It’s always a surprise to find the magnificent medieval edifice of St David’s Cathedral tucked away in the sheltered Alun Valley, a one-minute walk from the centre of this tiny city.
The cathedral was sited here in the 12th century to hide it from potential marauders sailing the coast. It is nothing short of beautiful, its aged purple and gold stone glowing warmly at sunset. Take a guided tour to get the most from your visit, or simply gaze and wonder at the 38m (125ft) tower with its 16th-century latticed oak roof. Inside, at the back of the choir stall, you’ll find a unique monarch’s stall complete with royal crest. Unlike with other cathedrals, the reigning sovereign becomes an automatic member of the Cathedral Chapter.
On the opposite bank of the narrow River Alun, which meets the sea a mile away at lovely Porthclais, are the atmospheric ruins of the Bishop’s Palace, which date back to the 14th century. The imposing Bishop’s Hall and Great Hall with its magnificent rose window are well worth a look, and in summer you can enjoy live theatre here in the evenings.
Catch some surf
A five-minute drive or bus journey from St David’s is Whitesands Bay, a Blue Flag beach and one of the most popular surf spots in Wales. It may be a bit chilly to hit the surf right now, but in summer this is a great place to enjoy surfing lessons as the waves are rarely too big or powerful for learners. The local surf shop has over 25 years experience of getting beginners up and riding the Atlantic swells.
If you have any energy left after battling it out with the ocean, take a stroll out to St David’s Head – the easy two-mile return trip along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path will reward you with views to RSPB-owned Ramsey Island and the various islets further out to sea. These treacherous waters, where the Irish Sea meets the Bristol Channel, have seen scores of vessels sunk over the centuries. Winter is a great time for storm watching as huge swells pound the sea cliffs (don’t get too close to the edge) while in summer you might spot choughs, peregrines, seals and porpoises.
A boat trip to RSPB-owned Ramsey Island will allow you to view the area’s wide array of seabirds and mammals up close; or you could take an exciting jet boat journey across The Bitches – huge overfalls that have even managed to sink a lifeboat in the past.
If it’s the end of a sunny day, walk to the summit of Carn Llidi above Whitesands for some of the best sunsets in Wales – on a clear day you may even make out Ireland’s Wicklow Hills in the distance.
How to Get There
St David’s lies on the A487, 15 miles west of Haverfordwest. There are daily train services to Haverfordwest, and connecting buses.
Find Out More
St. David’s Information Centre
Oriel y Parc, St David’s
22 High Street
Awarded ‘Readers Restaurant of the Year Award Wales 2012’ by Which? Good Food Guide.
The Coach House
5 High Street SA62 6SB
Centrally located, and co-owner Stephen Lawton was formerly the personal chef to the King of Jordan, so expect tasty breakfasts.