Top 10 Spots on The Coastal Way
The Coastal Way runs the entire length of Cardigan Bay, from Aberdaron on the Llŷn Peninsula to St. David’s in Pembrokeshire. It’s an epic coastal journey through two National Parks, a protected Heritage Coast and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the way you’ll encounter an unmistakably Welsh landscape of sandy beaches, pretty harbour villages, sublime estuaries, hidden coves and mighty castles.
We’ve put together our top 10 spots on this 180 mile journey, starting from the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula, sometimes called the ‘Land’s End of Wales’ and arguably the most stunning section, then meander along the Cardigan Bay coastline where if you are very lucky you might even spot a few dolphins and onto St. David’s, a tiny cathedral city in Pembrokeshire National Park.
An option for your return journey is to hop across to the The Cambrian Way and take your time traveling along the mountainous spine of Wales winding through two National Parks – Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons – and the big green spaces of the Cambrian Mountains in between.
Our Top 10
1. Mynydd Mawr
Discover the delightful views of Mynydd Mawr, at the tip of the Llyn Peninsula. A National Trust site with awesome coastal views in all directions – west to the Irish coast, east to Snowdonia, north to Anglesey and south to Bardsey Island.
Tip: park your camper at the summit and watch the sunset with a picnic.
Travel south and stop at the pretty village of Abersoch, a popular tourist destination famed for its sandy beaches, glorious walks, harbour, and boat trips. The main beach with its gently shelving sands and beautiful shady location is popular with families and is perfect for lounging.
Discover Portmeirion Village, a miniature Italianate fantasy village on the coast of Wales and the set of the 1960’s ITV cult drama “The Prisoner”. Created by the English born, Welsh based architect Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis has been open to the public since 1926. It addition to its architectural heritage, its stunning setting and sub-tropical gardens, Portmeirion has shops, a spa, cafés and restaurants and an authentic Italian style gelateria.
4. Harlech Castle
Explore the spectacular Harlech Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the English King, Edward I in the late 13th Century to keep a watchful eye over Snowdonia. It was one of the most formidable of his ‘iron ring’ of fortresses designed to contain the Welsh in their mountain fastness.
5. Mawddach Trail
Stop off at the popular seaside resort of Barmouth, hire a bike and cycle one of the most beautiful trails in Wales along the Mawddach Estuary. Surrounded by mountains, this former railway track is 9 miles long with plenty of picnic spots to enjoy along the route. The trail passes through Penmaenpool where The George III hotel serves good food and has seats by the water's edge.
If you would like to blow out the cobwebs and go for a walk with stunning mountain and coast views, we would thoroughly recommend the Panorama Walk, our Local Walks page has more details.
Bikes can be hired from:
Birmingham Garage Bike Hire
Church Street, Barmouth, LL42 1EL
Tel. 01341 280644
6. RSPB Ynys Hir
Located within the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere, Ynys-hir reserve is a stunning wildlife haven, nestling between the mountains of Snowdonia to the north and the Cambrian hills to the south. There is always something to see throughout the seasons, the summer months bring wading birds, such as lapwings and redshanks and some very special butterflies, and come the colder months there are ducks and geese to see.
Ynys-hir has miles of trails, 7 view hides and has been awarded RAMSAR, Natura 2000 and SSSI status. It is perfect for a picnic and a walk, there are wildlife discovery activities for kids and adults alike, and coffee, cake and ice-cream to enjoy in the Visitor Centre ...and don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your binoculars you can hire them from the centre too.
Aberystwyth, sits smack bang in the middle of the rugged Ceredigion coastline, it is the half-way point of your 180 mile tour of the Coastal Way. This Victorian holiday hotspot boasts the oldest pier in Wales (built in 1864) and a promenade a mile long!
Visit the biggest Camera Obscura in the World, it sits on Constitution Hill and provides a bird’s eye view of more than 1000 square miles of mountains and sea in a 360-degree sweep around Aberystwyth. To reach the Camera Obscura travel on the longest Victorian cliff railway in Britain, a treat for all ages and offers panoramic views as you climb to the summit.
8. New Quay
New Quay is a hot-spot for dolphin spotting in the Cardigan Bay. Britain’s biggest resident population of dolphins live here, and the summer months offer you the best chance of dolphin-spotting. You can also spot seals and maybe porpoises, and if you’re really lucky orcas, humpback whales and basking sharks. Why not take one of the daily boat trips into the bay to increase your chances of dolphin-spotting?
9. The Blue Lagoon, Abereiddi
Leave your campervan behind at Aberiddi and take a short walk to the Blue Lagoon, a once quiet beauty spot now of international fame since it was discovered as an ideal amphitheatre set for the sport of high cliff diving.
The blue lagoon was created by local fishermen who blasted a narrow passage through the seaward side of the old quarry to form a sheltered circular harbour for their boats. The deep blue water of the water, encircled by sheer grey cliffs has become a must see attraction to visitors.
It’s also a very popular spot for coasteering and kayaking, but if you want to take the plunge be careful the water is deep and cold and should only be done as part of an organised activity group.
10. St. Davids
St Davids is the smallest city in the UK, with its famous cathedral at its heart and quaint streets, it is a pretty seaside town with a long mythical history that attracts visitors from all over the world.
The 12th century St Davids Cathedral, is the reason for St Davids city status. Constructed from dusky purple sandstone, it’s one of Wales’ most iconic religious sites and has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Visit the cathedral, whose origins date back to the 6th century and was founded by St David the patron saint of Wales and learn about its history and treat yourself to a locally sourced lunch at The Refectory.
One final tip, the Wales Way is an epic adventure, so to enjoy it to its full, we would suggest taking your time to enjoy all that it has to offer and adjust to the pace of life. Ideally you should take advantage of both the Coastal Way and the Cambrian Way and allow 1-2 weeks for this adventure.
Book a vintage VW Campervan hire TODAY and do the Wales Way in cool retro style. Snowdonia Classic Campers is conveniently located close to the start of the Coastal the Way, just south of the historic town of Caernarfon.
It is a great location to start your holiday.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Main photo credit © Clive Bright Photography