Visit Harlech: Places to stay, things to do

Hannah Sweetnam takes us to the pretty seaside town of Harlech to explore its medieval castle and sample traditional Welsh produce


Why go there?
The town and seaside resort of Harlech, resides within the historical borders of Merionethshire in northwest of Wales. It’s a small town with a population of less than 2,000 people and is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing and tranquil weekend.


Walking around the scenic town it’s not uncommon to hear the lyrical tones of the Welsh language spouting from the mouths of half the locals. However, the bilingual community are welcoming and helpful if you ever need to ask questions about navigation around the town.

Harlech is best known for its National Trust owned medieval castle and the beautiful cliff side that surrounds it. Framed by the Rhinog Mountains, the castle’s backdrop is near unrivalled and is one of the most popular castles in Wales. The 13th century tourist spot can get fairly busy at times delivering a lively atmosphere to the local cafes, pubs and shops. However, most of the year, the town is a restful and serene environment and it’s not difficult to find a secluded spot along the vast and beautiful beach to sit down and read a good book.

The town of Harlech manages to epitomise that picturesque, novel writer’s paradise and is the perfect country get-away for any season. While you’re there you can try out Harlech’s version of Bara Brith. The speckled cake-like bread is normally eaten fresh from the oven and is traditionally eaten on Christmas Day for breakfast.

The local church was built in the 5th Century and predates Canterbury Cathedral. From visits to the Llanfair Slate Caverns to golf, sailing and fishing, there is plenty to do in and around Harlech. There are several interesting and historical walks that can be taken from Harlech to the Rhinogydd. It’s a hikers sanctuary where you can climb the Rhinog Fawr and Y Llethr. With its rolling hills and National Parks, stunning coastline to the west and magnificent mountain views to the east, the charming town is a welcoming and comfortable countryside spot.

Where to stay?
There are various bed & breakfasts, hotels and pub inns around Harlech. The Castle Cottage is a contemporary renovation of a 400-year-old country cottage situated just 100 metres from the castle itself. The restaurant with rooms takes residence in two of Harlech’s oldest houses. The seven bedrooms fill up quickly so it is important to book in advance. Alternatively, try the Rum Hole Tavern, which is within 200 yards of the railway and town centre.

Where to eat?
The eateries available in the town are plenty. Castle Cottage itself serves food to both guests staying in the rooms and visitors to the town. Recommended in all the major food guides, they source as much local produce as possible and serve fabulous meals in a smart and comfortable restaurant setting.

Did you know?
Welsh is one of the oldest living languages in Europe with the earliest record dated at 700 AD. It is closely related to Cornish, Breton, Irish, Gaelic and Manx.
Explore more of Britain’s rural treasures this weekend:

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