Art, culture, landscape and history
48 hours in St Davids
It’s almost impossible not to be moved by the charm of this tiny city as soon as you arrive.
Begin your day with a hearty breakfast from one of the many lovely cafés in the city.
Try the Pilgrim’s Café at Oriel y Parc visitor centre, before chatting to the friendly National Park staff for some local information and perusing the art exhibitions on display. With multiple galleries and as a branch of the National Gallery of Wales, Oriel-y-Parc displays exciting art works in changing exhibitions, and the permanent Graham Sutherland collection is not to be missed.
The city’s quaint and gently sloping streets conceal this beautiful building almost completely, so prepare yourself for a breath-taking sight as the Cathedral comes into view nestled deep in the valley. An ancient site of pilgrimage, it’s easy to tell why people have flocked to this sacred place for centuries. Spend an hour or so exploring its cool and quiet interior, and the nearby St Davids Bishop’s Palace, where, on a summer evening, you might be lucky enough to catch a performance of Shakespeare by the wonderful Festival Arts, who have been performing in the venue since 1970. The atmospheric ruins are a perfect theatre set!
Head to the coast for an afternoon stroll. Caerfai Bay (perfect beach for swimming) and St Non’s Chapel (the birthplace of Saint David) are both within easy reach of St Davids on foot. For something a little longer, combine these spots in a circular walk along the Coast Path to Porthclais Harbour, or to St Justinians and catch the Celtic Coaster bus back to town. This handy bus service covers the whole peninsular and is an efficient way of getting around to avoid congestion and car park charges – plus, it allows you to do one-way walks without having to go back on yourself… A win-win!
Alternatively, you can hire bikes from TYF Adventure on the high street to be a truly eco-conscious traveller. Ditch the stress of having the car and see the best of the St Davids peninsular from two wheels.
There are plenty of lovely options to fill hungry stomachs in the evening. You can enjoy a delicious, locally-sourced meal at St Davids Kitchen while sipping gin distilled from botanicals grown on nearby Ramsey Island. For the foodies out there, fine-dining in Pembrokeshire can be found at Blas Restaurant at the Twr-y-Felin Hotel, or, for an al-fresco experience, head to Grain for pizza and a pint of one of Bluestone Brewery’s finest beers. For the curious among you, venture into the Really Wild Emporium for a meal to remember – specialising in foraged and wild foods, the dishes are unique and creative, not to mention delicious, giving you a real flavour of Pembrokeshire.
Hearty and welcoming pubs are part of the fabric of St Davids, so grab a pint of Welsh ale in the sunny beer gardens of the Bishops or the Farmer’s arms, or you can cwtch up beside their fireplaces on cosy winter nights.
Within striking distance…
See the area (and plenty of wildlife!) from a different perspective on a boat trip from St Justinians with Voyages of Discovery, with options to circumnavigate Ramsey Island, go fishing, spot whales and dolphins or go to Skomer Island to see the Puffins.
If being on the water doesn’t float your boat… Hop on the Strumble Shuttle bus northwards to Abereiddy to visit the famous Blue Lagoon, a former slate quarry now home to Celtic Quest Coasteering, where qualified guides take adventurous souls swimming, traversing and cliff jumping.
If you want to keep your feet on the ground, from here it’s a pleasant walk to the fishing harbour of Porthgain along a stretch of coast steeped in industrial history. If you can tear your eyes away from the scenery for a short while, we recommend popping your head into the Harbour Lights Gallery and gazing at some of Pembrokeshire’s finest land and seascapes.
End the day filling your belly with hearty pub-grub at The Sloop, one of the county’s most characterful pubs, or you can grab fish and chips from The Shed and sit on the harbour wall looking out to sea.
Alternatively, travelling south from St Davids, you’ll find a sheltered, picture-perfect harbour in the quaint village of Solva, fantastic for water activities of all kinds. Hours can easily be whiled away watching boats putter in and out and soaking in the mellow harbourside atmosphere with a drink or bite to eat from the numerous cafes and pubs close to the water. We recommend popping into Mamgu’s Café (pronounced mam-gee. Mamgu is Welsh for Grandma) for some of their famous welshcakes, served hot off the griddle, and there are vegan and gluten-free options available.
For dinner, the Cambrian Inn is a popular choice, or if you venture down the coast a little further, The Haven Brasserie in Nolton boasts some of the best beach views in Pembrokeshire and provides a relaxed, beach-side take on fine dining for those wanting to enjoy excellent cuisine while gazing out over lapping water – bliss!