St Davids is named after the patron saint of Wales, Saint David. St Davids is the smallest city in Britain with a population of just over 1,600. City status was awarded in 1995 although the roots of St Davids go back to the 4th century when St David himself lived here. St Davids was designated as a conservation area by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in 1972.
St Davids Peninsula has some of the most magnificent coastal scenery in Pembrokeshire. This is the heart of The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and The Coast Path walking is delightful.
The nearest railway station is either Fishguard or Haverfordwest. Ongoing bus services to St Davids run several times a day.
The coastline is well served by the Puffin Shuttle, which heads down around St Brides Bay and the Strumble Shuttle, which connects various points on the coast between St Davids and Fishguard. Both services are ideal for anyone walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Services usually run in the morning to drop you off at your start point and then return in the afternoon to pick you up.
What's in St Davids?
TYF adventure are based in their own outdoor gear shop in the centre of St Davids. They provide a range of activities including Coasteering, Sea Kayaking, Climbing and Surfing.
Several boat operators offer wildlife watching boat trips on fast, high powered RIB’s. Whale and Dolphin watching trips are very popular in the summer as are longer trips to see the huge gathering of gannets nesting site on Grassholm Island. Thousand Island Adventures also have a more traditional boat that lands on the RSPB reserve on Ramsey Island.
Walking on this section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is particularly good. A comfortable circular day walk starts from the National Park Visitor Centre. Walk to Carfai Bay and follow The Coast Path in a clockwise direction to either St Justinians or Whitesands Bay before turning back inland.
St Davids Cathedral is built from a local stone with a beautiful pink and grey colouring. It occupies the valley floor below the village. As you approach from The Square, you can't see the Cathedral until you get fairly close. When you pass through The Gatehouse, it's magnificently revealed in front of you.
Next door to St Davids Cathedral is the ruin of The Bishops Palace and well worth a visit. Now run by CADW, the Welsh historic buildings agency, the Palace became one of the victims of the reformation when many ecclesiastical estates were confiscated. Once a grand fortified residence, the palace was one of several grand residences in Pembrokeshire including Lamphey Bishop's Palace and Llawhaden Castle.
The newest facility which opened in 2008 is the Oriel y Parc Gallery. The National Park visitor centre has been extended to accommodate a state of the art gallery used to display national treasures, including the works of Graham Sutherland who was a Pembrokeshire resident for much of his life. The gallery is open all year and is free of charge. There is also a cafe on site and lots of useful information for visitors.
Ramsey Island is an RSPB nature reserve that’s particularly good for watching nesting seabirds like guillemots and razorbills. It’s open from April to October.
There are several interesting shops in St Davids clustered, mostly, around the old cross. There's also a good seasonal local market there on Thursdays from April to end of September.
Food and Drink
There’s a good choice of places to eat and drink in St Davids.
The Cloisters in St Davids Cathedral have recently been rebuilt and look as if they have always been there. Next door to this is The Refectory café and restaurant serving superb food.
A few of the many cafes, pubs and restaurants include The Sampler Tea Rooms, Cwtch Restaurant, The Farmers Arms, The Bench, The Grove, Pebbles, The Bishops and the Old Cross to name a few.
Don’t forget Gianni’s Ice Cream and a there’s a fish and chip shop too.
There are a number of very good hotels, in and around St Davids and a decent choice of guesthouses and B&B’s. There are some excellent camp sites and caravan sites all around St Davids Peninsula. There are several at Caerfai Bay and at Whitesands Bay, including a Caravan Club site.
There are a few small static caravan parks plus a plentiful choice of self catering cottages to choose from.
The History of St Davids
The magnificent Cathedral at St Davids dates back to the 12th century, although several older cathedrals were built before that on the same site.
Unfortunately, St Davids was prone to Viking attacks, being so close to the sea. The Vikings destroyed several of the older structures.
Modern day St Davids is a quaint and character-full place much loved by everyone who knows it.