15 of the best beaches in Wales holiday cottages

15 of the best beaches in Wales

Kate Atkin 21 June 2021

Meandering for 870 miles, the coastline of Wales is the stuff of a beachgoer’s dreams. From secluded coves where you’ll find only dolphins for company to vast expanses of shoreline boasting some of the most impressive waves around, the beaches in Wales are some of the finest in the UK.

At the time of writing, there are just over 40 Welsh beaches with Blue Flag status, an honour bestowed upon those with only the highest level of water quality, safety standards and environmental management. Our guide to the best beaches in Wales highlights 15 which we think deserve a special mention, including ones that welcome dogs, some that have appeared in epic films, and others which cater well to families.

You will also discover some of the most beautiful beaches in Wales, and if you’d like to uncover more of the country’s picture-postcard scenery, check out our guide to the most Instagram-friendly places in Wales too. And if you simply can’t wait to feel the sand in your toes, click the button below to browse our wonderful collection of coastal holiday cottages in Wales.

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Best dog-friendly beaches in Wales

Rhossili Bay

Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula

Often recognised as one of the best beaches in Wales for dogs, Rhossili Bay in Swansea welcomes four-legged pals all year round to enjoy its 3 miles of golden sand and incomparable views. Sweeping along the Gower Peninsula, Rhossili has won countless awards and accolades, including ‘The UK's No.1 dog-friendly beach’ by The Times. Aside from its popularity with dog walkers, this top beach in South Wales is also a huge draw for surfers, as well as hikers wanting to explore the trails along the Gower Coast Path, from where seals and dolphins can often be spotted out at sea.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: WCs and cafe in Rhossili village, less than half a mile from the beach, car park around 500 metres from the beach (free for National Trust members).

Broad Haven (South)

Broad Haven (South), Pembrokeshire

One of the best dog-friendly beaches in West Wales where pups can scamper through the sand all year round is Broad Haven South. Backed by rolling dunes, rugged coastline, National Trust woodland and lily ponds, this wide sandy bay in Pembrokeshire is a wonderful place to spend a sunny day. Explore the boulders and ‘island’ on the west side of the beach where you’ll find mysterious caves and springs gushing out of the cliffs, and on the east side, there’s a stream trickling out of the lily ponds if Fido fancies a little drink.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: National Trust car park with WCs and ice cream van. Nearest cafe, pub and shop in Bosherston, a mile away.

Conwy Morfa

Conwy Morfa, Conwy

Situated at the mouth of the Conwy Estuary, just a short drive from the picturesque town of Conwy, Conwy Morfa Beach offers plenty of space to chase a frisbee and splash in the waves. One of the top dog-friendly beaches in North Wales, this lovely sandy bay is also popular with those interested in fishing and birdwatching. Plus, at low tide, the shoreline is great for finding smooth sea glass which can be used in a variety of arts and crafts.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: Large free car park close by. Shops and restaurants a short walk away.

Best family-friendly beaches in Wales

Oxwich Bay

Oxwich Bay, Gower

A wide crescent of sand, backed by dunes and lapped by turquoise waters, Oxwich Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Gower Peninsula. It is also a firm favourite with families who come to make the most of the easy access, thrilling water sports and abundant space. If you fancy a stroll, you can walk across the great expanse of sand towards Nicholaston Burrows, Tor Bay and Three Cliffs Bay, and during a low tide, you can get as far as Pobbles Bay. On top of this, the variety of local facilities makes this one of the best Welsh beaches.  

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: WCs, café and car park around 100 metres from the beach.

Tenby Beach

Tenby North and South Beach, Pembrokeshire

Kids are sure to love a bucket and spade day out on one of Tenby’s four gorgeous beaches. North and South Beach are the two most popular with families, offering acres of space for beach games, deckchairs for sitting back and soaking up the sunshine, rock pools to explore, and ample facilities. These top beaches in Wales can be found in Pembrokeshire and boast great views of Carmarthen Bay. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer and the water is some of the cleanest in the UK.

Dogs: Welcome all year round on South Beach, but there is a seasonal ban on North Beach between 1 May and 30 September.

Lifeguards: During the summer months.

Local information: WCs, cafes, restaurants, ice cream vendors, seasonal deckchair hire and plenty of parking in the town.

Barmouth Beach

Barmouth Beach, Snowdonia

Donkey rides, amusements, ice creams and a land train; Barmouth has the full menu of traditional seaside attractions. This vibrant resort in the Snowdonia National Park is home to one of the best Welsh beaches for families. While it may be popular, the huge sweep of sand never feels overcrowded, and the views back up the Mawddach Estuary towards Cader Idris and the Snowdonia mountains are utterly spectacular.

Dogs: Restrictions between 1 April and 30 September between the leisure centre and the river – a section of beach welcomes dogs year-round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: WCs and parking within an easy walk of the beach, and a promenade lined with eateries and amusements.

Most beautiful beaches in Wales

Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

One of the most spectacular sandy beaches in Wales, Three Cliffs Bay is so-called because of its impressive headland comprising three iconic limestone cliffs which jut out towards the sea. Tucked away on the Gower Peninsula, this wild and remote beach has a secluded feel. Rock pools, towering sand dunes, salt marshes, and limestone cliffs enhance its dramatic location, and the bay has long attracted local artists with its unusual rock formations that curl across the sand.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: School holidays and weekends in the summer season.

Local information: WCs in the nearby holiday park, parking around 400 metres from the beach. Access to the beach involves some rough terrain, with the most direct route requiring a bit of a scramble over the sand dunes.

Barafundle Bay

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

With pristine sands and crystal-clear water, Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire is often likened to a Caribbean beach. Its isolated location makes access a little tricky, but those who persevere are rewarded with towering sand dunes to explore, rock pools to dip fishing nets in, and sparkling, aquamarine waters to swim in. You’ll soon see why many visitors regard this tranquil crescent-shaped stretch of white sand as the nicest beach in Wales. Why not follow the coastal path to Stackpole Head and enjoy a picnic high above the pounding waves?

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: WCs, café and parking half a mile walk away at Stackpole Village.

Harlech Beach

Harlech Beach, Snowdonia

Curving beneath the mighty ruins of Harlech Castle in Snowdonia, Harlech Beach is renowned for being one of the finest stretches of sand in the country. And it’s not just 4 miles of flat sand – the wild dunes here are a prized feature, the reason behind the area’s designation as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. In the distance, the mountains of Snowdonia are ever-present and, during the summer months, leatherback turtles migrate from warmer climes to feed off jellyfish in the waters of this part of the coast. 

Dogs: Restrictions apply from 1 April to 30 September to a small section of beach in front of the holiday park, while the rest of the beach is dog-friendly all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information:  Near the beach, there’s a shop, café, WCs and the internationally famous Royal St David’s Golf Club.

Famous beaches in Wales

Freshwater West

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

If you’re looking for good beaches in Wales that have provided the setting for iconic films and TV programmes, then it doesn’t get much better than Freshwater West. This wide expanse of sparkling sand in Pembrokeshire, usually a hot spot for surfers, has been the backdrop of countless movies, such as an epic battle sequence from Ridley Scott’s 2010 version of Robin Hood, and scenes from the final two Harry Potter films, including the demise of Dobby the house-elf. Make sure to try one of Café Mor’s famous crab sandwiches if you visit.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: Yes, seasonally.

Local information: Car park, WCs, and from spring to early autumn, Café Mor operates out of the southern car park.

Penbryn Beach

Penbryn Beach, Ceredigion

Another famous Welsh beach with silver-screen credentials, the National Trust-owned Penbryn on the Ceredigion Coast served as a stand-in for North Korea in the 20th Bond film, Die Another Day, starring Pierce Brosnan. In addition to this moment in the cinematic limelight, this mile-long golden beach is also renowned for its stargazing potential.

Dogs: Not permitted on the beach between 1 May and 30 September.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: WCs, café, car park (free to National Trust members).

Whitmore Bay

Whitmore Bay, Barry Island

Fans of the hilarious BBC comedy, Gavin and Stacey, can follow in the footsteps of their favourite characters in the buzzing seaside resort of Barry Island in the Vale of Glamorgan. Much of the filming for this popular series took place here, including Whitmore Bay (Barry Island Beach). During the summer, the streets are awash with live music and performance, and the Island Leisure amusement arcade (where Nessa works) and the Barry Island Pleasure Park are filled with happy families.

Dogs: Restrictions apply from 1 April to 30 September.

Lifeguards: Yes, seasonally.

Local information: Promenade lined with an assortment of shops and eateries, WCs, amusement arcade, pleasure park and ample parking, all nearby.

Quiet beaches in Wales

Tor Bay

Tor Bay, Gower

Shaped like a horseshoe, Tor Bay is a secluded sandy beach found at the eastern end of Oxwich Bay in South Wales. It is only accessible on foot, about a 20-minute walk or so from Penmaen Village, where there is limited car parking. So, if you want to get away from the crowds, then this is an ideal spot. Flanked by craggy coastal cliffs, the bay is nicely sheltered, making it a tranquil setting for bathing in the sea – bear in mind, there is no lifeguard service due to its remote location so care needs to be taken.  

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: There are no facilities close by, but there is a small shop at Parkmill where you can purchase some snacks. The nearest parking is in Penmaen, about a mile away.

Mwnt Beach

Mwnt Beach, Ceredigion

A pretty little cove found in the shadow of the dome-shaped headland of Foel y Mwnt, the National Trust-owned Mwnt Beach is one of Wales' hidden gems. Off the beaten track, its sand is as fine and golden as it gets and the turquoise waters rival any of the Caribbean. Nestled within the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation, this is a great place for spotting dolphins, basking sharks and porpoises, as well as a host of other wildlife.

Dogs: Not permitted between 1 May and 30 September.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: On-site facilities include the National Trust car park, WCs and a kiosk selling hot drinks, snacks and ice creams. To reach the beach there is a series of steps leading down to the sand. You can also reach the beach by walking the Wales Coast Path. 

Porth Wen

Porth Wen, Anglesey

Possibly one of the most unusual beaches in Wales, Porth Wen in Anglesey is a hidden bay well known by local fishermen, but definitely not on the tourist map. While it can take considerable effort to reach, you will probably be the only ones on this beach so it’s a wonderful spot for a little solitude. The reason for this cove being so unique lies at its edge where the dramatic ruins of an old brickworks can be found. Closed in the early parts of the First World War, this fascinating discovery is sure to bring out the inner child in you as you explore the crumbling chimneys and kilns.

Dogs: Welcome all year round.

Lifeguards: No.

Local information: Getting to the beach is a challenge as there is a steep path down and it’s a good walk from the nearest car park. For this reason, there are no facilities here.

The best beaches in Wales on a map

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Holidays by the coast in Wales

Which one of these top beaches in Wales will you discover first? We have a great selection of holiday cottages in Wales, many enjoying a scenic spot on the coastline so you can explore these beautiful stretches of sand with ease. From cosy cottages for romantic getaways to fun-filled houses for the whole family (including the dog), just click the button below to browse our full collection of coastal cottages in Wales.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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