Earlier this month, Visit Wales invited me to come for an experience of a lifetime — a chance to see the many gems along their scenic coastline. Road tripping the Coastal Way in Wales was one of my bucket list experiences for this year and I couldn’t wait to get started when I landed.
Something about hopping in a car, setting out with few plans, and seeing how the day goes is magical. Wales couldn’t have been a better place to head to for a relaxing sojourn down the coast, where castles and vistas were plenty. I landed in Manchester (the closest airport to Northern Wales) and made my way to the coastal town of Conwy where I would begin my journey through to Cardiff. I had my eyes set on the wild coastline, the rugged mountains, and those iconic rolling countryside hills that were paved in lush green grass.
The journey, spanning over about a week’s time, was a good amount of time to get a taste of the Welsh culture —though one could easily spend two weeks and not see it all. There’s many highlights along the way, from the mountainside villages of Snowdonia, to the coastal towns spanning from Anglesey to Cardiff. Have a look to see some of the highlights of road tripping the Coastal Way in Wales.
Road Tripping the Coastal Way in Wales
What to Know Before Going
- One will need a car to experience the road trip and there are plenty of rental companies at the airports.
- The best airports to fly into are Manchester or Heathrow and I would suggest starting in the north and working your way down. One can easily take the train from Cardiff to Heathrow.
- Be sure to remember that driving is on the opposite of the road, definitely keep that in mind.
- One week would be enough, though two weeks would be ideal to have a slow-travel style trip.
- Welsh and English are the official languages.
- The Pound Sterling is the local currency.
Suggested Stops along the Coastal Way
Stay: Bodysgallen Hall & Spa
See: Head to the historic Conwy Castle and be sure to walk the walls afterwards. Great Britain’s smallest house is also here and worth a stop to look at the design. While in Conwy, one incredible side trip is to the town of Betws-y-Coed, where you can get a feel of the small and picturesque villages of Snowdonia. It’s incredibly beautiful and the famed Fairy Glen is here as well. One experience we had near here was at the Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, where there’s the world’s fastest and longest zip line — quite the rush!
Stay: Ty’n Rhos or in Anglesey.
See: There is so much to do in Anglesey and one could easily spend two nights in the area while visiting. I would recommend making the walk out to Ynys Llanddwyn and exploring the park. Another highlight includes the South Stack Lighthouse and if you’re interested in the famous salt from Anglesey, a tour at Halen Môn Sea Salt would be nice. The other highlight is the region between Beaumaris and Menai Bridge. In Beaumaris, you have the 13th century castle which is a World Heritage Site today and the drive there is stunning. In Menai Bridge area, I really enjoyed a RibRide tour (fast boat) on the Menai Strait — incredibly fun and adventurous. Afterwards, be sure to head to Dylan’s for a bite.
See: This was one of my favorite towns along the coastline as it had a young energy about it and was incredibly scenic. I couldn’t recommend it more and 1 or 2 nights would be great here as well for a base to explore. In town, be sure to get dinner at the Harbourmaster, try the fish & chips at New Celtic, and get the local honey ice cream at the Hive. Some great day trips from here could include New Quay or Aberustwyth.
St Davids, Wales
Stay: Penrhiw Priory
See: Pembrokeshire region is rich in experiences and it would easily take a week or so to see everything. In St Davids itself, the historic cathedral is a highlight as well as the Oriel y Parc Gallery. Along the coast, the towns of Solva and Little Haven are quaint to stop in and you have an option to hike between these towns on the coastal path. One highlight was the trip to Skomer Island out of Martins Haven to see the puffins (check here for all information on this). From there, working your way down the coast, highlights include Freshwater West, Saint Govan’s Chapel, Barafundle Bay, and the town of Tenby.
- Cardiff is the best place to begin or end the trip. It’s a dynamic city and one can easily get access from here.
- There is so much to uncover in Wales — I’d suggest having a few home bases along the way and doing day trips to cut down on having to switch hotels frequently.
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*Bon Traveler was welcomed as a guest of Visit Wales. As always, all opinions are own.