The Pembrokeshire coastline is one of the most dramatic and beautiful seascapes in the whole of the United Kingdom. Rugged cliffs, sheltered coves and steep cliff paths contribute to the grandeur and splendour of a region that is one of the most popular amongst short-break holiday makers.
The town of Tenby was recently voted Wales’ favourite destination and is a charming sea-side resort with an impressive golden beach. Fishguard, a small fishing port surrounded by steep cliffs also offers a welcome break as does Broad Haven, set on St Brides Bay.
The coastline of Pembrokeshire, despite being lashed by Atlantic waves, has a large number of fine beaches including East Llanion, Newgate and St Brides Haven. Historical buildings such as Haverfordwest Castle and Llawhaden Castle offer reminders of a diverse Celtic history. Its also worth visiting the Bro Meigan Gardens for a serene and picturesque diversion.
Pembrokeshire also has a good selection of heritage sites such as Caldey Island, home to a Cistercian Abbey. There’s much to do and see for the visitor when in Pembrokeshire and its an understandably popular destination for holiday makers. Read on as we now take a closer look at some of the most popular Pembrokeshrie visitor attractions and places of interest.
History and Culture
Pembrokeshire has a history which dates back to ancient times and it is known that both the Romans and the Vikings visited the area. The Tudor Dynasty began at Pembroke Castle when Henry V11 was born there in 1457.
Also worth visiting is Carew Castle, which is around 1000 years old and the 12th century gatehouse and vaulted chapel at ruined Manorbier Castle, which are very well preserved.
Bishop’s Palace in Lamphey is another impressive historical site that has been painstakingly renovated and features a programme of events in the summer months. Also, try the magnificent Cathedral of St Davids, founded in 1181 – it has a stunning treasury collection and also offers tourists home cooked food, snacks and drinks at its refectory.
It is possible to enjoy every kind of adventure from climbing and caving, coasteering and diving, as well as golf, fishing, sailing, pony trekking and walking. Fresh Adventures Ltd at Freshwater East in the heart of the Pembrokeshire National Park offers all sorts of out door activities to suit any age.
The region is well known for top class surfing and for those who enjoy messing about in boats, the Milford Haven Waterway, Britain’s largest deep water port and the Daugleddau Estuary are popular venues.
Pembrokeshire Water Sports in Pembroke and the Cleddau River Centre both offer tuition in boating and sailing and at Llysfran Country Park – the fresh water fishing is second to none. For walkers, the Coastal Path has some of the most spectacular cliff scenery in Britain.
Towns and Villages
As well as the major Pembrokeshire visitor attractions discussed above, the county also features a vibrant collection of must-visit towns and villages. Here are some of our favourites.
Narberth is a pretty little market town situated in eastern Pembrokeshire. Featuring a vibrant high street that’s fringed by a hotchpotch collection of multi-coloured Georgian and Edwardian buildings, there’s plenty to see and do in around the town.
One of its main visitor attractions is Narberth Museum which offers vivid examples of Pembrokeshire’s storied past through various exhibits. These include ‘Inside Welsh Homes’, which provides images drawn from the Royal Commission, depicting Welsh home life through the years.
There are also permanent displays such as the scale model of the ruined Narberth Castle as well as the local railway station, which was integral to the development of Narberth in the late 19th century.
Narberth also plays host to a hugely popular food festival. Held annually on the fourth weekend of September, visitors can enjoy the numerous stalls selling local delicacies and cooking ware. Numerous fringe events take place during the festival such as live music, lectures, competitions and raffles.
Major visitor attractions nearby include the Blue Lagoon Water Park and the Bluestone National Park Resort which features woodland ravines, high ropes and climbing facilities – great if you’re looking to get active during your short break cottage holiday break.
Pembroke is the county town of Pembrokeshire and features a treasure-trove of historical buildings and visitor attractions. Its main street is dominated by the impressive medieval fortress, Pembroke Castle.
Constructed by the Normans in the 11th century, the castle is one of the largest, most well-preserved in the UK. It overlooks the River Cleddau on a site that dates back to Roman Times and features seven bastion towers and a 75ft keep.
Also of interest is its 55-step spiral staircase and Great Hall, both of which were added in the 13th century. The castle is also the birthplace of Henry VIII and was the original seat of the Earldom of Pembroke. It acquired a grade 1 listing in 1951 and is the largest privately owned castle in Wales.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is also nearby and comprises around 950km of paths and bridleways which run along one of the most impressive coastlines in the world. Its centre-piece is the 186 mile national trial which runs from St Dogmaels to Amroth.
There are also 200 circular walks and guided trails which allows visitors to discover the stunning coastal vistas and abundant wildlife.
Saundersfoot is a large coastal town that lies within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Along with Tenby, it is the most visited holiday destinations in all of Wales. The town’s main attraction is its sweeping, golden beach – the shallow water makes it a particularly popular destination for families.
The still active harbour is also worth seeing and offers the perfect setting from which to enjoy the idyllic Pembrokeshire coast. In recent years, Saundersfoot has also built a reputation as a boutique holiday town thanks to its outstanding collection of top-rated restaurants and watering holes.
There’s an excellent range of nearby attractions nearby including the award-winning Folly Farm Adventure Park, which was rated 10th best zoo in the world as well as Tenby Dinosaur Park which offers a variety of outdoor activities including go-karting, paintballing, archery and laser clay pigeon shooting.
Oakwood Theme Park is also just a 15-minute drive away and offers a wide range of white-knuckle rides and numerous outdoor activities. It’s Wales’ biggest theme park and is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the country.
St Davids is the UK’s smallest cathedral city. Named after Wales’ patron saint, its set on the River Alun and is fronted by an inspiring coastline which offers some outstanding views of Pembrokeshire’s distinctive coast.
However, St Davids Cathedral is the town’s most popular visitor attraction. Although much of the current building dates back to the 12th century, the actual site can be traced back as far as the 6th century, when a monastery occupied the same spot. Named after St David, the patron saint of Wales, the cathedral lies adjacent to the impressive 14th century Bishops Palace.
Also well worth a visit is Oriel y Parc Museum which is housed in an award-winning, eco-friendly building. It features a gallery displaying works from the National Museum Wales collection and there’s also a visitor centre for people looking for local information during their Pembrokeshire holiday break. Advice and guidance is also provided for people looking to explore the 186-mile National Trail as well as the numerous bridleways and paths which wend their way throughout the region.
Ramsey Island Nature Reserve is also within a short distance and is home to more than 30 species of breeding seabirds during the spring and early summer – there’s also a colony of grey seals. Boat trips around the island can be arranged at St Davids and Porthstinian.
Tenby is perhaps Pembrokeshire’s most well-known holiday resort. The picture-postcard harbour with its multi-coloured seafront properties, as well as the narrow cobbled streets, offer a quaint, weather-beaten charm that’s hard to beat.
The town itself has a long and eventful history. Its medieval town walls, constructed in the 13th century, were intended to ward off Welsh invaders. Some of the remains are still in evidence today such as the Five Arches Gate. The most intact section runs adjacent to South Parade and St Florence Parade.
Tenby Museum is another notable visitor attraction. Dating back to 1878, it houses a large collection of archaeological and maritime artefacts including mammoth teeth discovered on Caldey Island and a collection of Bronze Age and Roman artefacts unearthed in Trelissey.
One of the museum’s focal points is a nine-foot long, wrought iron cannon from Tudor times, which bears a strong resemblance to the guns found on the Mary Rose. There are also two art galleries, one of which showcases the works of Augustus John, Kyffin Williams and John Piper.
You can find out more about the major Pembrokeshire visitor attractions and places of interest at the county’s official tourism site: https://www.visitpembrokeshire.com