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Things to do in and around Bideford

A quaint town in Devon, Bideford is situated on the west bank of the River Torridge. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend away with award-winning restaurants or somewhere to explore with the whole family, there are plenty of things to do. Plus, it’s the perfect base to adventure though North Devon.

Once North Devon’s provincial port, this delightful town with its sloping cobbled streets and scenic walkways maintains a quaint countryside culture that sees hundreds of passers-by explore it each year. It’s also close to the start of the Tarka Trail and not far from the Exmoor National Park. Even when you think you’ve ticked everything off the activity list, Bideford will surprise you with something else. Here at Snaptrip, we think more needs to be shouted out about the UK’s beaches and countryside. So, read on to find out about the best things to do in and around Bideford. If you see anywhere you like, make a trip of it! With one of the best holiday cottages in Bideford.

Things to do in Bideford

  • Tarka Statue
  • St Mary’s Parish Church
  • MS Oldenburg
  • Atlantic Village Shopping Centre
  • Clovelly Court Gardens
  • Bideford Railway Heritage Centre
  • Burton at Bideford
  • Victoria Park
  • Adventure parks
  • Literary attractions

Tarka Statue

Best for: The kids

Not only is this tiny statue a tourist hotspot but it’s also Bideford’s claim to fame. Head to the quay and get some good luck by patting the head of the otter made famous in the eponymous children’s books.

St Mary’s Parish Church

Best for: A quiet reflection

At the heart of the community, this local parish church is full of interesting history and is open to all. Take your time to wander around and enjoy the tranquility.

MS Oldenburg

Best for: Explorers

A characterful ship that takes British passengers to Lundy Island, the MS Oldenburg also offers refreshments on the way. Day trip information can be found on the website but trips typically run from March to October. It might take two hours to get there but it’s totally worth it for the puffin spotting, stunning views, and peace and quiet.

Atlantic Village Shopping Centre

Best for: Bargain lovers

This outlet centre offers the latest in big, designer and homeware brands. But if you’re looking for something else, Bideford has its fair share of shop-lined streets, crammed with seaside souvenirs, antique toys, old-fashioned sweet emporiums and custom fashion houses, to name but a few.

Clovelly Court Gardens

Best for: Those green-fingered tourists

These picture-perfect gardens are a must when visiting Bideford. A walled-garden boasting greenhouses home to oranges, lemons, and grapes, woodland walks and resident pheasants, the walls protect the area from winds so enjoy exploring the space, whatever time of year.

Bideford Railway Heritage Centre

Best for: Getting out in the fresh air

If you like old trains, you’ll enjoy a visit here. The railway line is now part of the popular Tarka Trail - the old converted railway line. Adventure along the popular walking route and take in the classic Devon scenery and banks of wildflowers along the estuary. Hire yourself a bike from to explore the trail on two wheels and feel the wind in your hair.

Burton at Bideford

Best for: Starting your adventure

At more than 65-years-old, Burton is a community venue that boasts art galleries, shops, a French bistro café, a museum and is Bideford’s tourist information centre.

Victoria Park

Best for: Relaxing in

Opened in 1912 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s reign, this park boasts gigantic oak trees, bursts of colour, and rose beds dedicated to the late Princess Diana, making for a perfect seasonal stroll.

Adventure parks

Best for: Thrill-seekers

Bideford is home to not one, but an impressive three adventure theme parks. Atlantis Adventure Park promises fun for the family no matter the weather, featuring indoor play-dens, pirate-ship playgrounds, fantastic fair-ground style rides, crazy golf, bowling and more. And don’t forget the two others – The Big Sheep and The Milky Way adventure parks, located just a stone’s throw away.

Literary attractions

Best for: Readers

You may not know, but Bideford has quite the literary heritage. It’s featured in multiple Henry Williamson novels and was described by author Charles Kingsley as ‘the little white town… which slopes upward from its broad river tide.’ Kingsley set his novel ‘Westward Ho!’ in and around Bideford, a book so popular in the area that the Westward Ho! beach was named in its honour. If you’re feeling brave enough, Westward Ho is a great surfing spot and if you’re not? It has many cafes for a relaxing afternoon drink.Things to do near Bideford

  • RHS Garden Rosemoor
  • The North Devon Surf School
  • North Devon Maritime Museum
  • Hartland Abbey & Gardens
  • Tapeley Park Gardens
  • Bideford’s beaches

RHS Garden Rosemoor

Best for: Sunny days

Enjoy a day out with the family at the beautiful RHS Garden Rosemoor in North Devon. With a number of all year round events, there’s sure to be something that all the family can get involved in.

The North Devon Surf School

Best for: Being active

Learn to surf or stand up paddle board at this Surfing England Centre of Excellence. Awake your senses in the sea and get up and close with some of Devon’s best coats - but be careful, it’ll be cold.

North Devon Maritime Museum

Best for: History lovers

Located in the quaint village of Appledore, here you’ll find a fascinating insight into the rich shipbuilding and seafaring history of the North Devon. The Georgian listed building has also been home to several ship owners and mariners over the past 200 years.

Hartland Abbey & Gardens

Best for: Walking

As featured in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘The Night Manager’, Hartland Abbey is a former abbey and current family home open to visitors. Explore the property and adventure around the land, where you’ll find stunning walled and woodland gardens.

Tapeley Park Gardens

Best for: Picnics

These beautiful gardens are renowned for their Italian terraces, and include a lake, ponds, old woodland and a number of fields where Hector’s herd of Highland cattle graze.

Bideford’s beaches

The South West and Devon have a number of gorgeous beaches ideal for picnics, sports and relaxation. Some of the closest to Bideford include Instow beach, Westward Ho! Beach, Saunton Sands Beach, Croyde Bay, Sandymere and Clovelly - which are all popular with surfers and tourists alike.So there you have it, Snaptrip’s top picks for things to do in and around Bideford. Whether you want a relaxing trip away, want to get out in the fresh outdoors or explore the beautiful countryside, Bideford and its surrounding areas have something for everyone.