Traditional summer holidays in Wales
Let’s talk about holidays in Wales. It wasn’t always so easy to book a flight and spend a chunk of summer time in another country. While the odds of hot sunshine aren’t as high here, there are beaches to compete with the world’s best, charming piers and proms, lovely places to eat, and fantastic free national museums for those ‘occasional’ rainy days! If you’re considering the old-style school summer holiday in Wales and really want to experience the nostalgic vibes (with a modern twist!), we’ll even recommend some spots for donkey rides and candyfloss!
Piers and Promenades
Llandudno Pier was completed in 1878, and was known for its splendid Victorian and Edwardian elegance. The longest pier in Wales at 700 metres, it was once a regular spot for concerts - George Formby and Cliff Richard are among the performers who’ve played there. Today, you can buy all the traditional UK seaside foods from candyfloss to chips, as well as cake, ice cream or drink from the bar. The Deck Arcade is located at Pier Head half a mile out to sea, with a spectacular view of the Bay of Llandudno, so you can take in the sights before you play the old games and slot machines - get your two pence pieces ready for the coin push! You could even round off your day with a donkey ride for your children or grandchildren on North Shore beach.
Mumbles promenade in Swansea Bay is ever evolving. If you’re up for a longer walk, you can park near The Marriott Hotel in Swansea, and take in the whole paved path until the prom ends at the Victorian built pier. You’ll find lots of indoor and outdoor cafes and restaurants on the way, not to mention a splash park, land train and famous ice cream from parlours Verdis and Joe's – if you can’t choose, you may need to sample treats from both! Up a steep set of concrete steps alongside the pier, you’ll find a coastal walk that takes you to Langland Bay – oh, and more ice cream options!
Penarth hosts a promenade and pier with a twist. The fully restored Art Deco Pier Pavilion is a multi-functional, not for profit building housing a gallery, cinema, cafe and restaurant. As a social enterprise, all of their revenue goes towards funding their educational programmes. If you’re looking for a stroll and sea view, the Pavilion will look after this need too, with great seascapes that stretch to Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon on a clear day. Open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday, the pier offers all the nostalgic seaside snacks from chips and cups of tea to ice creams and sticks of rock.
There’s something lovely about holiday eating. Food always seems to taste nicer outside. You get to try foods that may not be part of your everyday, and enjoy memorable meals that you associate with certain times and places. Fresh seafood, anyone? Salty fish and chips hot and fresh from the bag? What holiday meals get you feeling nostalgic? We’ve found some ideas from around Wales to inspire you and to stir some reminiscing about holidays gone by.
For a fun and informal coastal eat, pop to cutting edge beach shack Café Môr on Pembrokeshire’s Freshwater West beach. Run by the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, they offer egg and bacon butties to laverbread beach burgers and lobster rolls, all from their solar powered van.
The Dennis Café in Tenby is on the edge of Castle Beach with a great view. Family friendly, they deliver their famous toasties and breakfasts via takeaway kiosk or sit down café, along with the essential seaside ice creams.
Food Award Wales Finalist The Red Kite Café is in Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth, and changes its menu seasonally. The summer menu includes American breakfasts, cream teas and burgers with vegetarian options.
On Anglesey, Giddy Aunt’s tearoom in Brynsiencyn serves legendary cream teas, cookies and cakes from their pretty café with outdoor space for sunny days, described by one customer as ‘like being inside a Beatrix Potter novel!’
Rainy day adventures
Holidays don’t have to stop being fun if the rain starts falling. The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland railways will keep you dry in the comfortable, historic carriages pulled by their preserved locomotives while showing you the spectacular scenery between Caernarfon and Blaenau Ffestiniog. You can even get buffet service, snacks, refreshments and enjoy a fully licensed bar featuring locally brewed beers.
At Anglesey Sea Zoo you can spend the day watching captivating creatures from UK coasts, such as octopi, lobsters, cuttlefish, catsharks, and seahorses. You’ll also learn about British marine habitats alongside the conservation and research work that’s helping to save them.
For an exciting day out underground where the rain can’t reach you, visit Llechwedd Slate Caverns to see the caves lit with multi-coloured light projections, meet some of the original quarry workers and have a go at slate splitting before sampling Welsh slate cavern aged cheddar. While you're there, try the underground trampoline at Bounce Below or race each other on the parallel zip wires at Zip World Titan.
We’re spoilt for choice with warm, dry museums and heritage centres in Wales! You could visit the collections in the free entry National Museum of Wales, Cardiff or National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. For a literary experience, there’s the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea and Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne. MOMA Machynlleth is full of modern Welsh art and sculptures, while the cycle museum in Llandrindod Wells is home to over 260 cycles from an 1818 hobby-horse to the latest carbon fibre designs.
There are lots of exciting places to stay during your holiday in Wales, from glamping and caravans to boutique hotels with sea views. Check out our accommodation search option which links you to properties that are all Visit Wales graded - and in the meantime here are some ideas from our collection!
For a nostalgic stay, The Wildings is an upgraded Victorian period hotel situated on Llandudno's prom opposite the pier entrance. If you’re seeking luxury, The Quay Hotel is a four star hotel, spa and restaurant in Deganwy, Conwy. At Llanerch Vineyard, fifteen minutes outside Cardiff, you can combine accommodation with wine tasting. Fontygary Leisure Park is a caravan park with sea views on the Vale of Glamorgan heritage coastline. Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park is a new camping and caravan site on a scenic headland overlooking the nature reserve of Cardigan Island – and a stay comes with free farm park entry! For an adventurous stay, The Huts in the Hills is a group of shepherd huts delivering off grid accommodation in The Black Mountains.
We hope these ideas inspire you to create a lovely holiday in Wales with plenty of adventures to tell your friends about back home! Happy holidays!