A quaint fishing village at the tip of the Llyn Peninsula in Snowdonia, Aberdaron is popular with tourists and locals alike. Here are ten of our favourite things to do in the area.
In the days when three pilgrimages to Bardsey equalled one to Rome, Aberdaron was famous as the final stop on the pilgrim route before the sea crossing to the holy island. Stopping at Ffynnon Fair (Mary’s Well) for a final drink of water and a blessing, pilgrims would wait for sea conditions to be favourable for the potentially treacherous crossing.
Today, Aberdaron is a popular holiday destination as well as a favourite day out for people living in the area. Although the village is small, there’s plenty to see and do in the village and surrounding areas; here are ten suggestions.
1. St Hywyn’s
Parts of the church of St Hywyn date to the 11th century, and the celebrated poet RS Thomas was vicar there from 1967 to 1978. Visit the church and as well as an exhibition about the poet, you’ll also see tombstones that have been dated to the late fifth or early sixth century.
You can take your pick when it comes to beaches in and around Aberdaron – there are some pretty wonderful ones to choose from! In particular, make time to visit the area’s ‘porths’ – beautiful sheltered coves – such as Porth Oer, Porth Iago and Porth Meudwy. If bigger beaches are more your thing, head for Pwllheli, Abersoch or Hell’s Mouth.
3. Llyn Coastal Path
The Llyn Coastal Path is a great way to explore the local area and the aforementioned beaches. This excellent walking route takes in some of the best coastal scenery you could wish for; the only problem is knowing when to stop walking, because the views are so spectacular you’ll want to stay on the path forever!
4. Bird’s eye views
There are some smashing lookout points in the areas surrounding Aberdaron, where you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views for miles around. Pen y Cil, Mynydd Mawr and Uwchmynydd are all recommended if you want panoramic views of the Llyn Peninsula and, on a clear day, the Wicklow mountains in Ireland.
5. Plas yn Rhiw
Speaking of views, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of Cardigan Bay from the grounds of Plas yn Rhiw, a small manor house at Rhiw. The house was rescued from disrepair in the 1930s and restored, before being handed over to the National Trust for safekeeping. The house is 16th century with Georgian additions, and the ornamental gardens are beautiful all year round.
6. Wildlife watching
Aberdaron is a great place for watching wildlife. There are dozens of bird species to keep an eye out for, including the chough, which is the emblem of the Llyn Peninsula, as well as kittiwakes, kestrels, puffins and Manx shearwaters. Marine mammals often pay a visit to the waters off Aberdaron too – so you may well see seals, porpoises and dolphins.
If you arrive in Aberdaron without a camera you’ll kick yourself. Even without the beaches, the wildlife and the panoramic views, there’s plenty to photograph in the village itself. Like the post office, which was designed by Portmeirion’s architect, Clough Williams-Ellis, and Y Gegin Fawr, a beautiful stone-built cafe dating back to the 13th century. The village is so quaint and picturesque, a camera is essential!
8. Castell Odo
The Llyn Peninsula has several burial chambers, cromlechs and other ancient remains. Castell Odo hill fort in particular is really fascinating. Dating from about 400BC, Castell Odo is said to be the “earliest distinctively Iron Age settlement in Wales” – although it was abandoned several times and reoccupied in later centuries. Even today there are faint outlines of what was there two and a half thousand years ago – so if you’re keen on ancient history, this is one site you’ll definitely want to see.
There are several great spots for fishing in and near Aberdaron. If you’re keen on fishing you’ll have plenty of opportunities to land a catch or two – whether that’s from the beach, at the coarse fishing centre at Llyn Leisure, or even during a sea fishing trip (if you don’t have your own boat, it’s easy enough to charter one locally).
‘The Isle of Twenty Thousand Saints‘ is how we’ve known Bardsey (or Enlli, to use the island’s Welsh name) for centuries. This was, and still is, the final destination for many a pilgrimage, religious or otherwise. Bardsey is a very special place, steeped in history and folklore and with a tranquil ambience that’s perfect for peaceful contemplation or simple relaxation. At Bardsey your physical journey may have reached its end, but spiritually it’s the beginning of a new story.