If you’re craving sandy beaches and coastal scenery, but aren’t pinning much hope on travelling abroad this summer, the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire could be the staycation you’re searching for.
Nestled into the tip of Wales’ most westerly point, Pembrokeshire’s dramatic cliff faces, horseshoe bays and sandy beaches could fool you into thinking you travelled abroad after all. The county’s coastline is so beautiful, in fact, that it’s a national park in its own right.
Then there are its Celtic and pre-Celtic sites, stunning castles and offshore islands, not to mention Britain’s smallest – and probably most charming – city. Whether you’re a rambler, birdwatcher or historian, or simply want to feel the sand between your toes, Pembrokeshire has something for everyone. And to top it off, it’s no more than half a day’s drive from much of the South-East and Midlands, and is easily accessible by train too.
Before you get packing, check out these top things to do during your stay.
Spend a day in St Davids
The tiny city of St Davids is really no bigger than a village, but is full to the brim with history, religious significance and Welsh charm. Its star attraction is the twelfth century cathedral, which is also the birthplace and burial site of Wales’ patron saint, St David. A pilgrimage site for centuries, the cathedral still draws in thousands of religious and non-religious visitors each year.
After a tour of the cathedral, pay a visit to the medieval ruins of Bishop’s Palace on the opposite side of the river. And don’t leave without stopping for ice cream or coffee in one of the city’s cosy little eateries!
Walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
186 glorious miles of sheer coastal beauty, Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of the most spectacular long-distance trails in Britain. Established in 1970, the path runs from Amroth in the south all the way to St Dogmaels in the north. Serious hikers take on the whole trail over two or three weeks, but you only have to walk a small section to get a taste of the coastline’s sublime scenery.
Drink in Pembrokeshire’s dramatic cliff tops and stunning ocean views, looking out for rare birds, and stop for a rest on one of the gloriously wide, sandy beaches that are peppered across the trail.
Hop from beach to beach
If you miss collapsing onto a soft, sandy beach, Pembrokeshire could be the answer. The beaches here are renowned for being some of the best in the UK. And with 50 to choose from, you’re spoilt for choice.
Barafundle Bay is a must-visit – a pocket of semi-tropical paradise on Pembrokeshire’s south coast. Home to the magnificent North and South beaches, Castle Beach and Harbour Beach, the seaside town of Tenby is also a fantastic place to stay if you’re a fan of sea and sand.
Then there are the water sports. Adventure companies have been cropping up all over the peninsular, giving visitors the chance to try water skiing, sailing, surfing, kitesurfing, kayaking and coasteering.
Born and bred on these very shores, coasteering is a Pembrokeshire speciality. Try this thrill-seeking combination of adventure swimming, rock climbing and cliff jumping to get up close and personal with Pembrokeshire’s wonderful wildlife.
Visit a Celtic village
If you’ve ever wondered how things might have looked thousands of years ago, Pembrokeshire’s very own Iron Age settlement can paint a pretty accurate picture. Evidence of numerous Iron Age roundhouses has been excavated at the treasured historical site of Castell Henllys, dating back to between 500 and 100 BC.
The Celtic village has now been reconstructed for visitors to experience. Take a tour of the four roundhouses and old granary, and stroll across the site’s beautiful woodland and riverside paths, learning about Celtic life, myths and legends.
Take a boat to Pembrokeshire’s islands
Pembrokeshire’s rocky offshore islands are known for their rich and diverse wildlife, with puffins, grey seals and thousands of rare birds all calling the islands home.
Skomer and Skockholm are by far the most visited. Take a boat trip there during nesting season to sight millions of seabirds, including razorbills, puffins, storm petrels and guillemots, and stay overnight to witness the islands at their most peaceful.
Ramsey Island is another popular visit for wildlife enthusiasts. This RSPB bird reserve is an important breeding site
for endangered species such as the chough and peregrine, and is open during the summer months for day trips.