14 Top-Rated Things to Do in Anglesey
The Welsh island of Anglesey is one of the most stunning places to visit in the country if you want to fit in history, beaches, the coast, wildlife, and outdoor adventures among the things to do on your travels.
Anglesey is located on Menai Strait on the northwest coast. While the island is known for its red squirrels, the United Kingdom's only native species of squirrels, it has also garnered a much-deserved reputation for its wild coastline views, hidden gardens, boating, and beaches.
Anglesey also has great towns and villages that are chock-full of shops and cafés tucked between historic castles and buildings. Your entry to Anglesey from the Menai Suspension Bridge, an architectural feat, is the perfect welcome to the island, with so many adventures and tourist attractions that await you.
Spotting rare plant and animal species at the South Stack Lighthouse and the quirky finds like the Welsh village that has the longest name in Europe, are just the beginning.
As you plot your itinerary, review our list to make sure you do not miss the top things to do in Anglesey.
1. Admire the Incomplete Beauty of Beaumaris Castle
While Beaumaris Castle is one of the must-sees while you are in Anglesey, it is an incomplete castle that was intended to be one of the grandest in Wales. The 13th-century structure was commissioned by Edward I of Wales and his architect, James of St. George, to continue a string of impressive castles like Caernarfon, Conwy, and Harlech already under their belts.
Money to build the castle ran out, and construction stopped. While the castle never reached its full potential, you can visit to see some of the grand accomplishments the builders did make, like its perfect symmetry and design, elaborate spiral staircases, walls within walls, and a design that was considered forward-thinking at the time.
One of the best times to visit Beaumaris Castle is during a public event, like a discovery dig or a medieval festival, when you can combine a hands-on experience with time exploring the castle and grounds.
Address: Castle St, Beaumaris LL58 8AP
2. Nature & Wildlife Viewing on a Menai Strait Boat Trip
Anglesey is so rich with coastal wildlife and cliffside scenery that seeing the landscape from the water on a boat tour is one of the top things to do during your visit. There are several boat operators available and a variety of trips to take. Most tours run 60 to 90 minutes.
You can set out for a leisurely sightseeing coastal trip for the chance to see local wildlife in its natural habitat, including migratory birds like puffins and playful seals, between May and July.
For those looking for a little more adventure on the water, you might want to opt for a trip to Puffin Island, with the opportunity to take a wild ride on the swells of the Menai Strait.
3. See Rare Birds and Flowers at South Stack Lighthouse
The South Stack Lighthouse is hands-down one of the most memorable experiences in Anglesey. One step onto the cliffside vista, and you know that you are someplace special.
The South Stack Lighthouse sits on a small island off the northwest coast of Holyhead in Anglesey. It was built in 1809 at 27.7 meters (90.8 feet) high to warn ships of the jagged cliffs below. You can get tickets to take the nearly 400 steps down to the lighthouse and go inside the engine room or all the way to the top.
Everything else around the lighthouse is free and worth committing several hours to enjoy given the abundant scenery and wildlife to experience here.
The South Stack Cliffs nature preserve just above the lighthouse is run by the Royal Society of the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Spend some time in the visitor center and inside Elin's Tower for a cliffside view of the wildlife with binoculars and telescopes that are free to use. Look closely and you might spot dolphins, minke whales or a harbor porpoises out in the water.
Walk some of the cliffside paths or just sit for a while on one of the benches to look for bird species like razor bills, puffins (May-June), kittiwakes, kestrels, magpies, swallows, and peregrine falcons. Rare choughs (from the crow family) are found here, too, and there are only about 500 pairs left in the UK.
The environment around the lighthouse is unique, creating a habitat for flowers like heather and the Spathulate fleawort, the only place in the world that it grows.
Address: Holyhead LL65 1YH
Official site: https://southstack.co.uk
4. Plas Newydd House and Gardens
There are many spectacular gardens in Wales, but the Plas Newydd House and Gardens operated by the National Trust is a stand-out. The mansion and surrounding gardens are a nice stop for a few hours with some great views of Snowdonia in the distance.
The 18th-century home sits on the Menai Strait. One of the reasons visitors stop here is to see the large collection of Rex Whistler works, including the expansive preserved mural. He was a regular visitor to the home in the early 20th century.
The gardens outside behold the other great masterpieces of this property. Take your time to walk along the wooded paths through 129 acres of flowers and colors that change with the seasons. You will be treated to tulips in the spring and rhododendrons that bloom from gardens that were planted in the 1930s.
Be sure to make your way through the arboretum and the meadow bursting with summer wildflowers. Wrap up your visit in the gift shop, which sells unique garden décor and picnic essentials.
Address: Llanfairpwllgwyngyll LL61 6DQ
If visiting some of the best beaches in Anglesey tops your priority list, then you have plenty to choose from and will need to prioritize your favorites.
Llanddwyn Beach should top your beach list because there is so much more to do here than play in the water. Just getting to the beach is exciting as you go through the Newborough National Nature Reserve and Forest, which surrounds you with forest, tall dunes, and spectacular ocean. This is a great option if you plan to add other things to do into your beach day, like hiking and biking.
The crescent and soft, sandy Benllech Beach is a family-friendly beach with lots of space. In the summer, you are likely to find organized children's activities and sandcastle building competitions. There are fantastic tidal pools on this beach to explore, too.
Some of the other great Anglesey beaches include: Traeth Lligwy, a wide beach for games, with nice swimming water and easy accessibility, with parking, food, and restrooms; Traeth Crigyll, with a winding beachfront, steep dunes, and a nearby caravan park; and Porth Swtan, a Blue Flag designated beach that is ideal for bodyboarding in the surf.
6. Cross the Menai Suspension Bridge
It is unlikely that you'll miss this Anglesey attraction, the Menai Suspension Bridge, as you will probably drive across it on your way to the island. This historic bridge opened in 1826 and was built under the direction of Thomas Telford, famous for other notable bridges in the UK. It is also the world's first major suspension bridge.
The bridge was built as part of a plan to improve the route from London, England to Dublin, Ireland, and served as the last connection, making it a new road from Shrewsbury to Holyhead.
The engineering feat was to develop a road across the 580-feet-wide Menai Strait while still allowing tall ships to pass. You can drive across the bridge or use a pedestrian path.
One of the best views of the bridge is from below on a grassy viewing platform that you can access from Beach Road.
7. Cast a Fishing Line in Anglesey's Coastal Waters
Anglesey is surrounded by ocean and an abundance of fish species, which is why fishing on the island is a major draw. With 130 miles of coastline, there are plenty of great fishing opportunities.
Some of the common species to catch are mackerel, herring, sea bass, and coalfish. You can even target Tope from the shoreline. While summer is ideal for fishing, you can catch a wide variety of species like cod, coding, herring, and whiting in the winter.
If fishing from shore is your choice, some locations to try are Cymyran Beach, Black Point near Penmon, and in Moelfre. You can also hire a fishing operator to take you out by boat with equipment provided.
Coarse anglers can take advantage of several lakes located in Anglesey that have varying angling access and requirements.
8. Trek the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path
While only hard-core hikers might travel to Anglesey just to trek the full 130-mile (220-kilometer) Anglesey Coastal Path, you can work sections of it into a regular vacation to check that box. The coastal path pretty much follows Anglesey's coastline, weaving you in and out of lush vegetation along the way.
The star of the show is the view as you are trekking on top of the cliffs. You get a prime perspective on the beaches below, alive with swimmers, paddleboarders, and vacationers relaxing under cabanas.
The Anglesey Coastal Path also takes you through farmland (be mindful of the curious cows!), wooded areas, wildflower meadows, and sand dunes.
The path has 12 designated sections, so if you want to commit a day for a planned hike, you can do that. Be advised that you are fully exposed to the elements on the cliffs, so you will want to pack plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen in your backpack.
Since you are trekking on rocky coast, you will preferably want to wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes that provide traction.
9. Dive into the Depths of the Copper Kingdom
Wales has a rich history in mining, so a visit to Copper Kingdom in the port town of Amlwch is a must-see. You will want to set aside a few hours for the full experience. Copper Kingdom preserves the history of this small fishing village that became home to the largest copper mine in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Start your visit at the Exhibition Centre to learn about the discovery of copper in the Parys Mountain in 1768 and the stories of the miners who worked there. This is a family-friendly and interactive center.
Just outside the center, step down to the harbor, where boats are moored in the heart of the colorful, copper-infused cliffside.
Round out your visit at the Parys Mountain Copper Mine Heritage Trail. This is about two miles away and worth the additional time to visit. There is free parking, and you can take a self-guided walk along the path to see the crater of the largest open pit copper mine in the world when it was in operation.
Address: Amlwch Port, Amlwch LL68 9DB
Official site: https://copperkingdom.co.uk
10. Take a Factory Tour of the Anglesey Sea Salt Company
Chances are that somewhere along the way, you've enjoyed the garnish of Halen Môn sea salt on your food, which is why taking a behind-the-scenes factory tour in Anglesey is so much fun. Here is where the sea salt magic happens.
The family-run business started by accident, when a saucepan of boiling sea water was left on the stove and crystalized into what is now the Halen Môn Sea Salt. It is now supplied to restaurants around the world and was included in the culinary scene of the 2012 Olympic games in London.
The 45-minute tours run twice daily from Wednesday through Sunday. You will learn about the history of the specialty food company, and wrap up the tour with a tutored tasting, of course. Stop by the café for lunch and through the gift shop for some sea salt to take home.
Address: Brynsiencyn, Isle of Anglesey, LL616TQ
Official site: http://www.halenmon.com
11. Uncover the Secrets in the Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens
Part of the appeal of the Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens is that they are in fact, hidden. Drive the small road that leads back into a private country estate, and you'll think you are in the wrong place while having to park between grazing sheep outside the main gates.
The manicured gardens are hidden behind the stone wall. When you step inside, a dramatic sunken garden appears, with topiaries and lush flowering plants. The inspiration for the gardens was developed in 1804 by famous landscape designer Humphry Repton. The gardens were eventually abandoned but restored in 1996 to their ornate designs.
Walk the grounds to admire the waterfalls, perfectly manicured trees and shrubs, the two-acre walled garden, and colorful flower beds. A perfect way to end the visit is in the traditional tearoom, which serves homemade scones and sandwiches.
Address: Cadnant Road, Menai Bridge, Isle of Anglesey, North Wales, LL59 5NH
Official site: https://plascadnant.co.uk/2/en-GB/THE-HIDDEN-GARDENS
12. Visit Anglesey Sea Zoo
A fun and educational indoor adventure for families awaits at the Anglesey Sea Zoo. It is a marine education center with a lobster hatchery, seahorse breeding program, and other conservation programs in place. There are more than 40 tanks featuring sea life from around the UK including conger eels, jellyfish, and octopuses.
There are lots of cool features to the Anglesey Sea Zoo experience, including the Meet the Aquarist talks and demonstrations; the engaging displays, like the Crashing Wave that mimics ocean tides; and the food prep room, where you can watch aquarists prepare the animals' food for the day.
Stop by the gift shop, where you can choose your own pearl oyster and watch it opened to have your own pearl to take home, or have it set into jewelry.
The conservation center also has beach clean-up programs and marine life adoption programs if you want to get more involved beyond your vacation.
Address: Brynsiencyn, Llanfairpwll LL61 6TQ
Official site: https://www.angleseyseazoo.co.uk
13. Visit the Village with the Longest Name in Europe, Just Because
You might have a tough time putting the name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch into your GPS, but if it fits, you will love the novelty of visiting the village with the longest name in Europe.
Part two of your adventure there is trying to pronounce it with its 18 syllables.
The village, also referred to as Llanfair PG, which is easier to say, is 58 characters long. One of the best locations for seeing the name in full (because it doesn't fit on road signs) is at the train station, where it is displayed on the front of the building and a placard by the railroad tracks.
In fairness, there's not much else here to see, but adding this stop to your itinerary will add an extra bit of fun and photos to your vacation.
14. Go Sea Kayaking
Pretty much the entire northern Welsh coast is fantastic for water sports but there's a special appeal of Anglesey for sea kayaking. The island's jagged coastline and scenery, along with its tucked away bays, make it a great place for beginners to learn.
Just beyond the bays is where experienced sea kayakers gravitate because the constantly changing tides on the exposed coastline offer a new challenge.
If you are new to the area or sea kayaking, it is best to take a guided tour, so that you feel confident about your safety on the water, and you can enjoy the scenery and wildlife around you. There are quite a few sea kayaking companies in Anglesey that offer guided trips and rent equipment.