Located on the south coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales, Tenby is a historic fishing village known for its colourful buildings and beautiful beaches. It’s also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, coming alive in summer with holiday-goers looking for sea, sand, and (sometimes) sun.
With picturesque streets, numerous cafes and restaurants, and historical landmarks like the old town walls and castle, there are many things to do in Tenby, whether you’re after a fun day out or a relaxing holiday.
There are few places in Wales worth visiting more than Tenby, so make sure to stop by if you’re exploring this part of the country or if you’re looking for somewhere to base yourself during a well-earned vacation. Whatever your plans, read on to find out about the best things to do in Tenby.
1. Walk around Tenby Harbour
Tenby is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in the UK, especially in summer when the light strikes the multi-coloured houses along the seafront.
Simply wandering around the harbour, beach, and town centre can be a fun thing to do as a family, and you can always grab fish and chips or ice cream too.
2. Explore Caldey Island
One of the best days out in Tenby for families and avid explorers is hopping on a boat over to the nearby Caldey Island. Open to the public in summer, it’s a great way to escape the busy crowds in Tenby and find a peaceful spot to explore for a few hours.
Caldey is a holy island that is home to Cistercian monks who live in the secluded monastery at the heart of the island.
With the quiet and solitude and the Italianate architecture of the monastery, Caldey Island is unlike anywhere else in the country. Stepping off the boat feels like stepping back in time to somewhere wholly unlike the rest of the UK.
What to do on Caldey Island
You can read about the best things to see and what to do on Caldey Island on our blog. These are some of the top attractions and places to visit:
- Visit the monastery – It may be closed to the public, but the stunning building is a sight to behold and acts as a perfect backdrop for a picnic or ice cream bought from the nearby cafe. If you’re lucky, you could even spot a monk inside.
- Learn about the monks – The unique history of the island is worth learning more about, and there’s a small museum in the local post office with artefacts of interest. You can also discover more in one of the churches, and view an educational video in the Video Hall.
- Spot red squirrels – Monks aren’t the only inhabitants of Caldey Island; you can also see red squirrels. It’s one of the few places in the UK where these adorable creatures can be found. Follow one of the woodland walks and you may be lucky enough to spot them.
- Go to the lighthouse – The lighthouse on the southern side of the island has stood since 1829 and makes a great destination for a short stroll up from the monastery. Reaching the lighthouse means you’ll be perfectly situated on the summit of the island for breathtaking views across the sea. On a clear day, you can see Cornwall to the south.
- Walk around the island – If you have enough time, you can explore one of the trails that cut through and around the edge of the island. Following one of these will help you escape the other tourists congregating at the centre of the island, and you could even discover one of the more secluded beaches.
- Try Caldey chocolate – The monks of Caldey are known for producing delicious handmade chocolate. Visit the chocolate “factory” and you can see it being made. More importantly, you can taste free samples and buy yourself a bar. They make great souvenirs!
How to get to Caldey Island
From Tenby habour, you can book passage on a boat over to Caldey Island from the Caldey Island Kiosk in Tenby Harbour. These are all supervised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and leave every 20-30 minutes. The crossing takes roughly 20 minutes, and you can return to Tenby on any boat.
Note that the island is closed on Sundays, and is only open from April to October.
3. Visit St Catherine’s Island and Fort
Across from Castle Beach in Tenby, St Catherine’s is a small tidal island that’s home to a Napoleonic fort that was completed in 1870.
For a small fee, you can explore the island and fort and get great views of Tenby, Carmarthen Bay, and across to Caldey Island.
Make sure to check opening times ahead of visiting, as it’s closed in the winter and tide times can impact opening hours. If it’s not low tide, you may get have to get wet when wading over to the island!
4. Get amazing views from Tenby Castle
One of the key landmarks in Tenby is the castle that juts up from the headland that offers spectacular panoramic views of the town and the surrounding coastlines.
Built in the 12th century by Normans, the castle has long been a key feature of the town, and kids can have a lot of fun playing around the castle and exploring the old town walls that are still partially complete.
Visiting the castle in the evening is also one of the most romantic things to do in Tenby for couples, as you can admire the sunset as it casts a beautiful light over the town and coast.
5. Have a day at the beach
One of the best things to do in Tenby for families is to have a day at the beach. Fortunately, the town includes several of the best beaches in Pembrokeshire so you can choose the quietest, as in summer they can get busy.
Tenby North Beach is the most picturesque, with the colourful facades of the houses behind it providing a beautiful backdrop.
Castle Beach is one of the most bustling, located next to St Catherine’s Island and the pickup point for boats heading over to Caldey Island. Be warned, the beach can almost completely disappear during high tide, so watch out!
Tenby South Beach offers the quietest experience. Being furthest from the town centre, many people opt for a shorter walk to one of the other two beaches, so you’re more likely to find a peaceful sandy spot.
Harbour Beach is located right by Tenby Harbour and, while small, offers a nicely sheltered spot for families especially who might be looking for somewhere to base themselves.
In addition to these three, there are also many fantastic beaches near Tenby which are also worth discovering, such as Monksfoot Beach.
6. See the Five Arches Gate
Along with the castle, the remains of Norman walls outline the old medieval town of Tenby. One of the main access points to the old town is through Five Arches, a Barbican tower with five rounded archways.
As part of an impressively well-preserved section of the walls along South Parade, Five Arches is the most prominent and certainly worth wandering through. On a summer day, the warm, dusty walls make it feel like you’re in a hot Mediterranean town like Sorrento,
7. Visit the Tudor Merchant’s House
One of the best things to do in Tenby for history lovers is to look around inside the Tudor Merchant’s House, one of the key historical landmarks in the town.
Now run by the National Trust, you can learn more about what it was like to live in the Tudor period by exploring the three storeys of this 15th-century house that was once home to a successful merchant and his family.
You can find the Tudor Merchant’s House hidden away in a picturesque alley between Crackwell Street and St Julian’s Street. It’s also one of the best things to do in Tenby in the rain, as you can seek shelter for a while as you look around the house.
8. Walk the coastal path to Saundersfoot
For those looking to burn some energy and stretch their legs, walking the coastal path from Tenby to Saundersfoot offers the perfect way to see more of the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline and get away from the bustle of the town.
The path has some steep inclines, so make sure to wear suitable footwear and bring water to keep hydrated. The walk takes roughly 2 hours, so give yourself enough time to explore Saundersfoot once you reach your destination, and you can always get a bus back to Tenby if you aren’t up for a return walk.
There are plenty of things to do in Saundersfoot once you complete the walk, so make sure to plan what you want to see in this smaller, but just as lovely, coastal town.
9. Explore the small historic streets
While Tenby is a small town, that makes it the perfect size to wander around the quiet little streets that are full of history without getting (too!) lost.
There are lots of quaint points of interest to discover and you walk from one side of the town to the other, such as the Old Market Hall.
You’re bound to find somewhere nice to have a drink and some food, and when you emerge from the narrow streets you’ll be greeted by amazing sea views.
10. Get fish and chips
Any trip to the seaside in the UK isn’t complete without fish and chips, and fortunately Tenby has plenty of incredible options.
D Fecci and Sons is among the most popular, having been established in 1919 and providing sustainably-sourced fish to the people of Tenby.
11. Have a drink at Harbwr Brewery
Nestled away down Sergeants Lane is Harbwr Brewery, the perfect spot in Tenby for a relaxing pint after a long day of exploring.
You can visit the brewery as well as get fresh draught beer. Or, if you’re hungry, you can stop just around the corner at the Harbwr Brewery Tap & Kitchen for food.
Harbwr also has another pub outside Tenby which serves great food and is one of the best places to eat in Saundersfoot.
12. Take a boat trip
While many people will be taking boats over to Caldey Island, there are plenty of other boat trips you can take from Tenby.
These include tours of the local islands to get never before seen views of the stunning coastal landscape, and trips to spot seals and other wildlife.
The best things to do in Tenby for families
- Visit Caldey Island
- Take a boat trip to see seals and the South Pembrokeshire islands
- Relax at the beach
- Play around Tenby Castle
- Hike along the coastal path to Saundersfoot
- Visit the Tudor Merchant’s House