The Pier Head Building, Wales Millennium Centre and Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay

Boat trips: 10 sightseeing tours

Take to the water on one of these brilliant boat trips. Just pick your speed, from stately to supercharged, then sit back and enjoy the wonderful scenery along our coasts and canals.

Anglesey: Puffin Island Cruise

There aren’t usually many puffins on Puffin Island, even in summer, but plenty of other seabirds throng there, as do seals. Starida runs a guided cruise around the island from Beaumaris Pier. For engineering fans, Starida also offers trips along the Menai Strait to admire its striking bridges. Seacoast Safaris take you on a leisurely cruise round the island or high-speed adrenaline fuelled RIB along the Menai Strait.

Anglesey: RibRide

The Swellies are a tricky set of whirlpools and surges between the Britannia Bridge and Menai Bridge across the Menai Strait. For sailors, they’re challenging – but if you’re whipping along in a high speed RIB Adventure Boat, they’re a barrel of fun. They guys at RibRide know what to do.

Aberdaron: Bardsey Boat Trips

Run by a local family who have lobster fishermen and Bardsey Island farmers for generations, Bardsey Boat Trips doesn’t just take you across the fast-moving Bardsey Sound to the island – they can also show you the stunningly wild coastal scenery around the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula.

Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal

From March to October, you can board a brightly painted, wheelchair-accessible narrowboat run by Dragonfly Cruises, near Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon for a leisurely 2.5-hour return trip along the canal to Brynich. Big windows allow everyone to enjoy the view of the leafy banks as you motor along. 

Cardiff Bay: The Open Boat

With only 12 seats, the Daffodil is a cute little boat, styled like a mini steamer. There’s a canopy overhead but the sides are open – great for photography. Hop aboard in Cardiff Bay to sail up to the Barrage, cruise around the Wetlands Reserve or potter up the River Ely to Cardiff Marina.

Cardiff Bay: Cardiff Cruises

To explore Cardiff Bay and the waters beyond the Barrage at a relaxing pace, take a summer cruise with Cardiff Cruises from Mermaid Quay or Penarth Pier in a boat named after Dame Shirley Bassey. It shimmies into the Bristol Channel and circles gently around Flat Holm Island, with great views from the bows.

Sea Safaris & Bay Island Voyages

The guys at Cardiff Sea Safaris and Bay Island Voyages don’t hang about – from Mermaid Quay, they’ll blast you around Cardiff Bay in a boat which can really move, especially when the water’s flat as a pancake. On longer trips, they’ll head beyond the Barrage to follow the South Wales coast and scoot around Flat Holm Island.

Llangollen Canal: Horsedrawn cruise

In Llangollen, you can cruise back in time to an era when a towpath really was a path for towing, rather than for strolling, jogging or haring along on bikes. A horse drawn narrowboat trip is a supremely romantic way to relax. After that, switch to a motorised boat to cross the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Search for boat trip operators near Llangollen

Mumbles: Gower Coast Adventures

You haven’t really seen the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty if you’ve only explored it on land. Set out to sea in a RIB with an expert guide from Gower Coast Adventures, and a whole new dimension is revealed, from grassy banks to towering cliffs of textured rock with mysterious, hidden caves.

Tenby Sea Cruises

In Tenby, you can feel the breeze in your hair aboard a yacht that sailed the Amazon and cruised the Caribbean before crossing the Atlantic. This luxurious sailing vessel shows you the Pembrokeshire coast on one-hour cruises and private charters – a very special way to enjoy the sunset in summer. Find out more about Tenby Sea Cruises.

If you’re keen to see birds and animals by boat, check out Wildlife Watching: 15 sightseeing tours.