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Bedford River

Ideas for Visitors

Ideas for what to do and where to go

There’ll always be different reasons for a visit to Bedford. It might be with your family or your friends, it might just be you: a local who is popping into town, or you’ve come to stay over – for business or leisure. Sometimes you don’t know where exactly to start, so we’ve compiled options for what your day or stay might look like.

DP Butchers Church Arcade period lighting traditional butchers with long glass display counters

Pop into town

No matter how organised you think you are, inevitably you’ll end up having to ‘pop to the shop’! So let us point you in the right direction. Our business directory covers most of the necessaries. Groceries, last minute gift cards or birthday presents, a bottle of wine or a few beers, or maybe just a treat for yourself!

For families

With plenty of fun activities for all the family in Bedford, one way to start your day is with a visit to the Higgins Museum where you can discover Bedford’s rich history, exhibitions and activities. The Higgins Pantry is right next door which serves a brilliant menu, with seating inside and out.

Walk it off along the Great River Ouse where you’ll find Riverside filled with cafes and restaurants. Or into Harpur Square and the Harpur Centre. There are regular Kid’s Club activities so check out their website for more information.

A walk along the High Street with its historic buildings will lead you to St Peter’s Street with The Eagle Bookshop and Gallery, along with The Quarry Theatre with fabulous events and acts for all ages.

A wonderful way to see Bedford is on the John Bunyan Community Boat which runs every year between April and September. There are plenty of options to choose from, including special events and lunch or afternoon tea cruises.

And if you feel like finishing off your day with a sweet treat, try the Vanilla Pod or Roosters on St Cuthberts Street, Creams or Crema on the High Street, or at Fresco’s on Mill Street.

Group of friends laughing in a beer garden with fairy lights

With friends

There’s nothing better than getting together with your mates so whether it’s a shopping trip, a visit to a restaurant or café, or something a bit more lively, we can help.

A great meeting point is the Silver Faces on the High Street. You’ll know them when you see them. Smack, bang in the centre of town you’ll be able to head in any direction.

Meander your way through The Arcade, The Harpur Centre or the Howard Centre. The Church Arcade is also worth visiting, where the delightful Aconchego Portuguese Coffee & Grocery Shop is situated. Or you could loop up Mill Street to the village-like St Cuthberts Street with its own Arcade, cafes, bars and shops. Riverside has plenty of options for a bite to eat and you can walk it off along the river – or even have a lazy picnic over the bridge.

For an evening out, maybe Mamma Concetta for pizza, Rice for delicious Thai food, or Blue Monk for authentic Nepalese/Indian meals. There are plenty of pubs, bars and nightclubs, which include Blue Glass, Decant, Cocos, Ours, The Rose, Astons, Herd and The Ship.

And there are plenty of reliable taxi firms to make sure you get home safely!

For couples

If you’re looking for somewhere to have a date night, to escape from the kids, for a night away or have made a last minute decision, you have plenty of options.

Albero Lounge has comfy and delightfully quirky rooms above their bar and restaurant (we’ve heard you’ll still sleep well!), and The Bedford Swan Hotel & Thermal Spa or self-catering at Nest, both with luxe rooms. All are walking distance into the town centre but you might decide to make the most of their more-than-worth-it onsite options.

For entertainment, Bedford Corn Exchange, The Quarry and 3 St Peter’s all have regular performances, events and shows. Or catch the latest release at Vue.

For a meal out you can try Miller & Carter, La Terrazza or Nazar then head to Baja for a cocktail or two (Baja also serves Mexican food, fantastico!)

Happy couple walking along the street

The Lane chocolate and strawberry sundaes

For A Treat!

Let’s face it, we all need to treat ourselves. Whether it’s a meal, a hot drink with a big chunk of cake, or just something yum in your tum!

As you’ll find, our directory is full of cafes and restaurants so there’s something to suit everyone. The Old Curiosity Cafe and Maison le Votre will delight, while long-standing faves Roosters and the Vanilla Tree on St Cuthberts Street are definitely worth a visit. For a special occasion, Anna’s Tea Room at The Bedford Swan Hotel & Thermal Spa ticks all the boxes, and Arcadia Sweet Shop in The Arcade has walls full of sweets and chocolate from around the world!