Did you know that Pembrokeshire has more award-winning beaches than any other county within the United Kingdom? Britain's only coastal national park, this picture-postcard county in West Wales is a mecca for walking along the 186-mile coast path, as well as taking part in water sports in its clean waters, and wildlife watching on islands where puffins, dolphins and grey seals are often spotted.
On top of its natural assets, Pembrokeshire offers a treasure trove of history amidst its stately homes, formidable castles and Britain's smallest city, St Davids, home of the magnificent cathedral built by the patron saint of Wales. Add to this a wealth of charming boutiques and eateries, an abundance of exciting family attractions and some of the cosiest places to stay, and you’ll soon see why Pembrokeshire is loved by many as one of the top spots for a staycation in the UK.
Our local’s guide to Pembrokeshire covers many of the very best things to see and do during a holiday here. Discover some of the most glorious beaches, the best places for delicious Welsh fare and some of the most charming places to call home for a while. Or if you’re already dreaming of a break here, click the button below to browse our full collection of holiday cottages in Pembrokeshire.
Pembrokeshire’s best beaches
Swathes of soft golden sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters; you could easily be forgiven for thinking you have landed on tropical shores with a visit to Barafundle Bay. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Pembrokeshire, this secluded oasis is reached via a half-mile adventure through scented pine trees and rolling dunes. Owned by the National Trust, this pristine beach forms part of the South Pembrokeshire Heritage Coast and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Dogs: Welcome all year round.
Local information: Access to the beach is only possible by foot along the coast path and includes steep steps so not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. There are no facilities, and the nearest car park is at Stackpole Quay (National Trust) half a mile away.
Freshwater West Beach
Not only is this one of the best beaches in Pembrokeshire, but it’s also one of the top surfing spots in Wales picking up strong Atlantic swells (not suitable for beginners or inexperienced swimmers). Freshwater West Beach is a vast stretch of sand backed by the extensive dune system of Broomhill Burrows. There’s a rocky reef at the southern end and some quiet bays at the other, with buckets (and buckets) of sand to go around for building sandcastles. If this Pembrokeshire beach looks familiar to you, then it may be because it has featured in several notable films such as Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Dogs: Welcome all year round.
Lifeguard: Yes, seasonally.
Local information: There are two small car parks – National Trust toilets can be found in the southern car park along with the Cafe Môr food truck, selling drinks and snacks during spring to autumn.
Venture to this long strip of white sand and you’ll be rewarded with one of the top beaches in Pembrokeshire. Whitesands Bay is popular with those who enjoy surfing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and kite surfing, as well as those simply looking to relax and soak up some sunshine. Found on the St David’s Peninsula, you can pick up the coast path here and walk north or south; or why not climb to the top of Carn Llidi and be rewarded with a breathtaking view?
Dogs: There is a seasonal dog ban.
Lifeguard: Yes, seasonally.
Local information: There is a car park next to the beach or if you don’t want the worry of parking, the Celtic Coaster shuttle bus operates during the summer from the Oriel Y Parc in St Davids to Whitesands. There are toilets with disabled access in the car park, and a cafe.
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Family attractions in Pembrokeshire
Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo
One of the top attractions in Pembrokeshire for families is Folly Farm, a playground for adventurers of all ages. Discover rhinos, giraffes, lions and penguins, experience the thrills of yesteryear in the restored vintage fairground and get hands-on in the Cwtch Corner with all the cute and fluffy animals. There’s even a go-karting racetrack, a pirate adventure cove and an indoor play area themed as an enchanted wood.
Heatherton World of Activities
A perfect all-weather Pembrokeshire attraction, Heatherton World of Activities is simply bursting with adrenaline-fuelled adventures. Make a splash on the bumper boats, swing through the trees on a high ropes course, bomb around the go-kart circuit, zoom down the dragon slide or bounce on the giant jumping pillows – you’ll be spoilt for choice with all the exciting experiences on offer.
The Dinosaur Park Tenby
Travel back in time to the land of the T-Rex at The Dinosaur Park Tenby. This Jurassic-themed adventure park is fun and educational, with a dinosaur trail, a host of rides and activities and an outdoor playground. Creep over swamps and bound across boardwalks to uncover your favourite dinos who once roamed the earth, from baby Triceratops to giant Brachiosaurus, you’ll be sure to find your favourite reptile here!
Historic sights to see in Pembrokeshire
St David’s Cathedral
Visit Britain’s smallest city and admire the magnificent cathedral in St Davids. Built by St David, the patron saint of Wales, St David’s Cathedral has been a site of pilgrimage and worship for the past 1,500 years. Wander the ancient settlement and look out for the beautiful 13th-century Bell Tower, peruse the interesting exhibition in the Gatehouse and enjoy a sticky slice of cake in The Refectory café.
Perched on the banks of a glistening millpond, the mighty Pembroke Castle is one of the finest historic sites in Pembrokeshire and one of the best examples of a Norman fortress in the whole of the UK. This enormous oval castle was first built in 1093 out of timber and was reconstructed out of stone in 1189. The birthplace of Henry VII, the first Tudor king, there is a labyrinth of passages, tunnels and stairways to explore, as well as medieval dungeons, an 80ft stone keep and gatehouse rooms with fascinating historical displays.
Picton Castle and Gardens
One of the most impressive historic houses in Pembrokeshire is Picton Castle, surrounded by 40 acres of enchanting woodland gardens and grounds. Dating back to the 13th century, this treasured family home features elegant interiors adorned with fine works of art which you can browse at your leisure. Outside, the RHS gardens are a feast for the eyes, peppered with rhododendrons and azaleas, a fernery, a maze and a children’s nature trail.
Places to eat in Pembrokeshire
Blas Restaurant, St David’s
Found on the St David’s Peninsula is Blas (which simply means ‘taste’ in Welsh), a distinctly high standard, 2 AA rosette restaurant. One of the best restaurants in Pembrokeshire, this fine dining establishment places a huge emphasis on the seasonal quality of goods and local produce to create a menu that blends classic and modern. Look forward to the likes of Solva crab linguine, venison with pear and black pudding, and confit duck leg with satay, lime and bitter leaf.
The Grove, Narberth
Travelling inland to Narberth, if you want to experience truly exceptional fine dining, then you have to make time to stay for dinner at The Grove. Recently acquiring the skills of Michelin-starred executive chef Douglas Balish, this Pembrokeshire restaurant boasts 3 AA Rosettes and is celebrated among foodies.
Coast is a unique place to have a truly memorable experience. From a location standpoint, it takes pride of place overlooking the beach at Coppet Hall, and offers a slightly less formal environment, looking out across the bay. Despite the relaxed vibe, the attention to detail and passion for seasonality is impeccable.
Places to stay in Pembrokeshire
The colourful coastal town of Tenby is the perfect place for a traditional bucket ‘n’ spade holiday in Pembrokeshire. Rows of pastel-painted houses line the winding streets, home to a wonderful assortment of shops, galleries, pubs, restaurants and things to do. Watch the fishing boats bring in the day’s haul in the bustling harbour and take your pick between Tenby's multiple sandy beaches. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path runs through the town if you fancy a scenic walk soaking up the local sights, including beautiful St Catherine’s Island.
Nestled in a curved golden bay, the large village of Saundersfoot makes a wonderful base for exploring the coast of Pembrokeshire and beyond into Carmarthenshire. This charming seaside resort boasts a large sandy beach which is a popular spot for windsurfing as well as families with its shallow waters. At the harbour, there are lots of opportunities for fishing and boat trips, with an array of eateries to relax in after your adventures. The harbour is also a great starting point for many strolls along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which take in the beauty and history of the town and its surroundings.
Located on the south coast of Pembrokeshire, Amroth is a picturesque coastal village with a bevvy of charming pubs and cafes to while away lazy afternoons and cosy evenings. The village draws visitors to its secluded, sandy beach on the shore of Carmarthen Bay which at low tide, offers views of a petrified drowned forest dating to the last ice age. Further inland hides the Colby Woodland Garden, a peaceful haven surrounding a historic house cared for by the National Trust. The village also marks the southern start of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Map of Pembrokeshire
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Retreat to Pembrokeshire
Make the most of this spectacular coastal national park by staying in one of our Pembrokeshire cottages. Within our collection of self-catering accommodation, you’ll find cosy cottages for couples, spacious retreats for the whole family and dog-friendly properties where four legs are as welcome as two.
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