Last week my husband, the boys and the bump/I went to West and North Wales on a Sun holiday, staying in Haven sites at Pwllheli and Prestatyn. On the Saturday (13th) it was Mr Lizzie.Eats.Explores Birthday, and we spent the afternoon at Portmeirion Village, a beautiful way to celebrate I think you’ll soon agree…
So what and where is Portmeirion? I’d heard much about it as a little girl growing up in South Wales (Mum and I frequented a coffee shop called Fine China on Saturdays when I was young, it sold lots of Portmeirion crockery) but my step sons weren’t really sure what to expect…
The brain child of Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is one mans vision of an idyllic Italian style village built on a beautiful spot of North West Wales coastline. Having acquired the site in 1925, Clough developed the village over the next fifty-ish years with the build happening in two stages: from 1925 to 1939 and from 1954 to 1976.
He thought Aber lâ (as it was formerly known) was the perfect spot and it’s easy to see why – perched on a steep hill overlooking an estuary, there are sweeping views, with woods and streams to explore (there’s a free of charge land train to assist with this!) and it had old buildings ripe for development. This development was done sympathetically and he also took the opportunity to introduce incredible colours adding to the magic of the location. He didn’t stop there though, and some buildings were rescued from demolition elsewhere, with the village earning the nickname of ‘Home for Fallen Buildings’.
One such beauty the boys and I were thrilled to spot was The Bristol Colonnade, pictured above, which was brought to Portmeirion in 1959 and restored in 1987. It originally stood in front of the bathhouse at Arnos Court but was unfortunately damaged during the war.
The colours of the houses and buildings were definitely one of the highlights for me (and is one of the things most recognisable to Portmeirion.) While staying in Wales we discovered that a new six part TV show has just started about Portmeirion, which the kids insisted they be allowed to stay up for.
A fascinating insight into the village, we found out things we didn’t know from our visit – such as there is a resident painter who ensures the paint colours are exactly as they have always been, but uses techniques to make sure the new coats still look like old paint and give a weathered look.
‘The Village’ is an ITV Wales programme but I’m pleased to report if you would like to watch it (we are intending to watch the rest) I managed to find it online here. My ‘more mature’ readers (or just those in the know) may be aware that Portmeirion was actually the backdrop for 60s TV show ‘The Prisoner’, and there’s a shop in the village with more info if you’re a fan.
A freebie that you wouldn’t want to miss on your visit is the land train that takes you up to the steepest view point and through the woods past some pretty water features. It’s a little bumpy but worth a ride, it runs every half an hour.
If you’d like to stay in Portmeirion there are two hotels (both four star), plus rooms and cottages within the village which all have views of either the village or the estuary. The best deals are to be had booking direct, which can be done here.
There are lots of options for eating in a variety of locations – including fine dining, afternoon tea or something more relaxed in one of several cafes on site. We’d been stuffing our faces with sausage baps and birthday cake, but we ALWAYS have room for ice cream, so had to stop in Caffi’r Angel which is a gelateria selling Portmeirion Gelato which is made on site.
I went for the chocolate and the honeycomb flavours… Unfortunately there wasn’t much actual honeycomb in the latter but I did enjoy my chocolate scoop!!
Another highlight of our visit were the beautifully manicured gardens which were full of the joys of spring. A lot of care clearly goes into the upkeep of Portmeirion Village and that is evident all around!
I don’t really want to spoil your visit by telling you too much or posting too many pictures… but I would say Portmeirion felt truly unique (and I’ve been to a fair few tourist destinations!) and I only wish we’d maybe spent a bit longer there but we probably arrived a bit late. There’s so much to see, the architecture, the gardens, the woods, the coastline, the shops! It’s really worth a look.
If you’d like to visit, the village is open daily from 9.30am to 7.30pm (although a number of the shops/cafes close at five). Adults will pay £12pp and children (over fives, unders are free) £8.50pp with discount available for concessions. It’s also worth noting free entry is available if you stay, with a two course lunch at one of the hotels or with a treatment at the spa (yes, there’s a spa!!)
Full disclosure – our entrance to Portmeirion Village was gifted, but this has not swayed or influenced this post. No one at Portmeirion was able to check this content before it was published, just my husband, so if you spot any typos let me know but blame him for them getting through 🙂
Thank you for reading – and a very happy Easter to you and yours!