Instagrammable coastal attractions

From picturesque piers to dramatic lighthouses via sweeping quays and beautiful bays, the coastline of Wales is a photographer’s dream. Here are ten must-see landmarks for you and your camera.

1. South Stack Lighthouse, North Wales

View of South Stack lighthouse on top of hill

South Stack lighthouse
A true jaw-drop moment whatever the weather, South Stack Lighthouse is one of the UK’s most photogenic landmarks. It dates back to 1809 and can be reached via a dramatic descent of 400 steps down steep cliffs. Once there, you can ascend to the top of the lighthouse for amazing views.

2. Whiteford Point Lighthouse, South Wales

Whiteford lighthouse at low tide

Whiteford Point lighthouse

Being the only remaining sea-washed, cast-iron lighthouse in the British Isles may be a bit of a mouthful when it comes to claims to fame, but all you really need to know is that Whiteford Point Lighthouse is well worth a visit. Don’t expect to get too close, given that this is more of a ‘seamark’ than a ‘landmark’, which spends most of its time surrounded by the waves. Head on a walk to the lunar landscapes of Whiteford Burrows to take in this spectacular sight.

3. Strumble Head Lighthouse, South West Wales

A view of Stumble Head lighthouse against blue skies

Stumble Head lighthouse, Pembrokeshire

 by Alf Alderson
While Whiteford and South Stack provide drama, Strumble Head is more romantic in nature, perched out on a tiny island just off the coast on Pembrokeshire’s north-western tip. A suspension bridge connects Strumble to the mainland, though the lighthouse is now automated so there’s no access to the island. No matter – observe from afar and swoon at the beautiful landscapes in this part of the world. You can get there on public transport using the charmingly-named Strumble Shuttle

4. Llandudno Pier, North Wales

Llandudno pier

Llandudno Pier
Roll up, roll up: it’s the longest pier in Wales! At 700 metres long, a stroll along this Grade II-listed landmark will give your legs a good stretch. Not so in its earliest days – the original pier was only 72 metres long, but was destroyed by a storm in 1859 and reopened in 1884, with another revamp in concrete and steel in the 60s giving us the version we know and love today. As all good piers must, this one features funfair rides, shops selling buckets and spades, and spots to enjoy a spot of cake. 

5. Aberystwyth seafront

View of Aberystwyth from above looking towards the pier and Pen Dinas

Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
Best seen from a great height, Aberystwyth’s handsome promenade and sweeping seafront looks stunning viewed from the top of Constitution Hill. The hill rises sharply from the sea and can be conquered via the longest funicular electric cliff railway in Britain, which has been taking visitors to the summit since opening in 1896. Once back at sea level, amble along the 2000 metre length of ‘the Prom’ and take in Aberystwyth’s landmarks, harbour and marina. 

6. Cardiff Bay, South Wales

Taking selfies in the bay

Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay is full of photogenic sites. Capture the panorama of its landmark buildings from across the marina and take in the russet-coloured Pierhead, the sweeping vision in slate that is the Wales Millennium Centre and the modern, undulating roof of the Senedd. Revamped in recent years, Cardiff Bay is a hotspot for culture, dining and drinking: head over in the evening and catch a show or catch up with friends.

7. Penarth Pier, South Wales

Pier lit up under dark sky
Penarth Pier by Ali Al-Mufti
Within striking distance of Cardiff, but boasting a genteel glamour all of its own, Penarth is home to a beautiful, refurbished Pier Pavilion that hosts art exhibitions, a cinema, and regular live music. It’s one for the Art Deco lovers out there, with columns at the entrance and a beautiful aqua-coloured roof curving overhead. Visit at sunrise or sunset when the building seems to glow and the rest of the pier is a silhouette reaching out to sea. Hungry? Nearby on the Esplanade is the Michelin-starred Restaurant James Sommerin.

8. Solva Harbour, South West Wales

You can return to Solva Harbour again and again and it will always look different. At high tide the beach is a narrow strip, and at low tide there’s nothing but a stream running through it, providing ideal conditions for catching crabs and playing in rock pools. Head up high for the best shots of Solva; the narrow inlet is fringed by lush green hills and dotted with brightly coloured sail boats.

9. Quay at New Quay, Mid Wales

New Quay harbour and town

New Quay harbour, Ceredigion
You’ve never seen boats parked in a more orderly fashion than at smart New Quay, whose Harbour Beach is popular with sunbathers in the summer. There are endless angles for photographers to capture sea-craft and a backdrop of pastel-coloured houses rising up into the town.

10. Great Orme, North Wales

Dwarfing even Wales’s longest pier at Llandudno is the Great Orme, a prominent limestone headland that it’s impossible to resist snapping from Llandudno. Put yourself into that picture by taking a cable car from Happy Valley (yes, that really is what it’s called) to the summit of the Orme, which is 207 metres high. It offers incredible panoramic views of the Bay of Llandudno, the Little Orme, the Conwy Estuary, and for miles out to sea.