Things to do in Bodmin

The Best Things to do in Bodmin

Bodmin is a historically significant town in Cornwall and despite being many miles inland and off the traditional Cornish tourist track, it is located in the heart of Cornwall. There is no seaside or beach here, and the main attractions are the nearby moor and the historic jail. Bodmin is filled with rather lovely architecture and buildings, many of which have fascinating histories. The majority of Bodmin’s attractions are tied to its history, with the rest being the lovely surrounding countryside. Here are some of the best things to do in Bodmin, whether you’re a local or coming from elsewhere!


The Best Things to do in Bodmin, Cornwall

The primary historical attraction in Bodmin is the old jail. It was a dreadful place back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and many people died here due to poor treatment. While the nearby Bodmin Moor is primarily known as being the home of the “Beast of Bodmin Moor,” a legendary monster that attacks sheep and other animals it’s likely to just be a scary story… or is it? The town of Bodmin itself has a number of attractions and things to see making it worth a visit and an interesting history. Bodmin is also famous for its three museums, making it a perfect destination to visit if the weather in Cornwall isn’t cooperating.

Visit the Bodmin Jail

Although the current prison was established in 1859, the old county jail dates back to the 18th century. Over the years, Bodmin jail has seen more than 50 hangings, many of which were seen by the public. A visit to Bodmin Jail includes a tour of the prison, where you can absorb the eerie atmosphere of this enormous ancient building.  

This is top of Bodmin’s attractions to see and it’s a perfect place to visit when it rains in Cornwall. There are more rainy-day activities here.

things to do in bodmin visit bodmin jail
Tony Atkin / Bodmin Jail

You’ll be able to see the cells and the hanging pit.  The jail received a multi-million-pound overhaul in 2020 and now includes a host of theatrical effects and new exhibitions, it’s an enthralling, if chilling historic visit.   You’ll need to book your tickets online here to visit.

  • Address of Bodmin Jail: Bodmin Jail, Berrycoombe Road, Bodmin, Cornwall PL31 2NR, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Bodmin Jail: Adult – £15.00, Child – £12.50
  • Opening hours of Bodmin Jail: 9:30 am to 8:30 pm

Part of the overhaul of Bodmin Jail included turning a part of it into a stunning luxurious hotel – its one of our favourite places to stay in Bodmin – you can check room rates here – and also read about the top places to stay in Bodmin here.

Take a Trip on the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway

The gorgeous Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway leaves Bodmin General, a historic Great Western Railway Station near the town centre and travels to Boscarne Junction.  Bodmin General is a 15-minute walk from the centre of Bodmin.  Most people will make a return trip on the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway, but Boscarne Junction is right next to the Camel Trail, so it’s possible to walk back from there to Bodmin.   

things to do in bodmin bodmin and wenford steam train
The Bodmin Steam Railway by roger geach, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The walk back along the Camel Trail is 2.4 miles.  There are five trains a day from Bodmin General when the train is running and you can check the timetable here. While steam trains drive the majority of trains, Bodmin and Wenford also have a collection of diesel locomotives that pull trains on certain Saturdays in May, June, and September. 

  • Address of Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway: Bodmin General Station, Bodmin, Cornwall PL31 1AQ, United Kingdom
  • Cost for Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway: Adult – £13, child – £6

Cycle or walk the Camel Trail

The Camel Trail is the most well-known of Cornwall’s traffic-free trails, stretching 17 miles from Padstow to Bodmin and then to Blisland on the moor beyond. It is ideal for pedestrians, bikers, horseback riders, and wheelchair users because of its gentle grades. The primary part of the route between Padstow and Bodmin is 11 miles long. The following 6 miles across Bodmin Moor are significantly more difficult. (There’s more on what to do in Padstow here.

things to do in bodmin the camel trail
Paul Smith, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hire a bike from Explore by Bike and cycle through Historic Bodmin before heading to the Camel Trail. From here, you can ride to Wadebridge via lovely tree-covered areas with a few other cyclists, or continue to Padstow on the busiest stretch of the route, which offers stunning views of the Camel Estuary for a complete day out.

  • Address of Camel Trail: Eddystone Rd, Wadebridge PL27 7AL, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Camel Trail: Admission is free

If you want to stay in Padstow rather than Bodmin, then the best places to stay in Padstow are here.

Visit the Bodmin Town Museum

The Bodmin town museum traces Bodmin’s history from the Stone Age to World War II. Collections include natural history, military, and a Cornish kitchen. Bodmin’s Public Rooms hold the town museum. These were built in 1892 on the site of the previous Friary church. The museum explores the town’s history via collections and displays. The oldest antiquities in Cornwall include Stone and Bronze Age relics, as well as Roman artefacts. Religious items from the Augustinian Monastery, founded by St. Petroc (after whom the parish church is named), reveal Bodmin’s origins. There’s even a fire engine from the 18th century on display.

  • Address of Bodmin Town Museum: 2 Mount Folly, Bodmin PL31 2DB, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Bodmin Town Museum: Admission is free
  • Opening hours of Bodmin Town Museum: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Fancy staying in a converted church or chapel in Cornwall? We’ve got you covered here!

Visit Bodmin Keep

Bodmin Keep allows you to visit the regimental cells and the impressive armoury filled with historic equipment inside the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry’s former headquarters. You’ll be able to see items from the Cornwall Militia and Volunteers, The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and The Light Infantry, spanning more than 300 years of Cornish military history. The Harry Patch show, an armoury of mediaeval weaponry, and several stained glass windows are among the museum’s display attractions. For smaller members of the family, activities include military dress-up, bugle playing, arts and crafts, and outstanding exhibitions.

  • Address of Bodmin Keep: The Keep, Bodmin, PL31 1EG, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Bodmin Keep: Adult – £7, child – £3.00
  • Opening hours of Bodmin Keep: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Hike to the Bodmin Beacon

The Bodmin Beacon is located on a large grassland nature reserve with a breathtaking view over the town and surrounding moorland that can be hiked from town. It was built in 1856 to honour Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert, a local government official, and remembers his service in India.  You’ll get the best light either early in the morning or at sunset.  It’s less than a mile from the centre of Bodmin to the Bodmin Beacon on foot.

  • Address of Bodmin Beacon: Bodmin PL31 1BH, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Bodmin Beacon: Admission is free
  • Opening hours of Bodmin Beacon: Open 24 hours

Visit Lanhydrock House near Bodmin

When you’ve exhausted what to do in Bodmin, then you’ll want to head here. Lanhydrock is top of the places to visit near Bodmin. This late-Victorian country home has a garden and wooded grounds with a rather magnificent house. After a fire in 1881, the Jacobean house was rebuilt in the high-Victorian style, with the best for the time country home architecture and full mod-cons.  Lanhydrock House is now managed by the National Trust (which means that members get in for free), and have set up visits to the house so that you can discover two sides of Victorian life: the kitchen “below stairs” and the family quarters, dining room, and huge bedrooms “upstairs.” – both options are well worth visiting on the guided tours that are available.  And the gardens are both enormous and beautiful to visit year-round.  Lanhydrock has a colourful upper garden packed with rhododendrons, camellias, and other blooming plants, and beautiful herbaceous borders. The wider estate features ancient trees and peaceful riverwalks. There are also off-road bike tracks for families and beginners.

things to do in bodmin lanhydrock house
  • How to get to Lanhydrock House from Bodmin: From Bodmin Parkway Station, you may take a bus, cab, or walk to Lanhydrock House
  • Address of Lanhydrock House: Lanhydrock Garden, Bodmin, United Kingdom, PL30 5AD
  • Cost to enter Lanhydrock House: Children Under 5’s enters for free. Adult: £17.00,Child: £8.50
  • Opening hours of Lanhydrock House: 10:30 am to 5:30 pm

Map of Things to do in Bodmin

map of things to do in Bodmin

You can also see the Bodmin map of things to do here.

Things to do near Bodmin

If you’re basing yourself in Bodmin, then there are some great places to visit in Bodmin’s locality – and here are just some of the things to do near Bodmin.

Go-Wine Tasting at Camel Valley Cornwall

There are daily (Monday to Friday) guided tours available here at the Camel Valley Vineyard, they start at 10:30 am, with tours lasting 2 hours.  This is a glorious location, where you’ll learn about the vine’s growing season and how things work around the vineyard. The tours explain how grapes are converted into award-winning wines and at the end of the tour, there’s a wine flight of their four signature wines to taste.   If you prefer not to take a tour, then you can buy wine by the glass, or half glass to taste and the terrace with its gorgeous views is open all day.

  • How to get to Camel Valley from Bodmin: You can take the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Train here or a bus from Bodmin (number 10 or number 55), or you can easily drive here (but please don’t drink and drive).  There’s the option to walk back along the Camel Trail too.
  • Address of Camel Valley: Camel Valley Ltd, Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5LG, United Kingdom
  • Opening hours of Camel Valley: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm – Monday to Friday

Explore Bodmin Moor

Bodmin Moor is Britain’s wettest moor, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this wonderful area of Cornwall. This is the largest section of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at 200 square kilometres.  Even though many people rush to the coast and Cornish beaches, Bodmin Moor is a significantly underestimated day out with many fabulous areas to explore. Despite the A30 cutting the moor in half, it retains a unique sense of seclusion and wildness and it’s worth exploring at least a little. One of the top things to do on Bodmin Moor is to explore the Cheesewring and the Hurlers. These stone circles are mysterious natural landforms, with most of the terrain 200 meters above sea level, rising to 400 meters at Rough Tor and 420 meters at Brown Willy.

things to do in bodmin -cheesewrings on bodmin moor

Bodmin Moor is home to otters, Marsh Fritillary butterflies, bats, and songbirds, including the Stonechat and Wheatear. There’s really is plenty for everyone and there are heaps of bodmin Moor things to do from ancient standing stones to smuggler’s caves, gushing waterfalls to Arthurian stories, and breathtaking walks around the moor. There’s more on what to do on Bodmin Moor here.

  • How to get to Bodmin Moor from Bodmin: You’ll have to drive to get to Bodmin Moor
  • Address of Bodmin Moor: Bodmin Moor, Bodmin PL30 4HN, United Kingdom

Visit the Jamaica Inn from Bodmin

This 300-year-old coaching inn was immortalized in Daphne du Maurier’s novel of shipwreck, rogues, and pirates. (One of our top books about Cornwall) Jamaica Inn sits in one of Britain’s most lovely moorland places, full of legends, intrigue, romance, and even a friendly ghost. As of the end of WWII, it was known as the Jamaica Inn and West Country Club, but it quickly became known as “the famous” Jamaica Inn. The historic building is one of the top places to visit near Bodmin Moor. The original Jamaica Inn building is flanked by modern expansions, and the road was diverted through the inn’s grounds. It’s now hard to imagine the car park as having been a smuggler’s sanctuary.

things to do in bodmin jamaica inn
Trish Steel, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Inn began in 1750 as a coaching inn for travellers heading between Bodmin and Launceston and it’s rumoured that it got its name because a lot of “rum business” was conducted here, which is of course highly likely based on the amount of smuggled goods that were brought in from the Devon and Cornwall beaches. There’s a museum of smuggling here, rooms that you can stay in (check rates here) and also meals available from 730am until 9 pm.

  • How to get to Jamaica Inn from Bodmin: From Bodmin Parkway Station, you may take a cab, bus, or drive to Jamaica Inn
  • Address of Jamaica Inn: Bolventor, Launceston PL15 7TS, United Kingdom

Visit Carnglaze Slate Caverns from Bodmin

Carnglaze’s three man-made caves were built as part of a slate quarry in the Loveny Valley, near St Neot on the edge of Bodmin Moor, and are part of Cornwall’s mining history. The three massive caves maintain a constant temperature of 10C and there’s a lake found in the lowest of the three caves. Back up on the surface, you can wander through 6.5 acres of woodland, which makes for a perfect place for a picnic.

things to do in bodmin carnglaze caves
Derek Hawkins, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Address of Carnglaze Slate Caverns: Carnglaze Caverns, St Neot, Liskeard PL14 6HQ, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Carnglaze Slate Caverns: Adult – £8.00, Child – £5.00
  • Opening hours of Carnglaze Slate Caverns: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Visit Pencarrow House and Gardens from Bodmin

Since Elizabethan times, the Molesworth family have called the Pencarrow estate their home and now you can take a guided tour of the 50-room Georgian estate.  This Palladian mansion is surrounded by Grade II listed formal gardens, a Victorian rock garden and icehouse, a Celtic cross, and 50 acres of parkland, lake, and woodlands with over 700 rhododendron varieties and countless camellias.

things to do in bodmin pencarrow house
Pencarrow House – the south elevation by Rod Allday, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • How to get to Pencarrow House and Gardens from Bodmin: From Bodmin Parkway Station, you may take a cab, bus, or drive to Pencarrow House and Gardens
  • Address of Pencarrow House and Gardens: Washaway, Bodmin PL30 3AG, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Pencarrow House and Gardens: Adult – £14.00, Child – £5.00
  • Opening hours of Pencarrow House and Gardens: House  2nd April – 28th September: Sunday to Thursday 11:15 – 15:00 (guided tours only)  Gardens
  • 1st March – 31st October: Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 17:30

Go to Camel Creek Adventure Park if you have kids

Visit Camel Creek Adventure Park with the family for a fun day out – there are roller coasters here, water rides, flumes and also a host of indoor activities for rainy days.  There are also live animal encounters with stables, a reptile house and a meerkat enclosure.  You can check the details of which rides are open each day here.

  • Address of Camel Creek Adventure Park: Tredinnick, Wadebridge, Cornwall PL27 7RA, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Camel Creek Adventure Park: £75 (based on a family of 4)
  • Opening hours of Camel Creek Adventure Park: Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Take a walk in the woods – Cardinham Woods

Cardinham Woods, just outside of Bodmin, is a wonderful mixed woodland with trails that vary from easy walks for beginners to steep valley climbs and breathtaking views.   You can walk, cycle and walk dogs here.   There’s even a Bodmin Beast Trail that’s 12 kilometres long for mountain bikers.  You can check the trails on the Cardinham Woods trail map here.  Bring a picnic, or there’s also the Woods Café for a snack, drinks or lunch here too.

  • Address of Cardinham Woods: Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 4AL, United Kingdom
  • Cost to enter Cardinham Woods: Admission is free, but there is a charge for parking here
  • Opening hours of Cardinham Woods: 7:00 am to 9:00 pm

Where is Bodmin UK?

Bodmin is a town in Cornwall. The town is located on the outskirts of Bodmin Moor, an 80-square-mile (207 square km).expanse of barren heathland. The crown courts were relocated from Bodmin to Truro in the 1990s when Truro then effectively became the county town of Cornwall.

If you need to rent a car in Cornwall, we recommend Discover Cars for car hire.  You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Cornwall here.

Where to Stay in Bodmin

Bodmin isn’t on the traditional tourist trail in Cornwall, but there are still some fabulous places to stay here, we wrote about them here, but here are our top recommendations for the best hotel in Bodmin and the best holiday rental.

Bodmin Jail Hotel

The Bodmin Jail Hotel has been painstakingly restored from this 18th-century Cornish gaol, maintaining many of the original features, yet providing chic, contemporary accommodations in Bodmin. This is a gloriously unique place to stay in Cornwall.  Luxury rooms here – created from 3 former cells come complete with bars on the windows and refurbished genuine original prison doors See more about the original features of rooms at the Bodmin Jail Hotel here!

  •  Bodmin Jail Hotel Address: Scarlett’s Well Road, Bodmin, PL31 2PL, United Kingdom
  • Is there Parking at the Bodmin Jail Hotel? – Yes, free private parking is available at the hotel.
  • Is there a Restaurant onsite at the Bodmin Jail Hotel? – Yes.
  • Is there Free Wi-Fi at the Bodmin Jail Hotel? – Yes.
  • Is Breakfast available at the Bodmin Jail Hotel? – Yes.

You won’t find a quirkier place to spend the night in this glorious county than Bodmin Jail Hotel. Check availability here!

Five Sashes Holiday Apartment in Bodmin

You enter the grounds of Priory Park, Bodmin, the location of the glorious Five Sashes apartment, through antique iron gates, and an off-road parking place is waiting for you before you enter the large entrance hall through the main front door. Five Sashes is a very spacious first-floor apartment in a Grade II listed building that was formerly a Country House. The spacious bedroom has a gorgeous en-suite and a sizable open-plan living area with wonderful high ceilings in this stunning Bodmin first-floor apartment, which can be accessed via the stairs. Read more reviews of Five Sashes here!

This wonderful holiday apartment in Bodmin comes with a fully functional kitchen and all the amenities you need for a luxurious and comfortable stay. If you prefer to go out for the evening, there are a ton of well-known restaurants and pubs nearby Five Sashes. Five Sashes is an ideal spot for exploring the Cornish town of Bodmin. See rates for this gorgeous Bodmin apartment here!

How to Get to Bodmin?

Bodmin is quite simple to get from other parts of Cornwall and farther afield. It has a train station situated in the town and is on the Plymouth – Penzance line. If you’re travelling by car, Bodmin is just off the A30. Take the A303 (which links to the M3, from the M25 from London) or the M5 (which connects to the M5 from Bristol or Birmingham) and then the A30 into Cornwall. You can find more about how to get to Cornwall in our guide here.

How to get to Bodmin by Train

If you are travelling to Bodmin by train, there is a station in the town – Bodmin Parkway station, which is on the Plymouth – Penzance route. You can check train times and book tickets to Bodmin here.

How to get to Bodmin by Bus

There is a direct bus that departs from London Victoria Coach Station and arrives in Bodmin. Services run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The trip takes around 7 hours. Book a ticket on the bus to Bodmin here.

How to get to Bodmin by Car

If you’re driving, Bodmin is right off the A30. Take the A303 (which links to the M3, which connects to the M25 from London) or the M5 (which connects to the M5 from Bristol or Birmingham) and then the A30 into Cornwall.

Final Words on the Best Things to do in Bodmin Cornwall

Bodmin, you’ll witness a different side of Cornwall: one with a rich but often dark past, rugged, wild moors, and a country town vibe.  If you prefer somewhere a little quieter, or off the beaten track, the Bodmin is a great place to head for and we hope we’ve covered the best Bodmin things to do.  The nearby Bodmin Moor is gloriously wild and there are plenty of attractions in town to keep you occupied.  The Camel Trail is a great way to explore the local area without using the roads too!

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