I remember my first visit to the Eden Project. It had only just opened and my parents decided to take us there for a day trip. I remember the awe at seeing those iconic biomes set into their own crater. It looked like something from another world and a trip inside just confirmed that. As we left, we bought a tree. A giant redwood which we planted in the back garden of their house. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I knew that one day I’d want to do the same thing with my own family; show them this other world and plant a reminder. It only took me seventeen years…
Days Out: The Eden Project
If you follow the blog, you’ll know that we were recently invited to stay at Seaview Holiday Village in Polperro, Looe (you can read our full review here). Whilst we were there we used App For Cornwall which allowed us to pop in our location and see nearby events and activities as well as find places to eat and special offers. Talk about making life easier! The Eden Project turned out to be only forty minutes away so it seemed foolish not to head back there after all these years and see how much growing up it’d done.
About the Eden Project
Launched in 2001, the Eden Project is situated in Bodelva, Par, and is one of Cornwall’s biggest attractions. Nestled in a crater the size of 30 football pitches are a number of biomes; huge dome like structures that house plants from all over the world. The biomes are split into two ‘lands’; rainforest and mediterranean with plenty of eateries lining the walkway between the two. Outside of the biomes are vast gardens as well as a space for outdoor concerts during the summer months and an ice rink during the winter. The Eden Project is a registered charity with the proceeds heading to transformational projects and learning programmes.
There was something Disney-esque about the Eden Project; even entering the parking area has been well thought out. There’s a lovely walk down from the carparks onto the main site, or a bus for those who want to save their legs. It’s all planned with people there to guide you where to go, something that makes life a lot easier. Given that we had a rather large buggy with us, we strolled down at a leisurely pace and made our way to the main entrance.
As part of our press trip, we received trade passes from Best Days Out, Cornwall, meaning that entry was free for both of us adults. Ticket prices otherwise are fairly expensive; £27.50 for adults, £14 for 5-15 year olds and free for under 5’s. You can make things more pocket friendly by purchasing tickets in advance to save 10% or using Tesco points towards them. One thing to note is that your ticket will be valid for a year if you choose to ‘donate’ your ticket money to the charity, meaning you can go in as many times as you like. This option isn’t possible with Tesco points but does mean that you can get good value if you live slightly more locally.
Once inside, you can immediately get a great view out over the iconic site. Those biomes are still just as impressive all these years later! There’s a lookout area to take photos from and they’ve put in viewing holes lower down for little ones and those with mobility issues. Photos taken, views admired, we started the walk down to enter the biomes.
There are two main routes down to the biomes, taking you through various structured gardens. We walked down the ‘ZigZag Through Time’ and returned via the ‘Slopes of Earthly Treasures’, each just as beautiful as the other and filled with little snippets of information on signposts or sculptures to keep you enthralled.
We decided to do the rainforest biome first which is the biggest rainforest in captivity; it’s huge! It’s also very warm and humid in there (like the rainforest!) so be warned… you might want to take a bottle of water in! The path makes a winding route around the biome, leading you up high to a floating rainforest canopy walkway. You can walk through clouds, learn about the weather systems or hide out in the cool room. There’s even a Baobab Bar! At various points there are exhibits which are aimed at all ages and kept our toddler entertained, even if he was a little young to understand.
We then grabbed some food from the restaurant area, the toddler had his packed lunch and we eyed up all of the other bits that were available. If there’s one thing I’d say, it’s that there’s plenty of delicious looking food on offer – we were spoilt for choice!! We went for the easy option and took our pasties (when in Cornwall!) out to the shaded patio outdoors to enjoy.
After lunch we headed to the Mediterranean section. A far smaller area, it also felt a lot more relaxed than the busy, warm rainforest. Here we walked around little courtyards and played in amongst the herbs before returning outside to grab an ice-cream and wind our way back up through the gardens and return to our holiday base. We popped in to the plant shop on our way out of the door to attempt to find our own giant redwood but alas, there were none there! I think our neighbours may thank us for that in the long run!
What Did We Really Think?
The Eden Project is a truly remarkable place to go and certainly somewhere I’d recommend if you haven’t visited. The cost of the tickets is high and whilst it’s a nice idea to make it an annual pass, it’s unlikely that the majority of visitors will be able to due to location. That said, it really does make for a full day out and once you’re inside it’s not somewhere that you need to spend money to enjoy; there’s plenty of room for picnic eating and the food isn’t expensive to buy on site. I like that under fives are free as it was a bit too old for our two, although the toddler loved racing around the open pathways and was absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to the car. With a toddler around, it’s hard to get the time to take in some of the exhibits and that was a real shame as there were lots of interesting bits to see and read. Because of that, I’d probably recommend waiting until the kids are older or leaving them at home!
The site itself is really well set out and never felt busy even though the car park was full when we arrived. The winding nature of the paths both in and out of the biomes mean that you’re all spread out around the site and able to really take in your surroundings in a relaxed atmosphere. They were starting to dismantle the summer concert area when we were there but I’d love to see a concert take place there; it would truly be a magnificent experience.
Would We Go Again?
Yes, in a good few years when the children are old enough to understand some of the explanations. It was wonderful to see how it had developed over the years and whilst the gardens (like myself) had grown up, it still retained the air of wonder around it that I felt all those years ago. It’s expensive, but it does take the whole day and with some careful planning to reduce ticket cost outlay, I think it’s a great day out for families with older children. Although I’d definitely want to visit it in good weather, I can’t imagine you would get to see as much on a cold, wintery day!
The Eden Project is based in Boldeva, Par, Cornwall, PL24 2SG. Tickets and more information can be found on their website. For more ideas on what to do in Cornwall, why not download the App for Cornwall? Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out our review of Seaview Holiday Village, around 40 minutes away.