Tucked away on the far south westerly corner of Wales you will find the hidden gem of Pembrokeshire. Whether you are ripe for an adventure or are simply looking to relax in breath-taking scenery, the combination of the towering sea cliffs, stunning beaches and unspoilt coastal paths is hard to beat. Coupled with wild moors and craggy hills, an abundance of wildlife and a fascinating history, Pembrokeshire is a fantastic place to go on holiday.
Catch some waves, build a sandcastle or enjoy an ice cream on one of the large sandy beaches or secluded picturesque coves. Alternatively, blow the cobwebs away on a stunning coastal walk over gorse-glad headlands and through pretty coastal villages. Thrill seekers can enjoy an action-packed adventure of surfing, kayaking or coasteering. At the end of the day indulge in some freshly caught seafood watching the sun set over the sea. Or for a completely different landscape, travel inland to discover ancient hill forts and prehistoric stone circles in the peaceful Preseli hills. The list of fantastic reasons to visit this beautiful part of the country is endless. This guide provides some top tips on where to go and what to see and do whilst on holiday in Pembrokeshire.
Where to Go in Pembrokeshire
With three fantastic beaches, a pretty harbour lined with pastel coloured houses, stunning coastal walks and lots of independent cafes, pubs and restaurants Tenby is the perfect family holiday destination. From traditional sweet shops and stunning beaches to 15th century churches and pretty harbours it is easy to see why everyone loves the seaside town of Tenby.
No trip to Tenby would be complete without visiting at least one of the gorgeous sandy beaches. South Beach is particularly popular with families. This huge expanse of sand, which is backed by sand dunes and a golf course, is the perfect spot to have a game of bat and ball, build a sandcastle or enjoy some watersports. Often described as the prettiest beach in Pembrokeshire, the long stretch of sand at North Beach is sheltered by a backdrop of cliffs on one side and the picturesque harbour on the other. When you are done with playing on the beach and enjoying the stunning views, the kids will love scrambling on Goscar Rock or you can catch a boat trip out to sea from the harbour. Castle Beach, the smallest of the three beaches, is the perfect spot to chill out and enjoy a swim in the shallow and calm water. At low tide you can walk to the historic fort on Catherine’s Island.
You could easily spend all week in Tenby between these three stunning beaches. However, it would be a shame to miss out on all the other fantastic places to go in Pembrokeshire. If you enjoy exhilarating cliff top paths the four and a half mile walk along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path to Saundersfoot is stunning. The coastal path takes you past the medieval Tenby Castle, secluded beaches and through pretty woodlands. Once you reach the popular village of Saundersfoot you can either continue along the coastal path to Amroth or you can catch a bus or train back to Tenby.
Given that Tenby’s Welsh name, Dinbych-y-Pysgod, means Little Fortress of the Fish, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tenby is the perfect place for a spot for fishing. There are numerous boats that launch from both Castle Beach and the harbour that will take you on a fishing trip. There is nothing better than freshly caught mackerel sizzling on the BBQ as you watch the sun set over the sea. You can also catch a boat from Tenby to Caldey Island, which is home to monks of the Cistercian order. This holy island is the perfect oasis of peace and tranquillity. Enjoy the beautiful sandy beach, watch the seabirds, explore the picturesque monastery and browse the unique souvenirs in the delightful shop.
For the perfect family day out in Pembrokeshire head to Heatherton World of Activities just a few miles north of Tenby. There are numerous activities for kids, thrill seekers and golf lovers – and your four-legged friends are welcome too! Alternatively, explore the hidden woodland gardens at Colby Woodland Garden near Amroth. This National Trust Garden is set in a peaceful secret valley which is perfect for treasure hunts and den building as well as learning about the fascinating heritage of this magical spot.
Tiny, but perfectly formed, the quaint city of St Davids has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Today, many people come to Britain’s smallest city to visit the infamous cathedral and enjoy the spectacular surrounding coastline. Once you have explored the Cathedral and the ruin of the medieval Bishop’s Palace head to the coast to catch some waves at Whitesands beach. The northern end of the beach is popular with surfers, body boarders and canoeists, whilst the quieter and more sheltered southern end is perfect for swimming and building sandcastles.
If you are looking to get away from it all for the day you should visit the RSPB reserve on Ramsey Island, located just off the end of St David’s peninsula. Not only do the dramatic sea cliffs make this a fantastic spot to see breeding seabirds, choughs and peregrines but with limited numbers allowed onto the island each day it is the perfect place to enjoy some peace and tranquillity whilst enjoying some stunning scenery and wildlife. Going for a walk on the three and a half mile trail around the island is the best way to appreciate the island’s beauty but you can also take a boat trip around the island. Keep an eye out for the fluffy white seal pups on the beaches during the autumnal months.
Just fifteen miles south of St Davids is the traditional seaside village of Broad Haven. The huge sandy beach, numerous rock pools and craggy Lion’s Head makes Broad Haven a fantastic spot for any mini explorers. It is also a popular beach for surfing, paddle boarding and kayaking. There is a well-stocked watersports and surf shop where you can either buy or hire a variety of equipment including surf boards, wet suits and kayaks. If you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground you can go for a gentle stroll along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. At low tide you can walk along the beach to Little Haven for lunch.
Any bird and wildlife enthusiasts should head 9 miles south to Martin’s Haven where you can catch a boat to Skomer Island. Whilst this spectacular island is best known for its large colony of puffins you are also likely to spot seals, porpoises and numerous other seabirds. You can either take a boat trip around the island or spend a day there exploring the island paths.
The Preseli Hills
If you can tear yourself away from the stunning beaches, pretty coastal towns and the abundance of fascinating sea life, you should visit the Preseli Hills close to the charming coastal town of Fishguard. The wild moorlands and crags are the perfect contrast to Pembrokeshire’s coastline. Discover the legends and myths that surround the Iron Age hill forts, prehistoric remains and burial cairns that are dotted across these hills. Whilst the Preseli Hills are largely unpopulated there are a few pretty villages and hamlets providing the perfect spot to rest any weary limbs. Enjoy a pint of local ale in the highest pub in Pembrokeshire at the Tafarn Sinc in the rural hamlet of Rosebush, or a jug of the best bass beer in Pembrokeshire at the infamous Dyffryn Arms in the village of Pontfaen.
What to See and Do in Pembrokeshire
Go to the beach
No holiday to Pembrokeshire would be complete without going to the beach. As most of the coastline is within the National Park not only do the beaches in Pembrokeshire have some of the cleanest sands and waters in the country but they are also well known for their picturesque locations and abundance of sea life. With over 50 different beaches to choose from you can either opt for miles and miles of uninterrupted golden sand or small secluded coves. Whilst the beaches at Tenby, Broad Haven and Whitesands Bay are all fantastic spots to get your fill of buckets and spades and playing in the waves, there are plenty of other less well known but equally as beautiful beaches to explore in Pembrokeshire.
If you are looking for a bit of an adventure and a beach with a wow factor head to Barafundle Bay near Freshwater East. The golden sand, backed by dunes and pine trees makes way to crystal clear waters. If it was just a tiny bit warmer you could be mistaken for being in the Caribbean! The beach is only accessible after a half mile walk through the pine forests and over a lake, and there are no facilities when you get there, so it is worth packing a picnic to make a day of it.
The sheltered bay at St Brides Haven is a popular spot for divers or any intrepid explorers looking for mini beasts in rock pools. It is also a good place to swim and small boats can be launched from the beach if you fancy a spot of fishing. In northern Pembrokeshire the small sandy cove at Cwm yr Eglwys is another fantastic rock pooling spot. There is a local boat club which makes it popular with watersports enthusiasts too.
For those who enjoy surfing, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better holiday location than Pembrokeshire. Surfers have a huge choice of fantastic south westerly beaches to choose from. Arguably the most popular surf spots are the wide expanses of sand at Freshwater West, Newgale near Solva and Whitesands Bay near St Davids. If you want to escape the crowds head west to Marloes Sands. Nestled on the far western edge of Pembrokeshire, 7 miles west from Milford Haven, this National Trust owned beach is a true gem. Despite the fantastic surf, dramatic coastal scenery and golden sands it rarely gets busy here as it is a bit of a trek to reach the beach. If you aren’t a pro surfer but would like to give it a go there are plenty of surf schools to help you learn.
If you are looking for a small stretch of sand but want to escape the summer crowds, half a mile from the popular Whitesands Bay is the small sandy cove of Porthselau. It is only accessible from the coastal path but if you are looking to get off the beaten track it is worth the trek. Alternatively, head to Lindsway Bay near the village of St Ishmaels. Again, this beach is only accessible from the coastal path or across the playing fields from the village. Surrounded by tall cliffs this secluded beach reveals a wide expanse of sand and plenty of rock pools at low tide.
Go for a walk
Pembrokeshire is a walker’s paradise. Stretching 186 miles you cannot fail to be wowed by the variety of breath-taking coastal scenery on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Passing through 58 beaches, 14 harbours, volcanic headlands, glacial valleys, estuaries and steep limestone cliffs the path covers every sort of coastal landscape you can think of. Whilst you are unlikely to cover the whole 186 miles in one go, it is easy to break it into short sections and make use of the coastal ‘hop on and off’ bus service.
If you are looking to combine stunning cliff tops, pretty beaches and tranquil wooded valleys on your walk head to the National Trust’s Stackpole. Explore the small medieval church tucked into the cliffs at St Govan’s Chapel or enjoy a leisurely stroll around Bosherston Lakes where you can admire the water lilies and spot the resident otters. There is also a mountain bike trail or you can explore the dramatic coastline in a kayak or canoe.
If you can tear yourself away from the coast, the Iron Age village of Castell Henllys near Moylgrove is set within thirty acres of beautiful woodland and gorgeous river meadows. Learn about the fascinating Welsh Heritage as you stroll among the Iron Age roundhouses in this unusual village.
For an equally spectacular, but very different landscape, head inland where you will find a number of footpaths, bridleways and quiet country lanes criss-crossing rural Pembrokeshire. For the best views you should head to the Preseli Hills. The walk to the top of Foel Eryr view point is only 2 km but on clear day you will be rewarded with 360 degree views as far as Snowdonia and across the sea to Ireland. If you really want to stretch your legs follow The Golden Road, an 8 mile gently undulating track that dates back to the Neolithic period. Passing ancient monuments, rocky tors and Bronze Age burial cairns this ancient route is often described as a ‘walk across the spine of Pembrokeshire’.
Go on an adventure
Whether you want to surf it, swim in it or paddle over it, the miles of beaches, waves and awe-inspiring coastline provides the perfect playground for adventure seekers in Pembrokeshire. There are numerous surfing beaches to choose from. Arguably the most accessible is the 2 mile stretch of sand at Newgale beach. There is a surf school here and if you are looking for the ultimate thrill-seeking experience you can have a go at kitesurfing too.
Possibly the best way to explore this spectacular coastline is in a kayak. Discover secret coves, paddle past seals and porpoises or enjoy whirl pools and eddies in one of the fastest tidal flows in the UK. There are a number of places where you can hire a kayak in Pembrokeshire, or the Sea Kayak Guides near St Davids provide guides and courses.
Or for the really brave, if you fancy climbing, cliff jumping and swimming into sea caves all at the same time you should have a go at coasteering. This increasingly popular sport is not for the faint hearted but is guaranteed to provide an exhilarating adventure for any dare devils out there. Celtic Quest Coasteering, based at Abereiddy Bay, is one of numerous activity providers who will take you coasteering.
If you are looking to stay dry and you have a head for heights why not give rock climbing a go? The Climbing Company offers specialist rock climbing and mountaineering tuition or there are plenty of other activity providers such as Dragon Activity Guides and TYF Adventure that offer a range of exciting and adventurous days out.
Embrace the weather
When you are planning any holiday in the UK it is always worth having a few wet weather activities up your sleeve and Wales is no exception! Luckily there are a number of things to see and do in Pembrokeshire if the clouds roll in for a day or two.
Any young kids will love a trip to Folly Farm, which is arguably more of a zoo than a farm. There are plenty of indoor and undercover attractions to make it worthwhile visiting in the wet. If the sun does manage to come out then you can explore the outside areas too. Or get hands on with snakes, lizards and other amazing creatures at the Reptile Centre in Saundersfoot. If snakes aren’t for you, visit the ancient county town of Haverfordwest. You can burn off some excess energy at the Hangar 5 trampoline park, at the indoor climbing wall or go Go Carting. If the sun comes out you can enjoy a walk by the river or visit the castle.
If you’re going to get wet anyway, you could always try surfing, swimming, sea kayaking and coasteering in the rain. Once you are in the water you will hardly notice it is raining! Or if you want to wash, as well as blow, the cobwebs away embrace an exhilarating cliff top walk. There is nothing more dramatic than watching the waves crash against the cliffs in the middle of a storm. Whatever you choose to see and do in Pembrokeshire, the perfect way to round off a rainy day is to search out the best cream tea in the area. Luckily there is no shortages of cute cafes and tasty tea rooms in Pembrokeshire!
Whilst we can’t guarantee the weather, the one thing that we can guarantee is that one holiday to Pembrokeshire will never be enough. Whether you are looking for an action-packed adventure, miles and miles of stunning scenery or you just want to spend your holiday gently ambling from one beautiful beach to the next, once you have discovered this magical corner of the country you will be returning again and again.
With a large number of cottages to rent in Pembrokeshire, from budget bolt holes on the beach to luxurious period properties tucked away in pretty coastal villages, we have something to suit everyone. Bring your dog, invite the whole family, or enjoy a last-minute break for two. Whatever the occasion, it’s hard not to fall in love with this untamed and breathtakingly beautiful county. Pembrokeshire is quite simply a fantastic holiday destination for everyone!