As a family, we've always enjoyed cycling together. As the children progressed from trailers to tandems and then their own bikes, we watched the world unfurl from a saddle and two wheels. But some of our best tours have been close to home. And when we heard there was a trail around the whole coast of Wales we couldn't resist exploring.

Here are some of our favourite rides from our summer tour in and around the Wales Coast Path.

Newport to Cardiff

Bridges, barrages and bays

Waterside engineering and architecture are the stars of the show on this urban stretch, starting in Newport. In the morning light, the Newport Transporter Bridge (one of very few left in the world) looked like it was floating above the Usk. A buzz through the suburbs of the capital delivered us into regenerated Cardiff Bay, offering plenty of restaurants to refuel – dedicated foodies might see a mushroom shape in the design of the Senedd building! A flat, six mile pedal around Cardiff Bay Barrage took us to Penarth Marina, before we watched dusk fall with the ducks at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park.

Distance: About 20 miles

A gondola on a bridge over a river.
A view of Cardiff Bay from the water showing buildings and a big wheel

The Newport Transporter Bridge and a view across Cardiff Bay

Barry Island to Monknash

Gavin, Stacey and quite a few pastries

I’m not gonna lie, as fans of the BBC series Gavin and Stacey we loved the Barry Island start, but the rolling greenery was the highlight of this route. At Porthkerry Country Park we visited the patisserie at Mrs Marco’s before crossing under the iconic railway viaduct. A blast around the airport perimeter led to Llantwit Major, (another quality cake stop), before enjoying the quiet lanes to St Donats. We revelled in feeling insignificant under the limestone cliffs and wave cut platforms of Monknash Beach, a wow moment of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. We then enjoyed significant meals at the nearby Plough and Harrow.

Distance: About 16 miles

A person cycling through a park and under the viaduct

Cycling through Porthkerry Park

Swansea to Laugharne

Timeless poets and traffic free paths

A longer but mostly flat ride. The redeveloped waterfront provided the gateway to Swansea, the 'ugly, lovely' hometown of Dylan Thomas. The Swansea Bike Path then took us to The Mumbles, another haunt of the poet and the start of the Gower Peninsula. You can ride the Gower AONB loop, but we pushed on. An absolute highlight of our trip was the fast and wide cycle path through the Millennium Coastal Park, calling at the Llanelli Wetland Centre and the harbour town of Burry Port. After a visit to Kidwelly castle visit and dinner in Carmarthen, we finished in Dylan Thomas' Laugharne, at the boathouse where he wrote.

Distance: About 50 miles

A bike propped up outside a castle
A white house and garden overlooking the sea

Kidwelly Castle and Dylan Thomas Boathouse

Tenby to Haverfordwest

Rainbows and ridges

You’d be hard pushed to find a more vivid start to a day out than rainbow-coloured Tenby. Pedal through the old town walls that hold a labyrinth of shops and restaurants. After breakfast at Tenby RFC, we biked through a giant holiday park onto the wide ridge of National Cycle Route 4. Later, the picturesque Pembroke Castle watched over our ride across the river towards Pembroke Dock. You can stay coastbound for Milford Haven, but we headed north to Haverfordwest for an overnight stop and one last castle.

Distance: About 23 miles

Bikes and people stood along railings overlooking the beach and sea.
People and bikes outside of Pembroke Castle

Tenby and Pembroke Castle

Haverfordwest to St Davids

Rolling hills and architectural gems

A few miles out of Haverfordwest the coastline rises and falls through the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Bay views distracted us from the inclines as we flew through the villages of Broad Haven and Nolton Haven. The two-mile Newgale beach is a great place to rent a board and try out surfing, but a date with a street food van selling slush was enough for us. The steep climb out of the bay on a busy road was a little stressful, but beyond that we found quieter lanes. The pocket-szied city of St Davids provided another key moment of our journey as we parked up and wandered the valley housing the ancient St Davids cathedral and purple sandstone Bishop’s Palace.

Distance: About 20 miles

Two people cycling passed a castle.
A cyclist stood outside a cathedral

Haverfordwest Castle and St David's Cathedral

Fishguard to Llangrannog

Turf and surf

Breakfast at The Coffee Shop at Ocean Lab in Goodwick preceded our day’s riding from Fishguard as we continued along the Pembroke Coast. A gentle incline into the woodland valley of Cwm Gwaun led to some of the best riding of the whole route. The beer garden of quirky Dyffryn Arms provided snacks before country lanes took us through Nevern and St Dogmaels into Cardigan. Mid-afternoon, further ups and downs delivered great views and Instagram pictures. Seek out the life-size dolphin sculpture at Aberporth and bronze St Carannog who oversees the paddlers in Llangrannog bay, where The Beach Hut café is a cool hang out.

Distance: About 30 miles

Aberystwyth to Machynlleth

Dolphin spotting and gallery chilling

Dolphins frequent the bay at Aberystwyth, but you’re more likely to spot students while riding the sea front of this University town. Staying overnight, we enjoyed fish and chips on the prom and the fairy-lit pier at sunset. Our route took us through part of the university campus before picking up a range of rolling hills. In Borth we breezed along the long promenade until the gallery café Oriel Tir A Môr caught our eye. Refuelled on carbs and cake, we climbed sharply of the bay before spinning along wooded lanes and traffic free paths into eco-friendly Machynlleth.

Distance: About 18 miles

View across the water to the town of Aberystwyth

View of Aberystwyth

Machynlleth to Barmouth

Trains, tolls and trolls

Who wouldn’t want to start their day with a gentle climb and descent through ‘Happy Valley’, (Cwm Maethlon), followed by a ride on the beach at Tywyn? Our main road route then followed the coast to Fairbourne. There we picked up a gloriously flat, traffic free path around the estuary - part of the Mawddach trail to Barmouth which follows an old railway line. We waved at passengers enjoying a miniature steam trip on Fairbourne Railway before crossing historic, rickety Barmouth Bridge. There's a small toll fee to pay but keep small change back for doughnuts and coffee on the dunes of Barmouth Beach.

Distance: About 26 miles

Cycling through the countryside past a small blue train

Passing the little train from Fairbourne Railway

Harlech to Caernarfon

Steep drops and station stops

A viewpoint before Harlech offers fantastic views of Harlech castle perched on the cliffside. Harlech once hosted the World’s Steepest Street until a Kiwi town took the title - we checked it out but weren’t brave enough to ride it. You can take a detour to Portmeirion shortly before the harbour town of Porthmadog, where steam from the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway punctuates the air as you race the the narrow gauge heritage trains into town. A glorious stretch of traffic free cycling took us into Caernarfon - another stop for the Welsh Highland Railway – where we lunched under the imposing towers of Caernarfon castle.

Distance: About 30 miles

Person standing with bike looking out over countryside with castle in distance

First sight of Harlech Castle

Conwy to Prestatyn

Beaches and borders

Flat and fun, with plenty of rest stops, this stretch was super-enjoyable. From Conwy pick up National Cycle Route 5 through Deganwy. As you approach Llandudno the track is obscured by sand dune, so the going becomes slow. For the next twenty miles, through Rhos-on-Sea, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Prestatyn, huge beaches lead to caravan parks and resorts, all just off a wide promenade. If you are a purist and want to head for the border, (a further 20+ miles), a trail through Llanasa will lead on to your final photo stop.

Distance: About 20 miles

Read more: 10 great reasons to walk the Wales Coast Path

Person on a bike looking out over the sea to boats and Conwy Castle in distance

Approaching Conwy

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