The Pembrokeshire Coast is blessed with glorious scenery, superb activities, friendly locals, and some of the best regional food in the country. Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Pembrokeshire.
Pembrokeshire is an instant heart-stealer.
Exquisite coastal paths provide mood-lifting views that can brighten even the dullest of drizzly days. Multicoloured cliffs fall abruptly into crashing oceans and forgotten beaches are framed with golden arcs of powder-soft sand. Diminutive country lanes twist into traditional villages, past tiny coves and along headlands rich with enthralling wildlife.
There are plenty of things to do in Pembrokeshire that take advantage of these diverse features. Surf on some of the best breaks in the UK, scramble along rugged coastlines or hike the dramatic Pembrokeshire Coast Path. If that all sounds too much, kick back on one of Pembrokeshire’s under-the-radar beaches.
Interrupt the beguiling vistas with locally sourced and lovingly produced food and uncover the story of Pembrokeshire in historic castles, ancient dolmen, magnificent cathedrals and creaking pubs.
Here are our favourite things to do in Pembrokeshire, one of our favourite weekend break destinations in the UK. We hope it steals your heart too.
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IN THIS GUIDE
Things to do in Pembrokeshire
1 – SURF THE WAVES AT FRESHWATER WEST
There are few finer surfing beaches in the UK than Freshwater West. Facing southwest towards the Atlantic rollers, it’s considered the most consistent surfing location in Wales, capable of holding waves over 2 metres high.
If you’re a surfing pro you don’t need our advice, but for beginners (like us) Freshwater West is an excellent place to start those surfing lessons.
Outer Reef runs surf school almost every day during the warmer months, and while we didn’t quite enter the Blue Room (inside the curl of the wave) they did at least get us standing for a few seconds. The wide shallow beach is ideal for beginners, but if the swell is too big, classes move east to Manorbier. All the equipment you need is provided and lessons last 3 hours.
After conquering the waves, grab lunch from Café Môr, the unassuming van in the car park at Freshwater West. Their lobster rolls are legendary.
2 – HIKE THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH
Stretching 186 miles, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of the finest National Trails in the country. During its journey, it passes towering cliffs and golden beaches; cute villages with tiny harbours; and emerald-green lagoons.
It takes 10 to 15 days to walk the entire route from Amroth in the south to St Dogmaels in the north. But if you don’t have that sort of time, it’s entirely possible to complete some of the best sections on shorter day walks.
We have picked our seven favourite circular walks along the Pembrokeshire Coast. Some are only a couple of hours on generally flat land, while others are more challenging heading over headlands and up to rocky summits. All of them are a great half-day out, usually with a pub at the end.
3 – TAKE A PILGRIMAGE TO ST DAVID’S CATHEDRAL
St Davids is the smallest city in the UK and the resting place of St David the patron saint of Wales. The teacher and preacher who founded monastic settlements died in 589 CE and was canonised in 1120. In 1123, Pope Calixtus II declared “two pilgrimages to St David’s is equal to one to Rome, and three pilgrimages to one to Jerusalem”. A cathedral was built soon after in 1131.
Spotting an opportunity to avoid a long journey to Jerusalem, pilgrims – and money – flooded in. The cathedral was quickly deemed too small and a larger one followed just 50 years later.
Today this magnificent building stands beside the decaying ruins of the bishop’s palace, both beautifully set below the city. It’s an intriguing place to explore packed with stories and interesting history. Don’t miss the three lovingly painted wooden ceilings, the Edward the Confessor chapel with its pink alabaster altar, the newly renovated shrine of St. David, and the intricately carved choir stalls.
Choral services start at 6pm providing a thoroughly atmospheric way to experience this architectural gem. It’s a stirring and evocative thing to do in Pembrokeshire.
4 – GO BIRDWATCHING ON SKOMER ISLAND
There are few better wildlife experiences in the UK than a boat trip to Skomer Island. During spring, birds flock here to nest and stay till the middle of summer. Puffins, guillemots, and razorbills come in their tens of thousands to lay their eggs on these protected shores.
Manx shearwaters are here from May to September. During the day they are out at sea, but in the evening, they gather in vast numbers resting on the waters near the island. Seals can be seen in the sea all year round but come ashore to pup in October and if lucky, you may spot porpoises playing in the waves.
There are a range of trips available including a boat tour around the island, a sunset cruise seeking the Manx Shearwaters and a 5-hour tour that lands on the island. Boats leave from Martins Haven at the end of the Marloes peninsula and in peak season they fill up fast so book ahead.
5 – LAZE ON BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is home to some of the finest beaches in the UK. You could have a great day on any of them, but here is our pick.
Barafundle Beach is often listed as one of the best in Britain. Surrounded on two sides by high cliffs and backed by dunes and pine trees, golden sands and crystal-clear waters create a beautiful setting. The bay is well protected, so waves are usually small making it great for young families. There are no facilities at the beach, but the National Trust café, car park and toilets are only a ten-minute walk away.
Whitesand’s Beach is a lovely sweep of powdery white sand on the St David’s head peninsula. It’s a great destination to keep everyone happy. Unlike many of the more remote beaches in Pembrokeshire, there’s deckchairs and windbreaks to rent for lazing; surfboards, bodyboards and wetsuits for those looking for a little more adventure; and a café and toilets next to the car park.
Want to get away from the crowds to a glorious beach surrounded on three sides by cliffs? Then head to Traeth Llyfn. It’s a 15-minute walk over dramatic cliffs from the Abereiddy car park or 30 minutes from Porthgain to a steep metal staircase that descends to the cove. At high tide there is only a tiny slither of sand, but as the water retreats, a shimmering golden beach appears. There are no facilities, but if you get the tide times right, it’s a glorious day out. More details are on our Blue Lagoon post.
6 – ADMIRE THE PASTEL SWEEP OF TENBY
Tenby is an attractive town nestled in the cliffs towards the eastern end of the Pembrokeshire Coast. The tiny harbour is still a place of shelter for fisherman and their boats, sitting under the gaze of the castle which stands proud on the headland.
Tenby is blessed with two glorious beaches. North Beach is great for families, with its iconic rock rising out of golden sands. Castle Beach is small but reveals a walk over to St. Catherine’s Island as the tide retreats.
While the town itself left us a little underwhelmed, there’s no denying the effect of the colourful sweep of pastel-coloured houses that overlook the bay, making Tenby one of the most colourful towns in Pembrokeshire. Read more in our guide to the best things to do in Tenby.
7 – ENJOY LOCAL PRODUCE
Pembrokeshire puts other areas of the country to shame when it comes to the pleasures of local produce.
Welsh cakes are a delicious treat that crosses the textural divide somewhere between a scone and a pancake. Baked on a cast-iron griddle, they’re soft, delicious, and generally served lightly spiced and slightly sweet.
While we can only look and drool over seafood these days, we were doing just that at Lobster & Môr in Little Haven. Their lobster rolls with seaweed butter looked delicious. Similarly, the Café Môr van at Freshwater West carpark and The Shed in Porthgain are known for their superb crab sandwiches. Mrs Will the Fish in Solva prepares locally caught crab, lobster, and seafood daily.
Caffle Brewery produces craft ales with a low environmental impact, The Kift (meaning awkward and different) blonde ale was our favourite. Bluestone Brewery produces ethical, sustainable beer from a small farm in the heart of Pembrokeshire and their beers are available throughout the region.
Tir and Môr from Lobster & Môr in Little Haven was our favourite local gin. Light, bright, and sharp, it’s the perfect summer drink to take to the beach.
08 – COASTEER IN THE BLUE LAGOON
Pembrokeshire slate was in high demand all over the British Isles and the quarry pit at Abereiddy was famous for its vibrant, earthy lustre. The quarry closed in 1910, but spotting a unique opportunity, local fisherman blasted a narrow channel between the quarry and the sea, creating an artificial harbour in the old pit. Today, the Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy is a 25-metre-deep pool in a mesmerising shade of blue-green.
The best way to explore is to join a coasteering group – a unique outdoor activity with a mild to mad splash of adrenaline. The first part of the tour takes place on the coast where you will traverse along rocky edges, leap from low cliffs into the water and ride the swell.
The second half of the tour takes full advantage of the Blue Lagoon. Run down steep slopes before leaping into the lagoon and try jumping in from the ever-increasing heights of the old quarry buildings that line the edge.
We went with Celtic Quest and had a great time. But if you don’t fancy joining a group, then you can explore on your own. Read our Blue Lagoon post for more details.
09 – PERUSE THE ARTISAN SIDE OF PEMBROKESHIRE IN NARBERTH
If there is still a hidden gem to be discovered in Pembrokeshire, we’d call it Narberth. It doesn’t have a thing, like Hay-on-Wye, it’s not endorsed by celebrity chefs and it’s not even that pretty. But it has managed to earn a reputation as the understated purveyor of quality local stuff. Great food without the hype; quirky shops without the pretence.
Ultracomida is a small independent supplier specialising in food from Spain, Wales, and France. Select from a curated selection of cheeses, dried hams, Cantabrian gins and Jerez cava. There’s a traditional wood-panelled tapas bar at the back, churning out tasty Spanish-inspired morsels.
Wise Buys is a greengrocer whose shelves are bursting with a huge selection of fruit, old fashioned sweets, and craft booze. Fforc is a small deli that has the best Welsh cakes we sampled on our trip, but unfortunately, the coffee doesn’t live up to their other standards, so give it a miss.
There are several antique stores crammed with a mish-mash of strange objects, but don’t miss Useful and Beautiful Things, a treasure trove of paraphernalia from a bygone age.
10 – PHOTOGRAPH PEMBROKESHIRE COAST TREASURES
The bruised and battered coast between Tenby and Freshwater West in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park hides a host of hidden photographic treasures. Scenic rocky outcrops and off-the-radar sandy beaches are often only a short walk from a nearby carpark. Here are a few of our favourite photography locations in Pembrokeshire.
SHRINKLE HAVEN & CHURCH DOORS
Shrinkle Haven is a beautiful finger of rock that stretches into the ocean, separating two idyllic looking beaches. Descend the steps at the back of the beach and you can explore the natural arch of Church Doors right next to it. Park in the car park at the end of the YHA Manorbier road and explore.
ST GOVAN’S CHAPEL
Just south of Bosherston, St. Govan’s Chapel is a tiny building measuring only 20 by 12 feet. Wedged into a gap in the cliffs, it’s a popular photography location in Pembrokeshire. It was built in the 13th century but is believed to date back to St Govan’s time in the 6th century. You can walk down to the chapel to collect shots from the rocks just under it, or along the top of the headland to capture it from above.
STACKS ROCKS AND GREEN BRIDGE
Stacks Rocks (Creigiau Elegig) are two large pillars rising out of the sea. In late spring and early summer, they are covered in nesting guillemots. Right next door is the Green Bridge of Wales, a majestic natural arch reaching 80 foot in height. Both are gradually being chipped away by erosion but at the moment, they’re still excellent photography locations in Pembrokeshire.
Please note St Govan’s Chapel and the Stacks Rocks are within the Ministry of Defence’s Castlemartin training area and are sometimes closed for firing operations. Check times before you go.
11 – EXPLORE DYLAN THOMAS’S LAUGHARNE
Just over the border from Pembrokeshire in Carmarthenshire, Laugharne was the home of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas who described the village as timeless, mild and beguiling. As the inspiration for his most famous work, Under Milk Wood, he wrote from a small shed perched on the estuary of the River Tâf.
Laugharne Castle which has been rebuilt several times since it was established in 1116 overlooks the small but colourful town which has a thriving community spirit and a great local food scene.
For a relaxing stay in Laugharne, Dylan Coastal Resort has self-contained, well-appointed cabins many with their own private hot tub overlooking the estuary. The highlight is the Milk Wood Spa where you can enjoy a panoramic indoor swimming pool, outdoor jacuzzi, heated stone loungers and pampering treatments.
12 – EXPLORE PEMBROKE CASTLE
From Caernarfon and Conway in the north to Caerphilly in the south, Wales is blessed with stunningly preserved defensive fortifications. Pembroke Castle is no exception.
Originally built in the 11th century and rebuilt again a century later, it’s one of the finest Norman castles in Britain. As the birthplace of Henry VII, it towers above the River Pembroke and on a still day, ancient walls partially covered with the trees of the grounds, shimmer in the reflection. Walking around the body of water in front of the castle taking photos is a great thing to do in Pembrokeshire.
Just a few miles away is the almost equally impressive Carew Castle. This Norman fortress rises behind a tranquil millpond. Don’t miss its sparkling reflection, an 11th-century Celtic cross, and the only restored Tidal Mill in Wales.
It’s free to look at both castles from across the water but there’s a charge to explore inside.
13 – WONDER AT ANCIENT DOLMENS
Dotted along the Pembrokeshire Coast are all sorts of ancient remnants. Iron age forts decaying on craggy hills, burial mounds tucked into fields and ruined chapels that have seen better days. The most intriguing and impressive are the array of dolmens.
A dolmen is a single chamber tomb consisting of at least two (but often more) massive vertical prehistoric stones supporting another massive stone (capstone) laid horizontally across them. Together they look like a table, and most are over five thousand years old.
The largest and best-preserved is Pentre Ifan, just inland from Newport. Our personal favourite was Carreg Samson. Set in a field by the sea, its backed by ocean vistas and towering cliffs.
14 – HAVE A PINT BY THE WATER
There are several great pubs in Pembrokeshire where you can have a pint by the water if the weather is on your side, or a fireside meal if it’s not.
The Sloop Inn in Porthgain is an old pub packed with memorabilia harking back to the village’s industrial and fishing past. On a warm day, its terrace has views over the bay, but the wood-panelled interior, cosy fire and worn-out board games provide glorious shelter from the cold and misty nights.
The Old Sailors in Dinas Cross is nestled in the sand behind a remote and lovely cove. It not only has great local IPA and ciders but serves fish and seafood fresh from the sea.
The Cresselly Arms is on a section of tidal river which once transported coal by ox cart on flat bottomed boats. Today as the tide rises, fishing and tourist boats dock in front of the pub to try the locally brewed ales and enjoy some Welsh banter from the very friendly staff.
MAP / THINGS TO DO IN PEMBROKESHIRE
We have included our list of the best things to do in Pembrokeshire on a map to help you find all the main attractions dotted along this rugged part of Wales.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST
The best time to visit Pembrokeshire is from May to early July when the days are long and dry, the headlands are dotted with wildflowers, and the school holidays have not yet begun. September and October are also good options.
From mid-July to end of August the weather should be better and the beaches in their prime, however, this is also peak tourist season. The area will be busy so make sure to book your trip in advance. All our trip tools can be found on our BOOK page.
Winter months can be cold and wet, but if you can book late and wait for a window of good weather, then this could be a great time to do some hiking in the area in lovely winter light.
WHERE TO STAY ON THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST
St Davids is a great base for seeing these Pembrokeshire attractions with good facilities in town and plenty of transport connections if you’re visiting without a car.
If you are driving, you have a lot more freedom. Anywhere near the coast between Tenby to Fishguard will have you located no more than a 70-minute drive from each of the walks. Ideally, split your stay in half and spend a few days in the Tenby / Stackpole area and a few days around St Davids.
You can find our favourite places to stay in our guide to where to stay in Pembrokeshire.
HOW TO GET TO AND AROUND PEMBROKESHIRE
The best way to get around Pembrokeshire Coast is to drive.
The National Trust owns a lot of properties in Pembrokeshire and being a member allows you to park in their car parks for free (saving you roughly £4 per park). If you have ever thought of joining, then doing so before visiting Pembrokeshire makes a lot of sense.
If you are looking to hire a car for your Pembrokeshire trip, we recommend rentalcars.com who compare prices across all the major car rental companies.
MORE BRITAIN READING
As London based travel bloggers, we’re often exploring exotic destinations far from home, but there’s a wealth of great experiences to be had within the UK. Here are some of our favourite guides to our home country. For more see our Britain page.
Mild to wild adventures at the Blue Lagoon, Wales
Where to stay in Pembrokeshire
Mild to wild adventures at the Blue Lagoon, Wales
Visiting Rhossilli Bay & the Gower Peninsula
Wonderful things to do in Pembrokeshire
The best Pembrokeshire circular walks
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