North Wales, I owe you an apology.
I wrote you off. I thought you weren’t somewhere worth visiting.
The fool in me thought South Wales was the only good bit; ignorantly, the lower bit is all I knew. I spent my childhood summers on the affable Tenby beach, and walking in the Merthyr Tydfil valleys.
In my later years, I dabbled in Cardiff, with its lively nightlife and the finest gay boutique hotel in the country (with a breakfast to die for).
From these blissful memories, I thought I’d seen all the country had to offer. But a recent family holiday in Portmeirion showed me I was very wrong indeed
Located in Gwynedd, the village was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the 1900s with the aim to emulate an authentic Italian village. In North Wales. Yup.
After a five hour train journey from London to Blaenau Ffestiniog (it took me two weeks to learn how to say that), I didn’t know what to expect.
There are no permanent residents in the village itself, and tourists can rent one of the the fourteen self-catering cottages nestled next to the estuary. We stayed in the ‘Belvedere’.
Dawn was my favourite time of the day. Before the village woke up, there was tremendous stillness.
Watching the sun rise over the mountains of Meirionnydd made me think I was in a some secluded Sicilian villa. This little fellow brought me back to reality though…
As the day eased in, it was chance to potter around this quaint little haven…
Most importantly, the local café Caffi’r Angel Ices served the most incredible mango sorbet I have ever experienced.
We took a walk through the forest to the shore, to watch a sunset that could rival the beauty of Ibiza.
We also took a day trip to Sygun, the Victoria copper mine in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. After it closed its doors in 1903, it was opened again in 1986 as a tourist attraction.
I’ve explored mines before, but this one was particularly oppressive, winding and cold (with a temperature of around 9 degrees Celcius). The view on exit made it worth it though.
Portmeirion certainly isn’t the easiest place to get to, but if you’re looking for somewhere beautiful, unique, romantic, quirky and Italian-with-a-Welsh accent (aren’t we all), then it’s definitely worth a visit.
- The magic really comes alive early in the morning and as the evening draws in. If you can, stay in the village itself – it’s the best way to really experience Portmeirion
- The nearest mainland rail station is Bangor. From there, it’s approximately a 55 minute drive. There are smaller rail stations closer to the village (such as Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog)
- There’s virtually no phone reception and the Wi-Fi is super dodgy. Which actually, if you’re looking for a proper holiday, is probably not a bad thing…