Things to do in PwllheliPublished on 5 May 2016 by Gwion Llwyd
The unofficial ‘capital’ of Pen Llŷn, Pwllheli is a lovely seaside resort with a large marina and sailing community, and some great sandy beaches.
The local waters are world-class, with gorgeous views across Tremadog Bay towards the mountains of Snowdonia. There’s a popular watersports and sailing centre, as well as plenty of local art galleries, shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars. With plenty to do both in the town on the doorstep, it’s a very family-friendly place for your hols.
Pwllheli is the perfect base for exploring Pen Llŷn. With its exceptional and dramatic shoreline of coves, cliffs, and secret sandy beaches, the Llŷn is the perfect destination if you love the romance of rural landscapes with a stunning backdrop of mountains and sea.
Here’s a selection of our favourite things to do in Pwllheli.
There are two gorgeous beaches in Pwllheli, Glan y Don Beach and South Beach. Glan y Don Beach, which is south-facing, is one of the Llŷn Peninsula’s ‘best-kept secrets’. Around three miles long, it is covered in fine sand and pebbles and backed by sand dunes. Ideal for sandcastle and a game of beach cricket. The South beach is mainly shingles, and stretches from Gimblet Rock, across the beautiful promenade toward Llanbedrog. Pwllheli’s beaches are popular spots for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, windsurfing and kite surfing.
Nearby Llanbedrog beach is golden, sandy, relatively shallow and sheltered. It is much loved for its colourful beach huts and mountain backdrop. The location is within touching distance of the Wales Coastal Path – follow it up and over the headland to Abersoch, and on your way check out the impressive Tin Man sculpture. Also handy for a visit to the Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, which is a stone’s throw from the beach. 4 miles from Pwllheli.
One of our favourite Llŷn beaches has to be at Porthdinllaen near Nefyn. It’s home to another beautifully sheltered sandy bay and a pub that is consistently voted one of the best bars in the world – the Ty Coch Inn. Expect magnificent views back towards Snowdonia, a lovely walk around the headland, and some sandy sheltered bays. An idyllic place for a pint and a ploughman’s, but check the Ty Coch Inn’s opening times before you visit. 8 miles from Pwllheli.
The mainly sandy Aberdaron beach looks out across the waves of the dramatic Irish Sea. It’s a beauty. There are great views to Bardsey Island, which sits around two miles off the shoreline. Around a mile long, the beach is flanked by handsome headlands, which are a handy natural windbreak. There are public toilets close to the beach. 14 miles from Pwllheli.
At Porthor, the sand squeaks underfoot when you walk on it. It is a really stunning beach, with crystal clear waters and great rocks to explore and jump from. Access is from the National Trust car park a small walk away. There is a café on the beach too for refreshments, and public toilets. 15 miles from Pwllheli.
With its crystal blue waters and white sands, on a lovely sunny day, you could be mistaken for being somewhere in the Mediterranean. Access to Porth Iago is from a farm campsite where there is parking and toilets – there is a nominal cash fee to pay. The beach is good for kayaking and canoeing as well as swimming. 15 miles from Pwllheli.
Walk the Wales Coast Path
Pwllheli sits on the Wales Coast Path, and there are some great walks from the centre of town. One of our favourites is heading east towards Criccieth – an 11-miler with some fabulous coastal landscapes and great Welsh heritage along the way. There’s no need to do the whole route – you can take a bus part way, or simply turn back when you feel like you are half-way done. Head to the Wales Coast Path website to plot your route.
Take on Yr Eifl – AKA The Rivals
There’s really only one way you’d want to be blown away on top of a mountain, and Yr Eifl – also known as The Rivals – will not disappoint. Expect to be bowled over by the views from the summit. Yr Eifl is essentially a series of three peaks which tower above the sea close to Pen Llŷn’s rugged north coast. Yr Eifl is the highest point at 564m, but arguably it is the Tre’r Ceiri Iron Age hill fort that is the highlight of this walk. On a clear day you can expect to see as far as the Isle of Man, to the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland and over to the Cumbrian peaks of the Lake District. And you’ll get a fantastic view right down the full sweep of the beautiful Cardigan Bay too. It’s stunning. Find out more about walking up Yr Eifl on our blog. 9 miles from Pwllheli.
Take on Cnicht – aka the Welsh Matterhorn – for breathtaking mountain scenery and one of Snowdonia’s best 360-degree summit panoramas. Cnicht’s pointed summit really stands out among the rounded bumps of the neighbouring peaks. It is part of Snowdonia’s Moelwyn range, a short drive from Porthmadog. Its appearance when viewed from Porthmadog has earned it the name the ‘Welsh Matterhorn’, albeit a somewhat smaller version (689m as opposed to a whopping 4,478m). You can read our guide to Cnicht, here. 20 miles from Pwllheli.
Master Moel Hebog
It’s Beddgelert’s own mountain: a worthy day of walking that will reward you with superb 360 views of Snowdon, Snowdonia and the North Wales coast. At 782m Moel Hebog is no lofty peak, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. A circular route covers around 9km and will take you the best part of a day. Make sure you check the weather, and that you will have enough light to finish, before you set off. You can read our guide to Moel Hebog, here. 20 miles from Pwllheli.
Conquer Yr Wyddfa – Snowdon
It’s a bucket list favourite for anyone visiting North Wales – do you fancy climbing Wales’s highest summit on your next trip here? Pwllheli is a short distance from the start point of one of the best routes up Yr Wyddfa – or Snowdon, the Rhyd Ddu Path (pronounced ‘rheed-thee’). This is one of the quieter ways up the great mountain, and offers some of the best views. Plan ahead by downloading the Snowdon Walks app, which covers the six main routes up, with detailed maps and a live progress tracker. You can read more about how to prepare for a walk up Snowdon, here. 22 miles from Pwllheli.
Other local walking ideas
For some more walking inspiration, you might be interested in these websites: Mud and Routes is a great information resource for walking in the area. Simply enter where you would like to walk and it will give you some tried and tested routes. Geocaching is popular in this neck of the woods and if you love a treasure hunt, then this is a great way to while away an afternoon, especially if you’re trying to keep the kids amused too.
Discover Welsh art and culture
The Oriel Plas Glyn-y -Weddw at Llanbedrog is a wonderful showcase for Welsh art, music and theatre. There’s always plenty going on, and it’s well-worth checking out what’s happening whilst you’re on holiday in North Wales. The gallery’s cafe is a great place for a bite of lunch or afternoon tea, and there are pretty woodlands and gardens to explore. Llanbedrog’s spectacular sandy beach is just a few minutes’ walk away. 4 miles from Pwllheli.
Enjoy a drink at the Ty Coch Inn
Sitting on a sheltered sandy bay at Porthdinllaen on the west coast of Pen Llŷn, and with stunning views over Yr Eifl to the Snowdonia mountains, this wonderful North Wales pub is regularly name-checked as being one of the best beach bars in the world. Park at the Nefyn Golf Club car park and follow the well-marked path over the course, it will take you around 15 minutes to get to the pub. With covered outside seating and the sound of waves lapping the shore, it really is the most perfect place for a pint. The Ty Coch Inn has limited opening hours in the low season, so it may be worth checking the pub’s website or social media before you visit. Well behaved dogs are welcome inside the pub, there are usually lots of happy dogs running along the beach outside. 6 miles from Pwllheli.
A day out in Abersoch
You’ll find the village of Abersoch on the southeast-facing side of beautiful Pen Llŷn. Originally a small fishing port, it is now a chic seaside town which seems to have something for everyone: cliffs and coves, bars, bistros and smart boutiques. It’s the kind of place which has been much-loved by generations of loyal visitors, and with its long golden sands and great sweeping views across Cardigan Bay to Snowdonia, it’s not hard to see why. 7 miles from Pwllheli.
Explore Criccieth Castle
A spectacular coastal fortress which stands proud on its own rocky headland, Criccieth Castle is a landmark historic site which has plenty to tell us about the fortunes of war. Built around 1230 by Llywelyn ap Iowerth (Llywelyn the Great), the castle sits on a high rocky peninsula in the centre of town, with enormous views over Cardigan Bay to the Irish Sea beyond. It is a strategic and quite astonishingly beautiful setting. Seasonal opening times and paid entry, book online. 8 miles from Pwllheli.
Head to Porthmadog for a ride on a steam train
This part of the world has no shortage of heritage railways, but two of our favourites – the Ffestiniog Heritage Railway and Welsh Highland Railway – are based in nearby Porthmadog. If ever there were a place to sit back and enjoy the nostalgic pleasure of steam, this is it. Jump on board in the centre of town to enjoy comfortable plush carriages, the nostalgic aroma of coal, and gentle chuff of the engine as it moves through spectacular mountain landscapes. A day out on these railways is one of life’s great pleasures. 13 miles from Pwllheli.
Experience the quirky beauty of Portmeirion
Portmeirion Village was designed by Welsh Architect Clough Williams-Ellis in the early 20th century. The architectural equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it is an eccentric collection of Riviera-inspired houses, ornamental gardens and colour washed villas. It is also home to the spectacular Gwyllt woodland – ten hectares of trees and ornamental shrubs, with big views over the Dwyryd Estuary towards Harlech. There are plenty of cafés and shops to browse, and fabulous Italian Gelati at Caffi’r Angel. Lunch on the lawn outside the beautiful Art Deco Hotel Portmeirion is the perfect holiday treat. Read more about a day out at Portmeirion here. 16 miles from Pwllheli.
LOCAL ACTIVITIES AND ADVENTURES
The Glasfryn Parc Activity Centre is a short drive from Pwllheli. It offers hours – or even days – of family fun including archery, crazy golf, go-karting, wakeboarding, aquapark, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding. 5 miles from Pwllheli.
Dragon Raiders Activity Parc
Dragon Raiders Activity Park based in beautiful woodlands in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the family-friendly park offers quad biking, paintballing, and Segway adventure treks. Book in advance. 7 miles from Pwllheli.
Go surfing in Abersoch
Abersoch’s sandy beach is popular with swimmers, sandcastlers and paddlers – and there’s plenty of room for a game of cricket or rounders too. The town is very popular with surfers, and there’s plenty of opportunity to learn how to catch a wave with a number of surf schools near the waterfront, including Abersoch Watersports, Offaxis, and the Hell’s Mouth Surf School. 7 miles from Pwllheli.
Dwyfor Ranch Rabbit farm and Animal Park
For over 30 years this lovely farm has welcomed visitors to interact with a wide range of farm animals, including some rare breeds. Children are allowed to handle a selection of different types of animals including rabbits, guinea pigs and puppies, as well as hand-feeding many of the larger animals such as pigmy goats, alpacas, rhea, donkeys, ponies, pigs and lambs. Check the website for opening times. 8 miles from Pwllheli.
Take a boat trip to Bardsey Island
Run by a local family who have been lobster fishermen and Bardsey Island farmers for generations, Bardsey Boat Trips will take you across to the historic Bardsey Island – Ynys Enlli – from Porth Meudwy, near Aberdaron. On your way you’ll take in some of the most stunning coastal scenery the UK has to offer. Once upon a time Bardsey Island was known as the Isle of Twenty Thousand Saints and was a destination for Christian pilgrims. Now it’s home to abbey ruins, a bird observatory and a wide variety of flora and fauna. And bundles of peace and tranquillity. 15 miles from Pwllheli.
Black Rock Lamas
This is a fabulously quirky place – a lama sanctuary based at Morfa Bychan, just outside Porthmadog. It’s the place to visit if you’d like to take a lama for a walk, watch them do some show jumping (AKA a rather impressive agility display), or even go lama trekking (1.5 activity, from age 7+). Book your Black Rock Lamas experience online, in advance. 15 miles from Pwllheli.
Sygun Copper Mines
Winner of the Prince of Wales award for tourism, Sygun Copper Mine is one of the wonders of Wales – a remarkable and impressive example of how our precious industrial heritage can be reclaimed, restored and transformed into an outstanding attraction. A self-guided audiovisual tour allows you to explore the old workings with its winding tunnels and large, colorful chambers, magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations. Above ground you can try your hand at panning for gold and enjoy a beautiful lakeside walk. The kids can let off steam at the adventure playground. 20 miles from Pwllheli.
Zip World Caverns
This underground adventure allows you to speed through the caverns of the abandoned Llechwedd slate mine on zip lines, navigating part of the course with a via ferrata, monkey bars, and a whole variety of challenging obstacles. It’s a thrilling experience! Zip World Caverns is part of the Zip World portfolio, which also boasts Europe’s largest zip zone at Blaenau, as well as the fastest zip line in the world at Penrhyn Quarry – a site that was once home to the world’s largest slate quarry. 25 miles from Pwllheli.
Zip World Caverns (see above) is where you’ll also find Bounce Below – a series of giant underground trampolines, strung across enormous underground chambers, with climbs, slides and various levels to navigate. Bounce Below is another thrilling and completely unique North Wales adventure. From age 7+. 25 miles from Pwllheli.
Other stand out North Wales adventure attractions include Zip World Titan, Zip World Velocity, Surf Snowdonia & Adventure Parc Snowdonia, Greenwood Forest Park, Rib Ride, The Slate Caverns at Llechwedd, and Go Below.
MOUNTAIN BIKING AND CYCLING
Circular coast-to-coast route to Nefyn
The Llŷn is a brilliant place to bring your bike on holiday – there are so many quiet cycle routes and lanes to explore – many of the rural B-roads are virtually traffic-free. We love this round trip from Pwllheli to Porthdinllaen. Make sure you stop for some refreshment at the Ty Coch Inn in Porthdinllaen, or the Cwrw Llŷn brewery in Nefyn along the way.
Set in the stunning slate mountains of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and with far-reaching views towards the Irish Sea, Antur Stiniog offers 14 fantastic gravity fed trails for all shades of rider from novice to world cup racer. The downhill trails are graded from green to black. Antur Stiniog includes a mountain uplift service, and bikes are available to hire from the site. 25 miles from Pwllheli.
Coed y Brenin
Coed y Brenin near Dolgellau is the UK’s first and largest dedicated mountain bike trail centre. Hire bikes from the visitor centre (or bring your own) to explore miles of world-class mountain bike trails, with waymarked routes to suit all abilities. There is also a café, plenty of family walking trails, a nice play area and some gorgeous spots for a riverside picnic. 30 miles from Pwllheli.
The Mawddach Trail
The Mawddach Trail footpath and cycle route runs just shy of 10 miles along a disused railway track on the southern side of the Mawddach estuary. The trail can be joined at several points, but it runs between the picturesque market town of Dolgellau and the iconic railway bridge over the mouth of the Mawddach estuary into Barmouth. Expect stunning views across to Diffwys and the Rhinog mountains, and up the estuary to Y Garn and the Arans beyond Dolgellau. 38 miles from Pwllheli.
Want to hire some wheels? Head to the Llŷn Cycle Centre on Ala Road in Pwllheli for bike hire and local cycling routes and tips.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are so many great places to enjoy good food and drink in and near Pwllheli, we couldn’t possibly list them all here. Instead, here are some of our personal favourites. Enjoy!
TAFRYN MADRYN great food, ales, wines, and regular live music nights too. Booking advised.
TAFARN TU HWNT I’R AFON real ale and a good pub menu, including delicious wood fired pizza.
TWNTI SEAFOOD is a little treasure set in a converted barn just outside Pwllheli. Seasonal opening, so check before you visit. Reservations essential. A gem.
Dylan’s is worth the short drive to Criccieth. Excellent seafood, burgers, and pizza, served up in a beautiful art deco restaurant on the seafront.
BUFFERS CAFÉ is a brilliant place for a tasty brunch or lunch. You’ll find it at Pwllheli station.
CABIN CAFÉ is a throwback to 60’s music and style. A great place to sit and sing along whilst watching the world go by.
SPICE offers a good Indian takeaway
THE PHOENIX is the local Chinese contender.
FISH AND CHIPS:
It has got to be ARVONIA FISH AND CHIPS, right in the centre of town.
ICE CREAM: CADWALADERS of course. Do you really have to ask?
THE PRACTICAL STUFF
For medical help
Dial 999 to call for an ambulance if you require urgent medical attention.
You can find your nearest urgent care health services provider by searching the NHS online directory at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/
For non-urgent medical advice dial ‘111’ to speak to an operator at the NHS telephone advice service, or visit www.111.nhs.uk
The welsh alphabet is phonetic so once you know how to say the letters, the theory is that reading the words is straightforward; you say what you see. A little time spent familiarising yourself with the alphabet will help no end when you’re trying to navigate your way around the area…
a short, as in ‘hat’, never as in ‘ball’
b as in ‘bag’. Although is there really any other way?
c always hard as in ‘cat’, never an s as in ‘precise’
ch like the ch in the Scottish word ‘loch’, but with more phlegm
d as in ‘dog’, never as in ‘djinn’
dd a buzzy ‘th’ sound, as in ‘this’. Think angry bees with a lisp
e short, as in pen
f v. This is very, very simple, and when you get really used to it, f will play hafock with your spelling
ff f. Equally, you can ffind yourselff getting too used to ff as well
g always hard as in ‘get’, never a ‘j’ sound as in the last g in garage
ng as in ‘song’, where the g isn’t hard, like in ‘gig’, but a soft glottal stop made in your throat
h as in hat, always sounded and never silent
i as in ‘pin’
j accepted now because of the loan words from English that use it, like ‘garej’
l a ‘luh’ as in ‘lava’, but never an ‘ul’ sound as in ‘milk’
ll not as hard a sound to make as some would have you think. Raise your tongue to the top of your mouth as if you were going to say ‘el’, then make the ‘ell’ sound by blowing air round the sides of your raised tongue, instead of by using your voice. You should sound like an annoyed cat
m as in ‘mithridatize’. Or as in ‘mum’, if you want to be boring
n as in ‘nanobot’
o short as in ‘hot’, not round as in ‘hotel’
p can I have a p please Bob?
ph an English f, or Welsh ff sound, as in ‘phase’
r rolled. Some people just can’t get a rolled ‘r’ – their tongues are unable to vibrate in the right way. It’s a genetic thing, apparently,
similar to being able to roll your tongue into a tube, or turn the end upside down. Honestly, some people can, but my tongue’s not that prehensile. Roll if you can, don’t if you can’t
rh hr. Make a huffy, breathy sound before your rolled ‘r’
s always soft as in ‘sit’, never a ‘z’ sound as in ‘juxtapose’
t as in ‘top’. Can it get any simpler?
th as in ‘think’, softer and less buzzy than dd
u If you had stepped in something disgusting and made a kind of ‘eugh’ noise, the vowel ‘eu’ sound would about approximate
y ok, y breaks the rule that Welsh is phonetic. As a single syllable word, y is like ‘uh’, on the last syllable of a multisyllabic word it’ an‘u’ or ‘ee’, and anywhere else it’s like the unstressed, indeterminate noise of the final e in ‘garden’ or ‘letter’. Ysbyty (hospital) is the perfect example.
How are you? Sut mae / Ti’n iawn
Good morning: Bore da
Good Afternoon: P.nawn da, prynhawn da
Good evening: Noswaith dda
Good night: Nos da
Cheers / Good Health! Iechyd da!
Do you speak welsh? Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?
How do you say…. in welsh? Beth ydy….yn Cymraeg?
Thank you: Diolch
I love you: Dw i’n dy garu di
Happy Birthday: Penblwdd Hapus
and a couple of funny ones….
Microwave: popty ping
‘Might as well’: Man a man a mwnci