Family Faves : Portmeirion
I can’t imagine anything more idyllic than rambling through an Italian village in high summer. The buildings and architecture, steeped in history and a story behind every street. Well, imagine this Italian village translated quite literally onto a Welsh coastal peninsula and what you have is Portmeirion. This place is even more special if you’re a fan of early sixties TV, as the series The Prisoner was filmed here. Do you remember Patrick McGoohan being chased by that big white beach ball? It’s haunted me since I was a kid!
If you’re thinking about what to do with the children this summer, or perhaps visiting North Wales for the first time, perhaps you could check out my other posts in this series Part one covering Dinas Dinlle and Hems café, and the second instalment visiting Llechwedd deep mine.
I always feel the slight ghost of a party in this beautiful village. It feels like a holiday destination, and a little but hedonistic. But that’s exactly how it’s meant to feel! This place was built for fun. Unfortunately it rained the day we visited, but we have also visited when its been warm and sunny. I hope you get the gorgeous atmosphere from the photos.
If you’d have turned up to Portmeirion in the 1800’s you would be looking at the quite dilapidated ruins of two castle and its port with a few broken down cottages.
One of these castles was Castell Deudraeth, which welcomes you to the now village of Portmeirion. The villages story starts with a Bankruptcy, and a young architect with a dream. Clough Williams-Ellis bought a few cottages and the castle when his uncle went bankrupt in 1931. It seems as a young man he had fallen in love with the village of Portofino in Italy. He envisaged a Palladian coastal village, which grew into the village we see today.
Portmeirion is a little gem. I know I’ve written before how North Wales is littered with the scars of the industrial revolution, this village is like the balm that soothes those scars. Now, let me transport you back to Italy. Warm colours, plenty of places to get a gelato. Cobbled streets, hidden verandas with a sea view. Hidden alcoves and the most azure of seas? That’s all available here. We love it. We started with the audio trail from the top of the hill and followed it down to the central plaza.
There was a local brass band playing the day we visited. Last time we visited there was a celebration of 50 years of the Prisoner, so some very strangely dressed visitors but it all added to the hedonistic feel the village has! I highly recommend staying a while and just people watching people by the fountain on a nice sunny day! There is a huge human chess board down here too, so great if you’re in a group!
Down to the right of the central plaza is a collection of shops for gifts. We had some hand crafted chocolate from here plus some very hungry caterpillar merchandise that I’d been after for G for a while! I get excited over the range of things they have in the shops here they don’t stock locally. Wooden toys and trinkets, and things that the kids love to fiddle with!
G got very excited by a trip in a train (of sorts!). The woodland trail is free, and takes you up to the viewpoint on top of the cliff so you’re looking down upon the village, and over towards Snowdonia and the Port of Penrhyn. It then takes you past the hidden fishing pond above the village. Was really quite charming. We’d never done the train before a we usually walk. As the weather was bad, we decided a dry trip was in order!
All in all, three children from age 14 to 2 REALLY enjoyed their rainy Sunday!
Festival Number 6
If you really want to experience art, culture and music then Festival Number 6 is ideal for you! I’m pretty sure Clough-Williams would love the thought of a joyous carnival of hedonism in his village! The festival runs over a weekend in early September and draws thousands. It’s an eclectic mix of culture and music. More information is available here.
Can we stay?
Once you’ve been to Portmeirion you’ll want to stay there indefinitely. I promise! But if you want to rent a quirky self catering holiday cottage then you can stay within the village. There are also two hotels on site. Castell Deudraeth and Portmeirion hotel complex. You can get a Spa experience in the Mermaid Spa. A pamper package with lunch and prosecco is only £115, and I have a birthday coming up (hint hint!). You could even get married here if you so wish. Iolo didn’t pop the question though so I guess I’m gong to have to wait!
All of the self catering accommodation on site is beautifully restored and has its own personality. I highly recommend checking them out here.
Day tickets cost £11 for adults and £7.50 for children. A concession is available for families at £36 (2 adults three children).
An annual pass allows you to visit for 12 months, free entry to the annual food and craft festivals and 10% off food at Castell Deudraeth. An annual pass starts from £25 per person but your adventure is then limitless.
If you have a free-ish weekend this weekend, or you’re hoping to visit Snowdonia or North Wales this Summer, I would highly recommend taking a look at this very special village. Portmeirion is nestled on its own peninsula between Porthmadog and Penrhyndeudraeth and the views are stunning!
We were gifted day passes to Portmeirion in return for a review. Thank you for a wonderful day.