Nestled on a quaint estuary along the west coast of North Wales, Portmeirion is a life-sized vision of the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Wander the immaculate streets of this ethereal seaside town and you will discover and Italianate design, quirky pops of colour that seem to change from each angle and incredible woodland walks that throw up their own treasure trove of discoveries.
Portmeirion Village, Wales is the perfect sight to discover among the incredible Welsh coastline and one I couldn’t wait to get back to on a recent visit. Those who have seen the 1960’s television show The Prisoner, will be able to walk through the set of the show, with numerous nods to the drama. Having visited since watching The Good Place, I couldn’t help but see eerie resemblances between the town of Portmeirion and the fictional Good Place created by the programme’s architect.
The Portmeirion Vision
A colourful playground set amid rambling wooded coastline and steep rocky outcrops tumbling down to the water’s edge of the estuary, Portmeirion is intriguing as it is beautiful. The architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis wanted a spot where he could let his artistic vision explode on the landscape whilst still maintaining the natural beauty of the place. Thus, Portmeirion was born.
Where is Portmeirion?
Portmeirion is located in Gwynedd, North Wales. It is within very easy reach of most of the big towns in North Wales, particularly Porthmadog, Bangor or Llandudno where you can catch trains connecting to the rest of the country. If you are staying at the hotel, give them a call and they will arrange a taxi for you from the train station.
Getting to Portmeirion
As you take the turning into Portmeirion, you will instantly start to see the splashes of colour and the iconic mermaid logo of Portmeirion village. You’ll take the winding road through the estate, past the castle (you’ll get free entry into Portmeirion if you buy a two-course meal here) and to the car park. Here, a plant-lined Portmeirion-turquoise metal archway awaits to transport you to the town, complete with a bench for if you fancy relaxing in the lovely open air for a while.
Something you’ll notice as you are walking around the town of Portmeirion is the endless number of enchanting spots to stop and relax in. Bright benches perch on the balcony of the magnificent stone facade overlooking the shallow water fountain whilst hidden nooks supply tables for two as you walk your way along the exterior of another colourful building. The waterfront offers yet more spots for relaxing and enjoying the picturesque view.
Buying your ticket for Portmeirion at the tiny ticket entrance, you’ll receive a map of the property and a few pointers of where you should start. Whilst I highly recommend simply wandering around the town of Portmeirion and seeing what you can find, there are lots of hidden treasures around this Welsh attraction, so the map can help you recap to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Seeing the distinctly Mediterranean architecture and colours you usually see in more sunny climes, along the Welsh coastline really is a surreal experience. Pair this with the whimsical music and audio recordings that play as you pass through archways and you really feel as though you could be one of the inhabitants of a show like the Prisoner or the Good Place.
When is Best to Visit Portmeirion?
Visiting Portmeirion is the perfect day out for any time of year. I’ve been in the middle of winter and the views and things to see in Portmeirion are no less spectacular. If anything, the murky mists of Wales’ wetter days make for more atmospheric views as you see the brightness of the buildings really popping out from the grey skies.
If you are a beach-goer however, I would definitely recommend visiting Portmeirion in the summer. The estuary alongside Portmeirion is lovely in the sunshine. For those staying at the property, the summer months also offer an oceanfront heated pool to take a dip in.
Top Tip: As you are walking through Portmeirion on your visit, be sure to take the time to look twice at everything you see. There are so many hidden gems at Portmeirion with many elements not as they seem on first glance. Each time I have visited, I have discovered something completely new, from the coins buried in the trees of the woodland walk to the ship permanently moored to the front of the hotel.
Catch a Train in Portmeirion
No, HS2 isn’t planning on ploughing through Portmeirion any time soon. Head to the Salutation Station, however, and Portmeirion’s own mini train sits ready and waiting to take you on a tour of the woodland at Portmeirion. For those who have difficulty walking, this is a great way to climb the steep hills and explore some of the beautiful nature surrounding Portmeirion without difficulty. It can also be lovely and cosy on wetter days. You’ll discover some of the fantastic viewpoints of Portmeirion as well as discovering the hidden Chinese Lake where they hold performances during Portmeirion’s Festival no. 06.
Food & Drink in Portmeirion
For those travelling a distance to Portmeirion, you will be glad to know there is a lovely café and bar almost as soon as you enter Portmeirion and buy your tickets. Selling all sorts of delicious cakes, scones, teas, sandwiches and more, this café is the perfect starting point to plan your route around Portmeirion over a cup of tea. Alternatively, it is a great endpoint to your visit to Portmeirion with a celebratory refreshment and go over the countless photos of Portmeirion and its surroundings you have inevitably taken.
Prices for food and drink are very reasonable at Portmeirion so you won’t need to worry about finding somewhere affordable nearby like other attractions I have visited. With a wide range of choices from ice cream parlours to an Italian restaurant, you really won’t struggle to find something to satisfy your hunger during your Portmeirion visit.
Top 5 Things to Do in Portmeirion
- Take tea in the beautiful hotel on the front overlooking the view
- Head to the mini cinema by the Salutation Station to watch the video on Portmeirion narrated by the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis himself
- Take a ride around the woodland trail on the town’s train
- Take a wander around Portmeirion’s many nature trails
- Discover the many hidden gems of Portmeirion’s colourful buildings and streets including its own spa
How Much Does Portmeirion Cost to Visit?
At the time of writing, the adult entrance fee for Portmeirion is £7. This, however, looks to rise to £12 at the end of March as they exit the winter season. With concessions for students, seniors and children, Portmeirion is an incredibly affordable Welsh attraction. You can buy advanced tickets to Portmeirion village through their website here. You can even purchase a Portmeirion annual pass and visit as many times as you like year-round.
If you are looking for more off-the-beaten-track adventures in Wales, check out my top Welsh adventures here.