Iconic lighthouses to stay in and visit

There are more than 30 lighthouses dotted around the Welsh coast, helping to keep sailors safe and also looking splendid at the same time. These are ten of our favourites. 

  • Strumble Head Lighthouse, Pembrokeshire
    Strumble Head Lighthouse, Pembrokeshire

    This lighthouse sits on a small island off a rocky headland called Pencaer, or Strumble Head. This is one of Britain’s best places to spot migratory birds and passing cetaceans, and the old observation hut is popular with bird and sea watchers (the most dedicated of whom are known as ‘Strumblers’).

  • The usual square tower of Bardsey lighthouse is painted in jolly red-and white bands, and from this year its light will shine red, too – it’s less dangerous for migrating birds than the old white light. There are nine self-catering cottages for rent on this ‘Island of 20,000 Saints’ – and if they can live without electricity or an indoor toilet, then so can you!

  • Caldey Island Lighthouse, Tenby, Pembrokeshire
    Caldey Island Lighthouse, Tenby, Pembrokeshire

    Here’s a great day-trip if you’re holidaying in Pembrokeshire: take the boat across from Tenby, explore the Cistercian monastery, buy some home-made chocolate from the shop, and walk across the fields to a clifftop lighthouse which, together with its partner on distant Lundy Island, guides ships into the Bristol Channel. The monastery also organises spiritual retreats for those who want to stay and enjoy a few days of quiet reflection.

  • Aerial view of Flat Holm Island Lighthouse.

    Flat Holm Island Lighthouse, Cardiff

    It’s just five miles (8km) from Cardiff, but over the years Flat Holm has been a saint’s retreat, a haven for pirates and smugglers, a cholera sanatorium, a gun battery, and – to stop ships bumping into it – a good place for a lighthouse. You can take a day trip from Cardiff, or stay overnight at a stylish three-bed self catering cottage. There’s even a tiny pub called the Gull and Leek.

  • Llanddwyn Lighthouse, Llanddwyn Island, Isle of Anglesey
    Llanddwyn Lighthouse, Llanddwyn Island, Isle of Anglesey

    There isn’t a more romantic spot in Wales (or maybe the world…) than Llanddwyn Island. Walk out through the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve onto a slender, sandfringed island, past the ruins of a chapel dedicated to St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. And at the tip, a pair of simple whitewashed lighthouses, with breath-taking views across to Snowdonia.

  • Nash Point Lighthouse, Glamorgan Heritage Coast
    Nash Point Lighthouse, Glamorgan Heritage Coast

    There are actually two lighthouses here on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast’s layer-cake cliffs, both built to warn shipping away from a treacherous sand bank. The larger was manned until 1998; now it’s the only working Welsh lighthouse to have a visitor centre and to be a licensed wedding venue. There are also keepers’ cottages for holiday rental and a gem of a pub, the Plough & Harrow, is within walking distance.

  • South Stack, Holy Island, Anglesey
    South Stack, Holy Island, Anglesey

    This has perhaps the most spectacular setting of any Welsh lighthouse. Cross onto the island of Anglesey, then hop over onto Holy Island, and finally down 400 stone steps onto yet another tiny island, where there are tours to the top of the 134ft (41m) tower. The surrounding cliffs form the RSPB reserve where peregrines, choughs and countless sea birds live.

  • Aerial view of Skokholm Island Lighthouse.

    Skokholm Island Lighthouse, Pembrokeshire

    Skokholm and Skomer Islands form one of the most important seabird breeding sites in the world, including thousands of puffins, Manx shearwaters and storm petrels. Skokholm lighthouse was recently bought by the Wildlife Trust and converted into accommodation for the island’s wardens and visiting researchers. There are day trips to Skomer, or for a proper getaway, you can stay on the islands, which lie in a glorious Marine Nature Reserve that’s populated by dolphins, porpoises and lots of grey seals.

  • Trwyn Du great for... walking

    We like the walk out to the headland at Penmon Point, which has lovely views towards Puffin Island, and back across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia. When it was built in the 1830s, the lighthouse featured a pioneering lavatory, which was supposed to stop seawater from surging back up the pipe. It didn’t work – which is perhaps why it has been unmanned since 1922.

  • This quirky little lighthouse was decommissioned back in 1922, and is now a cosy B&B and wedding venue. Over on the other side of the River Usk its smaller brother, the East Usk Lighthouse, is still operational, and now lies within the RSPB Newport Wetlands reserve.