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For those that don’t know, Portmeirion is a small town in Wales that you can visit all year round. It feels like you’ve been transported to a seaside town in Italy when actually it’s nestled away in North Wales.
The quaint village offers many things to do and see, from the castle ruins on the hilltop overlooking the harbour to the quaint shops lining the streets of Portmeirion’s old town. There are plenty of activities for everyone: great places to eat, drink and stay as well as family-friendly attractions such as horse riding and golfing at nearby resorts.
Having visited last summer and falling completely head over heels for this colourful little fairy tale town, I thought I’d put together a little guide to visiting.
The History Of Portmeirion
Portmeirion was built as a Victorian artist’s retreat in the late 19th century.
Because of this, it has an artsy feel and is populated by many artists who have made Portmeirion their home over the years. The town also has its own art gallery with works from local artists on display.
In addition to the arts, Portmeirion is also famous for being used as a set in cult 60’s television series The Prisoner. There’s even a shop with souvenirs based on the series!
The original town was built using typical Welsh materials so that it would blend into its surroundings and remain hidden from prying eyes – like a fairy tale castle lost at sea; today it’s one of the best examples of 20th-century architecture to be found anywhere in Wales.
Portmeirion was founded by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and is owned by a charitable trust that operates it as an arts resort, with many rooms available for rent by visiting artists (such as The Porthmadog group above).
In addition to being a place of stunning beauty, there’s also an impressive museum that pays tribute to Sir Clough and the original inhabitants who helped him build Portmeirion.
There’s so much more I could tell you about this beautiful town (for example it even has its own railway station) but I’m going to leave some of these things for you to discover during your visit.
About Portmeirion Pottery
If the name doesn’t give it away, the famous Portmeirion Pottery is from this wonderful little village.
The pottery has been used to create everything from tableware to souvenirs, with each piece carrying the unique Portmeirion stamp. You can find the workshop and showroom just a short walk from the main village, and it’s definitely worth a visit for any fan of ceramics and the perfect place to pick up a little something to take home.
How To Portmeirion
Portmeirion is easily accessible by car, train and bus. The closest train stations are in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog, both a short drive away from the village. There are also several buses that run between Portmeirion and these towns as well as other destinations in North Wales.
If you’re driving, you need to take the A487 from either Porthmadog or Blaenau Ffestiniog. The journey should take around 30 minutes, depending on traffic. There’s plenty of parking available once you get there.
📍 Address: LL48 6ER, Penrhyndeudraeth
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Portmeirion?
Portmeirion is relatively affordable to visit – most of the attractions are free, and there is a range of accommodation options available starting from around £50 per night.
Tickets cost £12.50 for adults and £11.75 for children, but you can get a family ticket (two adults and up to three children) for just £36 if your kids are under 16 years old – that’s pretty good value!
💡 Top Tip: With current capacity restrictions, it’s recommended you book your tickets in advance. Not only does it secure you a spot, but it also means you get in a little faster than those that need to queue.
Current Opening Times And Dates
Portmeirion is open all year round, except for Christmas Day. Opening times vary depending on the season, so be sure to check the website before you go. There is no charge for children under 15 years or younger.
To explore the village fully, I’d recommend 3-4 hours.
Where To Stay (And Around) Portmeirion
There are a number of places to stay in and around Portmeirion, both within the village and neighbouring towns and villages.
For those looking for a more luxurious stay, the Portmeirion Hotel is a great option. It’s located right in the heart of the village and has stunning views over the estuary. During our visit, we walked down to take a look at the hotel and honestly, it looked incredible and I loved that it had a heated pool outside facing the estuary. I’ve made a mental note to book myself a room there for a special occasion, as it does come with a hefty price tag.
On-site there are also a number of cottages, both self-catering and B&B, as well as the option to camp.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little cheaper to stay but still want to be within walking distance of all the action, I’d recommend checking out some of the places in nearby Criccieth or Harlech. There’s no shortage of options there!
If you’re on a tighter budget, there are plenty of smaller B&Bs and guesthouses to choose from. I’d recommend checking out places like Pen-y-G wryd and Cae Eden – both have great views and are reasonably priced.
Alternatively, you can stay in Porthmadog, which is a stunning place in itself. We visited Black Rock Sands after our trip to Portmeirion and I loved that you could drive right onto the beach.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Portmeirion?
The best time to visit Portmeirion is in the spring or early summer, however, I visited during the late summer and it wasn’t quite as busy as I thought it would be. There were lots of queues, but it didn’t take away from the experience at all.
If you’re visiting in winter, there’s the added bonus of Christmas markets and Father Christmas sightings!
💡 Top Tip: If possible, I’d say to avoid visiting in the rain due to the amount of time you spend outside but if it’s unavoidable, you’ll still be able to admire the beautiful village.
I’d also recommend taking some sturdy walking shoes with you as the paths can get rather muddy and slippery. They’re also pretty steep at times, so it’s worth bearing that in mind when choosing your outfit for the day!
Portmeirion And COVID-19
I visited in August 2021 and so as a result, there were (and still are) COVID-19 measures in place. When indoors masks were required and distance was encouraged. Restaurants had a one-way system and were more of a ‘takeout’ basis rather than actual dining.
💡 Top Tip: There were hand sanitising stations about, however, I didn’t see very many of them during my visit so I recommend having your own in your bag.
What To Do In Portmeirion
There’s plenty to keep you busy in Portmeirion, no matter what your interests are! You can wander the narrow streets and admire the colourful houses, have a drink or bite to eat in one of the many cafes and restaurants, go for a walk along the beach or take a boat trip on the estuary.
The town is also famous for its beautiful gardens, so if you’re keen to explore the flora and fauna of this area then make sure you visit them too! The Italianate garden was designed by architect Clough Williams-Ellis in the 1920s – he’s famously said to have used buildings from all over Italy as inspiration when creating it.
The gardens are free to enter, and there’s also a visitor centre and gift shop on site.
For £25, you can even take a buggy tour around the gardens, which is a great way to see them whilst getting insider info from your guide. The buggy seats 5 people and the price is a £25 flat rate, no matter how many people are in your buggy. The 45-minute tour can be booked from guest services as soon as you enter.
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, the Mermaid Spa is located in the village and offers a range of treatments. Prices start at £27 for a one-hour treatment, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to relax after a day out exploring.
For children, there are lots to keep them busy! They can visit the beach or head to one of Portmeirion’s children’s play areas. The village also has a heated outdoor pool, which is open from Easter until the end of September.
Where To Eat In Portmerion
Portmeirion is also home to a range of award-winning restaurants, cafes and bars. The Dining Room is one of the most popular places to eat in town – it’s housed in a beautiful Grade II listed building, and serves up traditional British food with a modern twist. This is where we chose to eat and while it was expensive, choices were limited unless you actually want to leave the village. If you’re looking for something more casual, head to the Beach Hut Cafe, which overlooks the beach and serves up light bites and drinks.
There’s also an ice cream bar, a pizzeria, and a few other places to grab a bite to eat – so you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy.
Things To Do Near Portmeirion
There’s plenty to do near Portmeirion if you’re looking for a bit of adventure. Hiking and cycling are popular activities in the area, and there are some great trails to follow – both on foot and by bike.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also try your hand at coasteering, which involves scrambling along the rocky coastline, jumping off cliffs into the sea below and enjoying other various water-based activities.
It’s also worth taking a trip to Beddgelert, which is about an hour away on foot from Portmerion – or you can get there in just 15 minutes by car. This cute little village has plenty of charm, with narrow streets, traditional pubs and a lovely river running through it.
If you’re after some good food while in the area, head to The Ship Inn in Portmeirion. This gastro-pub serves up delicious locally sourced dishes, such as Welsh lamb and fresh fish from the nearby coast. The prices are reasonable, with the mains starting at £11.
If you’re staying at Portmeirion for a few days, it would be well worth venturing out into surrounding towns – Barmouth is also just 15 minutes away by car, and there are plenty of lovely walks along the coast!
For more things to do in North Wales, you can visit my ultimate bucket list here!
I hope this guide has been helpful and if it has inspired you to visit Portmeirion then do let me know how much I’ve helped by leaving a comment below!