We'd love to claim there's nothing better than eating freshly cooked fish and chips by the seaside - but we'd be wrong. There are loads of quirky, innovative and award-winning places to eat and drink along the Welsh coastline, from beach-side snack bars to Michelin-starred restaurants. Here are some of the finest places to indulge your taste buds with freshly-caught seafood or home-made ice-cream.
Ceredigion’s largest town, Aberystwyth (or Aber as it is known by locals) is a must-visit stop along The Coastal Way. Enjoy a stroll along the Victorian promenade, take a trip up the longest cliff railway in Britain and visit the National Library of Wales.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Pysgoty, an intimate fish and seafood restaurant housed in a renovated, former toilet block overlooking the harbour on South Promenade. Or try Ultracomida, a delightful Spanish/Welsh tapas bar and deli with a cult following. For incredible pizzas and cocktails, choose Baravin, an offshoot of Aberaeron’s acclaimed Harbourmaster hotel.
As you’d expect for a town that sits on the stunning Llŷn Peninsula, Abersoch is all about the seafood. Fresh Abersoch serves up freshly-caught lobster straight out of Cardigan Bay. And if you’re looking for a casual seaside bite, Mickey’s Boatyard and Beach Café offers the dream location during the summer months. Perched at the top of the slipway near the old lifeboat station, it serves up pain au chocolate and croissants baked fresh on the premises, excellent breakfast baps, and juicy lamb and beef burgers sourced from local butchers.
Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
The coastal town of Barry Island (it’s actually a peninsula) owes much of its fame to the smash hit TV series Gavin & Stacey, but it’s actually a popular resort in its own right. If you’re after some traditional seaside eats, grab a bag of chips to munch on the promenade, followed by a delicious ice cream from Cadwaladers.
Meat lovers won’t want to miss some smoky US-style barbecue from the award-winning Hang Fire Southern Kitchen. A little down the coast you’ll find the Blue Anchor Inn, a thatched 14th-century inn that frequently appears in the ‘best pubs in Wales’ lists, and serves up hearty fare and an impressive selection of real ales.
Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
The vast expanse of sand that is Freshwater West on the Pembrokeshire coast has featured in a number of movies, from Robin Hood to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (it was the setting for Shell Cottage and the location of Dobby’s grave). However, for many it’s a humble street food van that lures them to the beach.
Café Môr (môr means ‘sea’ in Welsh) has made a big name for itself on the British street food scene, spawning a full line of delicious deli products under the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company banner (try their Welshman’s Caviar). However, Café Môr is where it all began and it can still be found at Freshwater West during the spring/summer seasons. Their lobster roll is a must-try, featuring meat from half of a Pembrokeshire lobster in a lightly-toasted roll with Welsh Sea black butter.
There’s something about Tenby. With old school charm and nostalgia in (buckets and) spades, not to mention some great beaches, it’s been a stalwart of the Welsh holiday scene for decades. For ice cream, Fecci’s Ice Cream Parlour has been around since the 1930s and specialises in old fashioned sundaes. Further down the road get your crab sandwiches from The Stowaway Coffee Company and enjoy eating them on the harbour walls. The Salt Cellar has knockout reviews and is highly regarded for its use of Pembrokeshire produce. South Beach Restaurant sits right at the water’s edge and caters for casual beach-side dining, as well as more indulgent after-dark affairs.
Just over the headland in Saundersfoot you’ll find Coast, boasting an incredible seaside location and an impressive menu, with fresh fish playing a starring role. It’s generally lauded as one of the best places to eat in Wales. Also in Saundersfoot is the St Brides Spa Hotel. Enjoy a bite to eat in the restaurant, which sits above an infinity pool, taking in the stellar views of Saundersfoot Bay.
Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan
For a small seaside town, Penarth has a wealth of fine eateries to choose from. After a stroll around the town and some sea air on the stunning Victorian pier and fully-restored Art Deco pier pavilion, head to the Michelin-starred Restaurant James Sommerin on the seafront. A labour of love from one our finest chefs, it serves up the finest in contemporary cuisine and is a regular fixture on many of the 'UK’s best places to eat' lists.
For something a little more casual, tapas at the funky Bar 44 is hard to beat. For boutique hotel vibes with beautiful seafront gardens, Holm House Hotel has an excellent restaurant and bar. Finally, there’s The Custom House, which sits next to the impressive Cardiff Bay Barrage. It boasts two restaurants, La Marina and El Puerto, serving up a constantly changing selection of dishes made from seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients.
Llandudno and Colwyn Bay, Conwy
Located just a few miles from each other on the north coast of Wales, Llandudno and Colwyn Bay are Victorian era resorts beloved by beachgoers and a popular base for exploring the Snowdonia National Park. Head to Colwyn Bay’s smartly regenerated seafront and you’ll find Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias, a cool and contemporary bistro run by the celebrated chef. The menu is packed with local Welsh produce, while the panoramic sea views make for a memorable dining experience.
Further inland, Bodysgallen Hall, located just outside Llandudno, provides the complete, elegant, country manor house experience with exemplary fine dining.