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If you fancy a colourful seaside resort packed with things to see and do, then Tenby is for you! I visited Tenby this summer and I was pleasantly surprised as to what it has to offer. Here are my top picks of 19 of the best things to do here, so you don’t miss out!
1. Soak Up the Sun on Tenby Beaches
Of course, the top activity is to hit up those glorious beaches. There are a total of 5 sandy (and clean) beaches in Tenby:
- South Beach: This beach (shown above) is blue flag certified and the longest of Tenby’s beaches which is surrounded by sand dunes. However, no dogs are permitted on the beach from 1st of May to 30th of September.
- Penally Beach: This is a dog friendly beach with a great view of the towns although it is more of an extension of South Beach than a beach in itself. Dogs will love the sand and shingle dunes here.
- Castle Beach: This beach allows the possibility to walk to St. Catherine’s Island during low tides but be careful not to get stuck on the island if the tide comes in sooner than you expected. Sadly, no dogs are allowed between 1st of May to 30th September.
- Harbour Beach: The smallest of Tenby’s five beaches is conveniently located close to the town, shops, toilets, and eateries. It is also an ideal beach for children with easy-to-sail fun boats for hire as well as boat trips for the whole family to Cauldy island. Again no dogs between 1st of May to 30th of September.
- North Beach: this stretch of beach is a Blue Flag Certified sheltered beach, toilets, and café nearby, boats, deck chairs and beach wheelchairs are available for hire. No dogs from 1st of May to 30th of September).
As you likely may not have time to visit all five beaches, I recommend South Beach as my favourite for relaxation because it’s much larger and doesn’t get so crowded but if you’re into water sports, then I’d recommend North Beach, which leads me on nicely to the next point.
2. Try Stand-Up Paddleboarding at North Beach
If you fancy trying out some watersports such as stand paddleboarding or sea kayaking, Tenby is a great place for it.
At high tide, the harbour at North Beach is a great place for launching and landing without picking up a ton of sand. However, the main car park at the beach is at the opposite end to the harbour so you may want to drop your board off first, rather than carry it across the beach.
3. Visit Carew Castle and Tidal Mil
Around 10 minutes outside Tenby is Carew Castle and Mill. Architecturally diverse, from the west the castle is a Norman fortress, but from the north it portrays itself as an Elizabethan mansion with several resident ghosts including a Celtic warrior and kitchen boy.
There is lots to do for children including dressing up, a fake horse to ride, an outdoor play area, and a fun walk around the meadow where they can learn to become a carew knight.
Also, on the site you can find a restored Tidal Mill (from the early 19th century) which is open to explore. The castle is more of a family activity whereas the mill is great for learning so I’d recommend buying the joint ticket to visit both.
4. Step Back in Time at the Tudor Merchants House
Built around 1500, this three-storey Tudor Merchant House shows family life in Tudor Tenby with Tudor-style décor, furniture, painted cloths, and a Tudor herb garden.
The merchant who inhabited the house would have had a shop opening onto the street, possibly selling wool, cloth, sea coal, vinegar, pots, or spices. The kitchen at the rear was centred around a fire and the family would have slept in the bedroom above.
The house offers activities based around 15th-century life including dressing in Tudor costume and traditional Tudor events are hosted.
5. Enjoy Family Fun at Heatherton World of Activities
A 5-minute drive from Tenby, lies a venue for the more active holidaymaker. Heatherton World of Activities provides a good selection of indoor and outdoor activities for all ages, including go-karting, high ropes, escape rooms, golf, bowling, bumper boats, a hedge maze, slides, archery, shooting, and paintballing.
The park advertises free admission but each activity inside requires individual payment. However, this is great for families who do not all want to participate in the activities. Heatherton is also dog friendly.
6. Go On A Self-Guided Tour of Tenby
Exploring Tenby by yourself is great, but you can learn a whole lot more when you’re shown around by a local. The Story of Tenby walking tour is run by Marion Davies, an official Wales tour guide who has been showing people around the top attractions in West Wales for over 20 years.
You can check the calendar on her website to find out about upcoming tours. The tours aren’t super frequent, especially during off-season, which is why Marion has also created a self-guided audio tour on the VoiceMap app so you can still enjoy her storytelling any time you like.
The tour begins in Tudor Square and ends at Castle Hill. Throughout the tour you will hear details of a secret cellar and tunnel, the Five Arches gateway, Tenby’s early imports and exports, and you will see the Prince Albert Memorial, the Tudor Merchant’s House, and Tenby Castle.
7. Take a Trip to St Govan’s Chapel
Made of limestone and built into the side of a cliff, St Govan’s Chapel measures just 6.1 m × 3.7 m in size. Mostly built in the thirteenth century, although parts of it may date back further to the sixth century when Saint Govan (a monk) moved into a cave located on the site of the chapel.
According to legend, St Govan was travelling the coast of Pembrokeshire when he was chased by pirates. A cleft opened up in the rocks allowing him to hide from his enemies. It closed behind him so that the pirates could not find him. Some suggest that Saint Govan is buried underneath the altar.
The chapel is located on the Wales Coastal Path and easily accessible from a nearby car park by descending down 74 steps. It is around 30 minutes from Tenby but makes a great day trip. Whilst here, you should also check out the Green Bridge of Wales, the Huntsman’s Leap, and Stack Rocks.
8. Admire the Famous Colourful Houses (+ Get Some Instagram Snaps)
Tenby was named one of the most Instagrammable coastal towns in Britain by The Times1 (source: The Times), and it’s easy to see why with many great spots to get those perfect Insta shots, especially with all the pastel coloured houses in the background.
I recommend checking out this guide which details some of the top spots and how to find them.
9. Enjoy the View from Castle Hill
Take a stroll up Castle Hill (a high rocky headland) and admire the ruins of Tenby Castle, a 13th-century fortification that once protected the town, although now only a watch tower remains. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside the tower but it’s still a great place to visit for the views alone.
From here, you can view the colourful houses along the clifftops on one side and on the other side you have the lifeboat station with the sea in the background. This is also one of the best spots to catch the sunset in Tenby.
10. Visit Saundersfoot
Saundersfoot is not technically in Tenby but it’s close by (around a 5-minute drive from Tenby town centre). It is a large seaside village with high-quality restaurants and cafes selling local Pembrokeshire produce and a range of accommodation for all budgets.
The beach is wide, sandy and boasts blue flag status. However, a complete dog ban on the beach is in place between May and September (much like most of Tenby’s beaches).
11. Walk to the Lighthouse on Caldey Island
Catch a boat to the south end of Caldey island during which you are likely to see many sea birds and seals. The island is inhabited by a Cistercian monastery.
You can walk through a little village and up a hill to Caldey Lighthouse which was built in 1829 to guide ships past the St. Gowan Shoals and the Helwick Sands.
12. Experience the Mighty Manorbier Castle
This beautiful Norman castle ‘Castell Maenorbŷr’ in Welsh overlooks Manorbier Beach and Manorbier village behind it. It was founded by The Barry family in the 11th century and under the control of the earls of Pembroke.
The castle boasts round and square towers, a great hall, a chapel, some original frescoes (mural paintings), gardens and café and the village has a Norman Church to visit as well as The Dovecote (a grade 1 listed ancient monument).
When I visited, the castle;e closed early for a private event, so it may be worth calling up in advance to check that days opening times. Public events are sometimes held at the Castle, such as live music and Archery, click here for upcoming events.
13. Get Spooked on the Tenby Ghost Walk
Lead by a local guide, this tongue-in-cheek tour will take you to some of Tenby’s hotspots, but instead of the usual stories, you’ll get the insider stories about ghosts, pirates, and strange happenings around Tenby. There were some spooky occurrences on the way around, but don’t worry, you won’t be too frightened as this is a family-friendly activity. I love how enthusiastic the guide was which helped keep the children entertained too. Guided Tours Wales – Guided Tours Wales
14. Geek Out at The Dinosaur Park
For children and dinosaur lovers there is this great dinosaur theme park.
Attractions at The Dinosaur Park include 30 life sized dinosaurs that roar, a dino hatchery, dinosaur trail, giant jigsaws, a den, Jurassic chariots, disco boats, Dino safari (not suitable for pushchairs/wheelchairs), net adventure, excavation area, a maze, racing circuit, toddler play area, café, shop, and much more!
15. Catch Tonight’s Meal On a Mackrel Fishing Trip
From Tenby harbour you can enjoy a spot of mackerel fishing! It doesn’t matter whether you are a novice or experienced as they can accommodate all skill levels.
The whole family can enjoy the boat trip, even if they are not interested in fishing and you get to keep whatever you catch. Perfect for a summer BBQ! Check out Mackrel Fishing Tenby for information about upcoming trips.
16. Visit the Fort on St Catherine’s Island
At the foot of castle beach lies St Catherine’s Island, a very small tidal island formed from limestone and full of caves. The island is home to a wide variety of wildlife and a Napoleonic fortress (St. Catherine’s Fort) which was completed in 1870 and fully armed 16 years later. It was used as a zoo in the 1960’s but is currently empty but open for tourists to visit.
The fort recently shot to fame when YouTuber Joe Weller and his friends decided to survive 24 hours on the island, doing their best to scare each other along the way. You can watch the video here.
You don’t need to take a boat up to the island, just wait until the tide goes out and you can simply walk across. The entrance fee is £5 and they accept both cash and card. Keep in mind that it is usually closed between January and mid-March.
17. Get Your Hands on Some Tenby Rock
A traditional British seaside favourite and is available at many souvenir shops in Tenby.
Rock is a hard stick of a boiled sugar type of confectionery normally flavoured with peppermint or spearmint but a multitude of eye-catching colours and tempting as well as quirky flavours are sold today in Tenby.
However, if you want to stick with tradition choose pink mint rock – the original and the best in my opinion! These little souvenirs normally have the name and photo of the seaside town on them and are a very budget-friendly option for friends and family you want to take a little gift home to.
18. Walk to Giltar Point
If you walk all the way across Tenby South Beach, you’ll reach Giltar Point where you can climb along the cliffside for incredible panoramic views of Tenby and its surrounding islands.
The walk is perfectly suitable for all abilities, although to get to the very top with the best view, you do need to climb up some rocks which might be difficult for younger children.
19. Mingle With Alpacas at Pembrokeshire Alpaca Trekking
My final top activity in Tenby has to be making friends with some beautiful and friendly alpacas at Pembrokeshire Alpaca Trekking. Now, don’t get too worried, they may have ‘trekking’ in their name, but it’s nothing more than a walk around a few fields at a farm just outside Tenby, so it’s very family-friendly and perfect for anyone over the age of 5.
The alpacas were really well-behaved but somewhat shy until we had food in our hands. Your guide will give you clear instructions about handling them and everyone felt very safe, even those that were a little nervous to begin with soon came around.
As well as walking with the alpacas, you’ll learn a lot about them from the guide and have a chance to stroke or feed some of them at the end too.
For more information, read my full review of Pembrokeshire Alpaca Trekking (with photos).
What Does the Name Tenby Mean?
The Welsh name for Tenby, ‘Dynbych Y Pygod,’ translates as ‘little fortress of the fish’ which may be due to its beginnings as a coastal fort.
Is Tenby Worth Visiting?
Yes, Tenby is worth visiting because it offers so much in a small area, with fabulous sandy beaches, islands, attractions and a variety of activities.
What is Tenby Known For?
Tenby is best-known for its pretty pastel-coloured houses that overlook the golden sandy beaches below. In historical terms, Tenby is known as the place where Henry VII made an escape to France at age 14 using the underground tunnels of the town (source: Wales Online).
Is it Easy to Park in Tenby?
It’s fairly easy to park in Tenby. Whilst on-street parking is mainly for residents but there are seven council-run car parks around as well as some privately run car parks. The multi-storey car park on Upper Park Road is open year-round and makes a convenient parking spot.
Is Tenby Expensive?
Yes, Tenby is quite expensive. As it is a popular tourist destination, prices are generally a bit more expensive than most other Welsh seaside towns.
Can I Get to Tenby Easily By Train or Bus?
Yes, Tenby is easy to access via train and bus. Tenby’s Grade II listed Victorian railway station is worth a visit in itself. Two hourly train services from Swansea run to Tenby and the ferry port at Pembroke Dock. Bus services run along the south coast and inland to both Haverfordwest and Kilgetty.
Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wales Guidebook. Originally from rural Mid-Wales, he has lived all over the country from Cardiff to Wrexham. A true Welshman, Kieren created this site to share his passion for Wales and help others discover this beautiful country.