8 great reasons to visit Abersoch in North Wales
I recently had the good fortune of visiting Abersoch for a few days. I’d frequently been to nearby Pwllheli for various sailing events (Plas Heli, the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre, is there) but never knowingly made it as far as Abersoch, despite hearing a number of great things about the town. Known as Cheshire-by-the-Sea given its popularity with residents of the nearby English county of Cheshire, many of whom have second homes in the area, Abersoch is a town on the southern side of the Llyn Peninsula in the Welsh county of Gwynedd. Also affectionately known as the Welsh Riviera thanks to its unique micro-climate, it is also a place where you can enjoy plenty of Summer sun, sea, sand and a lively nightlife. Here are 8 reasons why you, too, should consider Abersoch on your next trip to Wales.
There are many beaches within easy reach of Abersoch. Porth Niegwl is the longest expanse – a 3-mile wide bay on the south coast of the Llŷn Peninsula, but closer to Abersoch itself is the highly desirable Porth Mawr, a much closer walk from the town centre. This is also home to Wales’ most expensive real estate – a beach hut here can set you back in excess of £150,000. From here you can enjoy views out to two islands – St. Tudwals West (home of TV adventurer Bear Grylls) and Ynys Tudwal Fach. Interesting aside, but Grylls once got in a little bother with the council for a large metal slide that went straight into the sea from his property, for which he hadn’t got permission from the relevant Welsh building authorities – in hindsight, it wasn’t such a good idea for him to share this fact with his thousands of Twitter followers given that it was installed within an officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)! The slide has since been taken down.
To the south of Abersoch is the National Trust’s Porth Ceiriad and, to the north, the harbour beach where there is another beautiful expanse of sand and yet hardly a soul in sight.
Abersoch is very picturesque and, catch the light at the right time of day, and you will be in for a treat. On one occasion, we captured a beautiful rainbow finishing at St. Tudwals West (the island on the right in the picture below), but sadly I only had my phone to hand and the resulting picture is a little too grainy to publish here!
There are many different places to eat in Abersoch – places such as The Hub, The Dining Room, Fresh Café Bar & Grill, Venetia, The Cove and the restaurant at Porth Tocyn Hotel are all well worth a visit.
If the weather’s favourable, though, and particularly if you have access to a beach hut, you might like to consider a barbecue on Abersoch’s main beach which is relatively sheltered. Mickey’s Boatyard & Beach Cafe, at the south end of the beach, also does barbecues from time to time, or is a nice place just to relax and take in the view with a coffee or light lunch after walking the length of the beach.
Watersports enthusiasts will love Abersoch with its internationally-recognised sailing waters. There are two clubs to know about. Firstly, Abersoch Sailing Club which is an RYA-affiliated club run from the main beach, and great for both new and experienced dinghy sailors. Secondly, perched high on the cliff at the northern end of the beach, is South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club, which has hosted many prestigious events in the surrounding waters of Cardigan Bay.
Our boys were there to compete in the RS Feva national championships and had an amazing time!
Aberosch has had its own golf club for over 100 years; Abersoch Golf Club is an 18-hole course located behind a series of ancient sand dunes and with a mixture of both links and parkland. There are some testing holes but, whatever your score, you will hopefully be rewarded with views across Cardigan Bay and out towards Snowdonia.
Nearby Pwllheli also has Pwllheli Golf Club on the south-facing coastline of Cardigan Bay, and Llŷn Golf, a 9-hole pay and play golf course and driving range. And a little further afield is Nefyn & District Golf Club on the north side of the Llŷn Peninsula, which has both 9- and 18-hole courses.
If you enjoy walking, you will find plenty of walks nearby. The beaches are largely dog friendly but do check the signs are some areas do not allow dogs at certain times of year (for example, just the final northernmost stretch of Porth Mawr does not allow dogs during the main season).
Those looking to walk a little further may want to head for the Wales Coast Path which circumnavigates the Llyn Peninsula. You can walk the entire path or just pick up shorter routes at various points and marvel at some stunning stretches of the Welsh coastline.
Alternatively, if you want to tackle Snowdon, drive to Beddgelert and take the road to either Rhyd-Ddu or Nant Gwynant for two possible ascents of Wales’ highest peak.
Both road cyclists and mountain bikers will find plenty of routes in and around Abersoch. There are plenty of routes to explore around the Llŷn Peninsula as well as stretches of the Wales Coastal Path that you can ride. There’s also a nice circular route at Aberdaron, 10 miles to the west of Abersoch, that takes you along the north side of the peninsula, past Porth Oer and then down towards Pen Y Groes and back. If you don’t have your own bikes with you, you can hire them at Llŷn Cycle Centre in Pwllheli.
8. Days out
Although you could easily spend the week without even leaving Abersoch, there are plenty of places to explore nearby that can easily be done as day trips. Caernarfon is less than an hour’s drive away, for example, and home to Caernarfon Castle, a medieval fortress with impressive defences since this was once the administrative centre for the whole of North Wales.
There were in fact 600 castles in Wales, with the closest to Abersoch being Criccieth. Other nearby alternatives to consider include Harlech, Beaumaris on Anglesey, Penrhyn Castle in Bangor and Dolwyddelan in Betws-y-Coed.
For something different, heading east out of Abersoch and hugging the Llŷn Peninsula’s southern coastline for about 40 minutes will take you to Portmeirion, a rather unique private tourist village created by Clough Williams-Ellis during the earlier part of the 1900s that has, on occasion, been used as a film location. It’s something of a fantasy world with beautiful buildings and grounds. The botanical gardens are worth a look and home to an important collection of rhododendrons as well as other exotic plants.
For those looking for something more active, there are also ziplines, treetop nets and even an underground trampoline experience all within an hour’s drive, and venture just a little further to Dolgarrog in the Conwy valley (about an hour and a half’s drive) and you will find an artificial surf lagoon where they create continuous and perfect waves, so there’s really something for everyone!