About The Eden Project
The Eden Project is an environmental education center and tourist attraction that features two massive biomes, which are essentially giant greenhouses that house different climates and ecosystems. One of the biomes is a rainforest biome, while the other is a Mediterranean biome. The project aims to educate visitors about the importance of biodiversity and sustainability, and how we can all do our part to protect the planet.
To drive to Eden from St Ives takes about an hour and 10mins. As your only real option is to go down the A30 I'd always advise to avoid the busy times such as Friday and Saturday mornings which are big change over days for holiday accomodation.
By Public Transport
If you can get the train to St Austell, there are several buses which go to The Eden Project. There are also several cycle routes which go through the Eden Project.
Tickets To The Eden Project
At the time of writing (March 2023) you still need to book your tickets online with a timed slot.
Full priced tickets are £32.50 for adults, and £12 for children age 5-16), but there are a lot of discounts and offers available. If you live in Cornwall you can get a very reasonable locals pass. This is what we have and I think it is about £40 for our family of 4 for a year.
General admission tickets are also Annual Passes, which give you unlimited entry to Eden for a whole year from the selected date.
Parking At The Eden Project
Parking is free (with your tickets) at The Eden Project. At the moment, you still have need to book tickets online with an estimated arrival time (I don't think they are very strict about it though). When you drive into the Eden Project you are funnelled through and directed to the closest car park. They fill up the ones closest to the domes first, so if you arrive later in the day, you may be parked a short bus ride away. The bus is free and shuttles people too and from the entrance to the car parks.
When you have parked your car, REMEMBER which fruit you have parked in!
Things To Take & Wear
We usually take a picnic lunch with us in a back pack. The food on offer at Eden looks delicious, but it would really put up the price of the visit for us. We take water bottles as there are plenty of places to refill them, and we also take snacks and coffee. We usually stop for nice drinks and ice cream at some point during the visit.
Clothing wise, my advice would be to wear trainers or something comfy on your feet as you will be doing a lot of walking. Also, wear layers (and probably not jeans) as it is really hot and humid in the biomes. Jeans end up getting really heavy and sticking to your legs. We usually take lightweight macs too in case it rains - it would be a shame to miss out of the outdoor side of things.
There are plenty of tables and chairs to sit and picnic at, so you don't need to take a rug or chairs. At the moment you can eat in a huge indoor picnic area they have set up by the stage. We didn't use it but we would have done if it had rained.
How Long Do You Need For A Visit?
We have visited Eden quite a few times over the years, but we always seem to spend about 4 or 5 hours there. We could stay longer as we never manage to do everything, but having young children and older legs, 5 hours is about our limit. We seem to be able to fit in either 2 Biomes, or 1 Biome plus the Core education centre. Our visit always includes lunch, sit down snacks, a play in the park and a big browse round the shop at the end.
Arrival At The Entrance
When you first arrive into the Eden Project, I'd advise you use the loos! There are lots here, before you enter the main building. I'm obviously speaking as a Mum of young kids, adults can sort themselves out!
We also love to see the amazing horse sculptures, which are getting a little worn looking now after many years of patting them!
Next you have to go into the main building and sort out your tickets. If you have booked online you will have an email code to give the ticket people. If you have passes don't forget to bring some form of ID such as your drivers licence. The ticket part has always been quick and easy for us.
The View From The Top
Go out of the main building and you are presented with an outstanding view of the whole of the Eden Project. We love standing on the platform to take it all in - and to take a few photos
You need to get down to the bottom of the hill, where the arena, biomes and educational centre are. There are several routes down - quick ones, easier ones and shorter ones. At certain times of the year there is a little tractor train which saves walking.
Our Way Down
We usually go the long way down, especially if we are visiting during the Spring and Summer months. The planting at this time of the year is lush and blooming and we (well I) love it.
We like to walk down past the sculptures and the green lady too!
Food And Drink
Once down there, we usually have either a snack and a drink, or eat our lunch. We often bring our own food and there are plenty of picnic tables both inside and outside (lots under cover outside too if it is raining).
If you prefer to have the food provided, there are some lovely options. They often do really good kids packed lunches, which are good value for money and healthy.
We usually bring our own food and buy drinks and ice creams on top. But occasionally we do eat in, and it has been fab!
The Rainforest Biome
We always start the main part of our visit here. I love it in there, it is so atmospheric. I used to live in the tropics and the smells and humidity take me right back there!
The rainforest biome is one of the largest indoor rainforests in the world, covering an area of over 1.6 acres (6,500 square meters). It features a vast range of plants , including some that are rare or endangered. The biome is divided into different levels, mimicking the different layers of a real rainforest. So you aren't just walking straight, you are walking up too, into to the very top layer of the canopy.
As you enter the biome, you'll be greeted by towering trees, lush greenery, and the rush of wind. The humidity and temperature inside the biome are carefully controlled to replicate the conditions of a real rainforest, so you'll feel like you've been transported to a completely different environment.
As you walk through the biome, you'll see a range of plant and animal species, including banana trees, coffee plants, and rubber trees. There are also lots of insects, lizards and little birds. We especially love the roul-rouls who are very friendly and love to have their pictures taken but bizarrely I can't find my photos of them!
The Cool Room
Half way up into the rainforest biome is a "cool room". This is where you can go to cool off a bit from all of the humidity. At different times of the year, the rainforest biome feels VERY humid, and so the cool room can be a welcome relief.
There are also water points throughout where you can grab a quick mouthful of cold water, or refill your water bottles.
The Canopy Walkway
One of the most fun features of the rainforest biome is the canopy walkway, which takes you high above the rainforest floor and provides stunning views of the plants and animals below. The walkway is suspended over 50 feet (15 meters) above the ground and is accessible via a spiral staircase.
Walking along the canopy walkway is an great experience, and can be a little dizzying as it is so high. If you are behind some "fun dads" (it is always them in my experience) they will bounce and rock the walkway, making the kids scream! The walkway also gives you the opportunity to see the rainforest from a completely different perspective, and gain a greater appreciation for the incredible biodiversity of this ecosystem.
Walking In A Cloud
At the end of the canopy walkway, there is another bridge where you can stand in a "cloud". This is a really fun thing for the kids to do!
There is a river running through the rainforest biome which is fed from a waterfall right at the top of the biome. The waterfall mimics are real waterfall, and cascades down a series of rock formations, creating humidity and an amazing noise. You have to walk past the main cascade after the canopy walkway and it will make you a little wet!
Conservation and Eco Issues
There are lots of different areas within the rainforest biome which make you stop and think about what we are doing to the planet.
After our visit to the rainforest biome, we usually have a break for ice creams. The ice creams at Eden are utterly delicious. The flavours are inspired by the fruits of the rainforest, and are made with panela (unrefined whole sugar cane). There is an ice cream kiosk near the entrance to the biomes and in the garden near the picnic area.
The Mediterranean Biome
The Mediterranean biome is a much cooler, more temperature biome. It simulates the Mediterranean climate and it smells of being in Greece! It is full of herbs which fragrance the air, and make me want to go on holiday.
There are beautiful pathways bordered by bougenvillia and lemon trees.
There are grapevine with magnificent Greek god sculptures, and olive trees.
There is also an Australian section with aboriginal paintings and sculptures.
At the centre of the biome is a seating area. They often have activities for children here in the school holidays. The last one we went to was a Tom Gates one, where the children could doodle on the walls. Ours loved it!
There is a cafe here too and there are always wonderful smells of pizza coming from it. We haven't eaten here though, although it does look good!
In the centre of the project is a stage area, which also turns into an ice skating rink in Winter, and holds various exhibitions at other times of the year. We have been to some amazing exhibitions in here, from travelling to space and dinosaurs.
During the day you can sit in the arena and have your picnic, and my children love running up the grassy slopes and rolling back down them again.
We (me and my other half) have been to quite a few concerts at the Eden Project, which are really good fun. The stage area converts into a proper stage, and you sit or stand in the main arena or on the grassy slope to watch. I haven't been to a concert for a few years, and I believe you have to get on the mailing list to have a hope of getting tickets.
The Bombus The Giant Bee
We LOVE the giant bee and all the bee friendly planting around it. We went this year in January and my kids were sad to see the bee looking rather less bee-like that usual. We presume it comes back to full bee-ness in the Spring and Summer.
The bees name is Bombus and it was created by Rober Bradford out of steel, plywood and cedar.
The Park and Gardens
The outdoor gardens are wonderful in Spring and Summer at Eden. There is such interesting and beautiful planting, combined with great landscaping. There are interesting twists and turns everywhere, and we love to explore.
At the centre of the outdoor garden is a play park which I'm told is excellent!
Events During The School Holidays
During the school holidays, Eden puts on various activities for children. Some of them you have to pre-book (and they book out REALLY quickly) but others are things like trails, story telling, art sessions and music.
Check out the Eden project website a good few weeks before the next holidays to see what they have planned.
The Core is a weird and wonderful looking building, which I'll be honest, we often overlook in favour of the biomes. It is made on 3 levels with spiky bits on it. It houses educational exhibitions. At the moment it has "Invisible Worlds" on where you can discover how life is shaped by invisible systems. At the centre there is the giant Infinity Blue 'breathing' sculpture.
When you are outdoors in the Eden Project, ever few minutes you will hear a whirring noise and some distant screams. If you look up over the biomes you will see some tiny dots go whizzing through the air from one side of the project to the other. This is the hangloose zip wire. Apparently it is Englands fastest zipline (my brother-in-law informs me that the fastest one in the UK is the one he did in Wales!). I'll take everyone's word on that though, that is NOT for me!
There is also an aerial assault course and a giant swing, if that is your thing!
No trip to The Eden Project is ever complete for us without a visit to the gift shop.
There are 2 gift shops, one near the entrance to the biomes, and one in the main building by the main entrance. We usually save the shop until the end as it is a big encouragement to get my children to walk back up the hill!
The project's gift shop offers a range of souvenirs and gifts inspired by the natural world and the project's mission of sustainability and conservation.
They have a superb variety of items available, from locally made crafts and artwork to sustainable household products and clothing. We ended up purchasing some handmade soap bars, a reusable water bottle, and a set of postcards featuring beautiful images of the biomes and gardens.
One thing we like about the gift shop is its commitment to sustainability. Many of the items are made from eco-friendly materials, and the shop encourages visitors to bring their own bags or use a provided paper bag instead of purchasing a plastic one.
We also love the outdoor shop which sells plants that have been grown in the Eden Project. We have bought lots of them and have a lovely range of Eden Project Plants growing in our garden in St Ives.