Long summer days at the beach, the thrill of exploring an ancient castle or the magic of camping out under the stars. Family holidays in West Wales are the stuff that childhood memories are made of. Add to that a whole raft of exciting outdoor activities and a clutch of friendly towns and cities, and you have everything you need. Here’s our guide to the best places to go and things to do in West Wales for families.
Things to do in Pembrokeshire for Families
Pembrokeshire is best known for its lovely and varied coastline. The sheltered sandy bays of south Pembrokeshire are perfect for building sandcastles, paddling and rock pooling. While North Pembrokeshire’s beaches are more wild and rugged, ideal for stomping the coastal path with older children or teens.
Getting active is easy with so many fun things to do in Pembrokeshire for families. Your crew can try coasteering (invented in Wales!), Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) or surfing, take wildlife-watching boat trips to uninhabited islands like Ramsey or Skomer, or trot along the sands on a horse riding excursion.
Read more: Discover more inspiration for family activities and breaks in Pembrokeshire.
Aside from the coast, there are plenty of other reasons why Pembrokeshire is so good for a family holiday. There are campsites and glamping sites galore, so stock up on marshmallows and enjoy some stargazing on a family weekend in West Wales. Alternatively, choose one of the region’s characterful towns to either stay in, or visit for the day.
Everyone loves Tenby, a medieval walled town with fabulous beaches and an impossibly perfect harbour. The joy of Tenby is that it covers every seaside experience. Kiss-me-quick hats and amusement arcades? Check. Microbrewery and sophisticated restaurants? Check. It also has space for everyone on its two expansive sandy beaches. Nearby, fabulous Narberth is ideal for a day spent browsing arty shops, delis and antique centres.
Both of these towns are close to a trio of the most popular places for family days out in West Wales. Oakwood is a full-on theme park complete with scary rides and fast-food joints. Then just around the corner is Wild Lakes, an award-winning wake park and bouldering centre with tasty tepee dining. Finally, there’s Folly Farm, home to a clutch of cuddlesome farm animals, along with beasts you wouldn’t expect to see roaming the Welsh countryside, such as giraffes, lions and lemurs.
In the far north of Pembrokeshire, the UK’s smallest city St Davids beckons visitors to stroll the grounds of its grand cathedral and stop for ice cream on the pretty high street. Then there’s the quietly classy village of Newport. An unspoilt and understated place popular with well-heeled Welsh-speaking families.
Family-friendly things to do in Swansea
Swansea is the ‘capital’ city of the west and there’s plenty to do here for families. Plantasia’s gigantic tropical greenhouse, the Egypt Centre and the excellent indoor LC Swansea waterpark are especially popular.
Plus you have to visit Swansea Market, the biggest covered market in Wales, and arguably the best. Pick up a bag of local cockles, douse them in vinegar and black pepper, and then eat them with a cocktail stick while browsing the stalls. Take a look at more Swansea family holiday ideas to inspire your own trip.
Family-friendly things to do on Gower
From Swansea, you can drive out along the coast to Mumbles, a former fishing village that now has the area’s best concentration of classy eateries and boutiques. The ‘Mumbles’ themselves are large conical rocks, jutting out from the headland (their name means ‘breast-shaped’, for which you can thank our naughty Celtic ancestors).
Family-friendly things to do in Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire is classic farming country, especially around the lovely Towy River valley that winds its way through the foothills of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) and out to sea. The surrounding hilltops are punctuated by castles and follies, so there’s lots to add interest to a country stroll. The castles of Dryswlyn, Dinefwr, coastal Llansteffan and the mighty Carreg Cennen, are all superb places to explore.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is another great place for a day out – children love the giant glasshouse and family Gruffalo Trail. There are daily flying shows at the British Bird of Prey Centre which is located on site, as well as changing exhibits and a calendar of events. Nearby, there’s also the ‘lost’ garden of Aberglasney with its delightful glass house, a labyrinth of trails and an idyllic country setting.
If you’re in the area, make sure you stop for a wander around Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire’s most chi-chi market town, with plenty of places to shop, eat and stay. The county town of Carmarthen also has a nice mix of shops, cafes and restaurants to visit, along with a classic cinema.
Read more: See Carmarthenshire with kids, for more family-friendly things to do.
Along the coast is the former industrial town of Llanelli which used to be the tinplating capital of the world. Back then the coastline was dominated by smoke-belching factories. They are long gone these days and have been replaced by one of the best examples of coastal regeneration anywhere, the Millennium Coastal Park. To explore, hire bikes and ride the 12-mile cycle path, which encompasses WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre at one end, and the Pembrey Country Park at the other.
St Davids is the smallest but most perfectly formed city in Britain, with a lovely cathedral, and some great places to eat. But adventurous youngsters may be itching to get down to the coast for a fast-boat ride around Ramsey Island. It’s a thrilling high-speed trip, especially if the tides are running over the reef known ominously as the Bitches. There are gentler moments, though, ambling around the sea-caves on the island’s far side, and saying hello to the seals.