Breezy, cheery North Wales is easily reached from Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, meaning the best beaches of North Wales are just a short drive away. Follow the North Wales Way – a 75-mile long old trading route – to take in many of these spectacular stretches of sand, as well as the imposing castles at Beaumaris and Caernarfon, and the walled citadel at Conwy. This cluster of 13th-century fortresses, along with Harlech, forms an incredible UNESCO World Heritage site.
So are you in the mood for a nostalgic family holiday, complete with sandcastles, candy floss and Punch and Judy? Or is an active break more your style – sailing and windsurfing one day, hiking the next? Discover the North Wales beaches that suit your needs, or explore friendly resorts like Llandudno, Abersoch and Barmouth, which offer loads of options for all.
Rhyl, Prestatyn and Colwyn Bay
In Rhyl, Prestatyn and Colwyn Bay sunny days beckon you out to enjoy the long, broad, sandy beaches and grey weather ushers you inside for fish and chips, arcade games or feeding time at the SeaQuarium or the Welsh Mountain Zoo. Either way, kids love it.
Prestatyn has 4 miles of glorious sandy beaches and an incredible set of sand dunes, while Rhyl is home to a brilliant miniature railway that dates back to 1911. Wide promenades, numerous beach activities and an abundance of water sports means this stretch of coast promises fun for all the family.
A little further east is Llandudno, the epitome of the elegant Victorian seaside resort. It’s on quite an upswing at the moment, with great places to stay, eat and drink. It’s also a hub of North Wales’ thriving contemporary art and craft scene. There are several galleries in town, with Oriel MOSTYN Gallery leading the way. It’s a striking reinvention of a grand Edwardian gallery that was the first in the world to be purpose-built as an exhibition space for women artists.
After dosing up on art in Llandudno, you could ride up the Great Orme on Britain’s only cable hauled tramway. After that, head for the prom to stroll along the pier or take in a good old-fashioned Punch and Judy show. The Codman family have been performing here for over 150 years.
As a bonus, both Llandudno and Colwyn Bay have the magnificent driving, walking and cycling routes of Snowdonia right on their doorstep.
Over on the island of Anglesey, life moves at a gentle pace. Anglesey has been connected to the mainland by road and rail since the 1800s, but it still feels different – and most of its coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Beaumaris, on the east coast, has charming Georgian architecture, a fine castle and some of the best restaurants in North Wales.
The port town of Holyhead is currently benefitting from an ambitious regeneration scheme and there’s a spectacular waterfront development on the cards. Nearby, there are lovely, peaceful beaches, so this spectacular landscape never feels too crowded.
For another change of atmosphere, try the Llŷn Peninsula. This is a part of Wales that deserves to be far better known. The small towns of Abersoch, Pwllheli and Criccieth are popular with all ages for sailing and windsurfing, as conditions there are challenging but reasonably safe.
The coastal scenery is truly splendid. Abersoch has a gorgeous sandy beach and access to some lovely sections of the Wales Coast Path.
At the tip of Tremadog Bay, where the Llŷn meets Snowdonia, there’s a totally unique seaside village – Portmeirion. Stemming from the romantic imagination of architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, it’s like a little piece of Italy tucked away in a tranquil corner of Wales. This fascinating collection of villas, squares, towers and domes is now a conservation area owned by a charitable foundation. You can visit for the day to wander through the gardens and dip your toes in the bay, or stay overnight to immerse yourself in its unusual magic.
Barmouth, further south, has one of the most impressive locations in Wales, with the Mawddach Estuary and Cardigan Bay lapping at its toes and the foothills of Snowdonia rising dramatically at its back. With direct trains from Birmingham taking just 3.5 hours, it’s been a favourite with visitors from the Midlands since Victorian times. The huge beach is great for family fun, and there are trails around the estuary for walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers to explore. Alongside the miles of continuous sands, Barmouth is home to all of the seaside amenities you could need, from speciality shops and amusements to cafes and restaurants offering an array of delectable local cuisine.