Explore The UK's Smallest City: 10 Things To Do In St Davids, Wales

things to do in st davids
Rebecca
Rebecca 
Updated

The smallest city in the UK, St Davids is a characterful seaside town with a long and mythical history that attracts visitors from all over the world. Right in the heart of the Pembrokeshire National Park, the town is bursting with life at all times of the year, so finding something to do is never hard. Whether it’s walking, surfing, climbing or exploring the long and rich history of the area there are trips and activities available that ensure there’s never a dull moment. Or if you wanted to slow things down a notch, there’s nothing like a quiet and relaxing stroll across one of the many nearby beaches to make you truly appreciate the beauty of this enchanting corner of Wales. If you’re looking for an inspiration, then you can’t go wrong with these unmissable moments.

1. Visit St Davids Cathedral and Bishop's Palace

The birth and resting place of Wales’ patron Saint, St Davids Cathedral has attracted pilgrims and visitors for thousands of years and should be your number one on your list of places to visit. A monastic community has existed on the site since as early as 645 AD with construction on the current building believed to have been begun around 1181. Aside from the historic significance of the magnificent cathedral, the building itself is an awe-inspiring sight with incredible architecture that you cannot help but marvel at. Even for those who are non-religious, a visit can be a moving and spiritual one you won’t want to miss. There are daily services you can attend if you want to experience the cathedral in its full glory.

St Davids Bishops Palace can be found just over the road from the cathedral and is one of the most important religious sites in Wales, which dates back to the 6th century. The impressive building you can look around today comes from around the 13th to 14th centuries and still contains many of the intricate details from the time. You’re in good company if you do stop by to admire the ruins, William the Conqueror is believed to have visited in 1081.

St Davids Cathedral and The Bishop's Palace

Address: St Davids Cathedral, The Pebbles, St Davids, Pembrokeshire SA62 6RD

Website: St Davids Cathderal

2. Enjoy a day at Whitesands Bay and Carn Llidi

Carn Llidi Summit overlooking Whitesands Bay , St David's , Wales , August 2007 - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user originalpickaxe used under CC BY 3.0

When it comes to beaches, St Davids is spoiled for choice and one of the best is Whitesands Bay. A blue flag winner and a popular spot for surfing, the beautiful beach is full of activity at all times of the year whether you fancy a day lazing on the sand or brave the waters for a surfing lesson. It’s also a magnificent part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and a walk around the nearby hill of Carn Llidi is well worth the effort. If you brave the walk to the 181 meter (595 foot) summit there are breathtaking views out over Cardigan Bay and the rolling hills of North Pembrokeshire waiting for you, or if you take the pathway up around Carn Llidi you can discover the remains of two neolithic burial chambers.

Whitesands Bay and Carn Llidi

Address: Whitesands Bay St Davids, Wales SA62 6PT.

Website: Whitesands Bay

3. Discover the magical wilderness islands

Skomerisle
Source: Photo by user Julielangford used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pembrokeshire is blessed with a series of uninhabited islands Ramsey, Grassholm, Skomer and Skokholm that are bursting with natural beauty and wildlife including thousands of puffins, guillemots, and razor bills and the largest concentration of Manx-Shearwaters in the world. Boat tours around Skokholm and Grassholm run daily and offer a closer look at these spectacular islands up close, including Grassholm’s thousands of gannets, that counts for 10 percent of the world’s population.

You can actually explore Skomer by foot, where you can spot the Skomer vole, a subspecies unique to the island, as well as the largest puffin colony in southern Britain. You may also stumble across stone circles, standing stones and remains of prehistoric settlements on your walk. Boats run to the island daily, but if you wanted to stay the night there’s now a hostel on the island offering a chance to spend an evening in this remote paradise.

Pembrokeshire Islands

Address: Brunel Quay, Neyland, Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire SA73 1PY

Website: Pembrokeshire Islands

4. Catch a thrill with an outdoor adventure

Cleopatra Coasteering in north Pembrokeshire
Source: Photo by user Llywelyn2000 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Pembrokeshire coast has an active water sports community offering everything from coasteering, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, rock climbing and many other adventure-based activities. With experienced and highly skilled instructors showing you the ropes, it won’t be long before you will be a pro at hitting the waves or navigating the rocky cliff edge. What better way to explore this amazing county than by getting your adrenaline fix at the same time?

TYF Adventure

Address: 1 High Street, St Davids, Pembrokeshire SA62 6SA

Website: TYF Adventure

5. Get lost in the breathtaking beauty of the coast path

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 06
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Manfred Heyde used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Pembrokeshire is the only coastal National Park in the UK and boasts a 300 kilometer (186 mile) coast path that wraps around the magnificent county. The trail covers every dip and bend of the stunning coastline and St Davids is lucky enough to be just a short walk away from some of the most beautiful stretches of this impressive path and it would be almost criminal not to venture onto it at least once during the visit. Whether you walk down to the picturesque village of Solva, or up towards Abereddi, the views and natural beauty on offer is a real treat.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Website: Pembroekshire Coast Path

6. Scour the seas on a marine adventure

Ramsey Island. View from south east to St David's Head. 1971
Source: Photo by Flickr user Dr Mary Gillham A... used under CC BY 2.0

It’s not just the cliffs, rocks and fields that are teaming with life in St Davids, there’s plenty in the water too. Dolphins, porpoise and seals are regularly spotted off the coast and you can take a boat trip out from St Davids to admire these endearing creatures in their natural environment. Jetting across the open waters in search of aquatic creatures is an exhilarating, once in a lifetime experience that you don’t want to miss out on.

Harbor porpoise are native to this area as are common, bottle nose and rissos dolphins. On a good day, you might even be able to spot a whale, which have been sighted in the area many times. Or head to Ramsey Island to marvel at one of the UK’s largest Atlantic gray seal colonies, who during the late August to October period give birth to hundreds of pups along the beaches. For those looking to cast their rods while in St Davids, there are also fishing tours available. They provide the rods and tackle and will even take you to the best spots.

Thousand Islands Expeditions

Address: Cross Square, St Davids, Pembrokeshire SA62 6SL

Website: Thousand Islands Expeditions

7. Make a pilgrimage to the Chapel of St. Non

Saint Non's Chapel - Fenster 2a St.Non
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Wolfgang Sauber used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Chapel of St. Non is located on the coast near the village and is traditionally held as the birthplace of St David. One of the oldest Christian buildings in Wales, the chapel is thought to have been built on the site of Saint Non’s house, who was born around 475 AD. The mysticism surrounding the ancient site is only increased by the appearance of neolithic standing stones and nearby there’s a holy well, which was thought to have healing powers. The site has been a focus for pilgrims for thousands of years and if you are in the area, it is well worth spending time looking around. The peaceful setting only adds to the tranquility of the spiritual heritage site.

St Non's Chapel

Address: St. Non’s Retreat Centre. St. David’s, Pembrokeshire. West Wales. SA62 6BN

Website: St Non’s Chapel

8. Get to know St Davids at the Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Center

The Three Graces
Source: Photo by Flickr user Tony used under CC BY 2.0

Oriel y Parc Gallery & Visitor Center is a great way to get to know St Davids and can help answer any further questions you might have about the area. Referring to itself as the “gateway” to St Davids and can be found on the way into the village in an award-winning “green” building, and as well as advice on the local area houses works of art from the National Museum Wales. Stop off for a coffee at its welcoming and relaxed cafe or even stay for the delicious food.

The Oriel y Parc Gallery & Visitor Centre

Address: National Park Visitor Centre And Landscape Gallery, High St, Saint David’s SA62 6NW

Website: The Oriel y Parc Gallery & Visitor Centre

9. Be enchanted by Porthgain and Blue Lagoon, Abereiddi

The Blue Lagoon
Source: Photo by Flickr user Phil Dolby used under CC BY 2.0

Just up the coast from St Davids is the former industrial harbor of Porthgain, which still has ruins from its brick-making days. Now a small hamlet it boasts a pub, a fish restaurant, and galleries that reflect the inlet’s rich history. Just a few miles down the coast path and you arrive in Abereiddi, also accessible by car for those, who don’t want to try it on foot, the stunning beach is well worth the visit. The old slate quarry at Abereiddi is now affectionately known as the Blue Lagoon and is a popular coastal spot for locals and visiting groups. Worth a visit just to see the stunning man-made inlet, which is a favorite for seals as well.

Porthgain to Abereiddi Walk

Address: Porthgain, Haverfordwest, SA62 5BP/ Abereiddi, St Davids, Haverfordwest SA62 6DT

Website: Porthgain to Abereiddi Walk

10. Sample a sweet treat at Gianni's Ice Cream

20140422_173904
Source: Photo by Flickr user flikr used under CC BY 2.0

St Davids most famous eatery, Gianni’s Ice cream is a must on any day of the year. Made from organic milk from a nearby farm, Gianni uses the traditional Italian technique to whip up his sweet treat that comes in over 180 flavors.

If you can’t find the one you want, Gianni’s is so accommodating that with just 48 hours notice, they will create your own bespoke flavor.

Found in the center of the village, it’s the perfect refresher after a busy day exploring.

Gianni's Ice Cream

Address: Gianni’s Ice Cream, 11 High Screen, St Davids, Pembrokeshire. SA62 5JJ

Website: Gianni’s Ice Cream

The little city with a big heart

Whatever your reason for visiting St Davids, the stunning scenery, incredible wildlife and rich and mythical history will ensure your visit is a magical and unique one. With unrivaled natural beauty and the chance to explore some of the most magnificent coast line in the country, it is easy to quickly fill your days, so it’s important to leave enough time to do it all. Don’t miss St Davids’ thriving food scene either. Offering high quality dishes using local produce, there are many establishments offering tasty, locally inspired cuisine. Cwtch restaurant, found in the center of the town, was even voted Welsh restaurant of the year in 2014, so it is well worth a visit.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Online journalist and full-time traveller, Beca hails from the beautiful Pembrokeshire in Wales. Having lived in London for six years, she's left the UK to travel the world and share her...Read more

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