The colourful village of Portmeirion in Wales, UK was a project that started back in 1925 by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis. It looks like it’s been pulled right out of Italy and dumped on the Welsh coast! The village was a little like an art project, a creative outlet. To fund the project, he converted a building into a hotel which is still in operation today as the Portmeirion Hotel.
Things To Do In Portmeirion
I’m not going to lie, entry to Portmeirion village is a little on the steep side at £12 for an adult day ticket. There’s not a huge amount to do in the actual village part of Portmeirion, it’s very much a look but don’t touch kinda place and just enjoy observing the architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright visited once!). However, if you are a fan of hiking there are 19 MILES of trails through the gardens, woodlands and coastal area, which cover 70 acres of land!
One of my favourite things to do in Portmeirion is of course take photos of literally every. single. building! They are all so colourful and unique! Many of them are considered ‘private’ property as they are holiday cottages that can be rented, so you can’t actually go inside them.
A few of the ‘public’ buildings are gift shops, restaurants and cafes. During my visit, we stopped for a drink and a snack in the Town Hall Cafe. It’s decorated in the style of a 50’s style diner and has both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
The food and drinks are reasonably priced. I had a cream tea (with only 1 scone…what is with that now!?!?) which was served in/on the famous Portmeirion Pottery. The pottery is now sold all over the world but started as an idea by Clough Williams-Ellis’ daughter as a way to make money from sales in the gift shop!
Opposite the Town Hall Cafe is Caffi’r Angel, an Italian Gelateria that make their own gelato in Portmeirion! As well as all the popular flavours, they sometimes have a couple of more unique ones, I had pomegranate!
During the summer months, there is a free land train tour that goes around the gardens. It goes up to a gazebo high up on the hill, where it stops for a few minutes for people to grab photos of the village from above before going back down. The round trip journey takes around 20 minutes.
Word of warning, it is a bit of a free for all. We were one of the first people to wait for the ‘next train’ but when it pulls up, everyone kinda just rushes towards a carriage and hopes that they can squeeze on. There’s not really any form of queuing system. On a drizzly day in June, the train was extra busy because the carriages are completely enclosed, so it’s a good way to escape the rain!
There are also a few other free Portmeirion tours available. I watched the audio-visual show narrated by Clough Williams-Ellis which spoke about the early days of Portmeirion and his ideas behind creating the village. I was hoping it would cover the recent history too but it only really covered its beginnings.
My rain coat matched the Portmeirion colour scheme to a tee!
Now a little bit before my time, the cult 1960’s UK TV series, ‘The Prisoner’ was filmed at Portmeirion. I only remember the 2009 remake that was set in Namibia and I was OBSESSED with it.
After my visit, I found the 1960’s version on YouTube. Even though it was recorded over 50 years ago, the majority of external shots were all very recognisable! There were a few differences, such as the giant chess board wasn’t there (well at least not in the episodes I’ve watched so far!), the main pond/water feature wasn’t quite as blue and the Portmeirion Hotel swimming pool was just a piece of grass!
I wish I’d watched the original series before I visited as they also offer a ‘Prisoner’ free walking tour, which points out various filming locations around the village and information about the show. A small gift shop located IN Number 6’s house is dedicated to all things ‘The Prisoner’ and you’ll find a cafe named after No. 6 as well. Portmeirion also hosts the annual Prisoner convention!
If The Prisoner isn’t your thing, you can join a regular guided walking tour too.
Portmeirion is on the Dwyryd Estuary and the beach looks awesome but apparently the tides are really dangerous. The water doesn’t come in like a straight line, it fills in different areas of the estuary faster than others so could potentially create sand bars, cutting people off from the land. The high tide time is displayed at the entrance and again on everyone’s day pass tickets.
I also read that in areas the sand is a little like quicksand too! I could well believe this, as I did the Maldon Mud Race in a river estuary in Essex and the mud really does suck you right in (I had to be pulled out with a waterski tow rope)!
The Portmeirion Hotel
There are a couple of ways to get ‘free’ entrance into Portmeirion. If you stay at any of the Portmeirion accommodations, book a treatment at the Mermaid Spa (I didn’t go, but I wish I had because the menu is very reasonably priced and I love a massage!) or if you pre book lunch/afternoon tea at one of the hotels, village entry is included.
You can find more information about Portmeirion, including opening times, on the website.
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