Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro) is the most widely known of the three counties that make up West Wales. It has long been a popular holiday destination because of its dramatic coastline: it is renowned for superb sandy beaches, its 186 mile coastal path and a mild climate. Bordered by the sea on three sides, Pembrokeshire has the UK's only coastal National Park, taking in about a third of the county including the entire coastal area, the upper reaches of the Daugleddau waterway and the Preseli Hills.
Pembrokeshire has long been divided between an English-speaking south and a historically more Welsh-speaking north, along a linguistic border called the Landsker Line.
The county has been inhabited from early times as evidenced by Pentre Ifan, the largest and best preserved Neolithic burial chamber in Wales. Pembrokeshire has been fought over for centuries, mainly by the Welsh resisting the invading English and this legacy has left many castles including the spectacular examples at Carew and Pembroke; the latter is where Henry VII was born.
In later times, the French were the common enemy and fear of invasion lead to the sheltered waterway of Milford Haven being fortified in the 19th century.
Farming and fishing are the traditional industries in the county. Pembrokeshire’s production of early new potatoes is aided by the mild climate but the large sea fishing industry at Milford Haven has declined drastically along with other centres in the UK. Tourism is now a major source of income employs many of the county’s residents.
The spectacular coastline is the major draw for tourists who are spoilt for choice when looking for a beach, having over 50 to choose from. Swimming, sailing and especially surfing are popular but there are many secluded sandy coves for those who just want to relax. The National Trust owns and protects many of the most important sections of the coast including those around Barafundle beach, Marloes, St Davids, Porthgain and Dinas.
As well as the charms of the coast, visitors to Pembrokeshire enjoy various other attractions such as theme parks like Oakwood, Folly Farm and Heatherton and gardens like Colby Woodland Gardens, Picton Castle Gardens and Begelly Park with its Japanese gardens. There are also many interesting towns and villages for visitors to explore with the medieval walled towns such as Tenby and Pembroke especially popular.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of the UK’s most famous National Trails. It passes through a variety of landscapes ranging from steep limestone cliffs, red sandstone bays and stunning sandy beaches. The year round Coastal Bus Services are specially designed for walkers so it is possible for visitors to travel a few miles along the coast and walk back.
Pembrokeshire and particularly its Coastal National Park has an unspoiled environment which supports a wide range of wildlife. Dolphins, porpoises and whale watching boat trips are very popular as are excursions to the offshore islands. Skomer, Skokholm, Ramsey, Grassholm and Caldey can be visited and the thousands of Puffins, Guillemots, Gannets and other sea birds are a spectacular sight.
Some of the best things to do in Pembrokeshire
Swim, surf or build sandcastles on one of the spectacular beaches
Have a thrilling day out at Oakwood Theme Park
Wander round the historic streets of Tenby and visit the picturesque harbour
Walk round Bosherston Lily Ponds and feed birds by hand
Climb Carningli (The Mount of Angels) in the Preseli Hills and admire the views
Go on a fast boat trip to Grassholm island and out to the Smalls lighthouse
Using the Coastal Bus Service, walk a stunning section of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path