Tucked away beyond Snowdonia’s craggiest peaks, with the Irish Sea on one side and Cardigan Bay on the other, Llŷn has a distinctive, unspoilt character that’s all its own. Its sunny southern coast draws walkers, wakeboarders and dinghy sailors, while the ancient pilgrimage site of Bardsey Island, at its tip, is a haven for wildlife.
Family friendly resorts
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) protects around a quarter of the Llŷn Peninsula including wild stretches of coast, long-extinct volcanic peaks and grassy hillsides dotted with Iron Age forts.
It’s the Llŷn’s family-friendly resorts and lovely, laidback beaches that draw most of its visitors, especially in summer. The cosy seaside towns of Criccieth, Pwllheli and Abersoch on the southern shore have such a loyal following that friendships are rekindled here year after year.
Criccieth, with its battle-worn coastal castle and tidy Victorian terraces, makes a great base from which to explore the area. The promenade stretches along a pebbly beach with great views south. The town itself has plenty independent shops and cafes, and there are plenty of other attractions nearby.
Hafan Pwllheli, Pwllheli’s huge marina, has over 400 berths with access to the prime waters of Anglesey and Cardigan Bay. Marian y De Beach is perfect for watersports and family days out. There's also an open air market on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the summer, plus amusements and fairground rides. Neuadd Dwyfor is a local arts centre with cinema showings and touring productions on throughout the year. Oriel Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw Arts Centre, with ever-changing exhibitions and a lovely tea-room, is nearby. If you love golf, Pwllheli Golf Club offers a links course with fabulous views over Cardigan Bay.
The school holidays bring a festive atmosphere to this stretch of coast. In August, Abersoch holds its annual Regatta. This is a fun event, and everyone joins in – whether it’s to compete in the dinghy races or try their hand at competitive crab-catching, sandcastle-building or beach hut decorating.
Follow a path through time
As well as being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, much of Llŷn is listed in the Register of Landscapes of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales. Large swathes have never been ploughed for farming or cleared for urban development, but instead have remained unspoilt for centuries. Llŷn’s many archaeological and architectural features tell an unbroken story which began in prehistoric times.
An 84-mile section of the Wales Coast Path runs right around the Llŷn Peninsula, walks crossing fields with hand-forged kissing gates and passing immaculate coves, cliffs, beaches, churches and forts. Llŷn is a superb destination for a walking or cycling holiday – fling on a backpack and you can spend several days travelling around, making overnight stops at some of the lovely campsites and B&Bs in the area. If you’re just visiting for a day or two, there are plenty of short, circular routes to choose from.
Make a pilgrimage to Bardsey Island
Hop on a boat trip from Aberdaron or Pwllheli and you can sail to Bardsey, whose Welsh name, Ynys Enlli, means the island of the currents. Christians have been travelling here since the sixth century, when St Cadfan established a monastery on the island. Visiting it three times was considered as holy an act of pilgrimage as a journey to Rome.
Only a few sacred stones remain. These days, Ynys Enlli is a nature reserve where grey seals bask on rocks at the water’s edge and manx shearwaters, fulmars and guillemots nest each spring.