The Wales Coast Path stretches 870 miles with plenty of pretty towns and villages to explore along the way. In this post I’ve shared 8 of my favourites to date, how many have you been to?
Post updated: October 2021
The pretty coastal town of Tenby has long been a popular summer holiday destination in Wales – and looking over Tenby’s colourful harbour, which has to be one of the country’s most photographed and painted, is worth the trip alone.
Tenby also has everything you’d want in a seaside town; fish and chip shops, ice-cream parlours and classic British pubs, all within walking distance of beautiful sandy beaches and clear blue waters.
Another pretty view in Tenby that you may see crop up on Instagram (including my own), is the passage looking down towards the harbour where Tudor Merchant’s House is located, one of the oldest properties in Tenby that is now a museum.
The Pembrokeshire town is part of a spectacular area of coastline in Britain, close to one of the best beaches in the world, Barafundle Bay, and top stargazing spot, Broadhaven South.
10 stunning and secluded beaches in Wales (opens in new tab)
During the summer months you can catch a ferry from Tenby Harbour to Caldey Island, home to a Monastery whose residents produce and sell their own chocolate and perfume from flowers grown on the island.
Portmeirion (Porthmadog), Gwynedd
Famed for being the filming location of ’60s TV drama The Prisoner, Portmeirion is undoubtedly one of the best coastal towns to visit in Wales thanks to its stunning architecture, dreamed up by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who designed an Italian-style village to be built near the coastal town of Porthmadog.
The village is located in one of the most scenic areas of Britain on the doorstep of Snowdonia National Park, so while the village has a Mediterranean flavour to it, the backdrop is distinctly Welsh with lush green rolling mountains and a vast river estuary.
Photographing Portmeirion’s clock tower, tiled rooftops and colourful cottages with green window shutters is a classic postcard view in Wales you have to see for yourself.
You must pay to enter Portmeirion village as a day visitor, unless you have booked a dining experience, spa treatment or overnight stay in one of the on site hotels. I’d recommend booking tickets in advance on their website and checking if there are any events or festivals on that may impact on your visit.
Further reading: A day trip to Portmeirion Village in pictures
If you’re planning to holiday in North Wales and visit Portmeirion, the nearby seaside town of Porthmadog would be a great option as it’s home to the much-loved Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway where there are more stunning views to be admired.
Holidays in Llandudno became popular during the Victorian era when train travel became a lot more accessible to the wider population. The Welsh seaside town flourished and attractive townhouses sprung up along the promenade to cater to the growth in visitor numbers, many of these properties are still used today as hotels and guest houses.
In 1902 the Great Orme Tramway opened and began taking people up the nearby mountain to enjoy panoramic views of Llandudno and Snowdonia. A few decades on in 1969 the Llandudno Cable Car opened which follows a similar mile-long route up the mountain to the Summit Complex.
A hot melt in your mouth sugary donut is all the persuasion I’d need to visit a seaside pier, and at 700m Llandudno Pier it is the longest in Wales! Besides the mix of amusement arcades, shops and food stalls, I liked seeing Llandudno Bay and The Great Orme from the sea, the exposed limestone cliffs reminded me of previous visits to Gibraltar.
Llandudno is on the doorstep of Snowdonia National Park and the historic town of Conwy which makes it a brilliant base for exploring the stunning scenery and fortresses in North Wales.
View my guide on places to stay in Llandudno
Aberaeron is a tranquil harbour town on the west coast of Wales with numerous streets lined with pretty townhouses painted in bright colours, particularly along Market Street and Alban Square. After enjoying the cheerful chocolate box scenes in the town, seascapes await along Aberaeron’s coastal path, the starting point for a longer walk down to New Quay, or alternatively you can head inland to explore Llanerchaeron, an 18th century Georgian Villa run by the National Trust.
Mumbles, Swansea Bay
Even though it’s technically part of the city of Swansea, The Mumbles has a small town feel on the western edge of the city. Named as one of the best places to live in Britain, The Mumbles is full of lovely seaside shops and cafes and is the perfect starting point to explore the Gower peninsula, beginning with Langland and Caswell Bay that are just around the coast from here.
Further reading: 7 wonderful weekend breaks in Wales
One of the best ways to enjoy the pretty views in the Mumbles is by sitting on a bench by the coast with a bag of fish and chip from Johnnies on Chapel Street.
Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan
Penarth Pier and Pavilion is a restored Victorian landmark that can now host many events and weddings. The attractive town is just a few miles outside of Cardiff and has become a very desirable place to live for city workers and retirees, particularly along Penarth Marina where you can walk or cycle along the barrage to the restaurant and entertainment hub of Cardiff Bay.
Penarth is also easy to get to by train with a direct service from Cardiff Central calling at 3 nearby stops, Cogan, Dingle Road and Penarth. Dingle Road and Penarth are not far from Windsor Road where you’ll find most of the shops and cafes in the town are based.
Penarth has an abundance of impressive Victorian buildings, such as the stunning Old Custom House and The Washington, an art-deco inspired building that was once a cinema but now a tea house.
One of the best seaside towns in Wales for its history is Conwy which lies in the shadow of the soaring fortress built by Edward I in the 13th century. From the top of Conwy Castle or along the town walls you can soak up stunning views of the historic centre and northern edge of Snowdonia National Park. If you head down the Quay you’ll find one of Conwy’s most famous tourist attractions, the smallest house in Great Britain!
Further reading: 8 epic castles you have to visit in Wales
Conwy’s High Street is one of my favourites in Wales, not the largest or longest by any means, but so complete and quintessential with its vintage toy shop, delicatessan and a black and white pub with ‘Ye Olde’ in its name. In the middle of the High Street is The Castle Hotel where Queen Victoria visited as a young Princess, and Plas Mawr (‘Grand Hall’) which is an extraordinary Elizabethan town house.
Aberystwyth is a thriving University town in Mid Wales that, like Llandudno, has a promenade and pier to stroll along. Some of the best buildings in Aberystwyth belong to the University, like the historic Old College with its tall round towers of yellow stone that resemble a palace, or to my mind Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.