Discover North Wales’ coastal resorts

Whether you want to hit the surf, chill out on secluded beaches, savour ice-creams while strolling along Victorian piers, marvel at medieval castles, or simply soak up the sun this summer, you’ll find it all on north Wales’ gorgeous coast. It’s also the perfect location to team up with a city break in Manchester or Liverpool in north-west England, which are both around an hour’s drive from North Wales.

 

Anglesey

A unique island just off the coast of north Wales, Anglesey is surrounded by 125 miles of coastline that just begs to be explored. Bring sturdy shoes to walk the Isle of Anglesey Coast Path, or take a more laid-back approach and relax on its scores of beaches. Pack up a picnic and head to sheltered bays such as Lligwy Bay – also a popular spot for seal- and dolphin-sightings – gaze out over to the peaks of Snowdonia from Llanddwyn Island, walk for miles with your toes in the sand at Red Wharf Bay, or enjoy the crystal clear waters at Benllech. A visit here, and you’ll understand why the coastal zone of Anglesey is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which also incorporates the town of Holyhead, itself currently in the throes of exciting marina and leisure redevelopment with the Holyhead Waterfront regeneration.

The island is also home to Beaumaris, a pretty seaside town that’s home to architecture stretching from the medieval era to the Edwardian, cute cottages and a historic pier. Standing majestically within the town is the last of medieval King Edward I’s ‘iron ring of castles’; Beaumaris Castle is a World Heritage site and a must-see on a trip to Anglesey. And why not challenge yourself with learning how to say the name of the village that’s the longest in Europe –  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – it’s right here in Anglesey.

Go this summer for: Tour de Mon cycle race (19 August), Beaumaris Food Festival (1-2 September)

Where to stay:

Hotel: The French chateau-style Chateau Rhianfa combines a romantic history with stunning design, its waterside location affording awesome views over to Snowdonia’s peaks.

Historic Inn: An 18th-century inn, The Bull is found in the lovely town of Llangefni – spoil yourself and check into its Lloyd George Room with four-poster bed and roll-top bath.

B&B: Right on the promenade at Benllech Beach, Sea View House is a cute Victorian B&B with its own Pebble Bistro overlooking the beach.

 

Llandudno and Conwy

If you’re looking for a quintessential British seaside resort, you’ve found it at Llandudno, which has been a popular retreat since the Victoria era, thanks to its expansive, award-winning beaches – Llandudno North Shore Beach, a sheltered beach with a wide promenade and West Shore Beach, a smaller beach fringed by sand dunes. It’s here you’ll find heritage-style, British seaside activities (think Punch & Judy shows, donkey rides and live music at the bandstand) as well as a vibrant, contemporary town. Fans of Alice in Wonderland will be enchanted with the town’s Alice in Wonderland trails (the real Alice, Alice Liddell, spent time at her family’s holiday home in Llandudno) and you can stroll along Wales’ longest pier (built in 1876), which stretches 2,295ft/700 metres out to sea. Just one way to enjoy a magnificent view of the area is by heading to The Great Orme, a coastal landmark more than 200 metres above sea, which can be reached by the charming Great Orme Tramway.

Just 15 minutes’ drive away is the seaside town of Conwy – home to the spectacular medieval Conwy Castle, also built by English King Edward I; climb up to its battlements for incredible views across the sea and the town. And Conwy may possess a grand-scale castle but it’s also home to the smallest house in Britain on its quayside; this miniature red-painted house is just three metres high by 1.8 metres wide.

Go this summer for: Llandudno Jazz Festival (27-29 July), Conwy River Festival (14-15 & 20-22 July)

Where to stay:

Hotel: It’s enviable location on the coast means the luxurious rooms at St George’s Hotel overlook Llandudno’s glorious seascape, particularly from its new rooms with balconies on The Rooftop.

Townhouse: A classic townhouse on the promenade, Osborne House Hotel offers six luxurious suites elegantly furnished with antiques while right next door is the larger Empire Hotel, with its own spa, which guests at Osborne House can also use.

B&B: The modern-style Escape Boutique B&B offers nine double rooms each designed with their contemporary theme.

 

Abersoch and the Llyn Peninsula

Picturesque beaches, a laid-back vibe and a pleasant micro-climate mean the Llyn Peninsula has also been a popular seaside resort since the end of the 19th century. It’s a brilliant spot for surfing and sea-kayaking, thanks to the considerable swells at Hell’s Mouth (Porth Niegwl) yet it’s also the area home to family friendly beaches such as Abersoch. The waters off Abersoch are great for sailing in too – or go seal spotting on a boat trip off St Tudwal’s Island – its beaches are dotted with brightly painted beach huts, there’s a lovely harbour to stroll around and the village has a vibrant café culture.

On the other side of the peninsula are the famous Whistling Sands (Porth Oer) – where the sand squeaks as you walk on it! The sound emanates due to the stress of weight put upon the sand and this is one of only two beaches in Europe you can experience this. The beach is managed by the National Trust, as is Porth Ceiriad, a great beach for walkers, kayakers and surfers alike.

A unique coastal resort worth visiting close to the peninsula is Portmeirion; inspired by classic Italian resorts, Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis designed and built the resort between 1925 and 1975. With its Italianesque architecture and multi-coloured cottages, it was famously used as the location for cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner.

Go this summer for: The Abersoch Regatta (August), Festival No.6 (6-9 September)

Where to stay:

Hotel: The country house-style Porth Tocyn Hotel overlooks both Cardigan Bay and out to Snowdonia and also offers a self-catering cottage in its grounds.

Historic house: Set in more than three acres of grounds in the Llyn Peninsula, The Old Rectory offers guests a stay in a Georgian house that was home to the rectors of Boduan since the early 18th century.

B&B: Five-minutes’ walk from Abersoch Beach, the Egryn Hotel is located in an Edwardian villa with most of its rooms boasting sea or mountain views.

 

Rhyl and Prestatyn

Sail, windsurf or simply hang out on the long stretches of golden sands at the beaches of Rhyl and Prestatyn  and meet sea lions at Rhyl’s SeaQuarium, which sits on this stretch of coastline with an open seafront location. Or enjoy the coastline from a different perspective on a hike. There’s around 60 miles of sea views from the north Wales element of the Wales Coast Path and, at Prestatyn, it joins Offa’s Dyke, Britain’s longest ancient monument and a National Trail that follows the English/Welsh border for 177 miles.

In fact, this area is awash with ancient sites and historical attractions, from the well-preserved remains of the Roman Bath House outside Prestatyn, prehistoric sties such as the Gop Hill (Trelawnyd) and England’s medieval King Edward I reared his head here too by ordering the construction of the dramatic Rhuddlan Castle. And fascinating insights into what life would have been like in World War One (2018 is a poignant time to visit as this year marks the centenary of the war’s end) can be found at the 600-year old Bodelwyddan Castle and Park, which has a network of replica trenches at its World War One Trenches Experience.

Go this summer for: Mid-summer night ghost hunt at Bodelwyddan Castle (28 July)

Where to stay:

Hotel: Simple yet comfortable, Beaches Hotel’s seaside location means all of its rooms either offer views overlooking the Prestatyn Hills or Barkby Beach.

Restaurant with rooms: Located in the oldest house in Rhyl, dating back to 1672, Barratt’s at Ty’n Rhyl offers charming rooms to stay in once you’ve dined at its award-winning restaurant.

B&B: Enjoy breakfast overlooking peaceful gardens at Plas Ifan B&B, housed in a building that was built as a chapel in 1770.

48 hours in… Pembrokeshire

2018 is Wales’ Year of the Sea, a year dedicated to celebrating the destination’s spectacular coastline and all that’s associated with it; a coastline that is, in fact, so great for exploring you can walk the entire way around it on the Wales Coast Path. On the west coast of Wales is the region of Pembrokeshire, Britain’s only coastal National Park, making it a memorable place to visit during this year’s celebrations. Discover beautiful, award-winning beaches that stretch for miles, majestic cliffs, pretty harbours and rugged islands, all easily reached in a couple of hours from the Welsh capital Cardiff or five hours from London. Fill a weekend here with beachside walks, adrenaline-pumping watersports, exploring the region’s art and heritage, and feasting on mouth-watering local produce.

 

Time to check in:

It’s easy to find somewhere to stay with a seaview in Pembrokeshire and the region is dotted with cosy self-catering cottages, charming B&Bs and guesthouses, and campsites galore overlooking the coast. And for something special? The Retreats Group has three unique, high-end properties in St David’s, Britain’s smallest city. The Twr y Felin Art Hotel features more than 100 pieces of specially commissioned art and the two Rosette Blas Restaurant, all just a ten-minute walk from the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. If you have a large-enough party you can book the entire 12th-century Roch Castle Hotel and enjoy its awesome views over St David’s Bay, while the elegant stone-built 19th-century Penrhiw Hotel is located just minutes away from the breathtaking St David’s Cathedral. On the other side of Pembrokeshire is the attractive town of Saundersfoot; check in to its luxurious St Brides Hotel, where you can enjoy indulgent spa treatments overlooking the gorgeous bay below.

 

Day One

09:00 DISCOVER PEMBROKESHIRE’S HERITAGE

Begin your 48 hours in the south of the county to discover a little more about Pembrokeshire’s history. Explore the pretty market town of Narberth and its colourful Georgian and Edwardian architecture and, as it was once the capital of Pembrokeshire, it’s home to the medieval fortress Narberth Castle. It’s also a great place to pick up a unique gift to take home; Narberth is packed with independent shops, boutiques and galleries.

 

11:00 DELVE INTO TENBY’S PAST

Half an hour’s drive from Narberth is the popular seaside retreat of Tenby. Grab a coffee from a coastal café and either head out to discover the town’s fantastic inventory of art galleries, which includes the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, investigate the town’s spooky past on the Tenby Ghost Tour, or imagine you are in Tenby of the Tudor era as you explore the National Trust-owned Tudor Merchants House.

 

13:00 LUNCH ON THE SEA’S HARVEST

You’re right by the sea so it’s makes perfect sense to dine on Tenby-caught seafood for lunch. Right next door to the Tudor Merchants House is Plantagenet House, a restaurant housed in the oldest building in town – some parts of it date back to the tenth century. Admiring its quirky interior décor, such as the medieval Flemish chimney, will keep you busy until your dishes of fresh seafood have arrived.

 

15:00 TAKE TO THE SKIES

There are many ways to explore Pembrokeshire, but if you want to see it all in just over an hour, book onto a scenic tour with Fly Wales. Take off from Haverfordwest Airport and swoop above the entirety of its coastline in 60 minutes.

 

17:00 WALK ALONG VAST BEACHES

Back down to earth and head 15 minutes from the airport to the seaside resort of Broadhaven in the heart of the coastal National Park. Come for a stroll along its huge expanse of sand and, at low tide, wander down to the village of Little Haven past a pretty bay called The Settlands. Stop off at The Swan Inn to relax with a beer or tipple of your choice while admiring the awesome coastal views.

 

19:30 ENJOY DINNER BY THE SEA

Head back up to Broadhaven for dinner as you watch the sun set over the horizon. Dine on local crab and mussels at the Ocean Café and Restaurant, a perfect spot to end your first day by the Pembrokeshire coast.

 

Day Two:

09:00 DISCOVER BRITAIN’S SMALLEST CITY

Small, yet perfectly formed, St Davids has the honour of being Britain’s smallest city. It’s also a conservation area in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park and can trace its roots back to the fourth century when St David – the patron saint of Wales – lived here. Despite its size there’s plenty to explore; St Davids Cathedral is a captivating sight, both its majestic exterior and painted ceilings within. Its neighbour is the medieval Bishop’s Palace; although roofless much of the structure remains intact. Or, if you’d rather be in the great outdoors, the city is fortunately located on the St Davids Peninsula so you’re just steps away from joining the Pembrokeshire Coast Path (part of the Wales Coast Path) to enjoy walks with those gorgeous views in every direction.

 

11:00 SPOT SEALIFE IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT

See whales and dolphins, seals and porpoises, puffins and razorbills on a trip out to Ramsey Island and other islands further afield. Boat tours will take you out from St Davids and around the islands, sailing through narrow rock gorges and past extraordinary caves.

 

13:00 EAT THE FRESHEST PRODUCE

Delicious local produce is always on the menu at St Davids Kitchen, a restaurant which follows the farm-to-fork initiative. Feast upon Welsh Black Beef, reared just outside the city, Ramsey Island lamb and venison as well as St Davids lobster. Make sure you leave room at the end of the meal for the locally sourced Welsh cheeses.

 

15:00 TAKE AN ADVENTUROUS TURN

Enjoy this National Coastal Park to its fullest and participate in the huge range of watersports activities on offer. You’ll find plenty of surf schools and adventure activity companies based in St Davids. Try your hand at coasteering – where you jump from rocks, then swim and scramble back up them – or how about a spot of sea kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, powerboating or fishing?

 

18:00 TIME FOR REFRESHMENTS

After all that activity you deserve something cold and refreshing; stop for a drink in The Bishops in St Davids city centre. It’s an exquisite old whitewashed stone building and the interior is charmingly rustic, perfect to relax in with a local ale.

 

20:00 CUDDLE UP FOR DINNER

There’s a lovely word in Welsh that describes a cuddle or a warm safe place; this St Davids restaurant has taken it as its name and has ensured its meaning is prevalent throughout. Cwtch is a cosy, comfortable eaterie where you’ll find divine local food on its menu; Solva crab, Welsh ribeye steak, Caerfai cheeses and Welsh lamb are all there to tempt you.

48 Hours in… Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate

Looking for a super-cool retro vibe from beach destinations that are just 1.5 hours by train from London? Dotted along the coast of south-east England are three captivating beachside towns that have reinvented themselves into stylish destinations over the last few years – Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. In this coastal corner of Kent, known as the Isle of Thanet, you’ll find a buzzing contemporary arts and culture scene married with quirky attractions, elegant Regency squares combined with maritime history, all packaged together with that quintessential British seaside charm.

 

Time to check in:

This is an area of Kent that boasts a raft of gorgeous guesthouses and B&Bs, each with their own unique character, many influenced in style by the area’s rich history, and all within various price ranges. For a touch of luxury, check out Bleak House Broadstairs; not only can you visit eminent author Charles Dickens' study and the smuggling museum, you can stay in rooms such as ‘Fagin’s Superior Double’ (no pickpockets here though!) or the David Copperfield suite. Elsewhere, Broadstairs’ Yarrow Hotel is housed in a 16th-century building now designed with all the comforts of a luxury boutique hotel, while in Margate, the Reading Rooms boutique B&B is housed in a building dating back to the 1760s; its décor is contemporary yet boasts original floor-to-ceiling windows and polished antique floorboards. Margate’s pretty Sands Hotel captures those stunning sea views perfectly, easily enjoyed as you sip cocktails on its own roof terrace. Sea views are also guaranteed at charming boutique hotel Albion House Ramsgate – and it also overlooks the only Royal Harbour in England.

 

Day One

09:00 EMBRACE CONTEMPORARY ART

Not only are the exhibits at Turner Contemporary exceptional, this gallery is well worth visiting for the building alone. It’s an architectural highlight of the Kent coast, flooded with natural light and is a fitting tribute to Victorian artist JMW Turner, who loved Margate. Until the end of September 2018 you’ll have the chance to catch a major exhibition, Animals & Us, examining how artists’ view the relationship between humans and other animals.

 

11:00 EXPLORE A MYSTERIOUS UNDERGROUND ATTRACTION

Just a ten-minute stroll from the gallery is another of Margate’s works of art, but one that couldn’t be more different. The Shell Grotto is a subterranean passageway 21 metres long adorned with 4.6 million shells laid out in a myriad decorative patterns. One of the most intriguing things about it, since its discovery in 1835, is nobody knows who put it there and why. Let your imagination wonder about its mysterious history!

 

13:00 FEAST ON THE FINEST SEAFOOD

Seafood is as fresh as it gets in Margate – and café Hantverk & Found is all about serving the local produce. Find local delicacies such as rock oysters and Rye Bay scallops on its menu, as well as tagliatelle with sea urchin, all washed down with a glass of wine from its range of natural and organic wines.

 

15:00 FIND ALL THE FUN OF THE RETRO-STYLE FAIR

One of the most significant reinventions in Margate over the last few years is Dreamland amusement park, based on the idea of a traditional British seaside fair. When you’ve whooped and laughed your way through rides such as rollercoasters and swing boats, and immersed yourself in the interactive art installations, strap on some roller boots and hit the retro roller disco. Dreamland is a fun way to spend the afternoon whatever your age, while the evenings here are packed with live music and DJ sets for over 18s.

 

19:00 SIP STYLISH COCKTAILS

After an afternoon of fairground fun, take the short six-minute walk from Dreamland to the Clockwork Cocktail Company, for a well-deserved Perk-Up Martini or Satan’s Whiskers in this cool cocktail bar that describes itself as ‘Steampunk/neo-Victorian style’.

 

20:00 BUY THE INGREDIENTS FROM YOUR DINNER

Stylishly contemporary interiors greet diners at The Old Post Office restaurant, a couple of minutes’ walk from your cocktail spot, which is passionate about featuring locally grown and sourced produce on its menus. And, if you like what you ate, you can buy the produce at its delicatessen, stocked to the brim with treats from around Kent.

 

Day Two

09:00 HEAD OUT TO SEA

A great way to brush off the cobwebs from a late night in Margate is to embark on a brisk hour’s walk to the nearby town of Broadstairs and straight to the Joss Bay Surf School. The beautiful bay – fringed by the Georgian facades of the town – is a popular Kent surf spot and the surf school also offers Stand-Up Paddleboarding.

 

11:00 DISCOVER DICKENSIAN CULTURE

Easily venture from sport activity to cultural activity in this town, as you head to the Dickens House Museum. Charles Dickens was a regular visitor to Broadstairs over 22 years of his life and the museum is housed in the cottage said to be the inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield. View fascinating Dickensian artefacts such as his writing box, letters he penned and early editions of his novels.

 

13:00 INDULGE IN ICE CREAM FOR LUNCH!

Since 1932 Morellis Gelato on Broadstairs seafront has been serving customers a huge range of delicious flavours of its famous ice-cream, where fresh gelato is made in store daily. Enjoy these creamy treats among the parlour’s funky 1950s décor, which includes its original soda fountain, pink leatherette seating and juke box.

 

15:00 WALK ANCIENT TRAILS AND TUNNELS

Join Kent’s Viking Coastal Trail between Broadstairs and neighbouring town Ramsgate and walk along the beautiful coastline between the two towns – it’s a pleasant 40-minute walk on this part of the trail. When you arrive in Ramsgate – which made its name as a favoured seaside retreat in the 18th and 19th centuries and where much of the elegant Georgian architecture still stands – head to the Ramsgate Tunnels. Take a tour of this fascinating civilian wartime tunnel network, the largest in Britain, for a feel of what life was like for the citizens of Ramsgate during World War Two.

 

17:00 DRINKS IN THE MARINA

Soak up the atmosphere in Ramsgate’s picturesque marina, that borders a busy Royal Harbour, with pre-dinner drinks at one of the marina’s bars – a great spot for yacht-watching – such as Enoteca or 26 Harbour Street. Keep an eye on the time…Ramsgate boasts its own Meridian Line and is five minutes and 41 seconds ahead of GMT!

 

19:00 DINE WHILE OVERLOOKING HARBOUR VIEWS

Even if you’re not staying at Albion House, you can dine at its restaurant Townley’s; admire the fine views from its windows over the harbour and enjoy formal dining in its elegant Georgian dining room as you order from menus that reflect the seasons and use local produce.

5 unique places to propose in Britain

Since the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, some couples may be thinking of making their own romantic proposal.

Here’s a round-up of five unique places in the UK perfect for popping the question – from a fairy-tale treehouse to hidden forests that inspired the greatest legendary lovers.

 

1. A fairy-tale treehouse overlooking the shores of Loch Goil 

For a magical moment you want a truly memorable location, and you certainly won't forget The Lodge's enchanting treehouse overlooking a Scottish lake as the backdrop of your proposal. Enjoy a private candlelit dinner for two before the main event and then retreat to The Lodge itself – an intimate five-star venue popular with weddings and fashion shoots, located about an hour and 30 minutes' drive from Glasgow. The treehouse even has a marriage licence, so you can come back and get married in the place where you proposed!

 

2. A bespoke proposal looking over London

Twice the height of any other vantage point in the city, The Shard offers breath-taking views of London and is fast becoming known as one of the capital's most romantic destinations, especially when you add a spectacular sunset and a glass of champagne into the mix. The View from the Shard has a dedicated concierge service to help make your proposal unforgettable, with everything from exclusive use of the viewing gallery after hours and personalised music, to candles, petals and champagne - or, if you're thinking of something really different, they also work closely with dedicated romantic event planners, The Proposers.

 

3. On the beach at sunset

If you're ready to ask for your beloved's hand in marriage, the British coast makes an ideal backdrop. The sand at Bamburgh Beach turns a pinky hue at sunset, so pack a champagne picnic, pick a sand dune for privacy and ask the question that's been burning a hole in your pocket all day. Or you could opt for Rhossili Bay in south Wales, which is regularly voted as one of the world's top beaches and best picnic spots. And it's little wonder – the water is refreshing and clean and there's a cute property you can stay in, The Old Rectory, located right on the beach with uninterrupted views of the sea; it is one of the National Trust's most popular holiday cottages.

 

4. At the foot of a waterfall in the Lake District

With its mountain peaks and glistenng lakes, there is nowhere else quite like the Lake District. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the most popular places to propose in the UK, but you can still find an isolated part of this idyllic landscape for your own romantic moment. Derwent Water is a stunning body of shimmering tranquillity, perfect for a private little boat trip proposal, or how about going down on one knee at the foot of a waterfall? Sitting in the 40-acre grounds of Lodore Falls Hotel, overlooking Derwent Water, are the Lodore Falls. The hotel takes real enjoyment in helping guests make their proposals as special as possible, followed by an overnight stay in the romantic Lake View bedroom.

 

5. Live out your own great literary love  

Follow in the footsteps of great lovers in history and literature and head into Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire if you're a budding Robin Hood or Maid Marian; the pair are said to have been married in Edwinstowe Church, and there's a statue marking the site of the event. Fans of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves should make a pilgrimage to Hadrian's Wall (the section of wall in Northumberland), where they'll see the solitary tree immortalised in the film, which also makes a nice proposal spot.