On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best places to see and the best things to do in Tenby.
Tenby is a beach town in the south-west part of Wales, and it took us about 1 hour and a quarter to get there from Mumbles. It is a picturesque town with fine Victorian architecture in pastel colours.
There is plenty to do in Tenby Town, specially in the summer months, when you can enjoy the sand beaches and lively harbour. Besides the beaches and harbour, you can visit Caldey Island, enjoy the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, museums, St. Mary’s Church, RNLI Lifeboat Station, get scared in the Tenby Ghost Walk (these walks were suspended at the time of our visit due to some illness in the family of the organiser. Hopefully she will be back to the tour again next season) and visit the Tudor Merchant’s House. These are enough activities to fill up a couple of your days.
At the time of our visit the town was very busy and bustling with tourists and visitors from everywhere. Again, hotels and restaurants were difficult to find and book because of the time of the year, “staycation”, and the pandemic situation still going on. I had managed to book a twin room with sea views at the Imperial Hotel and also managed to book a table at good restaurants for all nights of our stay. Certainly, all needs to be booked well in advance to guarantee a good time.
We arrived in Tenby too early for the check-in at the hotel and the hotel didn’t have a car park, so we had to find a public car park to park the car. There was one not very far from the hotel, so we parked there for the whole stay in Tenby as we walked everywhere and didn’t need a car in town.
We walked through the town and went to the harbour. A boat tour to Caldey Island was about to leave and we thought it was a good idea to take this opportunity and visit the island straight away. So, we joined the queue and boarded the small boat that took us to the island in about 20 minutes.
Caldey Island is a small island inhabited since the stone age. Monastic monks arrived in the 6th century and continue to inhabit the island until this date. It is a good trip to spend the whole day with the family if you have a few days in Tenby. There are walks within the island with a public beach and all the buildings of the village to visit. The main building of the island is the Abbey, built in an Italian style architecture in 1906. The Abbey is not open for public visits, only the abbey church. There is also St. David’s Church to visit on the grounds. Other buildings include the Chocolate Factory, the Perfume Shop and the island Post-office. We didn’t do the walks, we just visited the village and stayed there for a couple of hours. We bought some local chocolate to bring back home as presents and boarded the boat back to Tenby.
By now it was time to check-in at the hotel. We collected our suitcases from the car and went to the hotel. We booked the Imperial Hotel. After check-in, we were given a room on the top floor and on the way to the room we already realised that the place was a dump and in need of a full refurbishment.
Arriving in the room we had confirmation that this was the worse place we had stayed in all our trips so far. We had paid good money for that, and it was already difficult to find this one, so we just had to accept it as it was going to be very difficult to find another place at such short notice.
The room was very old and everything in there had seen better days, but the beds were clean, and we thought that although not worth the money, we could not face the idea of asking to be moved to another room. We just relaxed for a few hours before getting ready to our first dinner in Tenby.
Two years after staying at The Imperial, I checked Booking.com and I could see that it has been refurbished and is looking really nice now. So, I’m sharing the link to The Imperial Hotel without any reservations.
We booked the “Bay Tree” restaurant in the centre of town. It had good reviews and the menu looked very exciting. We were not disappointed; the food was excellent and service very efficient.
I had the King Prawns tossed in garlic and citrus butter and my husband had the bass fillet grilled with pesto and herbs. After dinner we walked around town and discovered a brewery down a narrow street off the main road. It was called Habwr Brewery and It had tables outside on the street, so we decided to seat down to try some of the local beers. Some of their beers had names of local fishing boats such as North Star, Caldey Lollipop, M. V. Enterprise among others. We thought it was a very interesting idea and shows a bit of consideration for the local community. The beers were quite good, and we bought some to bring back to one of our friends (I mean ourselves). The brewery also has live music on certain nights, not on that evening though …
Today after breakfast (which was not too bad for our surprise) we went to explore Tenby on foot.
We walked through town and went to the North, South, and Castle Beach. We walked around Tenby Castle and to the old and new Lifeboat Stations admiring the beautiful Victorian and Edwardian buildings around town. Plenty of opportunities for picturesque photos.
We then looked through the shops in the old town and passed through the Five Arches Gate. We wanted to visit the Tudor Merchant’s House, but it was closed at the time due to Covid, so we only saw the building from the outside.
Another nice building to see is the restaurant “Plantagenet House”. We tried to book a table there, but the restaurant was temporarily closed due to lack of staff. This is a historic building and believed to be the Tenby’s oldest house, possibly from the 10th Century.
It was a shame we could not see the building from the inside, but hopefully they will resolve the staff issues for the next summer season and will open again. In September/23, I checked the website and it looks like that the restaurant is open again, so worth checking.
Tenby is certainly a very attractive town to spend a few days on holiday, but try to book a better hotel!
After that, we decided to take the car and drive to the famous Green Bridge.
The views were incredible, and we took lots of impressive photos. While there, we walked to The Cauldron as well, another part of the cliffs looking like, funnily enough, a cauldron.
After exploring the whole area, we took the car and drove to St. Govan’s Chapel not far from there.
The chapel was built on the side of the cliff and access is via many steps to go down to the chapel and to come back. That was the hiding place for St Govan when he escaped pirates on the 5th or 6th century. You can read about the whole story here:
After exploring the area, on the way back to Tenby we stopped to visit Carew Castle.
This castle can be explored by yourself or on a guided tour, however at the time of our visit, tours were not running.
It is a mixture of Norman and Elizabethan constructions in a beautiful location. The castle is set on 23 acres of land and has a Tidal Mill on site. The Mill is also open for visitation and you can see the journey the wheat had to travel to get to the tables as a loaf of bread.
It is a very interesting day out especially if you have kids. They accept dogs everywhere in the castle except on the café.
When we finished exploring the castle and the mill, it was already late in the afternoon, and we drove back to Tenby in time for a shower and popping out again for dinner.
Dinner tonight was at “The Stables” restaurant, which is located under the walls of the town, and it is very small. The owners are a couple; the lady is the chef working in the kitchen and the gentleman is the barman and front of house person, managing the drinks, the bills and talking to the diners. He was a very chatty and friendly man who made you feel very comfortable and welcome. The food was also pretty good, and we completely enjoyed our meal and the atmosphere of this typical restaurant.
Next day after breakfast we checked out of the Imperial Hotel. While checking out I took the opportunity to tell the receptionist that the hotel was far from what was advertised and in a very bad state of repair, way below our expectations. It needed a full refurbishment urgently and I was not going to leave very good reviews. She informed me that the hotel has just been bought by a chain of hotels and would go through a full refurbishment after the summer season finishes. If you want to stay there, check before booking.
Two years after our stay at The Imperial, I checked Booking.com and I could see that it had indeed been refurbished and it is looking really nice now. So, I can share the link to The Imperial Hotel without any reservations.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Tenby. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO VISIT IN TENBY AND AROUND
1 – North and South Beaches – ***
2 – St Catherine’s Island
3 – Caldey Island – ***
4 – St Mary’s Church
5 – RNLI Lifeboat Station – ***
6 – Tudor Merchant House – ***
7 – Tenby Castle – ***
8 – Lifeboat Station – ***
9 – Five Arches Gate – ***
10 – Plantagenet House – ***
11 – Green Bridge – ***
12 – The Cauldron – ***
13 – St. Govan’s Chapel – ***
14 – Carew Castle – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN TENBY
1 – The Broadmead Boutique B & B – ££
2 – Atlantic Hotel – ££
3 – The Park Hotel – ££
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK IN TENBY
1 – The Baytree Restaurant – *** – ££
2 – Habwr Brewery – *** – £
3 – Plantagenet House Restaurant – ££
4 – The Stables Restaurant – Seafood & Meat – *** – ££
5 – Salty’s Beach Bar & Restaurant – Seafood and Meat – ££
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