Present-day Bude is a pleasant small town with character. It has two beaches with excellent broad sands close to the town itself, and is a good centre for adjacent beaches. Its sea front faces west and the Atlantic rollers make for good surfing when conditions are right. The main access road in and out of Bude is the Atlantic Highway (A39).
In the Middle Ages the only dwelling here was Efford Manor, the seat of the Arundells of Trerice which had a chapel of St Leonard. Another chapel existed at Chapel Rock which was dedicated to Holy Trinity and St Michael.
Notable buildings include the Perpendicular parish church (St Olaf's) in the village of Poughill just outside of Bude, the parish church of St Michael and All Angels (built in 1835 and enlarged in 1876; the architect was George Wightwick), Ebbingford Manor, and the town's oldest house, Quay Cottage in the centre of town. Bude Castle was built about 1830 for Victorian inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney and is now a heritage centre.
Bude Canal, which once ran to Launceston, now runs only a few miles inland. Sadly, several historic wharf buildings were demolished in the 1980s but in May 2009 a £5 million scheme funded by Objective One, Heritage Lottery Fund and the South West of England Regional Development Agency to restore the historic canal itself was completed, making the waterway open to boats for several miles inland and also paying for the gentrification of the remaining harbourside area.
Until the start of the twentieth century, the neighbouring town of Stratton was dominant, and a local saying is "Stratton was a market town when Bude was just a furzy down", meaning Stratton was long established when Bude was just gorse-covered downland. (A similar saying is current at Saltash about Plymouth.)
On 10 October 1844 during an exercise the unnamed Bude Lifeboat capsized when the steering oar broke followed by four on the port side and two of the crew were drowned.
The local senior school Budehaven Community College suffered a major fire in October 1999 destroying most of the older parts of the school. This meant the school was forced to close for several weeks until temporary classrooms could be brought in. The damaged part of the school was rebuilt with interactive classrooms.