Wales – the land of gorgeous mountain vistas, epic rugged coastlines, ancient castles, homely pubs, and nigh on unpronounceable place names. On this 7-day road trip across Wales, from North to South, you’ll see it all!
Starting out in the charming seaside town of Llandudno, you’ll then head across the spectacular Snowdonia national park. From there we’ll visit a surprise Mediterranean-style village on the Welsh coast, then head through Gwynedd towards Wales’s most Easterly point (and the smallest city in the UK) – St. David’s.
Lastly, we’ll head on to check out some of the most amazing beaches in the British isles, a historic castle and some incredible rural vistas. Plus amazing, hearty and homely local food too. This is the ultimate 1-week road trip across Wales!
For more incredible regions of the UK to visit, try our guide to the 11 Best Regions of the United Kingdom
Starting Your Journey
This is a road trip! So of course, you’ll be traveling by car. If you’re coming from outside the UK, we recommend renting a vehicle in Shrewsbury or Telford on the Welsh border with England. This is a central spot for you to drive to the start from, and to get back to afterward to return the car.
If you’re flying in from the fairly nearby airports of Birmingham or Manchester, you could also rent a car there. Neither places are too far from our start point of Llandudno, at about 2 hours drive.
There will be the opportunity to camp every night on this trip if you so wish. So the whole thing can be done a budget, if that’s your traveling style. Just remember to bring enough gear, as Wales can get sometimes get cold and wet at almost any time of year! If camping isn’t your thing, we will recommend places to stay along the way too.
Day 1: Llandudno
As promised, our 7 day Welsh road trip starts on the North coast, in the scenic resort town of Llandudno. The largest and best-known seaside destination in Wales, Llandudno has been attracting visitors from all over the UK since at least 1861.
What to do and see in Llandudno?
Llandudno has a beautiful scenic Victorian promenade, bookended by the Grand Hotel and the town Ferris Wheel (pictured above). As well as all the usual seaside attractions, there’s also the nearby Great Orme headland.
Simply hop on one of the beautiful vintage tram cars of the Great Orme Tramway and take a pleasant half hour ride up to the summit of Great Orme. This truly is a special place, with rocky crags and rare wildlife abound.
You might even see some Asian Kashmiri mountain goats – descendants of a pair of goats gifted from The Shaf of Persia to Queen Victoria in 1837! That’s some history right there.
Back in Llandudno, try out the traditional wooden seaside pier for some real British charm such as tea rooms, vintage clothes shops, and old-fashioned arcades. Also worth a visit is the 13th century Conwy Castle, just across the river from the town centre. You can walk through the well-preserved great hall and up to the battlements for an epic view of the town from the walls.
Where to eat in Llandudno?
The Cottage Loaf (or The Loaf as it often affectionately known by locals) is your archetypal homely Welsh pub – and it serves some of the best food in the region. Tucked down an unassuming narrow alley in the heart of Llandudno, the food here is local, seasonal and absolutely bloody gorgeous!
For something lighter, maybe for a late lunch, try Character’s Tea House. A classic slice of British tea afternoon tea. Scones, cakes and traditional British sandwiches with a cup of golden loose leaf tea. Can’t get much better!
Where to stay in Llandudno?
- $$$ – The Imperial is a 4-star hotel in an old Victorian building right on Llandudno promenade. Rooms are well appointed, most with brilliant sea views. There’s also an on site spa and wellness centre with a gym, steam room and swimming pool.
- $$ – Lawton and Lauriston B&B – an award winning bed and breakfast, with sea views – for a reasonable price. Can’t go wrong with the simple but elegantly decorated rooms and homely service at Lawton and Lauriston Court!
- $ – Camping at hilltop site Tan Yr Allt Hall is our budget-friendly accommodation option pick in Llandudno. You’ll wake up to some of the best views of the town, and the bay, in the area. For less than £20 a night!
Day 2: Snowdonia
Travel time: Llandudno is about 30 minutes to an hour’s drive from our next stop in Caernarfon. This picturesque bayside town is a great place to rest up and grab breakfast before we take on the biggest hike of the trip – walking up Mount Snowdon. Or, at least getting the cable car up to the summit.
For that, we’ll be heading to the village of Llanberis, which is about 20 minutes drive on scenic mountain roads from Caernarfon.
What to do and see in Snowdonia?
As if you could come to Snowdonia and not go up Mount Snowdon. Well, you might have if you come in the Winter. The main and easiest hiking route up can be treacherous in wintry conditions – and the mountain railway also closes between September and April.
Otherwise, get your hiking boots on! Or, buy a ticket up the railway. The views at the top are the same no matter how you got there! Which is to say, quite often cloudy. But – if you have a good day, you’re in for some of the most gorgeous views from any mountain peak in the UK. Especially if you felt up to the hike!
Took your road trip in winter, or early Spring? Or just don’t feel up to going up a mountain? Then, we fully recommend taking a slight detour of about 30 minutes and heading to Cwm Idwal valley instead.
Get into this nice and relatively easy flatland hike of about four miles around the base of an incredible glacial valley, and you’ll forget that you never got to up Mount Snowdon – we promise!
Where to eat in Snowdonia?
If you want the very best fine dining in Wales, we have to mention Tyddyn Llan. It’s a bit of a drive from Llanberis, at about 1 hour. But – as a Michelin starred restaurant using the freshest and best local produce, it’s worth the trip. Think of different local meats like venison or pheasant, served with seasonal Welsh veg.
For something a beat friendlier on the wallet (and closer to home base for the day) try Pete’s Cafe in Llanberis. Massive mugs of tea and coffee and freshly made sandwiches in a homely, cottage atmosphere.
Where to stay in Snowdonia?
- $$$ – Plas Dinas Country House – 5 Star Guesthouse near Caernarfon
- $$ – Lodge Dinorwig Hostel
- $ – Pen Y Pas YHA
Day 3: Snowdonia and Portmeirion
Travel time: All of our previous hotels were within a few miles of Mount Snowdon – so no matter where you stayed, our next stop shouldn’t be too far away. The super unique and picturesque fantasy village of Portmeirion is just an hour’s drive from Llanberis or Caernarfon. All along the scenic A487 road, as it winds through the counties of Snowdonia and Gwynedd.
Once you arrive in Portmeirion it’s hard not to see how different it is to almost any other place in Wales. It really is one of the most unique villages in the UK, and possibly the world. Built between 1925 and 1947 by the iconoclastic architect Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is an eclectic collection of buildings in various styles. They include Italian, Greek, Ancient Roman, Arabian and more.
What to do and see in Portmeirion
Portmeirion is not only built in all kinds of styles either – it used reclaimed bits of old buildings too. Which Williams-Ellis had shipped from all over the world!
Exploring these strange streets, gardens and shops could take up a whole day! Try the magnificent town hall, with it’s amazing garden full of rare plants and sculpted oddities. Or, grab a coffee and walk aboard the famous Stone Boat in the village’s delightfully fake harbour district!
If you do find yourself content after a morning or early afternoon here, there might be time for a nice four mile hike across the Afon Glaslyn estuary to the lovely fishing village of Borth y Gest.
The walk offers magnificent views of the estuary and the hills of Portmeirion as you stroll along the sea defense path. If the full 8-mile round trip is a bit intimidating, you could always hop back in the car!
Where to eat near Portmeirion?
Portmeirion itself has two full-service restaurants and a café. The two restaurants are relatively expensive, although highly-rated. They serve high-class local British food at dinner time, as well as afternoon tea trays throughout the day. You’ll also get lovely views of the estuary sands, while you eat your meal.
For something a little different, we suggest hopping in the car for a short 5 minute drive to the tiny village of Penrhyndeudraeth. Here you’ll find The Eating Gorilla – one of rural Wales’ most celebrated vegan spots. In a converted barn nonetheless. Very pretty, and the food is excellent too!
Where to stay near Portmeirion?
- $$$ – Stay in Portmeirion itself at the Portmeirion Hotel! This 4 star rated hotel is an accommodation option unlike no other in Wales. Book a balcony room for a full morning view of this gorgeous village, and be the envy of everyone on your social feed!
- $$ – The Lion Hotel in Criccieth. Just 30 minutes drive from Portmeirion is this lovely period building has 34 well appointed rooms for a decent price. Many of which have beautiful sea views of Afon Glaslyn estuary and the surrounding Snowdonia hills! Breakfast is included too.
- $ – Camping at Llech Camping and Caravanning. Just one mile from Portmeirion and less than £30 a night for a pitch. And you’ll wake up looking out over gorgeous Snowdonian vistas! You could get a little cold though, but with all the facilities here for this price – you can’t complain.
Day 4: Shell Island and Barmouth
Travel time: Our next stop is only about half an hour’s drive away from Portmeirion or Criccieth. And, once again, it’s a scenic drive through Snowdonia and back onto the Welsh coastal roads.
What to do and see in Shell Island?
Our first destination is Shell Island. Which is not actually an island, but a peninsula with several sandy beaches that have – you guessed it – loads of rare shells. The views here are incredible and there are lots of opportunities for boating and spotting rare wildlife. The area is also home to one of Europe’s biggest recreational campsites, which tells you how beautiful it is here eh!
Spend a day strolling through its wild acres, before heading into the quaint coastal town of Barmouth for some lovely pub food.
Where to eat in Barmouth?
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Where to stay in Barmouth or Shell Island?
- $$$ – Penty Mochyn is an incredible sea-view barn conversion on the very edge of Barmouth village. Fully kitted out with modern amenities, it has an enviable view of the Irish sea from panoramic windows. Also ponies, horses and chickens roam about the garden too – and you can have fresh eggs if they’re laying!
- $$ – Torrent Walk Glamping – this luxury glamping spot with 5 miles of Barmouth is a compromise for you noncampers. You still get to wake up and look outside for amazing views. But, your accommodation will be warmer! And it comes fitted with all the mod cons you could want while staying in a picturesque Welsh field. Lovely!
- $ – Shell Island Camping – for £10 per night, you can stay bang in the middle of this amazing area of natural beauty. Sleep under the stars and wake up with panorama views of Welsh mountains. Not bad for less than two London pints!
Day 5: Aberystwyth
Travel time: From Barmouth or Shell Island, it’s a scenic 1 hour 45 drive to our next stop – the famous seaside town of Aberystwyth. Simply head onto the A496, then the A470 and the A487 main roads will take you all the way there!
Aberystwyth is a tourist and university town, so you’ll see its population rise and fall during the year. During our day here you’ll ride the classic cable car up Constitution Hill, for awesome views of the Cardigan Bay area. And a vintage Camera Obscura too!
What to do and see in Aberystwyth?
Start out your morning in Aberystwyth with a constitutional walk along the lovely beachfront. Then, head North up the promenade until you reach the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway stop. This funicular tram line will, for free, take you all the way up to the top of Constitution Hill just behind the town.
At the top, you’ll be treated to unparalleled views of the town and the sweeping Cardigan bay. Plus, there’s a vintage Camera Obscura projector room at the top. If you’ve never seen one of these before, they’re well worth a look!
After your morning on Constitution Hill, head back into town and grab some lunch before your next excursion. Staying in Aberystwyth proper, you can head back up to the promenade railway stop and carry on slightly further to the start of the Ceredigion Coastal Path.
The whole Ceredigion Path takes in some 60 miles of gorgeous clifftop Welsh coastline. But you can obviously do as much as you want, or can handle, before taking a lazy stroll back to the town centre.
Where to eat in Aberystwyth?
Give a proper Welsh fry up breakfast a go at Sophie’s, on North Parade not far from the seafront. For a great price, you’ll get a big old plate of fried gold and a lovely warm mug of tea or coffee to go with it. A Welsh breakfast has traditional fried laverbread and Welsh produce such as mushrooms and bacon – something Sophie’s definitely does very well.
For an upmarket evening meal, try SY23 – a modern Michelin starred eatery. They’ve got fine dining, including loads of locally caught fish dishes, down to a tee. Plus outdoor seating, with a fire pit. Lovely!
Where to stay in Aberystwyth?
- $$$ – Glyn Garth Guest House – expensive but award winning 4-star guest house, in a lovely building right on Aberystwyth seafront.
- $$ – Stay in an isolated lake-side Elf Yurt at Yurtopia. Be just one of three groups of guests staying in beautiful, cosy yurt tents by a picturesque private lake. Only 20 minutes drive from Aberystwyth town centre.
- $ – Nantcellan Barns – camping on a beautiful site overlooking a quiet beach and bay, for just £30 an night.
Day 6: St. David’s
Travel time: Our next drive is a two hour run to the UK’s smallest city, and most western settlement in Wales, St. David’s! This drive will take you along some coastal routes, and through small seaside villages with names like Fishguard and Aberaeron. Lovely!
During your day here, you’ll explore the grounds and insides of a 1000-year-old saintly cathedral and wander the cobbled streets of Britain’s smallest city. If you make time, there are also some of Wales’ most beautiful beaches nearby too!
What to do and see in St. David’s?
St. David’s is unique for lots of reasons. Most of them linked to its incredible cathedral – first completed in 1181! Not only is this church nearly a thousand years old, it’s also the final resting place of the patron saint of Wales, St. David. Not bad for a community of just 1000 permanent residents eh?
The beautifully serene Cathedral grounds and charmingly small city streets are the perfect place to lose an afternoon wandering and soaking in the sights.
Once you’ve explored St. David’s to your satisfaction, and it really is tiny, try heading out to Whistesands Bay. About a five minute drive, or 20 minute walk from the city, the way the rolling green hills meet the white gold sand here is nothing short of stunning!
Plus, this spot is beloved by surfers and other watersports heads as one of the most hidden gem beaches in the UK. So if you’re into that, remember to pack your gear for the trip!
Where to eat in St. David’s?
Try St. David’s Gin and Kitchen, right in the centre of the ‘city‘. This place has tonnes of great local fish dishes for a light lunch – and they brew their own gins too. With locally grown botanical ingredients. Try one neat or on the rocks for extra style points, although the cocktails are lovely too.
For a super healthy option, try The Really Wild Emporium. Lots of simple, hearty dishes available including plenty of vegan and veggie friendly options. But also great fish!
Where to stay?
- $$$ – Penrhiw Hotel is quite possibly the most expensive hotel on our trip so far. But, as a 5-star hotel in a 19th century vicarage with balcony views of the Cathedral and acres of private gardens – you might think it’s worth the price tag!
- $$ – Try the Farmhouse Lochmelyr for a rustic b&B guest house experience, right in the centere of the city.
- $ – YHA St. David’s – the classic youth hostel experience. No frills, but you’ll meet other travellers and it’s extremely friendly on the budget too. Camping also available!
Day 7: Pembroke and Swansea
Travel time: It’s a serene 45-minute drive to our next stop from St. David’s, to the town of Pembroke. The route takes you through a good section of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, for some lovely scenic views along the way.
We’ll be stopping off in Pembroke for most of the day, and then taking a late afternoon or early evening drive to our last stop of Swansea. Swansea is the biggest city in the area and has the best transport links for heading home.
What to do and see in Pembroke and Swansea?
Pembroke’s main attraction is the 9th century Pembroke Castle that overlooks the town. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor, who went on to become King Henry VII of Britain. It was also the site of several major battles during the English Civil War!
Once you’ve had your fill of history at the castle, you have a couple of options. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Pembroke’s winding streets, or head out for one last epic coastal view before the end of the trip?
If you’re down for a 15 minute drive, we fully recommend checking out the ancient ruins of St. Govan’s Chapel. This tiny cliffside monastery is fairly difficult to get to, but the epic craggy scenery explains exactly why those ancient worshippers wanted to set up shop here. Just watch out for the signposts on the way, as some parts of this area are off limits as they’re owned by the Ministry of Defence!
Once you’re done in the area, you can stay your final night in Pembroke. Or, take a 1 hour 45 minute evening drive to the large (for Wales) city of Swansea for your last stop.
Where to eat in Pembroke or Swansea?
Try the Waterman’s Arms in Pembroke, for a tasty pub lunch with waterside views. It’s also right next to the castle, so it’s a perfect spot for a pit stop after your tour.
For a full dinner in Swansea, try Truffle. About 10 minutes from the city centre this homely and relaxed restaurant serves great local and Mediterranean inspired dishes at a reasonable price.
Where to stay?
- $$$ – The Grove of Narberth (what a name) is a hotel like no other. Full eco-friendly and sustainable, built into a hillside. Oh, and it’s a five star hotel too. It is 25 minutes drive from Pembroke, but it’s closer to Swansea and also very worth the trip. Pricey though!
- $$ – Wynberg House B&B in Swansea is a simple, family run bed and breakfast in the classic British style.
- $ – Allerston Farm, about 10 miles out Pembroke, is a lovely rural camping spot – and also a working farm! If you have the family in tow, a short farm tour could be squeezed in too!
So there we have it, our guide to the best 7 days in Wales road trip. There’s no way you’d be able to see everything this gorgeous part of the UK has to offer in just 7 days. But we certainly tried! From mountain vistas, to sweeping beaches, yurt camping and fried Welsh breakfasts – we hope you found this inspiring for you next trip.
If you wish to continue even further, we would recommend driving to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. We will have a guide on the city very soon!
Let us know if you did, and stay #EarthCurious.