Family day out ideas in Carmarthenshire

If you want to see the best of any holiday area, go where the locals go. Travel writer Charles Williams was brought up on a farm in Llandeilo, and here he gives his insider tips on the best family holidays Carmarthenshire has to offer.

If you’re coming to Carmarthenshire on holiday, then congratulations. You have great taste. Okay, I’m biased. I grew up here, and now I’ve got children of my own, I love taking them to the places I loved as a kid. So if you were coming to stay here’s where I’d recommend you go:

1. Carreg Cennen Castle

Aerial view of Carreg Cennen with surrounding countryside

Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire

Here’s the first place we take visitors, and they’re always wowed. The weird thing is, so are we locals, every single time. Something to do with the spectacular clifftop location and 60-mile panoramic views, maybe. Take a torch (or hire one) to explore the secret tunnel that leads down to a freshwater spring.

2. Millennium Coastal Park

Millennium Coastal Path

Millennium Coastal Path, Carmarthenshire

When we fancy a family cycle trip, here’s where we go: a purpose-built 12-mile cycle path along the Burry Estuary in Llanelli, with the National Wetlands Centre at one end, and Pembrey Country Park at the other. We usually end up back in the middle for lunch at the excellent Sosban restaurant.

3. Pembrey Country Park

Aerial view of part of Cefn Sidan beach, part of Pembrey Country Park

Cefn Sidan beach, Pembrey, Carmarthenshire by discover carmarthenshire

For family romps, it’s hard to beat Pembrey Country Park, which has loads of adventure activities, including mini golf and a dry ski slope, in 500 acres next to Cefn Sidan’s vast sands.

4. RSPB Gwenffrwd- Dinas, Ystradffin

Wooded riverbank at RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas, Carmarthenshire

Wooded Riverbank at Gwenffrwd-Dinas, Carmarthenshire by Aaron A. Aardvark

Here’s an ideal family walk: a glorious two-mile stroll along the wooded river banks, with an optional scramble up to Twm Sion Cati’s cave, the supposed hideout of a roguish Welsh folk hero. The spot where two fast-flowing young rivers meet underneath a towering hill is, IMHO, the single loveliest place on Earth.

5. Llyn y Fan Fach

Llyn y Fan Fach with edge of Black Mountain in background

Llyn Y Fan Fach, Black Mountains, Carmarthenshire by Paula J James

Fancy a longer walk? The Black Mountain marks the western edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and the Carmarthen Fans’ plunging escarpments have got ‘climb me’ written all over them. It’s quite a trek to the top, past Llyn y Fan Fach, home of the legendary Lady of the Lake. But it’s worth it. And what’s more, you’ll probably have the summit all to yourself.

6. Heart of Wales Railway

Heart of Wales train outside of Manodeilo in Carmarthenshire

Heart of Wales train, Carmarthenshire by Williams60074

These friendly little trains scurry up from Swansea to Shrewsbury on arguably the most scenic route in Britain. It’s a great place to appreciate how the landscape of Carmarthenshire changes from its estuarine beginnings around Llanelli, up through the Amman Valley coalfields, into the classic farming country of the Towy valley, finally plunging into a mountain tunnel by the Sugar Loaf, and onward to Powys.

7. Laugharne

Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire

Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire by Paula J James

When Dylan Thomas called Laugharne “the strangest town in Wales” he meant it kindly. He was dead right, mind: it’s a faintly otherworldly place, set perfectly on the estuary, hardly altered in 50 years, and a great place to wander around the Dylan-related trails, ending with a pint at Brown’s Hotel (where Dylan himself sank a good few).

8. Llandeilo

Image of quaint pastel coloured houses besides river and bridge

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire

The London press has started calling Llandeilo “the cool capital of Carmarthenshire”, which I knew all along, being from there (*smirk*). But it is the county’s best town for just poking around boutiques, galleries and antiques shops. The food’s good. It’s set prettily on a hill. Dinefwr Castle is a short walk from town, and it’s great. Go during one of the town’s burgeoning festivals. Have a pint of Llandeilo-brewed Evan Evans. You’ll love it too, I promise.

9. National Botanic Garden of Wales

National Botanic Garden

National Botanic Garden, Carmarthenshire

Hmm … I can’t decide between two neighbouring gardens. Firstly there’s the National Botanic, where the world’s biggest single-span glasshouse looks like an alien mothership has crash-landed into the middle of some rural idyll (but in a good way). Then there’s Aberglasney, a perfect set of restored 15th-century gardens, with an excellent waterside café. Oh, you decide.

10. Dryslwyn Castle

Ruins of Dryslwyn Castle on top of hill

Dryslwyn Castle, Carmarthenshire

It’s not as glam as Carreg Cennen and Dinefwr, but I’ve got soft spot for Dryslwyn. It doesn’t look much from down on the valley floor, but when you climb up to the top of the mound on which it sits, everything changes. There’s a whole medieval village layout up there, and stonking views of the Towy Valley.

More attractions in Carmarthenshire