The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in west Wales is unique. Why? Because, in the UK, it’s the only National Park that’s completely coastal. And makes it a perfect holiday destination.
Situated on the west coast of Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park was established in 1952. At only 620 sq km in size, it is one of the smaller National Parks in the UK with a population of 22,800.
However, each year this gorgeous destination in Wales attracts over 4.2 million visitors!
The Pembrokeshire Coast is a perfect holiday destination to visit for wildlife lovers, hikers, cyclists and anyone who wants to get away to relax for a few days or even weeks in Wales.
After 4 days in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, I managed to do a lot of different things on my Wales adventure. Here I will share all the activities and things I did on my holiday to help you plan yours.
Most of the things I did on my trip were free, but I’ve included prices for the additional tours and activities that you can book.
I’ve also included my recommendations on where to stay, how to get around, what the weather is like and what to pack for your trip.
Best Things to do in Pembrokeshire
Of course, in 4 days I didn’t have time to do everything I wanted so it’s a wonderful excuse to go back again! The great thing about Pembrokeshire is that it’s a perfect place to visit at any time of the year, as long as you pack the right clothes.
Here are my top 16 suggestions for the best things to do whilst visiting the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales, including the must-see attractions.
Ask me any more questions about the Pembrokeshire Coast in the comments below.
1. Pembrokeshire Coast long-distance walk
I will start with the walk for hard-core walkers (like me if you hadn’t guessed!)
This is a 186 mile/ 299 km walk along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. After exploring a short section of this coast I can imagine what a wonderful National Park walk this would be.
Although you might not be able to complete the whole walk on a short trip, it does give you many options for walks in the area, since you can hop on and off the coastal path depending on your location.
The walk starts in St Dogmaels and finishes in Amroth (or you could do it the other way round!) It takes on average between 10-15 days to complete.
And don’t expect an easy walk. The path takes you on an undulating route along the coast but allows you a wonderful opportunity to explore this National Park in full.
About the Pembrokeshire Coast Walk
- The vegetation has to be cut back 4 times a year
- There are 31 stiles
- Along the walk, you will go through 475 gates
- And across 149 footbridges
- To help you on your way there are 530 signposts
- And here’s the big one, there are 2,779 steps
- Which equals 30,000 ft/ 9,000 m of ascent/descent.
It is almost the same height gain as if you were climbing Mt Everest (35,000 ft!)
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is also part of the even longer Wales Coast Path route! If you want an even longer walk than 186 miles!
If you like the idea of doing a coastal walk, but maybe a shorter one then how about the awesome coastal walk along the Jurassic Coast on the south coast of England. I did this walk one summer over 6 days and it’s a beautiful walk.
Click here to read next – Jurassic Coast walk in Dorset and Devon
2. Visit Strumble Lighthouse
Before you get too excited, you aren’t allowed to go up into the lighthouse. But it’s still pretty spectacular to visit from the outside.
For the best views walk south on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Here’s where I spotted a few grey seals playing around in the water. And lounging about on the rocks too!
Go seal spotting on the east coast of the UK at Donna Nook Nature Reserve
3. Go to St David’s City
Cost: Free (Shopping not free or Pembroke Castle prices below)
St Davids is the smallest city in the UK, located in Pembrokeshire.
Go visit its beautiful cathedral or simply wander around the city. It won’t take too long! If you’re driving, St Davids has a one-way system around the city so be ready to drive around twice if you miss your turning!
You could also pop along to Bishop’s Palace opposite St Davids Cathedral. It’s an old ruin dating back to the 13th century but it’s fascinating to wander around.
If you like history then you could visit Pembroke Castle. £7 Adults, £7 children 3-15 and seniors 65+ (Buy from the gift shop). Opening times change through the year.
During December the castle has a magical Christmas Market.
Check here for opening times before your visit www.pembroke-castle.co.uk
4. Visit Pembrokeshire’s Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon Address: Abereiddy, Haverfordwest, SA62 6DT.
In June, I visited Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon, which was an amazing experience. But to be honest I was more impressed with Pembrokeshire Coast’s Blue Lagoon in Wales.
Enjoy a beautiful walk from above or follow the coast path and get up close to this National Park beauty.
The Blue Lagoon was a quarry where slate was transported by tram to the nearby harbour at Porthgain. It was formed when a channel connecting to the sea was blasted, allowing the seawater to flood in.
This area of the Pembrokeshire Coast is popular with coasteering, whilst I was there I saw a group of children scrabble the rocks and jump into the Blue Lagoon. At least it was a warm sunny day but that water did look cold!
I was also lucky enough to spot a couple of seals playing around in the water. And there was even one sunbathing on the beach. Ignoring all the people around him.
Blue Lagoon Facilities
- Public toilets are available.
- Although they close between 1 November and the middle of February (except Christmas holiday).
Read next: Top 25 Places to Visit in Wales
5. Try Coasteering along the Pembrokeshire Coast
Cost: From £42/£44 children £44/52 adults*
Before I visited Pembrokeshire Coast National Park I hadn’t heard of coasteering, a must-do adventure activity for outdoor lovers.
After chatting with Caroline at Caerhafod Lodge, near the coast where I stayed, I found out all about it and it sounded amazing.
The Pembrokeshire Coast was where Coasteering was invented! There are organised tours that take groups of adventure-seeking tourists along rocks and cliffs to then take amazing leaps into the sea.
You can see in the photo above one of the points at the end where you can jump in the lagoon. Wow, what an adrenalin buzz!
After watching a group of children scramble across the rocks at the Blue Lagoon, I was tempted. Although jumping into freezing water sounded like a challenge in itself! I chatted with them afterwards and they assured me they weren’t too cold.
Would you try it?
For more information check out these local Pembrokeshire Coast Coasteering tour companies who do tours.
6. Go seal spotting in Pembrokeshire
(Best thing to do for wildlife lovers)
During my trip (at the beginning of October) the seals were all coming in from the sea to have their pups.
As you walk along the coastal path keep an eye out for them in the little coves on the beach. I spotted them in several places, some in isolated coves, down below sheer cliffs.
There were also a few swimming near the Strumble Head lighthouse. And there was even one on the beach at the Blue Lagoon.
Please note I have a zoom lens on my camera, the seals in Pembrokeshire are wild animals and have very sharp teeth so don’t get too close to them.
If you miss the seals on the Pembrokeshire Coast, on the other coast of the UK they give birth to the pups slightly later. I visited Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony in November, where there are thousands of seals.
Read about my experience on the Lincolnshire Coast, with top tips for a great day out here – Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony
Welsh Wildlife Centre
For more things to do for wildlife lovers, there’s also the Welsh Wildlife Centre, north of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This is part of the Wildlife Trust near Cardigan in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
- Free entry.
- For opening times visit their website The Welsh Wildlife Centre
7. Take a boat trip to Ramsey island
(One for the bird lovers)
Cost: From £5.50/£8.50 children and £12/18 adults (discounts for RSPB)*
Ramsey Island is an RSPB Nature Reserve and home to hundreds of birds. You can take boat trips to the island (when the birds aren’t off in warmer climates!) Boat trips go from April to October.
Although, the number of visitors to the island is limited so book early to avoid disappointment.
On the island, there is a nature trail that you can walk, 3.5 miles/ 5.6 km (shortcuts available). A wonderful way to be close to nature and the birds living on the island.
All you need is a boat to get you there! The boats leave from the Lifeboat station (the old one), see the photo below.
- For more information about the boat trips to Ramsey Island visit Thousands Islands Expeditions*
- You can opt to just land on the island or continue the boat trip around, as well as guided tours on the island.
8. Learn about the work at RNLI on the Pembrokeshire Coast
(Royal National Lifeboat Institution)
Did you know there are 237 RNLI lifeboats stations around the UK and Ireland?
And in 2015, there were 7,975 people rescued and 348 lives saved!
At St Justinians Lifeboat station you can go inside and see their amazing rescue boat. Once a year they also do tours on the boat, unfortunately, I picked the wrong day!
The great thing about visiting the lifeboat station here is you can see the old station situated next door. Take a short walk along the Pembrokeshire Coast path and you have a great view of both buildings.
St Justinians’ Car Parking – £3 per day all day
9. National Park walks along the Pembrokeshire Coast
Ok, so you might not want to do the full 186 miles/ 299 km route of the Pembrokeshire Coastal path. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some shorter routes.
There are plenty of places you can park (some free and some paid) along the coastal path. And you can spend as long as you want.
The wonderful thing about walking along the Pembrokeshire Coast, on top of the stunning scenery, is that you can’t get lost! Pick a direction, start walking, keep the coast on one side the countryside on the other, perfect.
And when your legs are tiring simply turn around and walk back.
Read next: Hiking Cadair Idris in South Snowdonia
10. Visit Oriel y Parc Gallery and visitor centre
Cost: Free (Parking charges apply – see below)
The Oriel y Parc visitor centre has loads of information. As you might expect from a visitor centre! But there’s also a café and a gallery that you can visit too.
There are also a few walks around the local area. It’s a great place to base yourself from for a few hours or the day.
30 minutes of free parking. Great if you want to pop in for some information.
- Up to 1 hour = £1
- Up to 2 hours = £2
- Up to 3 hours = £3
- Daily = £5
11. Walk along Whitesands Beach
An idyllic beach to spend the day relaxing on in the warmer summer months. Or on a cooler day, it’s great for a walk. Surrounded by sand dunes and rocks it can be windy but it’s still a lovely place to relax
There’s a Beach Café, which is open every weekend and weekdays from 1 March to 31 October. Plus school holidays.
If you are going out of these times I’d recommend taking a flask with a hot drink.
Car Parking and toilets
It costs £5 to park here all day for cars.
And on top of that, you have to pay 20 pence to use the toilet. A right pain, in my opinion, probably because I never have cash on me!
The machine accepts 5p to £2, although doesn’t give change!
I’d recommend plan your visit so you spend a decent amount of time here. I was planning on stopping for a couple of hours but ended up spending the whole day!
Please note dogs are banned from this beach between 1 May and 30 September.
12. Scramble up to St David’s Head
A short but windy walk from Whitesands Beach. The path takes you out on to a piece of land that juts out into the sea. And for those more adventurous you can scramble to the top.
It gives you stunning views of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
My favourite thing was sitting watching the waves crash against the rocks at the tip of the head. I can imagine this would be a great place to sit and look out for dolphins, porpoises and whales.
Although I wasn’t lucky enough to see any on my Pembrokeshire trip.
13. Learn about the geology of the Pembrokeshire coast
Cost: Free (Maybe buy a book for more information)
I had no idea that the Pembrokeshire National Park is a haven for geology lovers.
It wasn’t until I started chatting with the guests in my hostel (Geology students from The Netherlands) and another couple on one of my walks I discovered the amazing geology in the area.
St Davids Head is a great example of this, made from old volcanic rock dating back over 500 million years.
I’m no expert but it’s certainly interesting to see the layers of rock and learn more about how and when it formed. As you walk along the coastal path you can see the different vegetation growing in certain areas.
14. Visit Porthgain Harbour in Pembrokeshire
A great place to explore as Porthgain used to be a Commercial harbour. And you can still see all the old industrial buildings, which are in good condition. You can imagine what it would have been like as a working harbour.
Also, it’s a wonderful place to stop and do some walks along the coastal path.
Grab some lunch
After your walk, you can relax at the Sloop Inn, Haverfordwest, SA62 5BN. They serve traditional pub food, including freshly caught fish specials.
15. Go swimming or paddling in the sea
Whilst you are walking along the Pembrokeshire Coast you will find little beaches and coves. Take your time to go explore.
There are some lovely beaches you can go swimming in the sea from.
In October, it was a bit cold for my liking. I settled for a paddle in the sea, with my boots on. As you can see, I got them very wet, maybe it was better if I had taken them off!
If you love swimming then don’t forget your swimming outfits or maybe wetsuits in those colder months.
I use this brightly coloured travel towel from Cotton and Olive which is perfect for beach trips.
16. Visit Pembrokeshire to relax
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is such a relaxing place to visit. Far away from the big cities on the southwest coast of Wales, you can truly escape everyday life and there’s plenty of activities to take your mind off things.
But the one thing I loved about the Pembrokeshire Coast is the wildlife and nature around you, which instantly makes you feel calmer. Plus the people are so friendly too.
One of my favourite things to do on my trip was sitting and watch the crashing of waves against the rocks. The power of the ocean is totally mesmerising. I could have sat and watched for hours.
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a lovely place to stay in Wales and I can’t wait to visit again.
Further information about the Pembrokeshire Coast
When is the best time to visit Pembrokeshire?
It depends on your reason for visiting and with so much to do it’s great for everyone visiting.
Do you want to see wildlife or go birdwatching? Would you like to hike the whole 186 miles of the coastal path? Do you want to relax on the beach?
Summer is great to visit as you’ll enjoy the warmest temperatures. But spring is wonderful for wildlife and birds returning to Ramsey Island. Autumn is wonderful, the seals have their pups and much less crowded.
You can even visit in the winter months too but be sure to wrap up warm.
Average day temperatures
Spring – 9-15 C
Summer – 17-20 C
Autumn – 11-18 C
Winter – 8-10 C
Getting about on the Pembrokeshire coast
During the summer months, there are many local bus services that go along the coast. The services run from the beginning of May until the end of September.
However, there is a reduced service in low season. Please check before travelling.
You can find out more about here Pembrokeshire Greenways or pop into one of the Visitor Centres (at Oriel y Parc Visitor Centre they gave me a little booklet with all the times in).
Or visit Traveline Cymru.
Travelling by car is a great way of getting to some of the more out the way places in Pembrokeshire. Some roads are narrow, so take care when driving. There are plenty of passing places but be prepared to reverse on smaller country lanes.
I stayed near St Davids and although this is a city it’s small. Plan ahead for filling up with fuel. These are the two options for St Davids
- Ocean Haze Filling Station, St Davids, Haverfordwest, SA62 6QN
- Letterson Filling Station, A487, Square and Compass, Haverfordwest, SA62 5JJ (locals said this was the cheaper one!)
For more information about where to park. Visit Pembrokeshire Council for details
Where to stay in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park?
Budget accommodation hostel in Pembrokeshire
For my visit to Pembrokeshire, I stayed in a lovely independent hostel called Caerhafod Lodge. It’s a 23-bed hostel, with 5 en-suite rooms.
It’s completely set up for self-catering, with a well-organised large kitchen. There’s also a drying room, lounge area and picnic benches and BBQ area outside looking out to the sea.
You can read my full review here Caerhafod Lodge.
Mid-range accommodation hotels in Pembrokeshire
St Davids is a great place to base yourself with numerous hotel options.
These are a few of the favourite options but there are plenty more to choose from. Simply click on the link (Booking.com) and you can check the latest prices and availability for each place your trip.
Click here for more options Where to stay in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park?
If you love exploring the UK click here to read the 22 best day hikes in the UK
What to pack for your Pembrokeshire trip?
Depending on what activities you choose to do on your visit to Pembrokeshire Coast, will make a difference to what you pack for your holiday in Wales.
Here are a few essential items that you should take with you to ensure you enjoy the best of Pembrokeshire.
- Swimming gear, goggles and a beach towel (or a wetsuit in colder months)
- Hiking gear – good hiking shoes/boots, a waterproof jacket and a small backpack
- Binoculars for wildlife and birdwatching
- A water bottle – also handy for every trip
- For cooler months – take some warm clothes, hat and gloves (it can be cold on the cliff top paths)
Planning a longer trip to Wales?
Pembrokeshire is a beautiful place to visit in Wales, but if you have more time then maybe you’ll want to explore more of Wales.
Here you can read about all the best places to visit in Wales on a road trip, including destinations in south, north and mid-Wales. You can stop off at Hafren Forest, maybe do more hiking in the beautiful Snowdonia or Brecon Beacons National Parks.
Read the full post here with all the 25 best places to visit in Wales
Have you visited the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales? Tell me anything I’ve missed about things to do in Pembrokeshire that you did on your trip.
Or ask me any questions about visiting Wales in the comments below.
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