10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on the Pembrokeshire Coastline
Wales boasts some of the most spectacular coastlines in Britain, especially around the Pembrokeshire Peninsular. Jutting out into the Irish Sea, it's an area just begging to be explored on foot or by car. It's also a great place from which to discover the rest of West Wales, including lovely Carmarthenshire. These two beautiful counties are home to numerous historic castles and fortresses, countless churches and cathedrals, as well as quaint fishing harbors and villages. For the truly adventurous traveller seeking a totally unique experience, check out the numerous little farm cottages, classic old lighthouses, gypsy caravans - even vintage railcars perched on cliff tops - that have been transformed into accommodations.
1 Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Pembrokeshire is an excellent base from which to explore the marvelously scenic southwest coast of Wales. A particularly delightful hike is along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Footpath. Laid out in 1970, it covers a distance of 167 mi along the coast from Carmarthen Bay to Cardigan Bay, and in doing so crosses the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park. As walkers pass remote beaches and romantic steep cliffs, they're charmed by the landscape's magic as well as the chance to see rare sea birds such as puffins or razor-billed auks. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park covers an area of 225 sq mi and is Britain's only coastal national park.
Address: Llanion Park, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire
2 Pembroke Castle
The most imposing Norman coastal fortress in Wales towers on the crest of a hill near the town of Pembroke. Built in 1090 by Arnulf, Earl of Pembroke, the castle offers magnificent views of the surrounding area from atop its massive round keep (75 ft). Adjoining the keep are the Prison Tower, the Norman Hall and the North Hall, from which a staircase leads down into the huge natural cavern known as the Wogan.
On-site exhibits include the story of the many Earls of Pembroke, a medieval banquet, displays focusing on the Civil War battle that took place here between Cromwell's troops and the Pembroke Royalists, as well as the history of the famous Pembroke Yeomanry.
Hours: Daily, 9:30am-5:30pm
Admission: Adults, £5.50; Children (3-15), £4.50
3 Carmarthen: Merlin's Birthplace
According to legend, Carmarthen - the oldest town in Wales - is the birthplace of the Celtic magician Merlin of Arthurian legend. Located on the River Towy just 9 mi inland from the bay of the same name, it's the county town of Dyfed (which consists of the counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke and Cardigan, and is well known for once having been an important market town and seaport).
Sightseeing visitors can admire the 14th century parish church of St Peter, the 14th century town wall and gatehouse, as well as the ruins of Carmarthen castle. The elegant Guildhall dating from 1766, along with the Carmarthenshire County Museum, are also well worth visiting.
Hours: Tues-Sat, 10am-4:30pm
Address: Abergwili, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire
4 Dylan Thomas' Laugharne
The small market town of Laugharne on the Taf estuary is famous for its excellent cockles, as well as its many well-preserved 18th century buildings, including the Town Hall (1746). Dylan Thomas, Wales' most famous poet, called this sleepy nest of 400 souls "the strangest town in Wales" when he and his wife moved into the slate-roofed Boat House above the bay in 1938. Thomas remained here until his death in 1953, and his boathouse home has been converted into a museum with a superb terraced tearoom. He was buried in the village cemetery.
Another area attraction is Laugharne Castle, which dates back to medieval times and saw active service during the Civil War. (It has since fallen into ruin, although its quaint garden gazebo remains.)
Hours: Daily, 10am-5:30pm
Admission: Adults, £4.20; Children (7-16), £2; Families, £10
Address: Dylans Walk, Laugharne
5 The Town of Tenby
Tenby, still with its ancient town walls intact, lies on a rocky peninsula at the western end of Carmarthen Bay. At the turn of the century, artist Augustus John prized this seaside resort as being "so restful, so colorful and so unspoiled" due to its picturesque harbor edged with attractive pastel-colored houses. It also boasts two beautiful sandy beaches, charming narrow alleys, the carefully restored 15th century Tudor Merchant's House, and St Mary's Church - the largest parish church in Wales.
6 Carew Castle and Tidal Mill
The impressive ruins of 13th century Carew Castle lie on one of the many hills surrounding Milford Haven and its adjacent 23-acre millpond. Its beautifully carved high cross dates from the 11th century, and standing at the castle's entrance is a fine example of 11th century Welsh art - the patterns in its 14 ft high structure revealing a fascinating connection between Viking and Celtic influences in its design. The site's tidal mill, the only one of its kind left in Wales, has been fully restored.
The nearby church at Carew Cheriton boasts a lovely perpendicular tower and is a fine example of 14th century sacral architecture (informative guided tours are available). Afterwards, be sure to spend a little time exploring Milford Haven, which has one of the most beautiful natural harbors in Britain.
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm (Mar-Oct)
Admission: Adults, £4.75; Children, £3.50; Families, £12.75
Location: Carew, Tenby
7 Manorbier Village and Castle
Surrounded by stunning red sandstone cliffs, the village of Manorbier is well worth a visit to see the medieval Manorbier Castle (1275-1325). Standing alone on a hill, it offers tremendous views and paints quite a romantic picture as you walk its many excellent trails. For a unique accommodation experience, book the old stone house built within the castle walls.
The town itself was the birthplace in 1146 of Giraldus Cambrensis, one of the most brilliant thinkers of the Middle Ages. As Archdeacon of Brecon, he was the main protagonist of an independent Welsh Church, adviser on Irish affairs and an excellent orator who famously accompanied Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury on his tour of Wales to gain support for the Third Crusade. (The journey that resulted in his best known work, The Itinerary of Wales, in which he describes Manorbier as the most charming place in all of Wales.)
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm
Admission: Adults, £5; Children, £3; Families, £22
Address: Manorbier, Tenby
8 St Davids Cathedral
The cathedral in tiny St Davids - Britain's smallest city - was built in a hollow to escape the attentions of marauders. Consequently, from the immediately surrounding area only the tower can be seen. A wall enclosed the precincts of the cathedral in the 13th century, and the cathedral itself was largely redecorated in the 14th century. Highlights include its 13th century tower, the Lady Chapel, and the spectacular west front (given its present form between 1862 and 1878).
While the exterior of the cathedral appears rather somber and austere, the rich variety of forms within its triple-aisle Norman interior creates an overwhelming effect, particularly the beautiful 15th century Irish oak ceiling. Of the four arches supporting the tower, the one on the west side dates from before the collapse of the original tower, the three others from after 1220. The choir-stalls, with filigree misericords, along with the bishop's throne, date from the second half of the 15th century. The relics contained in a small chest in the Trinity Chapel are probably those of St David, although his shrine in front of the high altar is empty. Guided tours are available (although free, donations are very much appreciated).
Address: The Pebbles, St Davids, Pembrokeshire
9 Goodwick and Fishguard
In Fishguard Bay are the twin towns of Goodwick and Fishguard. In the old part of Fishguard you'll find a huddle of small houses surrounding the beautiful harbor called Abergwaur, made famous after Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood was filmed here in 1971. It is from here that ferries depart to Rosslare in Ireland. Tourists can shop for Welsh handicrafts and other goods in the boutiques and shops of Lower Town.
The ruins of a medieval castle dominate the tip of the promontory. Walkers will find many pleasant coastal paths with numerous fine views, especially around the Pen Caer peninsula with its many prehistoric remains, Iron Age forts and chambered tombs.
10 Cardigan and the National Wool Museum
Cardigan is a busy little market town on the banks of the Teifi (pronounced Tivi), 2 mi above its mouth. In the town center, a six-arched 18th century bridge spans the river, renowned for its salmon and trout. Nearby are two round towers belonging to 13th century Cilgerran Castle and offer great views over the river.
The Teifi Valley is the traditional base of the Welsh woolen industry, and is home to the Museum of the Welsh Woolen Industry with its interesting displays of the combing and spinning of wool, traditional weaving techniques and patterns. There are also displays focusing on contemporary products from Welsh mills.
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm
Address: Dre-Fach Felindre, Llandysul, Carmarthenshire