Portmeirion Village is one of the prettiest, but most surreal places I’ve ever been to. If your UK vacation is taking you to the area, you might be looking for things to do in Portmeirion. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
What Is Portmeirion Village?
Portmeirion is a small village in North Wales. In fact, the whole place is a holiday resort, rather than an actual village. It was designed by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who wanted to show that you could develop a naturally beautiful site without spoiling it. The whole place is designed to look like an Italian village. The ice-cream colours are gorgeous, and give the village a surreal feel, sitting in the Welsh landscape.
The village is now a holiday resort. All the houses are either hotels, hotel rooms, or self-catering holiday lets. Day visitors can go and look around and enjoy the shops, eateries, and woodland and coastal walks. The village has also been used as a filming location, most famously as the island in the 1960s series, The Prisoner.
Things To Do In Portmeirion
Tour The Village
You can book to stay in the village, or visit for the day. Day tickets are currently £14 for an adult. There used to be guided tours available, but at the moment, there’s no mention of these on the website. I assume they’ve been paused due to Covid, but there are still plenty of staff members around to answer any questions you might have. Take your time strolling around the village. There are a lot of little details packed in, and the buildings are gorgeous.
Relax On The Beach
Portmeirion has its own beach on the edge of the Dwyryd Estuary, with gorgeous white sand. Check the tide times if you’re hoping for a beach day though, as the beach is almost completely submerged when the tide’s in.
Walk Along The Coast
From the beach, you can walk a long way along the coast, or walk along the coastal paths. Along the way, you’ll find caves, lots of interesting plants, and stunning views of the estuary and surrounding mountains. If you decide to walk on the sand, keep an eye on the tide so you don’t get caught. While you’re beachside, look out for the Amis Reunis. Originally, this real trading ketch was moored here by the hotel. You could even stay on board! Unfortunately, the boat became stranded and fell into disrepair. The remains can still be spotted at low tide. Williams-Ellis built a stone version to replace the boat, using the boat’s original mast.
Walk In The Woodlands
There are miles of paths in the seventy acres of woodland around Portmeirion. There’s a lot of interesting things hidden away in these woods. If you’re into plants, you’ll enjoy seeing the incredible array of rare and exotic plants that grow here, including giant redwoods, camellias, monkey puzzle trees, and over seventy varieties of rhododendron. If plants aren’t your thing, you might love the derelict castle, the Japanese pagoda, the Greek temple, or the Chinese bridge. There’s even a dog graveyard. One tip: don’t bother with the Ghost Garden you can see on the map. It’s a long walk, over some very difficult paths, and when you get there, there’s nothing to see. Stick with the main path, which will take you past the best sites, including the temple and the pagoda, which are very pretty. If you don’t fancy walking, you can ride the land train, which stops at all the best things to see.
Explore The Gardens
Back by the main entrance, you’ll find Castell Deudraeth. The castle is a hotel, although you can eat in the restaurant if you’re not staying there. It also has a carefully restored Victorian walled garden for you to explore, with lawns, flowers, and flowering trees.
Portmeirion has two full-service restaurants and a range of cafes to eat at. At the main entrance, you can eat in the castle, or you can eat by the estuary at Hotel Portmeirion. This gets popular, so I’d advise booking. At the moment, the outdoor dining area has a selection of covid-safe tables inside dining pods. This would be my pick if you can book it while they’re still there, mostly because it struck me as really amusing how much these look like the bubbles that prevented escapes from The Prisoner (ask your parents, or watch that Simpsons episode that spoofed it, ‘The Computer Wore Menace Shoes’).
For something lighter, you can try the Town Hall, Caffi No 6, or Caffi’r Sgwâr, which have quick-service meals, snacks, and drinks. You can also grab excellent gelato at Caffi’r Angel. Covid has restricted what’s on offer, so check before you go.
There’s a handful of cute little shops at Portmeirion.
The Ship Shop sells a range of carefully curated gifts and souvenirs, making this a great stop to pick up presents for people you left at home. You’ll find everything from gorgeous homeware to handcrafted chocolates. We were very tempted to buy most of the range of Welsh spirits on offer too.
If you’re into homeware, you need to visit Portmeirion Pottery Seconds. Portmeirion Pottery is very popular, and usually very expensive, so this is a great chance to pick up something lovely at a discounted price. If you (or more likely your Dad) loves The Prisoner, Portmeirion has the only official Prisoner shop. Inside what was used as Number Six’s house for the show, you can now buy a range of gifts themed around the show.
Stock up on tasty Welsh produce at Pot Jam, buy books at the Golden Dragon Book Shop or buy local art at the Rob Piercy Art Gallery.
Portmeirion is not your typical day out in Wales, but the unusual nature of the village makes it well worth a visit, especially if you’re interested in architecture. Try to visit on a sunny day, as there’s very little to see that’s indoors, and even less at the moment, thanks to Covid restrictions. In the sun, it’s a gorgeous little place to take a stroll around. Have you been? What did you think?
What you can do at Portmeirion has had to be adapted somewhat due to Covid. Their website is being kept up to date with any changes, so check before you travel, and make sure you know what you need to do to keep everyone safe.
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