Must do in and around Portmeirion

Escape to Portmeirion for dreamy Italianate architecture and lovely views. Much is made of its long-ago role as the set for a TV series called The Prisoner – but we’re sure you’re far too young to remember that. 

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    The view from Llechollwyn

    Portmeirion, Snowdonia

    Portmeirion, Snowdonia

     by Barbera Fuller

    From Ynys, a village on the A496 between Harlech and Maentwrog, a lane leads north to the shore of the Dwyryd estuary. Relax and enjoy the distant view across the broad, tidal waters to Portmeirion, a jumble of white, ochre and pastel-coloured buildings standing out against the trees and the hills beyond.

  • Portmeirion Piazza, Snowdonia
    Portmeirion Piazza, Minffordd, Snowdonia by Eiona R

    With its Riviera inspired houses, ornamental garden and campanile, this is the centrepiece of Portmeirion. It’s a beautiful pocket of madness. Its architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, was an ardent environmentalist who wanted to create a functional and attractive private village that would act as ‘propaganda for good manners’. It opened in 1926.

  • Portmeirion in Gwynedd, North Wales
    Portmeirion in Gwynedd, North Wales by technodean2000

    Williams-Ellis’ village is compact, but his clever use of arches, slopes and window sizes makes it seem larger than it is. The Rough Guide to Wales calls it “a gorgeous visual poem”. Take time to admire the Gothic Pavilion, Bristol Colonnade, Hercules Hall and Belvedere. Statues, corbels and whimsical details fill every nook with interest.

  • Portmeirion in Gwynedd, North Wales
    Portmeirion in Gwynedd, North Wales by SuggySnaps

    From the start, Williams-Ellis designed Portmeirion as a tourist destination, with the Hotel Portmeirion as its waterfront hub. Recent upgrades have been faithful to his quirky spirit. Outside, kids can play pirates in the Amis Reunis, a stone sculpture of an old ketch, or, in summer, take a dip in the heated pool. 

  • This pretty little plaza contains guest accommodation, an aromatherapy spa and a café with outdoor tables on the cobbles – a great spot to grab a coffee, Mediterranean-style. The Round House, the cottage where Number Six lived in The Prisoner, is now a shop selling nostalgic memorabilia.

  • Y Gwyllt in Portmeirion, Snowdonia

    Y Gwyllt in Portmeirion, Snowdonia

     by Eccentric Scholar

    Stretch your legs in this ten-hectare woodland, an Edwardian wild garden designed by Caton Haigh, who was a world authority on Himalayan flowering trees and exotic plants. Camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolia and maidenhair trees bring fresh blazes of colour with each passing season.

  • Castell Deudraeth in Minffordd, North Wales

    Castell Deudraeth in Minffordd, North Wales

     by Alan Jones

    Outside the village but within the Portmeirion estate, this striking mansion has a stone façade, tall crenellations and Gothic flourishes. Originally the home of an early Victorian MP, it’s now a hip hotel. Even if you’re not staying, you can drop in for lunch in the stylish conservatory brasserie.

  • Festival No 6 in Portmeirion, Snowdonia

    Festival No 6 in Portmeirion, Snowdonia

     by Kb

    Small and suitably quirky, this cultural festival fills Portmeirion’s intimate rooms and squares with an eclectic mix of music, storytelling, comedy and art. Held over a three day weekend in September, it’s still a young festival – but it’s making big waves. Williams-Ellis would be proud.

  • Williams-Ellis’ daughter Susan, a designer, was already selling her ceramics in Portmeirion when, in 1960, she took over a Stoke-on-Trent pottery and named it after the village. With a nice line in botanical motifs, the business blossomed. Traditional and contemporary earthenware is still a favourite purchase from the village gift shops.

  • Train at the station on Ffestiniog Railway, Snowdonia

    Ffestiniog Railway, Snowdonia

     by alanfrombangor

    Minffordd Station is just a mile’s walk or drive from Portmeirion. With platforms for both narrow gauge and mainline services, it’s train buff heaven. For a vintage treat, board a steam train bound for the heart of Snowdonia. Alternatively, take the short but scenic hop to Porthmadog, perhaps continuing north via the Welsh Highland Railway.