This past weekend I took a little weekend break to Portmeirion & Criccieth in North Wales. We based ourselves in Criccieth, a pretty little town close to the quirky and magical village of Portmeirion – somewhere I had been wanting to visit for absolutely ages!
We arrived in the evening, just in time to catch a glimpse of Criccieth Castle at sunset. I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful light and how it perfectly illuminated the castle.
Waking up to another lovely sunny day on Saturday, our first stop was a trip to Criccieth Castle, just a few yards from our hotel. I am a bit of a history geek, and climbing upwards towards the twin towers, I was excited to explore the ruins. The legends, the battles, the beauty, the stories, so much history contained within the walls. If only they could talk. Criccieth Castle lies on a hill with 360 views over the Irish Sea and surrounding countryside. Construction of the castle began around 1230 AD, initiated by Llywelyn the Great and building work continued until around 1280. To put that into context, the castle was being built during the lifetime of Scottish legend, William Wallace aka ‘Braveheart’. We spent around an hour wandering around on the hill, exploring and discussing what life might have been like for those in the castle, deciding which of the rooms we would have chosen as our own. There were only a couple of other people up there, and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. Next we hopped in the car and drove the 9 miles to the village of Portmeirion.
Arguably the prettiest village in the UK, Portmeirion was built by arthitect, Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975. Williams-Ellis always denied that the village was based on the Italian town of Portofino and would only say that the aim of the village was to capture the Mediterranean atmosphere. I think he did pretty good. Portmeirion is a real treat to visit. At every turn there is something to see, discover and photograph. Every inch of the village is perfectly designed, in contrast with the wilder forest and coastal paths that surround it. But somehow, the combination works, and the colourful buildings blend seamlessly with the Welsh countryside and bay of which it overlooks. It’s fun and refreshing, and there’s something magical about the place that made me feel intrinsically happy by just being there. I’m sure the sunshine also helped! The iconic village is also famous for the setting for the 1960’s cult TV show, The Prisoner and also famous for Portmeirion Pottery.
We wandered through the gardens, walked the coastal path, dipped our toes in the sea, feasted on delicious pizza, relaxed on the grass, took a train ride through the woods, ate ice-cream and took lots and lots of pictures!
Then, it was time for wine with a view! One thing is for sure, it’s definitely the prettiest and quirkiest village I’ve ever been to. I just wish more places looked like this – although, I doubt I’d get much work done, I’d be Instagramming all day.
We spent the evening back in Criccieth and took a stroll down to the beach with a cheeky little glass of champagne to watch the sunset, before enjoying a wonderful meal at Tonnau Restaurant at The Caerwylan Hotel. The view was fantastic and the staff were lovely! The food was pretty fabulous too!
If you are looking to bring a little bit of magic to your weekend in the UK, head to Criccieth and Portmeirion, you won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait to head back to the area to explore more of what Wales has to offer!
- If you book tickets for Portmeirion online they are cheaper than on the day. £8.50 (adults), £8 (concessions), £5.50 (child 5 – 15). We paid £10 each on the day.
- If you go after 3.30pm, tickets are reduced!
- You can also stay in Portmeirion village, something I’d love to do in the future as I think it would be beautiful and very romantic at night! Especially on a clear night, with a full moon!
- We had a lovely pizza for lunch at Caffi Glas.
- I highly recommend the Tonnau Restaurant. The restaurant is also part of a hotel, so perhaps an option for where to stay!
- Castle Fish and Chips is another popular spots with both locals and tourists, with people queueing out the door!
- Tickets for Criccieth Castle cost £3.50 (adults), £2.65 (concessions and children under 16) and£10.50 (family ticket) and it is open 10am – 5pm (April – October) and 9.30am 4pm (November -March). We found 10am a great time to go. They also have a small museum!
- We stayed at The Marine Hotel B&B. The decor is a little dated, but the owners were really friendly and they do a great breakfast. Our sea view (and castle view) room was really comfortable and the hotel was in a great position, close to the main high street, the castle and the beach.
Read more about Wales:
- A Lovely Little Weekend in North Wales (Caernarfon, Abersoch, Llanbedrog, Llandudno & Conwy)