Hotel Portmeirion

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Many of the fantastic scenic drives in Mid Wales are set against panoramic and breathtaking backdrops and fantastic for motorists who love to explore places off the beaten track. The Coastal Way in Wales runs the entire length of Cardigan Bay. It’s a 180-mile (290km) odyssey that threads between blue seas on one side and big mountains on the other. It's a great location for a road trip, short break or an epic weekend away.

For visitors that enjoy sea views, coastal towns and villages and beautiful beaches try out the coastal route from Portmeirion south to Machynlleth, the ancient capitol of Wales in the heart of the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere. This section of the Coastal Way follows the A496 to Penmeanpool where you join the A493 south towards Machynlleth - a total  of 58 miles. 

Starting at the exquisite Italianate village of Portmeirion, a magical place designed by Clough Williams-Ellis tucked neatly into a headland overlooking the River Dwyryd. The village was the surreal location for cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner and it’s a hugely popular day-trip.

On the route south along the A496, check out Harlech Castle, a World Heritage Site (8 miles drive south of Portmeirion). Harlech Castle was built in the late 1200s and now looks slightly marooned on its rocky plinth. The famous song ‘Men of Harlech’ commemorates an epic siege in the 1460s, when the castle held out for seven years, the longest siege in British history. 

Bounded by tree-covered hills and misty mountains, the Mawddach Estuary (‘the loveliest in Wales’) reveals jaw-dropping vistas as it winds its way towards the sea at Barmouth. Barmouth is a busy coastal town just 11 miles south from Harlech. It’s also a popular spot with wading birds and gulls, so don’t forget your binoculars.

Barmouth was a hard-working, ship-building, slate-exporting port until 19th century tourists took a shine to its mountains-meet-sea charms. Nowadays it’s Southern Snowdonia’s most popular resort, with big beaches and splendid views up the Mawddach Estuary.

Rising up into the hills behind Barmouth is Dinas Oleu (birthplace of the National Trust). There is a circular walking route which takes you from Barmouth town centre through the steep narrow winding streets of the Old Town and up to the top of the gorse-covered hill, known as Dinas Oleu (Citadel of Light). As you make your way upwards, dramatic views over the Mawddach Estuary and Cardigan Bay - stretching towards the Llyn Peninsula - unfold. 

Take the toll bridge across the estuary at Penmaenpool and join the A493 coastal route and south past Fairbourne and on to Tywyn, and drive of 24 miles from Barmouth. Tywyn is known for the historic Talyllyn Railway which runs inland from Tywyn Wharf to Nant Gwernol on the edge of Abergynolwyn village.

Its a short drive of 4.5 miles south to Aberdyfi which is the subject of a popular Welsh folk song, ‘Clychau Aberdyfi’ or ‘The Bells of Aberdyfi’, which refers to the legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod, a submerged kingdom beneath Cardigan Bay.

Drive inland to the ancient capital of Wales at Machynlleth, 10.5 miles from Aberdyfi to crossing the River Dyfi. You can continue south on the A487 to Aberystwyth, a pier-and-prom Georgian/Victorian resort and the largest town in Mid Wales.

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  • Description of route - Portmeirion - Harlech - Barmouth- Tywyn - Aberdyfi - Machynlleth
  • Length of route (miles) - 58

Map & Directions

Road Directions

This scenic coastal driving route starts at Portmerion and then south to Harlech, Barmouth, Penmaenpool, Tywyn, Aberdyfi and ends in Machylleth. A total of 58 miles.

Southern Snowdonia Coast | Scenic Drive

Type:Car Trail

Portmeirion - Aberdyfi, Gwynedd, LL46 2YA

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Harlech town & castleHarlech, HarlechHarlech is a historic town on the Snowdonia coast which has fantastic beaches, Royal St David's - one of Wales' finest golf courses and Harlech Castle which a World heritage site.

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