Everything you need to know about visiting Bude

Bude, North east Cornwall, David Chapman, UK

Looking out across the expanse of beach from near the lock gates - Credit: David Chapman

For fabulous beaches, fun things to do and foodie treats, head to the north east of Cornwall and explore the seaside resort of Bude.

Bude is exactly what you want from a Cornish town. Wild, rugged and free – and that’s just the locals. This seaside resort with its beautiful beaches and bucket-and-spade vibe is a real gem and must feel like a dream come true for visitors who have probably travelled for hours, if not days to get here. 

It’s a remote spot in Cornwall terms, right up there on the Atlantic North coast, near the Devon border (don’t mention that too often). But that’s what makes it rather special. 

 Crooklets beach, Bude, Cornwall UK

Crooklets is one of the beaches to be explored at Bude - Credit: David Chapman

Bude has been happily doing its own thing, in its own laid-back way for a while now - and it clearly works. It has won Best Seaside Town three times in four years at the British Travel Awards, probably thanks largely to those glorious beaches. 

There are miles and miles of them here, secret coves, child-friendly golden sands and surfing havens stretching from Widemouth Bay in the south to Duckpool and the (ssh!) Devon border in the north. All are a mix of rugged rocky cliffs, Atlantic waves and golden sand. 

Summerleaze is the most popular beach in town – most visitors don’t make it much farther. It’s too tempting to stop here and throw down the picnic rug or put on your wetsuit to take advantage of the variety of the watersports on offer. 

The beach is also where you’ll find Bude’s famous tidal sea pool. Created in 1930, this sheltered spot is managed the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, a volunteer-run charity which aims to preserve and enhance this wonderful free amenity. 

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Bude Canal provides a peaceful backdrop to the seaside fun. It was built in 1823 to carry lime-rich sand from the beaches more than 30 miles inland to be used on the poor, acidic farmland around Launceston and Holsworthy.  

Sections of the canal are gradually being opened and restored to allow people to walk, canoe, kayak or cycle along the route. 

It’s a sign that Bude is one of those places that is slowly but surely starting to realise what it’s got. Sure, the buildings are a little low-rise and haphazard and it can seem isolated at times, especially in the winter. But it’s a small, friendly town with a growing number of independent shops, new cafes and restaurants in the kind of location that makes you feel slightly weak at the knees. Just Bude-iful. 

Bedroom at The Beach at Bude, boutique hotel and restaurant, Cornwall

The Beach at Bude is a boutique hotel and restaurant - Credit: Elliott White

Where to stay

The Beach is, as its name suggests, a beachside boutique hotel, overlooking Summerleaze. It has sixteen stylish rooms, two family suites and a buzzing bar with a terrace. 

The Brendon Arms on Bude harbour has been in the same family since 1872. It offers bed and breakfast accommodation, with rooms named after historic shipwrecks. Apparently, the lifeboat men set off from across the road and often returned to drink at the pub. 

Falcon Hotel, by the canal in Bude, Cornwall, UK

The Falcon Hotel sit by the canal in Bude - Credit: Uwe Ackermann

The Falcon Hotel by the canal has beautiful walled gardens and is dog friendly. In fact, a lot of the accommodation in Bude will welcome your four-legged friends. 

Upper Lynstone Caravan Park is a quiet family-run site, on the coastal road to Widemouth Bay. Take the coastal path or the footpath by the canal to stroll into town. 

Life's a Beach restaurant, Bude Cornwall

Enjoy great food and views at Life’s a Beach on Summerleaze Beach - Credit: Life's a Beach

Food & drink 

As you can imagine, food with a view is very much on the menu here. 

Rosie’s Kitchen is a family run beachside café situated a stone’s throw from Crooklet’s surfing beach. Enjoy laid-back, diner-type dishes, such as slow cooked barbecue baby back pork ribs, pulled beef brisket messy chips or sweet potato and squash goan vegan curry. 

Life’s a Beach sits pretty on the picturesque Summerleaze Beach and serves up a good times and great views-appropriate menu, including Cuban sandwiches, seafood, fairtrade coffee and ice-cold beers. 

Lansdown Dairy is a family run local Cornish delicatessen and general store in the centre of town, which stocks a wide range local food and drink. 

The Wier is a coffee house, bistro and wildlife centre on the Bude Canal, where you can get close to nature while you dine on harissa-baked salmon, superfood salad or take afternoon tea. 

More to do:

Rock out

Generations of geologists have studied the so-called 'Bude Formation', made up of alternating beds of sand ('turbidites') and mud, together totalling about 1.3 km in thickness. Find out more on a two-hour guided walk with local expert Dr Roger Higgs. See geoclastica.com 

Beach huts at Bude, Cornwall, UK

Make the most of the beach huts at Bude - Credit: BudeTIC

Hit the hut

Bude has an impressive collection of beach huts to hire, ranging in size from small to extra-large. Some are fully accessible and perfect for those with limited mobility.   

Movie night

The Rebel is a traditional style independent cinema showing the latest big-screen releases. It was purpose built as a single screen cinema back in 1987-88.