things to do in bideford

Have you ever visited a place that captured your heart from the moment you set foot there? For me, that place is Bideford, a charming town nestled in the picturesque region of Devon, England. From the moment I arrived, I was captivated by its beauty, rich history, and incredible range of attractions and activities.

Whether you’re searching for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or family-friendly attractions, Bideford has it all. As you explore this vibrant town, you’ll uncover hidden gems, immerse yourself in history, and create unforgettable memories.

With so many incredible things to do in Bideford, it’s no wonder that it has become a top destination for tourists and locals alike. From exploring historic landmarks to indulging in shopping sprees, there’s something to suit every interest and taste.

Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Discover the natural wonders of North Devon and embark on thrilling adventures. Or perhaps you prefer a leisurely day of shopping and sampling local cuisine. Bideford offers a wide array of shops, boutiques, and restaurants for you to explore and indulge in.

Whether you’re planning a visit this weekend, looking for activities to enjoy in the rain, or searching for indoor options, Bideford has you covered. The town’s diverse range of attractions ensures that there’s something to suit every weather condition and every preference.

Join me as we dive into the best things to do in Bideford. From historic landmarks to cultural experiences, family-friendly attractions to outdoor adventures, we’ll guide you through the must-visit places and help you create an unforgettable experience.

No matter what kind of traveller you are, Bideford is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart. So pack your bags, lace up your shoes, and get ready to explore, indulge, and create memories in this delightful town. Let’s make the most of everything Bideford has to offer!

Things to Do in Bideford

1. Tarka Statue

When it comes to family-friendly attractions in Bideford, don’t miss the iconic Tarka Statue. Located at the lively quay, this small yet charming statue depicts the lovable otter from the beloved children’s book “Tarka the Otter.” Kids, in particular, adore this statue and have a tradition of patting the otter’s head for good luck.

Created as a tribute to the otter and the enduring popularity of the book, the Tarka Statue is a whimsical sight that captures the imagination of visitors of all ages. Standing tall amidst the bustling quayside, it offers the perfect spot for a photo opportunity and a chance to create unforgettable memories with your little ones.

A Symbol of Bideford’s Literary Heritage

“Tarka the Otter” is a classic piece of British literature that has captured the hearts of many readers since its publication in 1927. The statue serves as a beautiful reminder of Bideford’s connection to this treasured tale.

As you explore the quay, take a moment to admire the skill and artistry that have brought this beloved character to life. Whether you’re reliving the magic of the book or introducing your children to this enchanting story, the Tarka Statue is sure to delight visitors of all generations.

So, make sure to include a visit to the Tarka Statue on your itinerary when looking for things to do in Bideford with your kids. It’s a delightful attraction that captures the essence of Bideford’s rich literary heritage and provides a memorable experience for the whole family.

2. St Mary’s Parish Church

For a moment of quiet reflection, visit St Mary’s Parish Church in Bideford. This local parish church is at the heart of the community and offers interesting history to explore. Take your time to wander around and enjoy the tranquility of this historic landmark.

St Mary's Parish Church

“St Mary’s Parish Church is a hidden gem in Bideford. Its stunning architecture and serene atmosphere make it an ideal place for contemplation and historical exploration.”

– Bideford local

St Mary’s Parish Church, also known as the Church of St Mary the Virgin, dates back to the 12th century and has played a central role in the community for centuries. Its beautiful stone exterior and intricate stained glass windows showcase the architectural and artistic craftsmanship of its time.

Historical Significance

The church is not only a place of worship but also a testament to Bideford’s rich history. It has witnessed significant events throughout the centuries, including the arrival of Charles Kingsley, the author of “Westward Ho!,” who served as the church’s curate in the mid-19th century. The church’s historical and cultural importance makes it a must-visit attraction for those interested in the heritage of the area.

Points of Interest

When visiting St Mary’s Parish Church, be sure to admire the impressive medieval architecture, including the grand tower and the beautifully carved stone details. Inside, you’ll find fascinating historical artifacts, including ancient brasses and memorials, as well as a peaceful atmosphere that invites quiet contemplation.

Community Engagement

The church continues to serve as a vital hub for community events and activities. From traditional wedding ceremonies to musical concerts and local fairs, St Mary’s Parish Church fosters a sense of belonging and connection among the residents of Bideford.

Location Opening Hours Contact Information
Bideford, Devon, EX39 2DY Monday-Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: Closed for Services
Phone: +44 (0)1237 473 747

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, a visit to St Mary’s Parish Church is a rewarding experience. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of Bideford and discover the spiritual and cultural significance this historical landmark holds.

3. MS Oldenburg

Embark on an exciting adventure by boarding the MS Oldenburg, a characterful ship that takes passengers from Bideford to Lundy Island. The ship offers day trips with stunning views, opportunities for puffin spotting, and a chance to enjoy refreshments onboard. Visit the website for more information on schedules and ticket availability for trips running from March to October.

Explore Lundy Island

Lundy Island, located off the coast of North Devon, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. It is a designated Marine Conservation Zone and offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore its diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. With rugged cliffs, beautiful beaches, and picturesque walking trails, Lundy Island is a paradise for nature lovers and hikers.

Puffin Spotting

One of the highlights of the MS Oldenburg day trip to Lundy Island is the chance to spot puffins. These adorable seabirds nest on the island during the breeding season, and visitors have the opportunity to see them up close in their natural habitat. Keep your binoculars handy and be on the lookout for these charismatic creatures.

Onboard Refreshments

While aboard the MS Oldenburg, you can relax and enjoy refreshments from the onboard café. Take a break from exploring and savor a hot beverage or treat yourself to a snack as you take in the stunning coastal views. It’s the perfect way to recharge before continuing your Lundy Island adventure.

4. Atlantic Village Shopping Centre

If you’re a fan of shopping, a visit to the Atlantic Village Shopping Centre in Bideford is a must! This outlet centre offers a fantastic selection of big-name brands, designer labels, and homeware shops.

Whether you’re on the hunt for trendy clothing, stylish accessories, or even household items, you’ll find a wide range of options to choose from at the Atlantic Village Shopping Centre. And the best part? You can score some amazing bargains here!

Bideford doesn’t stop at just the Atlantic Village Shopping Centre. The town also boasts a variety of other shopping options to cater to every taste. Explore local shops offering a range of seaside souvenirs, antique toys, and even sweet emporiums. If you’re after unique and custom fashion pieces, Bideford has got you covered with its custom fashion houses.

So, whether you’re a dedicated bargain hunter or simply love exploring different shops, a visit to the Atlantic Village Shopping Centre and other shopping destinations in Bideford is a must-do on your itinerary. Get ready to shop ’til you drop!

Atlantic Village Shopping Centre
Shopping Options in Bideford Highlights
Atlantic Village Shopping Centre Wide range of big-name brands, designer labels, and homeware shops
Local shops Seaside souvenirs, antique toys, and sweet emporiums
Custom fashion houses Unique and custom fashion pieces

5. Clovelly Court Gardens

Nature enthusiasts will love exploring the Clovelly Court Gardens. These picturesque gardens are located in the nearby village of Clovelly and offer a delightful experience for visitors. With walled gardens, greenhouses filled with tropical plants, woodland walks, and resident pheasants, these gardens are a treat for the senses. The protected walls create a serene environment, making it a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the beauty of green spaces.

Experience the Tranquility

As you stroll through the Clovelly Court Gardens, you’ll be greeted by an array of vibrant flowers and well-manicured lawns. The walled gardens create a sense of intimacy and privacy, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings. Take a moment to sit on one of the benches and admire the lush greenery that surrounds you.

Step into the greenhouses and be transported to exotic destinations with their collection of tropical plants. From vibrant orchids to towering palm trees, these glass-enclosed spaces offer a unique experience for plant enthusiasts. Breathe in the fresh, earthy scents and marvel at the incredible diversity of flora on display.

Explore the Woodland

For those seeking a deeper connection with nature, the woodland walks at Clovelly Court Gardens provide a peaceful escape. Meander through the ancient trees and listen to the gentle rustle of leaves underfoot. Look out for the resident pheasants that call this tranquil haven home.

“The Clovelly Court Gardens are a hidden gem in Bideford. The tranquility and beauty of the gardens are truly captivating. A must-visit for any nature lover.” – Laura, avid gardener

Plan Your Visit

To make the most of your visit to the Clovelly Court Gardens, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a camera to capture the stunning scenery. Don’t forget to check their website for opening hours and any visitor guidelines that may be in place. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, these gardens are a must-visit attraction in Bideford.

Opening Hours Admission Contact
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (April – October) Adults: £6.50
Children (5-16): £3.50
Family ticket (2 adults, up to 3 children): £17.00
Phone: 01237 431 781

6. Bideford Railway Heritage Centre

History buffs and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre. This center is located on the Tarka Trail, a converted railway line that offers scenic walking and cycling routes. Explore the railway heritage centre to learn about the area’s railway history and then venture out on the Tarka Trail to enjoy the stunning landscapes and abundant wildflowers along the estuary. Rent a bike from to experience the trail on two wheels.

If you’re fascinated by the rich history of railways, the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre is a must-visit destination. Located on the picturesque Tarka Trail, this center provides a captivating glimpse into the area’s railway heritage. Through informative exhibits and interactive displays, you can uncover the stories behind Bideford’s railway history and gain a deeper appreciation for the impact it had on the region.

After immersing yourself in the railway history, it’s time to embark on an outdoor adventure along the Tarka Trail. This popular walking and cycling route stretches for miles, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of the estuary, punctuated by vibrant wildflowers in the warmer months.

Bideford Railway Heritage Centre

Discover the Bideford railway history

The Bideford Railway Heritage Centre provides a fascinating journey through time, showcasing the significance of the railway in the region’s development. Uncover the stories of the hardworking railway staff and learn about the challenges they faced in operating the trains.

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Tarka Trail

The Tarka Trail, accessible directly from the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Lace up your walking shoes or hop on a bike to explore this scenic route, which offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and historical landmarks. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way, as the estuary is home to a variety of bird species.

Rent a bike and cycle the Tarka Trail

  • Experience the Tarka Trail from a new perspective by renting a bike from Feel the wind in your hair as you pedal along the route, taking in the stunning landscapes and enjoying the invigorating outdoor experience.
  • Choose from a variety of bike options, including mountain bikes, electric bikes, and tandem bikes for those who prefer to ride together. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a casual bike enthusiast, there’s a bike suitable for your adventure.
  • Don’t worry about the logistics of transporting your own bike to Bideford, as renting from ensures a hassle-free experience. Simply pick up your bike from the designated location and start exploring the Tarka Trail at your own pace.

Enjoy the beauty of the estuary and surrounding landscapes

As you traverse the Tarka Trail, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. Marvel at the ever-changing estuary, where the tide creates a beautiful interplay between land and water. The abundant wildflowers that line the trail add bursts of color and fragrance to your outdoor adventure.

Pause for a picnic along the Tarka Trail

Find a picturesque spot along the Tarka Trail to sit down, relax, and enjoy a picnic amidst nature. Pack a delicious spread of local treats and take in the peaceful atmosphere. Let the tranquility of the surroundings wash over you as you refuel for the rest of your adventure.

Explore more outdoor activities in Bideford

The Bideford Railway Heritage Centre is just one of the many outdoor activities available in the area. From coastal walks to water sports, Bideford offers a wealth of options for those seeking an active and adventurous getaway. Discover the beauty of the North Devon coastline, try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding, or embark on a kayaking excursion along the river. There’s no shortage of outdoor fun to be had in Bideford.

7. Burton at Bideford

Immerse yourself in the local art and culture scene by visiting Burton at Bideford. This community venue is a haven for art enthusiasts, offering a range of diverse experiences. The centerpiece of Burton at Bideford is its art galleries, which showcase the works of renowned local and international artists. Whether you have a passion for contemporary art or a love for traditional masterpieces, the galleries at Burton at Bideford cater to all tastes.

If you’re looking for unique crafts and gifts, you’ll find a diverse selection in the shops at Burton at Bideford. From handmade jewelry to ceramics and textiles, there’s something to suit every taste and budget. Take your time to browse through the shops and discover one-of-a-kind treasures to take home.

No visit to Burton at Bideford is complete without a visit to the French bistro café. Sit back, relax, and savor a cup of freshly brewed coffee or indulge in a delicious pastry. Take in the ambiance of the café, surrounded by art and creativity, as you enjoy your culinary delight.

At Burton at Bideford, art is not just displayed—it’s experienced. The vibrant atmosphere, combined with the stunning art collections, creates a truly immersive cultural experience.

The Museum at Burton at Bideford

Step into the past at the Museum at Burton at Bideford. Uncover the town’s rich history through fascinating exhibits and interactive displays. From archaeological artifacts to maritime memorabilia, the museum offers a captivating journey through time. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about the heritage of Bideford, a visit to the museum is a must.

Bideford’s Tourist Information Center

At Burton at Bideford, you’ll find Bideford’s Tourist Information Center, your go-to resource for all things related to exploring the area. Friendly staff members are always on hand to provide advice, maps, and recommendations to make your visit to Bideford memorable. Whether you’re looking for information on local attractions, events, or accommodations, the Tourist Information Center is your one-stop-shop for all your tourism needs.

Burton at Bideford Opening Hours

Planning a visit to Burton at Bideford? Here are the opening hours:

Day Opening Hours
Monday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tuesday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Friday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Sunday Closed

Plan your visit to Burton at Bideford and discover the vibrant arts and culture scene that Bideford has to offer. Whether you’re an art lover, history buff, or simply looking for a unique experience, Burton at Bideford is a must-visit destination on your Bideford itinerary.

8. Victoria Park

Take a stroll through the beautiful Victoria Park, which was opened in 1912 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s reign. This well-maintained park features majestic oak trees, vibrant flower beds, and even rose beds dedicated to Princess Diana. It’s an idyllic spot for a leisurely walk, a picnic, or simply relaxing in a serene outdoor setting.

Victoria Park

Key Features of Victoria Park:

  • Beautifully landscaped
  • Majestic oak trees
  • Vibrant flower beds
  • Rose beds dedicated to Princess Diana

Victoria Park offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re enjoying a picnic with your family, taking a leisurely walk, or simply sitting on a bench and soaking up the beauty of nature, this park provides the perfect outdoor relaxation. The well-kept gardens and impressive floral displays make it an Instagram-worthy spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

“Victoria Park is a true gem in Bideford. It’s the perfect place to unwind and reconnect with nature. I love the peaceful atmosphere and the stunning rose beds dedicated to Princess Diana are a beautiful tribute. I highly recommend visiting this park for some outdoor relaxation.” – Local Resident

Park Facilities

Park Facilities Details
Benches Provided throughout the park for seating
Picnic Areas Dedicated spaces equipped with tables and benches for picnics
Children’s Play Area A playground with slides, swings, and climbing frames
Public Toilets Conveniently located for visitor use

So whether you’re looking for a place to relax, enjoy a picnic, or take in the natural beauty of Bideford, Victoria Park is a must-visit destination. Its tranquil ambiance and stunning floral displays make it one of the most beloved parks in Bideford. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this outdoor oasis during your visit.

9. Adventure parks

Bideford is home to not one, but three thrilling adventure parks that are perfect for family outings and provide a wide range of outdoor activities for kids and adults alike. These adventure parks offer exciting attractions and entertainment that will keep everyone entertained for hours.

One of the popular adventure parks in Bideford is Atlantis Adventure Park. This park offers a mix of indoor and outdoor activities, ensuring fun no matter the weather. Kids can enjoy play areas and a pirate ship playground, while parents can join in on fairground-style rides or challenge each other to a game of crazy golf or bowling. Atlantis Adventure Park promises an action-packed day with something for everyone.

The excitement doesn’t stop there. Bideford is also home to The Big Sheep, where families can experience a unique blend of farm-themed attractions and outdoor adventures. Kids can get up close with farm animals, go on thrilling rides, and even watch live shows featuring sheep racing. The Big Sheep is a must-visit for families looking for a fun-filled day out in Bideford.

If you’re craving for even more adventure, head to The Milky Way adventure park. Located near Bideford, this park offers a plethora of outdoor activities and attractions. From roller coasters and indoor play areas to a maze and a mini train ride, there’s no shortage of excitement at The Milky Way. The park is known for its friendly atmosphere and family-friendly attractions.

With these incredible adventure parks, Bideford has cemented its place as a destination for outdoor fun and memorable family experiences. Whether you’re looking for roller coasters, animal encounters, or thrilling rides, these adventure parks in Bideford have it all. Plan your visit and create lifelong memories with your loved ones.


Looking for things to do near Bideford? You’re in luck! Bideford and its surrounding areas offer an abundance of attractions and activities that are sure to keep you entertained. Explore the beauty of the region by visiting stunning gardens and historical landmarks. Immerse yourself in the local art and culture scene at Burton at Bideford. And for those seeking outdoor adventures, adventure parks and the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre offer exciting experiences.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! If you’re up for a day trip from Bideford, there are several attractions just a short drive away. Visit the RHS Garden Rosemoor to discover beautiful gardens, or head to the North Devon Surf School for some thrilling water sports. The North Devon Maritime Museum and Hartland Abbey & Gardens are also worth a visit.

So, whether you’re looking for family-friendly attractions, outdoor adventures, or cultural experiences, Bideford and its surrounding areas have something for everyone. Plan your trip now and make the most of your time in this charming town in North Devon. Start exploring and enjoying all the wonderful things to do near Bideford!


What are some of the best things to do in Bideford?

Some of the best things to do in Bideford include visiting the Tarka Statue, exploring St Mary’s Parish Church, taking a day trip on the MS Oldenburg to Lundy Island, and shopping at the Atlantic Village Shopping Centre.

Are there any attractions in Bideford suitable for families?

Yes, Bideford offers various family-friendly attractions, including Atlantis Adventure Park, The Big Sheep, and The Milky Way adventure parks.

Can I visit Bideford with a dog?

Yes, Bideford is pet-friendly, and there are several places where you can enjoy activities with your dog, such as Victoria Park and the Tarka Trail.

What are some indoor activities in Bideford?

If the weather is not ideal, you can visit attractions like Burton at Bideford, which houses art galleries, shops, and a museum. You can also explore the Atlantic Village Shopping Centre for some retail therapy.

What are some events happening in Bideford?

The town of Bideford hosts various events throughout the year. You can check the official Bideford events calendar for the latest information on festivals, markets, and entertainment options.