Eden Project Cornwall review
In a nutshell
Huge biomes (communities of plants and animals) full of flowers and plants hosting rainforests across different climates. Great for kids of all ages, Eden is unlike any other attraction in the UK, plus it’s a charity, which makes it even more wonderful.
What we tested
- Fun for kids
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
- Fun for parents
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
- Worth the money
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
- Family friendliness
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
- Unique experience, nature, educational, quality food suitable for all dietary requirements, lockers for £1 hire to leave bags.
- Lot of walking required, expensive
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COVID-19 safety update
Some facilities and attractions may be closed or restricted this year, due to COVID-19 – and there may be extra safety rules, pre-booking requirements or one-way systems in place. Please check Eden Project Cornwall's website before travelling or booking.
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When we visited:
On a warm (20 degrees) weekday in July, the week before school holidays began
What’s the Eden Project like since Covid-19?
- There is now a requirement to pre-book your visit online
- Eden Project is continuing to limit visitor numbers by using timed ticketing to manage visitor capacity
- New operating procedures, cleaning schedules and one-way systems
- Installation of protective screens and barriers to provide safe separations in areas that need it.
- Some staff wearing personal protective equipment so they can work safely
- Now contactless and cashless
- Guests are strongly recommend to continue wearing a face covering in appropriate areas, as indicated by signage on site
- Guests must check in to the Eden Project using the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app
Here is a full list of the places and services that are currently closed or operating on a limited basis. They will be continually reviewed:
- Land Train – no longer operating
- Park and ride service – available on a limited basis from car parks situated the furthest distance from the Visitor Centre (Cherry and Melon)
- Core galleries and Core Lab (Invisible Worlds)
- Some structures inside the Rainforest: Cool Room, Rainforest Lookout
- Some cafés including the Core Café and Juice Bar
What age is the Eden Project best for?
Best for: Children aged 4 to 12 years old
Still good fun for: Children aged 13+ years
How much does it cost?
- Online prices: Adults from £32.50, children from £10, under 5s free
Are there discounts or cheap tickets available for the Eden Project?
Looking at the initial prices to get in you might balk at the cost, but there are ways of saving.
- Buying your tickets in advance gives a discount
- There’s a Green Travel discount if you arrive by foot, bike or bus
- If you live locally you also get a special rate and might find it beneficial to splash out on a membership for multiple visits
- Blue Peter badge holders between the ages of 6 and 15 are free with a paying adult
- Turn 50p of Tesco Clubcard vouchers into £1.50 to spend at Eden
- Look out for special offers on Picniq
Is it good value?
The money from the entry fee goes to the Eden Project charity, which they can claim Gift Aid on. Taking that into account, it’s doing your bit for the environment and not that much more than a cinema trip (which lasts a shorter time) and definitely cheaper than visiting that well known theme park famous for the tiny building bricks.
Any extra charges once I’m there?
On the way in and out of Eden there is a large gift shop, but if your child can’t read the sign it’s not garishly obvious so you could potentially avoid. However, the quality of what it sells is actually worth saving pocket money up for a little memento. We bought our son a metal space rocket for £10 that is sturdy enough to last many flights to the Moon via crashing on his bedroom floor.
Expect to spend between £70-£100 depending on how lavish you want to be. If, like us, you’re visiting Cornwall to enjoy mainly relaxing on the beach for free it’s worth making Eden your one holiday excursion.
How long will we spend at Eden Project?
This will depend on the age of your children and their attention span. My 4 year old moves at lightning speed, so he zipped round the biomes without giving us much chance to read the display information. Older children and families could easily spend a whole day without getting bored. We were there for around 3 hours, including a quick pit stop for lunch and a gift shop browse.
What’s it like for families?
The Eden Project is one of those places you feel you know about, even if you’ve never visited Cornwall. It’s renowned for being a must-see environmental wonder. The complex consists of giant domes known as biomes. These act as the home to thousands of plants from across the world, each dome taking on the appropriate climate for the wildlife living within it. There are imaginative children’s play areas, storytelling sessions, free worksheets, interactive exhibits, trails with hiding spots, stepping stones and sandpits.
What shouldn’t be missed?
Highlights for us were:
- It’s a world of plants and flowers unlike anything else you’re likely to have seen housed in huge, stunning transparent domes
- There are beautiful sculptures, like a giant bee made out of scrap metal, which will please architectural (and children’s) eyes
- The rainforest canopy walkway and zip wire will tantalise older kids with a sense of adventure and adults alike. It’s truly a feast for the senses
- If heights aren’t your thing, you can also get a free ride on a land train. It’s pulled by a tractor so don’t worry, it’ll be nice and slow for little ones
- Look out for the special seasonal activities on offer such as iceskating at Christmas time
- The summer Expedition Space experience sadly opened the day we left Cornwall, but I know my space-loving son would have loved it
- My adventurous boy loved having the freedom to run down the hill on to the site while taking in the view of the biomes, which he declared were: “Awesome”
- Once inside the rainforest one my son was amazed to see bananas growing rather than arriving in a bag from the online shopping delivery truck and thrilled to try all of the interactive displays, perfect for little nosey hands
Is it easy to navigate the Eden Project?
We were given a map of the site when we arrived, which was straightforward to read, and throughout Eden there are plentiful signposts so you have no worries about getting lost.
There is a lot of walking. At nearly 6 months pregnant, I managed as it was cooler outside but on a boiling hot day it could have been a struggle. Older people and those in a latter stages of pregnancy may need to factor in rest stops.
What you need to know before you go to Eden Project:
- The website www.edenproject.com is one of the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen, full of stunning imagery and videos to show what to expect, plus it’s easy to navigate
- Check out the map online and get a feel for what you want to see as your children might not have the energy or attention span to do it all in one visit
- You can save money by pre-booking tickets
- There may be height and weight restrictions on the zip wire ride. Please check with staff or consult the website before queuing!
What to bring:
- With the different climates in the biomes it’s important to be prepared, so if you’re arriving in summer have a jumper in your bag
- Bring and wear sunscreen, as sunburn IS a risk in the Mediterranean biome.
- Make sure you have a water bottle with you as you’ll catch a thirst with all the walking – there are refill stations around the site, marked on the map
- You get a discount if you have a refillable coffee cup of your own too
- Comfy shoes are essential. While it was sandal weather in general in Cornwall during our visit, we were all glad to be in soft trainers
- A baby carrier will be easier to get around with rather than a buggy, but potentially more tiring so keep that in mind. I wouldn’t visit with a baby or toddler personally due to the vast size of the complex
How busy does the Eden Project get?
It’s a very popular attraction, and during school holidays Eden is likely to be extra busy so expect huge crowds. It would be easy to lose a child in Eden due to the size, so young children and large groups will need plenty of adult supervision. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor gardens.
Did it cater well for different aged children?
Yes. I’d say it’s best for inquisitive, active explorers over the age of 4, and families who enjoy being outdoors. Teenagers will enjoy the zip wire, and adults will find it more interesting than most regular children’s day out options such as soft play and theme parks. There’s not much to keep a toddler entertained for long so keep visits for children over the age of 4 to get the most benefit.
Was it pushchair friendly?
Eden’s site size means it benefits from nice wide paths that buggies and wheelchairs can get around on. But be aware that the site is vast, and there are a lot of hills, so for a few hours it could be exhausting. A sling is a good option to pack for babies – I’d steer clear of taking a buggy unless you’re strong and prepared for a lot of pushing.
What are the food and drink facilities like at the Eden Project?
There are plenty of options to suit all tastes and budgets from light bites like Cornish pasties to a full-blown Italian meal. All offer healthy and child-friendly options.
We enjoyed a Mexican feast at Eden Cantina in the Link building, which offered children’s DIY tacos at £5.75. Two soft flour tortilla wraps come with a choice of spiced battered fish, chicken verde or veggies and quinoa, cheese, crème fraiche and a small bag of crunchy tortilla chips. I had the adult size spiced fish tacos (£7.50) and my husband had a chicken verde burrito (£8.50) with sides of nachos, corn on the cob, salad and cassava fries. We were all fully fueled and enjoyed the open-ness of the large sharing benches, which gave a friendly and relaxed eating feel.
Where can I buy coffee and snacks?
There are ice cream kiosks dotted around inside, and in the gift shops. If you’re feeling parched and fancy something other than a hot drink, then there’s a juice bar and a funky looking wooden baobab smoothie bar offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic vegan drinks for a refreshing treat.
Can I bring a picnic to the Eden Project?
There are picnic areas outside the biomes. Bring a packed lunch if you want to save, although the tempting range of high quality food, which is suitable for gluten and dairy free diets, vegetarians and vegans, is definitely worth sampling.
Bringing some snacks are also a good idea, as you’ll soon build up a hunger with all the walking.
What are the toilets like?
With 245 loos, which flush with harvested rainwater from the site, you won’t be caught short. All toilet blocks have unisex changing facilities, are easily accessible for buggies and have a dedicated accessible cubicle. There is a changing places toilet in each block, which includes a height adjustable changing bench, hoist system, space for one person with a disability and up to two carers. Plus, when we visited they were nice and clean with plentiful toilet paper and sinks low enough for little hands to reach. Yay.
What’s Eden like for children with special educational needs (SEN)?
If you have a child with SEN, like I do, knowing there’s somewhere to escape if they get overwhelmed is of utmost importance
- Once you’ve started the climb up the biomes turning back in crowds would be tricky but there is enough to see to help distract if a meltdown hits
- Eden works with the Sensory Trust to offer ‘relaxed versions’ of their family activities, which are in the mornings before the site officially opens. These are posted on the events page of the website and may be helpful for those with autism, sensory or communication needs
- The spacious eating areas will stop feelings of overwhelming anxiety when busy and are all close enough to somewhere filled with pretty plants and flowers if an escape route is needed
How well does it cater for disabled visitors?
- Eden was voted the winner of the Inclusive Tourism Award by Visit England in 2017
- Wheelchairs are available to hire on site and assistance dogs are welcome throughout
- Information is available in large print, Braille and audio formats
- For further information visit the Eden Project website
Opening dates and times:
Eden is open every day apart from Christmas Day from 9.30am and closes at 6pm Friday to Sunday and 8pm on Monday to Thursday during summer. They close for maintenance for the odd day in January and have shorter opening times in winter.
Best time to visit:
The Eden Project is generally quietest after 4pm. During peak periods, you can expect crowds, due to the popularity of the attraction. If you would prefer a quieter experience, perhaps visit outside of the summer months.
How to get to the Eden Project:
Set on a former clay pit site near St Austell on Cornwall’s south coast, the Eden Project can be reached by car or public transport
- The postcode for your SatNav is PL24 2SG, but some direct traffic along narrow roads so it’s recommended to head towards the A391 and follow the signs from there
- Motorhomes and campervans are welcome to park and there are two free electric car-charging points
- There are bike racks for anyone who wishes to cycle on site and if you have an e-bike battery bring it to the admission information desk in the ticketing hall who will charge it for you ready to collect on your way home
- Eden is a 30-minute bus ride (catch the First Bus 101) from St Austell railway station, which is on the main line from London Paddington
- If you use public transport, ask about Eden’s reduced entry price
Do you have to pay for parking?
There is lots of free parking but be warned it’s a steep hill to walk to and from the entrance, although a little train will take you the majority of the way
Worth a long car journey?
If you’re visiting Cornwall or the surrounding area then this is a must-do.
Which hotels or holiday accommodation are near the Eden Project?
Cornwall is packed with family-friendly accommodation options, including:
- The YHA Eden Project offers great-value bell tents and rooms in former shipping containers just 15 minute’s walk from Eden
- A 4-minute drive is The Britannia Inn & Waves Restaurant, with lovely family suites and a children’s playground
- For a home-away-from-home feel, look for deals on Sykes Cottages and Hoseasons
- Find family-friendly hotel deals near the Eden Project on Booking.com
For more hotel inspiration, take a look our our pick of the best family hotels in Cornwall with a pool.
Nearby attractions for a longer day out:
Before creating the Eden Project, Tim Smit restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a beautiful setting just 25 minutes by car. Just as close is the Screech Owl Sanctuary and the Cornish Birds of Prey Centre. Alternatively, explore Cornwall’s many family-friendly beaches.
My husband and I agreed this is the best place we have visited since becoming parents. Why? It offers something for adults and children alike and the emphasis on enjoying what our planet has to offer is something is more important than ever to share with future generations. It’s wonderful to see somewhere doing so much to help the environment and educate all ages.
As someone who suffers from food intolerances I was particularly impressed to see the vast selection of good quality food on offer to suit all diets too. My son, who has an expressive language disorder, has been asking to go back many times since we left, which trust me, is a very good review.
Visit the Eden Project website
See more reviews of the Eden Project on TripAdvisor
Intro to me:
My husband Peter, 4-and-a-half-year-old son Henry and I visited Eden Project in July 2018