Image of the sun shining across the sea and the large rocky outcrop at Black Rock Beach, Cornwall. A young boy in swimgear runs out of the waves

Everything you need to know for a family holiday in Bude, Cornwall

We love taking our campervan Joyce away in the UK as soon as the weather starts to warm up (if indeed it does in the UK!). And Bude is the perfect spot for a family holiday!

We’ve been down to Bude in our campervan and tent several times now and have explored most of the town, beaches and the surrounding area. Here is the lowdown on how to have a fab family holiday in Bude, one of the loveliest beach towns in the UK!

Where is Bude?

Bude is on the northern coast of Cornwall, at the south-west tip of the UK, close to the border with North Devon. 

Depending on where you are coming from, Cornwall can be a bit of a trek – the drive for us from Sheffield has taken anywhere between 5-7 hours depending on traffic and the number of stops we need to make on the way.

The roads that wind further South into Cornwall from Bude can take longer to traverse; we also love some of the towns a bit deeper down in Cornwall but it can add a good couple of hours (or more!) to the drive for us. If you’re looking for a Cornwall break but want to keep your drive time down then Bude is a great option.

It’s in a great spot for exploring more of the region – there’s a swathe of beautiful beaches within a 30minute drive, some interesting towns, villages and historical sites and within touching distance of the wilds of Exmoor National Park. 

What is Bude like for a family holiday?

Bude offers pretty much everything you could want from a family holiday – gorgeous beaches, cute little cafes, a run of lovely little independent shops spread across the town centre streets, delicious ice cream, traditional style pubs, cycle paths and access to plenty of coastal (and inland) walks. And of course, cream teas. 

As a town it’s fairly easy to navigate, with the streets in the centre essentially following a big loop. There is plenty to see and do to fill a few hours (or a few rainy days!) pottering around.

Where to stay in Bude

View out across Cornish Coasts Campsite with the sea in the distance. One tent stands in the corner of the field, the sunset is orange in the sky

We are BIG fans of camping and time away in our campervan, and one of our favourite sites in the whole of the UK is just outside Bude. We’ve stayed at Cornish Coasts multiple times now and whatever the weather it’s always a fab stay!

It’s a great sized site for a family holiday in Bude – big enough to have some great amenities but small enough to still have a cozy feel to it. The pitches here are big and the site is parcelled up into smaller sections separated by hedges; as each area only houses a handful of pitches it means that you never feel penned in or surrounded by other people.

The on-site cafe and camp shop are real winners here too; the cafe is a great place to retreat to on a rainy day for a cream tea or a tasty lunch. The camp shop stocks a range of Cornish products downstairs and then all the camping gear you might need in the upstairs section.

The sanitary facilities are great and always super clean and there’s also a small playground, picnic area and a mini football pitch for keeping the kids entertained. 

And if sleeping under canvas isn’t your thing, they also have static caravans and apartments on-site (with fabulous views out to sea).

Which beaches should you visit in and around Bude?

A key bit of a fab Cornish family holiday is finding a good beach – and Bude has plenty of them within easy reach. We have a couple of personal faves here, but there are so many gorgeous beaches along this stretch of the North Cornwall coast that you really are spoilt for choice. Most of the beaches listed below have lifeguards on duty during the Summer months; the swimming and body boarding is a LOT of fun in Cornwall but always check the conditions and the advice from the lifeguarding team before you go in to the water as there are strong rip currents right along the coast.

Black Rock

If you’re looking for a surfer-type vibe then Black Rock is probably your best bet. This is a long stretch of sand that joins up with Widemouth Bay to the north, making one HUGE beach. Even in the height of Summer season there is always space at Black Rock to set up camp on the sand. There’s a car park right on the beach (if you’re there early enough) or plenty of parking available in the fields beyond. 

There’s a fab little cafe, two ice-cream booths, surfboard and bodyboard rental, a little shop and toilets. When the tide is out there are loads of rockpools for the kids to explore.

We love getting down to Black Rock in the morning in the van, having our breakfast there and then staying until the sun goes down (which sometimes produces some pretty spectacular sunsets).

Black Rock is also a dog-friendly beach (just be careful not to cross over in to Widemouth Beach, as this does not allows dogs).

Young boy in swimgear stands in the shallows of the sea between several rocky outcrops. In the distance you can see the coastal cliffs.
Summerleaze Beach

Summerleaze is a great option for a day at the beach as it’s right in the heart of Bude, which means you can combine a beach day with a potter around the shops, and it’s easy to go and grab lunch/ice creams etc from the various spots in town.

The other huge selling point for Summerleaze is the amazing Bude Sea Pool, to the right of the beach as you look out to sea. This is a glorious spot to swim in and jump in from the rocks, and is accessible from the beach when the tide goes out. 

There’s also a small natural sea pool hidden in the rocks to the left of the beach which is deep enough to jump in and swim around in.

To one side of Summerleaze Beach you’ll see where the rivermouth meets the sea – this is a great spot for crabbing (you can buy the kit in several of the little spots around town).

There is a decent size car park right next to Summerleaze, or alternatively it’s only a short walk from the car park at the Tourist Information Centre.

Dogs on a lead are welcome on Summerleaze.

Image of the tidal sea pool in Bude, Cornwall. The shot is taken from above with the pool in the foreground and the beach and sea beyond
Crooklets Beach

When the tide is out you can walk round to Crooklets Beach from Summerleaze, past Bude Sea Pool. Crooklets is a smaller stretch of beach with a rocky area as you walk down from the car park but is a really lovely spot to spend a day or an evening. Plus, it has two cafes right off the beach, including Rosie’s which is a fab spot with kids. 

There are also beach huts to rent here if that’s your thing.

Dogs are not allowed on Crooklets Beach in the Summer season (between 10am and 6pm).

Young boy is silhouetted in the shallows of the sea, with waves rolling in towards him
Duckpool Beach

Duckpool is a National Trust beach accessed by a winding narrow lane to the north of Bude. It’s slightly more isolated position makes it a wonderful beach to visit as there are usually very few people there! 

There is a VERY small car park next to the beach; from there it’s a bit of a walk over the rocks down to the pristine stretch of sand. There are rockpools to explore and PLENTY of space for a game of frisbee! 

It’s an absolutely glorious beach to visit and I would highly recommend making the trip. It’s less of a ‘beach day’ beach; more a place to have a wander and admire the views.

Duckpool is a dog friendly beach year-around.

Duckpool beach in Cornwall. A young boy to the right of the frame throws a frisbee across the large expanse of sand. The coastal cliffs are in the background
Millook Haven

Millook is another quieter option for a day at the beach. There is less parking available here which restricts the number of visitors on any given day. It’s a smaller stretch of sand but a lovely place to spend a few hours – a great option is to walk here from Poundstock across the fields and the woods with a packed lunch to share on the beach.

Millook is another dog-friendly beach.

Sandymouth Beach

Sandymouth is another National Trust beach to the north of Bude. It’s a pebble beach with a pretty spectacular cliff face to the rear. Again, the views are beautiful and there is plenty of space even in high season. 

One of the drawbacks of Sandymouth is that it is down a fairly steep path from the car park at the top of the cliff; facilities like the cafe and toilets are all up at the top of the path. This doesn’t make it the easiest option for a day out with the kids but it’s still a beautiful stretch of coastline and definitely worth a visit.

Sandymouth is also a dog-friendly beach.

Family-friendly walks in and around Bude

There are loads of options for fairly easy but spectacular walks with kids in and around Bude, including along stretches of the coastal path. There are details of a number of these on the Visit Bude website here. If part of your ideal family holiday involves getting out and about on walks, then Bude has plenty of options!

We also love a good geocaching route and there are plenty of them in the area! Check out the geocache app to see potential routes; this is often how we’ll make a choice about where to head out to (and also, don’t miss the geocache in Bude Library – it’s a very good one!).

Below are a few of our favourite Bude walks:

Widemouth Bay to Bude Town Centre

A really simple option for a walk is to park at Widemouth Bay and follow the coastal path in to Bude town centre. The advantage of this one is that you can stop at a cafe or for a pub lunch in town before heading back along the coast. Depending on your speed this should only take 1-1.5hours each way.

Poundstock to Millook Haven

One of our favourite routes is to park near the charming little church in Poundstock (worth a visit to here anyway) and then to walk down the lanes, across the fields and through the woods down to Millook Beach. The views along the route are fabulous at times and it’s largely deserted. Pack up a lunch for the beach! 

There are a view little parking bays near Poundstock Church that you can use.

Tintagel to Trebarwith Strand

This is a fab route along a stretch of the coastal path, with amazing views out over the Atlantic. 

Park up at St Materiana’s Church just outside Tintagel and simply follow the signs for the coastal path. It takes around 1.5hours each way; you are rewarded by lovely ice creams and cold drinks from one of the tiny shops or cafes at Trebarwith Strand.

View from the coastal path at the tops of the cliffs between Tintagel and Trebarwith Strand in Cornwall. The cliffs stretch round to the left of the frame with the sea crashing at the foot of the cliffs
The Weir to Widemouth Bay

A shorter walk across the fields to the sea, with ice creams at Widemouth! 

Park up at the public car park near The Weir just outside Bude; there are signs from the car park that point you to the footpaths. When you get to Widemouth, follow the coastal path up to Elements Restaurant then cut back inland – this brings you out by the canal which you can then follow back to The Weir. This only takes around 2.5hours at a child-friendly pace and has some great views out over Widemouth Bay.

Where to eat in Bude

We don’t as a rule eat out much as a family – we are happiest cooking for ourselves and sitting outside the tent chatting as the sun goes down (or on Black Rock beach with a BBQ!). There are a few places in Bude though that we love and work really well with the kids.

Rosie’s Kitchen

This place is right on the beach at Crooklets and does great food, delicious ice-cream (including a few flavours that you don’t see in other places like Birthday Cake!) and massive milkshakes and sundaes. It’s got loads of tables both inside and outside so is a good bet whatever the English weather is throwing at you!

It’s also got a small sandy playground which is great for smaller tots.

The Bank at Bude

Tucked away a bit with views out over the marshes, this place is a bit of a hidden gem. It does AMAZING tapas (using some great local ingredients) and the service is always spot-on. 

If you can, book one of the little booths outside here – they seat up to four and are great options for families as you have your own space and don’t need to worry about the noise level of your children!

View out of the window of a glass dining pod over the marshland beyond. There are a few houses dotted on the hill in the distance. In the foreground is a teal metal chair, a small potted plant and a wooden container with salt, pepper and oil.
View into a glass dining pod structure built from a wooden frame, Inside is a small white round table and four teal coloured metal chairs with cushions on the seats
Black Rock Cafe

If you’re hitting the beach, Black Rock Cafe is a great place to grab a hearty lunch or a treat for the kids (or for you!). For a beachside joint their prices are pretty reasonable. They have plenty of tables (although it does get busy in peak season) and offer eat-in or takeaway.

The Cabin Cafe (Crackington Haven)

Great big sandwiches, baguettes and jacket potatoes, plus really delicious cream teas. Plus the view out over Crackington Haven is a bit special too. 

The Beach House (Widemouth Bay)

If you’re lucky enough to have childcare, or kids that are old enough to leave at home, then this is a fab option for a grown-up dinner and drink. The seafood is fresh and delicious and the views out to sea are stunning. A bit pricier than some of the other options (as this is a proper restaurant/bar) but worth it!

Cornish Coasts Cafe

Even if you’re not staying on site, this is a great option for a lovely lunch – tasty mains, chunky sandwiches and delicious cream teas. Plus the campsite playground is right outside the sliding doors, so the kids can burn off a bit of steam after lunch!

Things to do in and around Bude

If the sun is hiding away, or you just fancy a break from the beach, there are lots of other things to keep you occupied in and around Bude. Here are a few of our tried and tested faves of family friendly things to do whilst on holiday in Bude.

Rebel Cinema

A super cute independent cinema in Treskinnick Cross just outside Bude (two minutes from Cornish Coasts campsite). It has all the most recent releases across it’s two small screens. If it looks like rain then you’ll definitely need to book ahead!

The Venue

This place has ten-pin bowling, arcades and a large indoor soft play area. If it’s raining outside then make sure you book as it gets packed on rainy days during the school holidays!

Bude Leisure Centre

A decent bet if you want some indoor swimming action! This place has a wave pool and flumes, so great for keeping the kids entertained for a couple of hours.

Monster Slip n Slide

Operating over the Summer months, the Monster Slip and Slide is set up in a field just outside Bude and is pretty epic fun for all ages – all of our family have loved it every time we’ve gone! They have several slides that you can go down at high speed; book a slot online to make sure you get a space.

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Boscastle)

A short drive down the coast from Bude, this is a quirky, fascinating insight into the history of witchcraft in the UK. It’s a tiny little place so you may have to wait, but there’s also some lovely shops and cafes in Boscastle so you make a morning/afternoon of your visit.

Young boy in shorts stands outside the entrance to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, a small whitewashed building in Boscastle, Cornwall
Tintagel Castle

An English Heritage site, Tintagel is a slightly magical place to wander round and soak up the history and all the stories that surround the legends of Arthur and Merlin.

Even if you don’t want to to pay for admission to the castle, you can have a wander around the lovely little town and a walk down to the tiny pebble beach at the foot of Tintagel, which has a sea cave for the kids to explore.

North Devon Wake Park

A great day out for slightly older kids, the wake park has a fab inflatable course which both our boys LOVED. You can also opt to book a wakeboarding session on one of the two lakes. They hire out wetsuits (highly recommended!) and have a little cafe in case you’re famished by the time you get out of the water!

Go for a bike ride

If you don’t have wheels of your own you can hire these from next to The Weir, just outside Bude. There are some easy, flat bike paths that lead along the canal in Bude and across the marshes – coupling this with a visit to an ice cream stall, pub or cafe at the other end in Bude is always a winner for a day out!

Man wearing white shorts and orange gilet sits on a bike looking away from the camera. A young boy in a black helmet sits on a tag-a-long bike behind him. The boy has turned and is winking at the camera
Man on a bike with a young boy attached on a tag-a-long bike ride into the distance on a flat tarmac path. Trees and hedgerows surround the path on both sides.

The verdict

Like any UK family holiday, the weather can have a big impact on your stay. However, Bude has so much to offer both in terms of amazing beaches AND other activities that even if it rains there is plenty to keep the kids entertained. Glorious beaches, fab walks, delicious cream teas and spectacular views from almost everywhere – what’s not to love? Bude really is a fabulous option for a family holiday in the UK.

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