best things to do in tenby

Discover 8 Amazing Things to Do In Tenby, Wales

Discover the best things to do in Tenby – the beach destination you didn’t know you needed.

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We had the absolute best time, and the entire country exceeded our expectations—but Tenby on the south coast was a real highlight! I wanted to pull together the best things to do in Tenby because there is a LOT going on in that tiny town.

If you’re still not sure where in Wales you want to go, I suggest you check out my definitive list of the best places to visit in Wales. However, if you’ve already gone through that and you know you’re ready for obscenely beautiful beaches, lush greenery, lovely people and delicious food then look no further – South Wales is calling!

South Wales has a lot to offer, but my personal favorite spot to go – especially in the summer – is Tenby, and I think you’ll see why in a moment. So without further ado let’s go through my definitive list of the best things to do in Tenby, South Wales.

Delve into the UK

Is it worth visiting Tenby?

I can practically hear you through the computer asking why in the world you would go to Wales of all places for a summer beach getaway. It’s a fair question but the answer is that yes, Tenby is absolutely worth visiting for the perfect summer holiday!

The journey from London by train is a breezy five hours, basically to the minute. All you have to do is get the high speed Great Western Railway service from Paddington – it leaves literally once per hour, even on Sundays – and then a shorter (slightly slower) Transport for Wales service directly to Tenby. It’s a piece of cake!

Not only are Tenby’s wide, clean sandy beaches perfect and nearly tropical on a warm, sunny day, but the town itself is adorable and full of amazing restaurants and independent shops.

Tenby is also surrounded by smaller, quainter beach towns all up and down the Pembrokeshire coast.

If you’re looking for something sleepier, there’s also Saundersfoot, Lydstep, Manorbier, Freshwater West (where some of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed!) just nearby. Basically, the entire area is the UK’s slice of paradise and I am all about it!!

Do I need a car to visit Tenby?

The short answer is no! Like I said, the town is easily reachable by train and between shops, restaurants, and the beach there is PLENTY to keep you busy in Tenby itself for a few days. We visited without a car and had no problem at all.

On the other hand, if you want to get out and explore the area a bit more you will definitely find a car is necessary. There was SO much of Pembrokeshire I was hoping to visit on our trip that we just wasn’t able to see because, well, beyond the one train line to Tenby there just isn’t much public transport at all.

If you ARE looking to bring a car along and need to rent one for your trip, I would highly recommend Discover Cars. I’ve always found it to be the absolute best interface for comparing prices, sorting for things like automatic transmission (sorry Europeans, I am still American!!), or weeding OUT companies I’ve never heard of.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Best things to do in Tenby

1. The beach… obviously!

best things to do in tenby beach picture

I mean, that is the whole point is it not? But seriously, Tenby has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In fact, in recent years its Harbour Beach has been voted the most beautiful beach in Europe! Pretty wild considering it was up against beaches in Spain, Portugal and Croatia.

In Tenby you’ll be spoiled for choice on beaches, there’s of course the aforementioned Harbour Beach, as well as Castle Beach, North Beach, and South Beach. Whatever you choose you’ll be in for a treat. The sand is so fine and the water is so clear – you may never even finish the items on this list if you plop down first thing, which is why the beaches had to be the first item on the list of things to do in Tenby.

The beachy areas are pretty much endless, so you’ll likely have an easy time finding a spot in the sand. A great bonus is that there is usually some sort of ice cream stand on the beach, so bring cash!

2. Get lost in quaint alleyways.

best things to do in tenby cottages picture
best things to do in tenby

When you first arrive in Tenby, you may feel like you’ve been there before. The main street in the old town looks like any other British resort town you might have visited (albeit, inside some pretty cool 12th century walls). You’ll find lots of shops selling beach gear, cheap sweets, and gifts that no one really wants (unless you’re me, I’m a sucker for a cute souvenir). Huge crowds. Competing fish and chip shops. The odd Tesco Express. You get the picture.

However, if you start to wander you’ll soon be pleasantly surprised. The alleyways of Tenby’s old town have all the charm you could ever want from a British beach town, which makes them one of the most important things to do in Tenby. Off of the main roads you’ll find endless twists and turns of colorful little cottages. The town has an eclectic mix of old-fashioned seeming stone buildings mixed in with quintessentially British colorful townhouses.

On these little pedestrian streets you’ll find something for everyone. Wide streets full of hustle and bustle, little alleys where you’re the only one around, hidden antique shops, delightful boutiques, bookstores, pubs and even a microbrewery!

Don’t let the initial “tourist” vibe put you off. I promise – Tenby is so much more.

3. St. Catherine’s Island

best things to do in tenby island picture

Have you ever walked to an island? Never fear, there’s a first time for everything!

When the tide is low St. Catherine’s Island becomes accessible by foot from Castle Beach. Mostly I just recommend it because I think its super cool that you could walk onto an island, though I do wonder what would happen if you tried when the tide was in…

The building on the island was a fort during WWII, and there was a zoo for a short time in the 70s or so. The Island is open to visitors for tours, but due to COVID I would check their pages for all the latest information. Even if you just check out the base of the island, it’s one of the more unique things to do in Tenby.

4. Tudor Merchant House

best things to do in tenby tudor house

The Tudor Merchant House is a museum inside of a 15th century townhouse in the middle of the old town! These are my absolute favorite types of museums, because you get a totally unique glimpse at what life was like long before you were there. I feel like you can literally feel the energy of the people that used to be there. OK, I’ll stop philosophizing about the past now, but let’s get on with why you should care.

The entire house is made to look as close as possible to how it would have when it was just built, in 1500, with both period and reproduction pieces. It’s the oldest building in Tenby, and the museum aims to give a glimpse at what life would have been like for the merchant and his family who lived there.

This, coupled with the old town walls, really give Tenby a unique feel to other beach towns you might find yourself in, which just adds to the appeal if you ask me. Make sure to check their website for all of the latest opening information!

5. Walk the Coastal Path

best things to do in tenby coastal path

I’m going to go ahead and give this PSA right from the start, because I wish someone would have give it to me: JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS A COASTAL PATH, IT DOESN’T MEAN IT’S FLAT!!!!!!

Ahem, anyway.

The Coastal path is beautiful, and technically you could categorize it into things to do in Tenby and Saundersfoot.. At least, what I saw of it is beautiful. I made it about a third of the way from Saundersfoot to Tenby before I became overwhelmed by humidity and nature and turned back. My two hiking companions, however, said it was lovely and not hard at all (assholes).

But all jokes aside, I am a baby when it comes to “hiking” and I am pretty positive this is not a hard walk at all. It offers some amazing views of the coast and the lush greenery. It also serves as a really nice way to visit Saundersfoot for the day from Tenby, without having to take a cab or the bus. Plus, even if you do get sweaty, just bring a bathing suit and jump in the ocean as soon as you arrive! If only someone had told me that.

6. Eat everything in sight!!

best things to do in tenby
Top Joe’s Pizza in Tenby
best things to do in tenby
Loafley Cafe & Bakery in Tenby

I would hope that no one needs to tell you that when in a British seaside town, you must get fish and chips. But just in case: you must get fish and chips.

This is probably one of the most important things to do in Tenby, in all of Wales, really. I believe that one’s preference in fish and chip shop is much like a religious affiliation, so you’ll have to do your own exploring and see where youre drawn. However, I’ll say that you probably can’t go wrong with D. Fecci & Sons, Tenby’s Traditional, or Park Road.

If fish and chips aren’t your thing (or you’ve had them three nights in a row) I would high recommend checking out Top Joe’s Pizza. I had some of the most amazing flavor combinations here, plus you can easily get it for takeout in case you can’t get a table anywhere else. (Places BOOK UP these days, due to the reduced capacity with social distancing… keep this in mind if you don’t have a kitchen!)

Last but not least I would highly recommend Loafley, a super cute cafe serving all sorts of cakes and hot drinks, as well as some jarred goods. Be sure to check out their “secret garden” out back, and their cute shop as well!

Oh and PS – try some welshcakes while youre in Wales!! The cinnamon ones were especially amazing.

7. Shop till you drop

best things to do in tenby
Mor on St. Julian’s Street
best things to do in tenby
Made a friend at Two Red Dogs

Honestly, Tenby had some of the cutest shops we saw during our holiday. You can likely spend a good portion of your day just wandering, popping in and out of the plethora of all the cute shops that line the streets – that was one of my favorite things to do in Tenby.

I actually think that’s the best way to go about it, but in case you need some jumping off points, I would highly recommend The Nook, Two Red Dogs, Jago, Mor and Ebb & Flow!

I got some seriously cute Christmas ornaments as well as some sweets, a candle and a magnet at all of these shops. I already wish I could go back.

8. Drink drink drink!

best things to do in tenby
Harbwr Brewery in Tenby
best things to do in tenby
We didn’t eat here, but Dylan Thomas did!

I mean – you’re on vacation right? Obviously one of the best things to do in Tenby is to drink some local beers!

I absolutely loved having a drink and some small bites to eat at Harbwr Brewery. You can sit in their small alleyway to feel like you’re on some hidden European vacation! The guys who work their seriously know their stuff and are able to answer any questions you might have about beer types or what you should order. Also if you aren’t into beer don’t worry, there’s a gin and tonic menu!

Attached to the brewery (above it, actually) you’ll find the Buccaneer Inn that functions more like a proper pub, but they serve Harbwr beer! They have a lovely outdoor space on the roof of the brewery, but also indoor space if the weather turns.

There’s also the lovely Hope & Anchor as well as The Lifeboat Tavern. Two great pub options with a wide selection.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Get out there and explore!

I hope you have as amazing of a time in Tenby as I did!

It’s an incredible destination, but an often overlooked one by those who don’t know its charm. Now that you’re well prepped with this list of the best things to do in Tenby, you”re ready to get out there and have a blast. I for one am already ready to head back to Wales next summer – who needs Spain anyway?!

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