The Coastal Way
Here, we focus on The Coastal Way, which runs the entire length of the west coast around Cardigan Bay between Aberdaron on the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula to the tiny cathedral city of St Davids in Pembrokeshire. It’s a 180-mile/290km road trip that threads between the sea on one side and mountains on the other, taking you along a coastline dotted with harbour towns and resorts, fishing villages, vast beaches, towering cliffs and hidden coves.
An epic journey
You won’t be short of scenery. The route passes through two National Parks – Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire – as well as the lovely Llŷn Peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It shadows a big chunk of the 870-mile/1,400km Wales Coast Path, the world’s only long-distance footpath to follow a nation’s entire coastline.
There’s the bonus of mountains too. Snowdonia’s highlands sweep down to the sea along the Mawddach Estuary (‘one of the most beautiful in Europe’, according to Countryfile magazine). And it’s worth going off piste further south to explore the brooding Pumlumon range and Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Hills.
A salty journey
You’ll plunge into maritime Wales on this route. Go sailing from Pwllheli or dolphin-spotting from New Quay. Collect shells from Shell Island (where else?) or go island-hopping to Bardsey and Ramsey. The Pembrokeshire coast is teeming with wildlife in the air and on the sea (puffins, porpoises and seals are just the start of it). Take a walk on the beach – we have some of the most scenic and pristine in Britain. Or go coasteering in Pembrokeshire, the place that invented this adrenaline aqua sport.
A historic journey
You’ll pass truly historic landmarks that reveal so much about Wales’s heritage. The end points of Aberdaron and St Davids are on ancient pilgrims’ routes (St Davids magnificent cathedral is the fountainhead of Celtic Christianity). Castles crop up regularly, most memorably at war-scarred Criccieth, mighty Harlech (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Cardigan. Aberystwyth is home to the National Library of Wales, a cultural highlight. And at Portmeirion there’s a remarkable fantasy village that’s like a slice of Italy magically transplanted in North Wales.