.

The Olive Tree

A Mediterranean oasis that will transport you straight to the sun-soaked shores of Greece. The menu is a delicious blend of traditional Mediterranean dishes, all expertly prepared by the skilled chefs.

Where to Stay

bude seafront looking back over the town

Bude offers a wide variety of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly bed and breakfasts. Here are a few of the best places to stay in Bude:

  1. The Beach Hotel: This luxurious hotel offers stunning sea views, a fine dining restaurant, and a spa. Perfect for those looking to indulge in some luxury and pampering during their stay.
  1. The Falcon: This endearing inn offers comfortable rooms, a snug bar, and a friendly atmosphere. Ideal for those looking for a more traditional and quaint accommodation option.
  1. The Riverbank”: This cosy bed and breakfast offers charming rooms and a delicious breakfast. A perfect option for those looking for a homely and welcoming stay.
  1. The Olive Tree: This family-friendly holiday park offers a variety of accommodation options including cottages, lodges, and camping pitches. Great for those looking for an outdoor and adventure-filled holiday.


bude clouds

Shopping in Bude is an absolute delight! With a wide range of unique and interesting stores, there’s something for everyone. 

From quirky independent boutiques to larger chain stores. The atmosphere is always vibrant and welcoming, and the locals are always friendly and helpful. You can easily spend an entire day exploring the town and discovering all the hidden gems it has to offer. 

There are also several supermarkets in Bude, including a Tesco, Co-op and Lidl. And if you’re here on a Wednesday there’s a weekly farmers market that is held in the town centre where you can purchase locally grown produce and artisanal goods.

Surrounding Area 

The area around Bude is a treasure trove of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Take Tintagel Castle for example, where history and legend collide in this medieval fortress steeped in Arthurian mythology. Or head over to the charming village of Boscastle, where the picturesque harbour and quaint cottages will transport you back in time.

For the more adventurous, why not take a hike along the South West Coast Path, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning coastal views and the occasional encounter with a curious sheep. And if you’re feeling brave, take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean at one of the wild swimming spots, but be prepared for the chilly temperatures!

And for some serious retail therapy, take a trip to the historic market town of Holsworthy, where you’ll find a delightful mix of independent shops, antique stores and quaint tea rooms. 

Are you ready to visit Bude?

Bude, oh Bude, where do I begin?

This charming seaside town is like a siren song, luring you in with its sandy beaches, rugged coastlines and fish so fresh it’s practically still wiggling.

Whether you’re looking for a bit of R&R on a sunchair or the thrill of some outdoor adventure, Bude is the friendly old-school seaside town that’ll knock your sandals off before you even sit with pure hospitality alone.