A weekend in Tenby: travel guide, things to do, food and drink

Everything you need to know for a coastal break in Pembrokeshire

Pastel-coloured houses above Tenby’s harbour
Pastel-coloured houses above Tenby’s harbour
(Image credit: Lukasz Pajor/Shutterstock)

Why you should visit Tenby

One of the most iconic seaside destinations in Wales, the original town of Tenby was called “Dinbych y Pysgod” in Welsh, which translates as the “little town of fishes”. Established by the Normans as a fortified town, said Visit Pembrokeshire, most of Tenby’s old town walls remain, “enclosing the medieval town behind them”.

Tenby is the “jewel” in Pembrokeshire’s crown, said Travel About Britain, with golden beaches and a picturesque harbour backed by “fine” Georgian and Regency buildings and “gaily” painted cottages. The town’s narrow mediaeval streets, which run back inland from the harbour, are “rich in character and charm” and “outstanding” examples of historic architecture include its castle and stone walls.

The blue flag Castle Beach in Tenby

The blue flag Castle Beach in Tenby
(Image credit: John Edward James Green/Shutterstock)

Top attractions and things to do


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If you visit only one seaside town in Wales, it should probably be Tenby, said Wandering Welsh Girl. The town is “blessed” with several sandy beaches, including the blue flag Castle Beach which was voted “beach of the year” in 2019 by The Sunday Times. North Beach, one of the most photographed in the UK, said Around Tenby, is a golden sandy beach “dotted with rock pools” and the “imposing” Goscar Rock. The other beaches to visit are Harbour Beach, South Beach and Penally Beach.

Tenby Harbour

One of the best things to do in Tenby, said Hand Luggage Only, is to walk the harbourfront area. Start at The Croft and walk down, via Crackwell Street, towards Pier Hill before following the Esplanade over to South Beach. “It’s a lovely way to see Tenby.”

Tenby Castle

A historic fortress dating back to the Norman period, said The Castles & Historic Houses of Wales, Tenby Castle has “captivating ruins and captivating views” which stand as a testament to the town’s “rich heritage and strategic significance”. Perched on top of Castle Hill, the remains include the smallest “great tower” of any castle in Wales, said Britain Express, and “may have been inspired by the great tower at Pembroke Castle”.

Galleries and museums

There are “numerous” art galleries in Tenby, said Visit Pembrokeshire, where visitors can browse works by some of the “excellent” local artists. Top places to visit include the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, Llewellyn’s Gallery and the National Trust’s Tudor Merchant's House.

St Catherine’s Island in Tenby

St Catherine’s Island
(Image credit: Carl DeAbreu Photography/Shutterstock)


There are a couple of islands off the coast at Tenby. Caldey Island, one of Britain’s holy isles, is accessible from Easter to October by boat from Tenby Harbour. St Catherine’s Island, situated on Castle Beach, is a “true wonder of the Welsh coastline”, said Simon Whaley on Countryfile. This tiny tidal island was once home to a chapel, a fort, a private residence and a zoo.

National park and walks

One of the three national parks of Wales, alongside Eryri (Snowdonia) and Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons), Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (Arfordir Penfro) is the only UK national park that’s primarily designated for its coastal landscape. Tenby is located on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a spectacular national trail spanning 186 miles, and the town has “wonderful coastal walks right on the doorstep”, said Visit Wales. One of the “most enjoyable routes” on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path takes you north to Saundersfoot. This “up and down” 4.5-mile stretch has “fabulous” views of Saundersfoot Bay from the headland at Monkstone Point.

Tenby North Beach

Tenby North Beach
(Image credit: gazadavies93/Shutterstock)

Places to stay: best hotels and accommodation

Set above the sea in the village of Penally, just a 30-minute walk from Tenby, Penally Abbey is probably Pembrokeshire’s “loveliest bolthole”, said The Telegraph, which gives the hotel a 9/10 rating. Other hotels in Tenby to be rated highly by the paper include the family-run Trefloyne Manor, which offers “rustic-chic bedrooms in a converted Victorian farmhouse and coach house”, and The Broadmead, a boutique property offering a “thoroughly modern bed and breakfast experience”.

With its “excellent location” right in the centre of historic Tenby, The Billycan is a “chic restaurant with five equally smart rooms with luxurious ensuites”, said The Hotel Guru. In the restaurant, “hearty pub classics” are served alongside a choice selection of ales.

For a self-catering stay, Coastal Cottages has properties in Tenby and right across Pembrokeshire, including many that are dog-friendly. Meanwhile, Bluestone National Park Resort, a 30-minute drive from Tenby, is set within 500 acres of countryside in the heart of Pembrokeshire and has 344 luxury lodges, colourful terraced cottages and studio apartments.

The Lifeboat Tavern in Tenby

The Lifeboat Tavern
(Image credit: jax10289/Shutterstock)

Eating and drinking: best restaurants and bars

Dining in Tenby is more than “soggy sarnies on the beach and pub crawls”, said Kathryn Williams on WalesOnline, there are some “cracking” places to eat. Whether it’s “fab” fish and chips, cockles on the harbour, fine dining, sushi or pizza, Wales’s beautiful seaside town “has it all covered”. Tap & Tân, a collaboration between Tenby Brewing Co and Feast, offers open-fire cooking and a “mouth-watering” dining experience while the “gorgeous” Loafley Bakery & Deli is the place to go for “a heck of a lunchtime treat”. Indie Burger is a “friendly and popular place”, said Williams, “we had to book in just to get a takeaway when we visited”. The patties are made daily from Welsh beef and the choice is “plentiful”.

For fresh and locally-sourced seafood dishes, Plantagenet House is a “perfect” place, said Wanderlog, and the restaurant’s “unique and charming” interior will leave a “lasting impression”. Top pubs include the “nautical themed” Lifeboat Tavern, with its “boat-shaped bar”, and Harbwr Brewery Tap & Kitchen, which serves a range of its own beers as well as wine, gin and Welsh spirits.

While there are currently no Michelin-starred restaurants in Tenby itself, nearby you’ll find three eateries that get a mention in the Michelin Guide. Located at Penally Abbey, the kitchen team at Rhosyn Restaurant offer “modern, flavoursome” cooking demonstrating an “accomplished touch”. Coast on Coppet Hall Beach in Saundersfoot is a “striking” beachfront restaurant with a menu featuring “assured dishes” that focus on “quality ingredients and are carefully crafted”. And The Fernery Restaurant in Narberth presents “elaborate” and “eye-catching” dishes full of “freshness and natural flavours”.

Transport: how to get to Tenby

Operated by Transport for Wales, Tenby’s railway station is close to the town centre and has direct services to Swansea and the ferry port at Pembroke Dock. For visitors using a car, Tenby is a 1hr 15min drive from Swansea, 1hr 50min from Cardiff and 2hr 30min from Bristol.

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