How to visit Portmeirion in North Wales
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Visiting Portmeirion, An Italian Styled Village In North Wales!

Are you looking for a day trip destination that is both stunning and off the beaten path? If so, consider visiting Portmeirion in North Wales. This Italian-inspired village was the brainchild of Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis and is now a popular tourist attraction. With its bright pastel buildings and gorgeous coastal setting, Portmeirion is well worth a visit. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head to North Wales!

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Brief History Of Portmeirion:

Portmeirion is a beautiful Italian-inspired village in Gwynedd, North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1973. Portmeirion is a pastiche of an Italianate village and draws inspiration from Portofino on the Italian Riviera, a place he had fallen in love with.

Portmeirion Village was Clough’s dream for many years. Even from age six, he dreamt of being an architect and building his own town. He also knew early on that if his dream was to come true, he would need to depend on tourism for income. After scouring multiple sites, he found the perfect location on the Snowdonia peninsula, a neglected estate called Aber la. He later changed the name to Portmeirion, “Port” due to its coastal location and “Merion” from the county it sits in.

Portmeirion village has a long and fascinating history, which began when Williams-Ellis bought the site in 1925. Work on the village began immediately and continued for over 50 years, starting with converting an old house on the shore into a grand hotel, which opened in 1926. The rest of the village was built in two stages; in the first ten years, its design was ‘pegged out’, and most of its distinct buildings were erected. In the later years, between 1954 and 1976, he filled in the details.

The village has also been used as a film and television location, most famously as the setting for the 1960s TV series The Prisoner. Today, Portmeirion is owned by a charitable trust and loved by tourists and locals alike. Its unique design makes it one of the most recognisable villages in the world.

Things To See In Portmeirion:

Portmeirion village offers several things to see, including unique architecture, beautiful squares, ornamental gardens, and scenic surroundings. The village also has several shops and restaurants.

An Architectural Stroll

Williams-Ellis’s village is a cleverly designed, compact space that feels larger than it looks. The Rough Guide to Wales called it a ‘gorgeous visual poem’. Take the time to enjoy the many features within these walls for what they’re worth. Admire the Gothic Pavilion and other exquisite pieces like the Bristol Colonnade or Hercules Hall before you enter Belvedere Garden for an even better view from up high! 

Some notable buildings include:

The gatehouse – One of the first buildings to be built, it utilises the rugged rock formations within its design. The deep arch is lit up at night, highlighting the ceiling mural by Hans Feibusch. 

Bridge House – Forms the second of Porthmeirion’s two entrance gateways. The design resembles the gatehouse, where the arch rises from the exposed brick on the living rock upon which it sits.

Toll House – This structure overlooks Battery Square and has a lookout tower on the top floor. It is embellished with plaques, bells, signs, and a life-size statue of St Peter.

Bell Tower – This tower was an integral feature of Clough’s design and housed an old chiming clock from a demolished London brewery.

The Round House – One of two Baroque buildings linked by an overhead walkway. For those who watched the 1966 series The Prisoner, the Round House was used as Number Six’s residence.

The Dome – An octagonal building surmounted by a dome and central cupola, the dome was often assumed to be a temple. However, as Clough was an atheist, its use has always been secular.

Hercules statue and BandstandWilliam Brodie cast Hercules around 1863. Clough himself picked up the statue in a pickup truck and drove it from Aberdeen to Portmeirion. The bandstand was built to hide the site’s electrical substation, which is still in use today.

The Town Hall – Also known as Hercules Hall, is an Arts & Craft style village hall designed to house a Jacobean ceiling, panelling and mullioned windows salvaged from Emral, one of the great houses of Wales.

Stroll Around The Central Piazza

One of my favourite parts of Portmeirion village is The Piazza. This beautiful space was built in the 1960s to hide an unsightly tennis court that had been there since the 1930s. Clough had initially designed a central piazza, but these plans were only executed once his daughter encouraged him to build it.

The focus point of the piazza is the ornamental fountain pool which is surrounded by the Gloriette and glorious Gothic Pavillion. Around the piazza, you will also see many other unique features, such as the Golden Burmese dancers positioned on top of iconic columns.

Further up from the piazza, you will find the magnificent Bristol Colonnade, initially built in 1760 for a Bathhouse in Bristol. Bombs damaged the original structure, which then fell into disrepair before it was salvaged and returned to its former glory in Portmeirion Village.

The Piazza is the perfect place to sit and relax with ice cream, especially on a warm day. A few minutes here, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to some Italian coastal town! This place does play tricks on your mind!

Battery Square

Battery Square is surrounded by many of Portmeirion’s most iconic buildings, such as the Bell Tower and Round House. It also has a lovely little coffee shop, making it the perfect place to take a beak on the outdoor tables positioned along the cobbles. For Prisoner fans, the Round House now houses a gift shop where you can pick up some nostalgic souvenirs.

The Quayside

The main feature of the Quayside is the Portmeirion Hotel, the first building built in the village. If you’re lucky enough to stay overnight at the hotel or in some of the other properties around the village, you can also use the picturesque swimming pool on the front lawn, which looks out towards the coast.

In front of the hotel, you will also find the Amis Reunis, half boat, half building. Initially, a restored trading ketch boat was moored alongside the quay. However, during a storm, it was damaged and washed out to sea. Clough then designed and installed this boat-like structure to replace it. 

From the hotel, you can also walk along the coastal path, which takes you to the Observatory Tower and, further along, the Folly Lighthouse.

The Gwyllt 

If you want to stretch your legs, walking through the Gwyllt is a must! There are several trails to choose from, but they all take you through some beautiful ornate gardens, woodland, and a multitude of eye-catching monuments and stunning vistas. 

The whole area covers 70 acres and 19 miles of the pathway, which cuts through the subtropical forest, secret spaces and coastal coves. Whatever path you choose, you will be met with something unexpected. One of the more unique features of the Gwyllt is the dog cemetery, which its former Tennent, Mrs Adelaide Haig, established.

Portmeirion Pottery

Williams-Ellis’ daughter Susan and her husband Euan began Portmeirion Potteries Ltd in 1960 after she took over Kirkham’s Pottery from Stoke-on-Trent. She made sure to keep traditional and contemporary designs alike, which is why this business has thrived all these decades after its inception! You can still buy some of their ware at discount prices from the Portmeirion gift shops around the village.

How To Get To Portmeirion And Admission:

The easiest way to get to Portmeirion Village is to take a leisurely drive or hop on the train and enjoy a scenic morning ride. The village is about a mile from Minffordd station and has plenty of visitor parking near its entrance.

Sat Nav use LL48 6ER

For the latest train times and ticket information, use The Trainline.

For the latest bus timetables and routes, check out Traveline.

The Village is usually open daily from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, except on Christmas Day. Day tickets are available from the Tollbooth at the entrance or online.

Where To Stay In Portmeirion:

Portmeirion Village offers several accommodation options. Two 4-star hotels, the luxury waterfront Hotel Portmeirion and the more contemporary Castell Deudraeth, are located in the village. Several hotel rooms and cottages, some with terraces and balconies, are also scattered around the village.

The best thing about staying on-site is that once the day visitors have gone, you’ll have this magical place all to yourselves. If you wish to stay within the village, book well ahead of time, as these options book out very quickly!

If you prefer to stay within the local area, Porthmadog has places to suit all budgets, including historic country house hotels, family-run beach-side caravan parks and harbour-side self-catering apartments. 

I recommend using to book accommodation. This website offers the best prices and caters to all budgets and styles. Just pop in your requirements, and it will give you a list of available accommodations. This is perfect for picking out the best hostels, B&Bs, or even some luxury escapes.

Other Places To Visit Nearby:

Porthmadog – Porthmadog is a bustling little town in North Wales with plenty to entertain visitors. One of its main attractions is its proximity to Snowdonia National Park, which offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities. And, of course, no visit to Porthmadog would be complete without taking a ride on the historic Ffestiniog Railway. So whether you’re looking for a shopping spree or a day in the great outdoors, Porthmadog has something for everyone.

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways – The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways are two of the most scenic railways in the world. The Ffestiniog Railway runs 13.5 miles through the Snowdonia National Park, while the Welsh Highland Railway runs 25 miles through the heart of the Snowdonia Mountains. Both railways offer breathtaking views of some of the most beautiful countryside in Wales and opportunities to spot wildlife such as red kites, eagles, and otters.

Harlech Castle – Harlech Castle is a spectacular medieval fortress built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales and was intended to serve as a reminder of English power. With its massive walls and imposing towers, Harlech certainly achieves this goal. The castle stands on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, making it very difficult to attack. In fact, during the Wars of the Roses, Harlech served as a stronghold for the Lancastrians. The castle withstood a lengthy siege by the Yorkists, eventually falling when supplies ran low. Today, Harlech Castle is a popular tourist attraction, and its dramatic setting continues to impress visitors.

Final Thoughts

If you want a unique and beautiful place to visit in the United Kingdom, I highly recommend Portmeirion. This Italian-inspired village is located in the heart of North Wales and is home to some stunning architecture. The gardens here are also worth exploring, especially during springtime when they are in full bloom. Plus, there are plenty of places to eat and shop if you need something to do while you’re there.

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Happy travels!

A guide to Visiting Portmeirion Village in North Wales
A guide to Visiting Portmeirion Village in North Wales

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