12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Rhyl
The seaside town of Rhyl in Denbighshire on the northern coast of Wales is a family-friendly vacation spot with just the right amount of history, nature, coastline, and things to do. Once a fishing village, the area became a resort destination in the late 1800s, with hotels and seaside entertainment that drew vacationers from England and northern Wales.
While the town's roots can be seen in the picturesque 13th-century Rhuddlan Castle on the hillside, Rhyl's entertainment has evolved to include modern-day rides, arcades, and a welcoming promenade by the beach.
Much of the activity in Rhyl is centered around the Pont y Ddraig Harbour Bridge, which has some of the best views in the city, especially when the sides of the suspension bridge lift like wings to let passing boats through.
Rhyl is abundant with relics, like the Rhyl Miniature Railway that's been operating since 1911 and attractions like the SeaQuarium and Pavilion Theatre. The town is always bustling, especially in the summer, so be sure to schedule some time to visit the quieter, more natural elements like Kinmel Dunes and the picturesque Dyserth waterfall.
As you prioritize your sightseeing, review our list of the top things to do in Rhyl.
1. Explore Sea Life at the SeaQuarium Rhyl
There are so many things to do outside in Rhyl that it is nice to have an indoor option like the SeaQuarium Rhyl for breaks from the beach or during rainy days. The SeaQuarium is set up with nine zones that let you explore marine life on the coast and in the far depths of the ocean.
It boats the biggest aquarium in northern Wales, with a water tunnel that makes you feel like you are swimming with fish, rays, and sharks. As you walk through the zones, you learn about why moon jellyfish glow and see the living ecosystems of coral reefs and the species they support, like clownfish and lobsters.
Be sure to plan your visit around one of the live shows in the Seal Cove to enjoy seals demonstrate their fun personalities, and learn about their natural habitats and diets. There are several shows per day, so check the schedule when you arrive.
The SeaQuarium is located right on the oceanfront, so you can spend a few hours exploring the exhibits, then plan to enjoy the rest of the day on the beach or taking in the promenade entertainment.
Address: E Parade, Rhyl LL18 3AF, Wales
Official site: https://www.seaquariumrhyl.co.uk/rhyl.php
2. Spend a Day at Rhyl Beach
One of the top things to do in Rhyl, hands-down, is spend some quality time at Rhyl Beach. It is the centerpiece of the town and exudes an exciting energy along the promenade long before you even step foot onto the sand.
East Beach is where families set up camp for the day to enjoy the sun, and swimmers test the endless waves coming onto the shore. The wide, sandy footprint of the beach stretches for about two miles. The beach has several sections, with signage along the walkway indicating the closest bathrooms, restaurants, and emergency information.
You name a beach activity, and it happens on Rhyl Beach, from kite flying and sandcastle building to boogie boarding and donkey rides. There is even a kitesurfing school located on the beach, where you can learn to ride the waves while on vacation.
You will find lots of food stands right by the beach, so you are never far from a snack or a slushie.
3. Walk along the Rhyl Promenade
The best free entertainment in Rhyl is just walking along the oceanfront promenade. Unless you have a specific destination in mind, your best bet is to park at one end of the promenade and leisurely make your way to whatever calls to you.
The promenade is a busy place, and it is the main pedestrian thoroughfare in Rhyl. Every few feet, you will see tourist attractions, restaurants, arcades, amusement rides, water sports opportunities, shopping, and the lifeboat station. Plus the people-watching is fun.
It is common to run into visitors who make Rhyl their annual family vacation spot, and there's no doubt that the buzzing sensory stimulation along the promenade is an important part of the memories made here.
Another great spot to walk is by the Rhyl Harbour. The pedestrian walkway parallels the harbor and is popular with morning joggers and people taking a stroll at sunset. Watch the boats coming in and out of the harbor waters, and walk across the Pont y Ddraig pedestrian and cycle bridge to get a close-up look at its unique architecture.
This route also connects to the Wales Coastal Path along the northern part of the coast.
4. Tour the Unique Architecture of Rhuddlan Castle
It is a short drive from Rhyl to Rhuddlan Castle but a fun diversion from the seaside action to experience one of the most unique castles in Wales. The 13th-century Rhuddlan Castle was built under King Edward I, who earned a reputation for building some of the most significant castles and fortifications in Wales.
Besides some of the unique architectural designs, like walls within walls, Rhuddlan Castle holds another designation as the one that required moving a river. Since the castle was built inland and not on the coast, the closest waterway was the River Clwyd, but it wasn't located near the construction site, so the king enlisted ditch diggers to divert the water to flow by the castle.
You can spend a few hours visiting and taking a tour of the castle, but if you are short on time, you can still catch some of the best views of it (and the waterway) from Rhyl Road alongside of it.
Address: Rhuddlan Castle, Castle Street, Rhuddlan LL18 5AD
Official site: https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/rhuddlan-castle
5. Stroll the Grounds of St. Margaret's Church
There are some notable churches throughout Wales, but St. Margaret's Church in Rhyl is worth putting on your itinerary both for its architecture and its history.
You can see the 202-foot-tall steeple of Saint Margaret's Church over the Rhyl skyline. Its nickname, The Marble Church, is derived from the 14 types of marble used in the pillars and design. A woman by the name of Lady Margaret Willoughby de Broke had the church built in 1856 in memory of her husband.
Though it is most noted for its marble, be sure to walk around the inside of the church to see the elaborate stained-glass windows and woodwork. Outside of the church, stroll the grounds to see some of the military gravesites and take in the detail of the churchyard. It is the final resting place for 110 men and women who served in commonwealth forces during World War I.
One of the most beautiful times to see the church is at night when it is illuminated with elaborate lighting.
Address: St Margaret Bodelwyddan, RHYL, LL18 5UR
Official site: https://www.themarblechurch.uk/history
6. Hop aboard the Historic Rhyl Miniature Railway
If you are taking kids to Rhyl, then a ride on the Rhyl Miniature Railway is a must. The tiny train that circles Marine Lake has been a staple in Rhyl since 1911. It is Britain's oldest miniature railway and a fun treat for families.
The 15-inch gauge mini railway runs on a mile-long track with the option to sit in an open or enclosed train coach. The nearly century-old coaches are pulled by a restored steam locomotive.
Before or after your train ride, go inside to see the museum and artifacts on display, with more history about the miniature railway. For train enthusiasts, stop by the gift shop to find unique train souvenirs.
You can spend additional time exploring adjacent Marine Lake (details below) easily filling a few hours in this area.
Address: Central Station, Marine Lake, Wellington Road, Rhyl LL18 1AQ
Official site: https://rhylminiaturerailway.co.uk
7. Marine Lake
Besides playing by the ocean, Marine Lake has been a draw for families since the early 1900s. The lake is great for watching the birds and relaxing by the water. The man-made reservoir is the only saltwater lake in northern Wales, giving kids a chance to enjoy some of the ocean fun in a lake setting.
This is a popular place to visit for families, with a range of things to do, from enjoying the water and watching the seagulls compete for sandwich crumbs to the designated children's play area.
Take a one-mile walk around the lake or meander farther to the Environmental Trail, where you can spot birds, flowers, and local wildlife.
Address: Wellington Road, Rhyl, Denbighshire
8. Visit Kinmel Dunes Local Nature Reserve
If you are looking for a more secluded and unique beach experience in Rhyl then you will enjoy the serenity of Kinmel Dunes Local Nature Reserve. This beach is more for observing some of the region's untouched natural beauty along the walking and biking paths.
The one-mile Dunes Trail takes you around the dunes and through some of the most scenic spots, where you can observe wildlife and wildflowers. The best time to see the flowers is from May through August. This section of preserved dunes within urban development features some of the native maritime vegetation, like bird's-foot trefoil and sea holly.
This is a quiet retreat, where many of the locals go for some time away from the crowds. The protected strip of dunes between Rhyl and Towyn are what is left of what used to be larger coastal dunes. While the scene will change throughout your walk, one of the best spots to enjoy the coast and see marine life in the water is from the designated view point on the trail.
Address: St Asaph Avenue North, Kinmel Bay, Conwy, LL18 5EQ
9. Take in a Performance at the Pavilion Theatre Rhyl
If you want to soak in some of the local performing arts during your time in Rhyl, you should check out the schedule for the Pavilion Theatre Rhyl. Though this building is modern, the Pavilion Theatre has a history of entertaining resort-goers since 1891. The first pavilion burned to the ground and was replaced by a second that was demolished in 1974.
Today's Pavilion Theatre opened in 1991, bringing new life to the performing arts in Rhyl. There are regular music and theater productions to enjoy, and a first-floor restaurant situated right on the waterfront, so you can make a full evening out of it.
Address: East Parade, Rhyl, Denbighshire
10. Feel the Spray of the Dyserth Waterfall
The natural beauty of Wales lends itself to stunning waterfalls, but so many are located off the beaten path, which makes Dyserth waterfall such a great find, especially for families. This beautiful 70-foot waterfall is easy to find in Rhyl and is one of the best waterfalls in Northern Wales.
With a small admission of 50 pence, you can take a lovely walk on a paved path through gardens and a stream leading back to the waterfall. The walk is short and flat, so it is doable for children. For a panoramic view over Rhyl, continue walking up to the stairs that lead up the hill to the top of the falls. Sit on one of the benches with views over the entire countryside and coast.
After your visit, stop for a cup of coffee or an ice cream from the Waterfall Shop Café at the entrance of the falls and sit to enjoy the surrounding gardens.
11. Count the Colors in the Rhyl Botanical Gardens
A fun, free excursion in the heart of Rhyl is a stroll through the Botanical Gardens that are bursting with color and design, especially in the summer. It is the only park in the town and serves as a recreation spot for the community. It also has a long history in Rhyl and remains a special place of symbolic significance.
The park setting winds through gardens with tennis courts, children's play areas, paved walkways, picnic tables, and basketball courts. Just to the right of the entrance is where gardening enthusiasts will find inspiration, with a collection of manicured flower beds, water features, and fountains.
The gardens were established in 1878 and still exude an elegance, with displays of roses, yucca plants, and other trees and flowers. Enjoy a picnic by one of the unique monkey puzzle trees in the park, or enjoy lunch at the park café.
Address: Grange Road Rhyl, Wales
Official site: http://www.rbg.wales
12. Walk the Corridors of the Famous Gwrych Castle
Just a short 20-minute drive from Rhyl is a Gwrych Castle sprawled along the hillside and worthy of a few hours of your time. The grand medieval architecture of the castle is eye-popping and alluring, so a tour is a must.
This castle is also notable because it was the backdrop for the TV show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, so fans of the show can enjoy seeing some of the leftover props that are still on-site.
The castle was built between 1812 and 1822 on 250 acres of land overlooking the Irish Sea. It endured a long history, from family ownership and entertainment purposes like jousting to an opera center, and now the estate and gardens is preserved for visitors to enjoy.
Day passes are available for you to tour through sections of the castle and grounds, or you can plan a visit around one of the specialty ghost tours. For a truly memorable experience, you can stay at Gwrych Castle in the Tan-yr-Ogo Lodge for your own private castle experience.
Address: Llanddulas, Abergele, Conwy, North Wales, LL22 8ET
Official site: https://www.gwrychcastle.co.uk