Nestled into the northeastern corner of Cornwall, right by the Devonshire border yet definitely Cornish in its culture, Bude is one of the best places to stay in Cornwall. There are a few things to do in Bude that make it worthy of stopping for a day or two. These include some excellent beaches, surfing, stand up paddleboarding, and a couple of sites of historical interest.
However, one of the main reasons stay in Bude is its excellent geographical position. If you are driving to Cornwall from anywhere else in the UK, Bude is one of the nearest points of the county. This makes it an ideal town to stay in if you can’t face driving all the way down to Lands End!
There are also plenty of places to visit, for young and old, around Bude. We’ve got a travel guide to Bude coming up, but this post will focus on all of the best things to do near Bude. Here are the best day trips from Bude that you should take while you’re here!
The Best Things to do Near Bude
Just a ten minute drive from Bude, Widemouth Bay is an easy place to visit if you want to go somewhere else but don’t want to drive to far. Widemouth Bay is one of the most epic bays in this part of Cornwall; make sure to park on the road as you approach for some unreal sweeping views of the beach!
Widemouth Bay is a popular spot for surfers, as the waves can get quite big here. It’s best for experienced surfers – do be aware that there are hidden rocks at high tide. At low tide, there are lots of rockpools to explore. Or, you could just take to the sands and relax, or enjoy a coastal walk. It’s such a relaxing destination and defintiely one of the best places to visit near Bude.
If you are holidaying with a dog, there is a dog ban at the northern part of the beach in the summer (May 15th – September 30th). Dogs are welcome on the southern part year-round.
Boscastle and Crackington Haven
Further along the coast is the beautiful national trust owned village and harbour of Boscastle. This is a village straight out of a fairy tale; it’s incredibly scenic, and an excellent spot for a walk. The harbour is majestic and a fantastic spot for photography – just be careful around the cliff edges!
The village is also home to the Museum of Witchcraft, which will detail everything you need to know about witchery in Cornwall!
Crackington Haven is around 6 miles from Boscastle. It’s a small community-run beach, the perfect place to relax after exploring the village.
The ruins of Tintagel Castle are located on a rocky outcrop, which is connected to the mainland for the first time in 500 years. Legend states that it is where King Arthur was born. Whether you believe that or not, it is undeniable that it is steeped in history and mystique, making it one of the best places to visit near Bude.
Fans of Doc Martin should have this place highlighted on their Cornwall itinerary – it is where all eight series of this popular TV show was filmed. Visitors to the quaint village can take a Doc Martin tour which will show them all of the highlights, or independently visit spots like Doc Martin’s house and Louisa’s school.
Even if you’re not a Doc Martin fan, it’s still worth visiting the scenic village. It’s got that quintessential fishing village feel, with a small harbour and tiny cottages, and just a few restaurants and pubs to stop off at. Strolling around the village is fun in itself; you can also hike up to one of the hills for a beautiful vantage point.
If you like historic fishing villages, Clovelly is a must-visit. It’s over the border in Devon, but only around a half-hour drive from Bude. The village is restored to look like an 18th-century fishing village. Because a lot of work has gone into its restoration, you do have to pay for the privilege of visiting.
Entering Clovelly is like being in a time warp; the buildings are from another age, some decorated on the inside to resemble fishermen’s cottages, and the harbour maintains its historic charm. There are a few restaurants, all which keep in with the 18th-century theme.
There are plenty of interesting things to do in Clovelly itself – you can see a full list here.
If you want to make a full day trip out of your visit to Clovelly, you can also visit the resort town of Westward Ho! And the quaint village of Appledore, which has coloured houses and a beautiful harbour. I also recommend visiting the Beaver Inn for dinner and drinks.
Lundy Island takes a while to get to, but it’s worth it. Bude is about 1 hour 15 minutes from Ilfracombe, where a 2 hour ferry leaves at 10am most days, returning to the mainland at around 4pm. This only leaves you with 4 hours on the island, but if you have a good day for it, they will be a wonderful 4 hours.
Lundy Island sits where the Bristol Channel and Atlantic Ocean meet, so there are is a lot of unique wildlife here, including a seal colony. You can go snorkelling with the seals, or swim closer to the shore where you can look out for fish and other sea life. On land, go birdwatching or lookout for the wild ponies.
The island is absolutely spectacular – just walking around it is a feast for the eyes. A warden tour will tell you more about the complicated history of the island – it’s been a place of debate and contestation for centuries, and was even controlled by a group of Moroccan pirates for five years!
After exploring Ludy Island, you can enjoy a drink in its only pub, visit a small exhibition, and send a postcard with a Lundy postmark – it’s the world’s oldest private posting service.
See my day trip to Lundy Island guide for more information.
Bodmin Moor and Town
Back in Cornwall, Bodmin Moor is a must-visit for hikers searching for things to do near Bude. There are lots of hikes to do around the enigmatic moors, ranging from a few miles to all day, or even multi-day trails. Here is some more information.
Bodmin town is worth visiting as well. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much. However, the Bodmin Keep museum details Cornish military history and is very interesting, and Bodmin Gaol is a really unique place to visit in Cornwall.
The Bodmin Gaol has recently been refurbished to create a state of the art tourist attraction, with an immersive experience that helps visitors bear witness to the Victorian jail system. Expect 3D pictures and sound, as well as fascinating stories about real individual people.
I do recommend a guided tour for the Gaol, as there is a lot to learn here.
Jamaica Inn is also worth a visit while in the area. Jamaica Inn was the inspiration for Daphne Du Maurier’s book of the same name. A small museum that pays homage to her in the inn and a smuggling museum.
The inn was a point for smugglers coming from the coast to hide – before motorized vehicles, nobody bothered braving the wilds of Bodmin Moor to check it – so it has a lot of historical importance. It used to be a barren, unwelcoming place, but nowadays there are friendly staff and a comfortable restaurant serving hearty pub food.
Trevibban Mill Vineyard
Trevibban Mill Vineyard is run by a wine lover who fell into the vineyard business. Winemaking in Cornwall is no mean feat – it is warmer than elsewhere in the UK, but it’s still the UK, after all – and doing a tour here will detail exactly how the owners make it work.
You can just drop in to Trevibban Mill for a tasting, or do a tour around the vineyard, learning about the winemaking process, and taste some wines at the end for around 15 per head.
It’s one of the best things to do around Bude, at around 40 minutes from the town.
The Eden Project
The Eden Project is a little further – around an hour’s drive from Bude – but everyoe who has been to Cornwall will tell you it’s a must-visit. Two huge biomes contain flora from two climates – tropical rainforest and Mediterranean.
By walking through, you’ll learn about the plants that make up each climate, and what we can do in our life to protect these habitats. There is also an exhibition on Cornish nature.
It’s one of the best things to do near Bude with kids, but adults-only groups will love it too – where else in the country can you walk through a rainforest?
Finally, Newquay is an hour’s drive along the coast and is one of the most popular places to visit near Bude. If you’re visiting Cornwall for some peace and quiet, you might want to avoid Newquay – it is the nightlife capital of the county.
However, it does have some lovely beaches, including the popular Fistral Beach, as well as some beautiful surroundings, such as Bedruthan Steps which is one of my personal favourites in Cornwall.
If you’re looking for places to visit near Bude with nightlife, Nequay is your answer – there are tonnes of pubs, bars, and restaurants here. If you are a novice surfer and want some lessons, you might find that you can get them at a cheaper rate here than in nearby Bude.
Places to visit near Bude – which will you choose?
As you can see, there are lots of places to visit near Bude. If you just want to leave the town for a few hours, check out nearby Crackington Haven, Boscastle, Tintagel or Port Isaac, or if you want to go on some day trips from Bude, The Eden Project, Bodmin, Lundy Island, and Newquay are excellent options.