Dreaming of sandy beaches, mountains and historic towns? You need to visit Carmarthenshire, a beautiful county of Southwestern Wales.
There are lots of fun things to do in Carmarthenshire, including cycling, walking, shopping and sightseeing.
If you are looking for a UK break that is full of history, outdoor activities and stunning scenery, Carmarthenshire is definitely the place for you.
Whilst a weekend in Carmarthenshire might not initially seem like an exciting prospect to the more experienced traveller, there is actually plenty to offer visitors.
This coastal region is home to diverse landscapes, delightful gardens and estates, and delicious food by award-winning producers.
It’s definitely worth spending some time properly exploring this underrated part of Wales. You’ll be surprised by the range of activities and places to visit.
Carmarthenshire is located between Pembrokeshire and the stunning Gower Peninsula. This makes Carmarthenshire a fantastic base to explore the whole of South West Wales.
Disclaimer: Content created from a press trip with Discover Carmarthenshire
The three largest towns in the country are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford. These towns are definitely worth a visit if you are planning on spending time exploring this charming part of Wales.
There are also several market towns in the area where you can shop till your MasterCard gets declined.
Below is a map of destinations in Carmarthenshire that are featured in this article.
Go biking in Pembrey Country Park
Pembrey Country Park is one of Wales’s Top Visitor attractions providing a unique blend of coast and countryside.
The picturesque park features golden sandy beaches, woodlands, camping and a range of activities.
If you are looking for a day of tranquillity in Carmarthenshire, this is the peaceful spot for you.
Pembrey Country Park bike hire
One of the best things to do in Pembrey country park is to explore the area by bike. There are a variety of trails through the woods as well as the paths around Pembrey park that are suitable for families.
We decided to have a rather leisurely cycle around the park before heading out to join the Millennium Coastal Path and cycling for a good few miles towards Burry Port Harbour.
Pembrey Ski & Cycle centre bike hire cost
You can hire bikes from the Pembrey Ski & Cycle centre, located in the park. You will definitely need to call ahead and make a booking, as they have a limited number of bikes available.
Bike hire from Pembrey Ski & Cycle centre costs £17 per adult and £12 per child for a full day bike hire.
Learn to cook at Y Sied
Learn to cook in a converted cowshed at the innovative Y Sied. This modern-looking kitchen and coffee shop is the home to the Pumpkin Patch’ cookery and gardening school.
Local chef Lisa Fearne hosts a range of cooking classes for all ages for those looking to sharpen their kitchen skills.
Classes include a variety of cooking themes such as ‘gluten-free baking’, ‘parent and child cooking’ and ‘Welsh cookery’.
I love that there is even a ‘men only cooking class’ that you can send you fella on to learn the basics of cooking.
No more ‘sorry love, I have no idea how the oven works” nonsense. Sign him up and get him slaving over that stove ladies.
Explore Aberglasney Gardens
In an attempt to be more ‘grown-up’ of late, husband and I have taken to visiting more “heritage gardens’.
Nothing says ‘I am a fully functioning adult’, quite like pretending to be knowledgeable about horticulture and drinking tea from mismatched china in a garden cafe.
One of the finest gardens you can visit in Wales is Aberglasney Garden, a restored medieval house and gardens set in the Tywi valley.
The gardens made famous by the BBC TV series “A Garden Lost in Time” which documented its wonderful restoration.
Spend some time exploring the walled gardens, acres of expertly manicured horticulture and indoor Ninfarium.
If, like me, you have no idea what an ‘indoor Ninfarium’ is, it’s basically fancy garden-speak for a sort of indoor garden with a glass roof.
Things to do in Aberglasney Gardens
The Gardens not only contain pleasant walks but also tea rooms, a plant shop and a Cloister Garden.
Aberglasney also hosts several events and art exhibitions throughout the year. There are also a series of workshops, talks and musical events available if you are looking to get a bit more cultured.
You are already halfway there just by learning what a ‘Ninfarium’ is. You’re welcome.
For anyone interested in travel photography, Aberglasney is certainly one of the more Instagrammable places in Wales, especially during the spring.
Go chocolate tasting at Heavenly Chocolate Emporium
Chocolate fans will be delighted to hear that you can attend a chocolate tasting workshop in Carmarthenshire. I feel like I have waited my whole life to attend a chocolate workshop.
Heavenly Chocolate Emporium and Tea rooms hold regular chocolate-themed events including an evening of chocolate tasting with Tracey Kindred, a multi-award-winning chocolatier.
The evening starts with a glass of fizz and a brief history of chocolate and how it has developed through the ages. If only all history lessons could be chocolate-based, I’d be a freaking genius by now.
We then tried seven different types of chocolate from the store including dark and milk chocolate, seasonal ganache and truffles.
Heavenly Chocolate Emporium
My favourite part of this exercise was that I got to discuss, indeed, record my thoughts about each type of chocolate. How wonderfully bourgeois right? What a time to be alive darlings.
This was followed by a chocolate demonstration and a bit of history about the store and its wonderful chocolate.
Chocolate tasting Carmarthenshire
My favourite chocolate anecdote of the evening was centred around a type of chocolate bar they sell that has a 1950’s style wrapper with ‘Heavenly Chocolate – feed your inner bitch’ written on it.
This had apparently displeased a local who was so outraged at the language used on the wrapper that they felt the need to slide the packaging under stores door, with a short note that expressed their fury.
The unsigned note reads: “To whom was responsible. We are returning your chocolate wrapper, which we find VULGAR!”
Interestingly the person wasn’t so offended that they didn’t eat the chocolate mind. They just returned the empty wrapper. Life sure is wild over in Llandeilo.
If this sounds like the sort of hilarious, chocolate-filled evening you would like to attend then tickets cost around £18 per person.
This prices also includes refreshments and a gift bag of truffles to take home. You can also make an evening of it and bring your own wine if you wish.
Go shopping in Llandeilo
The colourful market town of Llandeilo is a rather unexpected little shopping hotspot in Carmarthenshire.
The small town has an impressive variety of independent art galleries, boutiques and cafes to discover.
Admittedly, i’m not a huge shopping fan in general but even I was thoroughly charmed by the colourful buildings with slight tones of shabby chic.
What’s even more impressive is that shops here take their window displays very seriously here.
Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into making the stores look as inviting as possible and it really does work.
Window decoration will often follow the seasons, so make sure to visit during the Autumn and festive period when they are sure to be even more elaborate.
For independent shops, Llandeilo has to be one of the best shopping destinations in Wales. Stores range from ladies fashion, butchers, chocolate emporium, furniture, crafts, menswear and jewellers.
There is something for everyone in Llandeilo, whether you are looking for gifts or to spoil yourself. It should be noted that I am always looking to spoil myself.
Independent shops in Llandeilo include:
- The Little Welsh Dresser
- Barr & Co
- Chess Menswear
- Rig Out Boutique
- Igam Ogam
If you are hungry after a day’s shopping, there’s also a great selection of places to eat ranging from pubs, cafes, restaurants, take-aways, a deli and à la Carte meals at 4-star Hotels.
Have a picnic in the Carmarthenshire countryside
There are so many lovely locations for a picnic in Carmarthen. If the Welsh weather is on your side, you can pack a romantic picnic and set off to enjoy lunch in the great outdoors.
Why not pack a hamper full of local, Welsh produce? Read my post on What to Welsh produce to pack in your picnic hamper for inspiration.
Some of the best picnic locations in include romantic Scott’s Bay, the lofty Paxton’s Tower, mystical Brechfa Forest and the banks of the River Teifi at Cenarth.
Ginhaus offers an impressive variety of local artisan produce including Welsh cheese, ham and charcuterie boards.
They also have an incredible range of freshly baked bread, soups and cakes to enjoy.
Ginhaus can pack up your picnic for you and you can then find a nice spot outdoors to enjoy it from. I recommend the nearby National Trust Dinefwr Park & Castle.
Learn about history at Dinefwr Park and Castle
The historic castle is part of a natural nature reserve that is owned and maintained by the National Trust.
The castle is an iconic piece of Welsh history, it originally belonged to Lord Rhys, ruler of the ancient South Wales kingdom of Deheubarth.
The kingdom and the castle were fought over by a succession of Welsh prices and also by the English.
Today, its ruins act as a reminder of the turbulent years of Welsh history and English occupation.
On this extensive site, you’ll also find Newton House, a deer park and cafe. Newton House is a National Trust mansion that shows what life was life in the early 1900s.
The house has a range of exhibits that tell the story of the property. like a lot of other stately houses, you can touch things, sit on the furniture and fully immerse yourself in the surroundings.
If you are interested in learning more about the property you can book a guided house tour at the visitor centre.
There are several different types of tour available each showcasing different aspects of the house’s history.
You can choose from:
- Hidden House Tour
- Servants Tour
- Quirky Stories Tour
Lunch at Y Sied
Renovated barn turned cafe space Y Sied is known for its innovative cooking classes. It’s also a fabulous little lunch stop when exploring the Carmarthenshire area.
The venture is headed up by local Carmarthen chef Lisa Ferne. Lisa is a regular cook on S4C’s daytime Prynhawn Da and Heno programmes and on Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.
The interior design is achingly hipster chic with stripped-back decor, wooden beams and chalkboard menus.
The lunch menu contains a range of wholesome homemade food and traditional Welsh dishes including Cawl, soups and platters.
There’s also a great range of coffees, tea and delectable cakes to sample in laid back surroundings.
It’s not the cheapest of lunch venues in the area but the food and the service are totally worth the money.
Walk the Millennium Coastal Path
The Millennium Coastal Path is a 13 miles pedestrian walkway and cycleway along the south coast of Carmarthenshire.
The path is perfect, traffic-free way of exploring the scenic coastline and some of the best beaches in the UK.
Have a bracing seaside walk with and take in the many viewpoints along the way.
This route is super easy to walk or cycle on and provides a scenic link between Llanelli and Pembrey Country Park.
The cycleway is well maintained and is a brilliant cycle route for families and couples exploring Pembrokeshire.
Make sure to check what the weather is going to be like before you embark on a big walk.
Far too often in Wales, I rely on my relentless optimism instead of BBC weather. This has led to me being caught in the sort of sideways grey rain that makes you wonder if the rapture cometh?
Millennium Coastal Path routes
As the weather was remarkably pleasant, we decided to jump on the bikes we had hired from Pembrey and head to Burry Port Harbour for sea views and coffee.
There are several routes on this path that range in distance. Some of the routes include:
- Loughor Bridge to the Wetlands Centre, Penclacwydd, a 4-mile return trip.
- Wetlands Centre, Penclacwydd to North Dock, Llanelli, a 7-mile return trip.
- North Dock Discovery Centre Llanelli to Burry Port Harbour a 7-mile return trip.
I would really recommend stopping at Whitfords for a tea break if you are doing to the Burry Port route. It’s a lovely independent café and restaurant in Burry Port.
Learn about Welsh heritage in Llandovery
It always helps to learn more about the heritage and the culture of the place you are visiting. It can really help put a destination into the proper context.
This is especially true for Wales, as it has a long and complex history to unpack.
Here you can learn about how Llandovery has played a key role in Welsh history.
You can also get up to speed on local iconic figures such as Twm Sion Cati, the ‘Welsh robin hood’ and hymn writer William Williams Pantycelyn, he is best known for the words, ‘Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer’.
Ride the Heart of Wales Line
Catch the train from Llandovery to Llanwrtyd Wells and experience riding the Heart of Wales Line.
This scenic train line runs through the rural heartlands of Wales and connects smaller communities and rather rustic stations.
It’s particularly loved by day-trippers and walkers and you will see many of them on board, clutching walking poles and thermos flasks. Watch out for the spectacular viaduct crossing at Cynghordy!
Have dinner at the Plough Rhosmaen
The Plough Rhosmaen serves delicious local dishes cooked in an intriguing style. It recently won the Visit Wales Gold Award for its quality, comfort and hospitality.
Their ingredients are sourced locally and they strive to keep their food miles low. Nothing like a date night with a little sustainability thrown in right?
Plough Rhosmaen menu
Typical dinner dishes at The Plough Rhosmaen include ‘Celtic Pride chateaubriand for two’, ‘Pan-fried seabass fillet’ and ‘Moroccan mezze platter’.
If you aren’t too full from dinner, I would really recommend sampling their dessert menu.
They have a delightful range of highly instagrammable and indeed delicious desserts to feast on. They are almost too pretty to eat, almost. I do enjoy a chocolate-based challenge to be honest.
Go deer spotting at Dinefwr
See if you can spot elusive fallow deer at Dinefwr Park, an impressive 800-acre estate on the outskirts of the old farming town of Llandeilo.
There are several parkland walks in this beautiful part of Carmarthenshire that contain an array of Welsh heritage and natural history.
The estate has a surprising diversity of landscape including meadows, woodlands and open fields. Definitely put aside a good few hours to explore this enchanting area.
Bring wellies as well as it can get very muddy. It’s too late for me and my ruined shoes, but you can save yourselves!
The estate holds a hundred-acre medieval deer park where a herd of over 100 Fallow Deer roam.
If you are very lucky and very quiet, you might be able to spot these shy creatures and get some snaps.
If you visit in October, you’ll almost certainly be able to hear them as this is the lead up to the ‘rutting season’, so the bucks will be most vocal during this time.
Visit Dolaucothi Gold Mines
Spend the afternoon exploring ancient gold mines dating back to the Roman era at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Pumsaint in Carmarthenshire.
Pop on a hard hat and traverse atmospheric mines with one of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guides.
It really is an impressive skill to bring dark and eerie caves to life. The guides managed to paint a picture of life underground and the hardships and challenges miners would have faced.
The National Trust have done an excellent job of maintaining the remoteness and authenticity of the site, rather than turning it into an overly gaudy tourist attraction.
Where to stay in Carmarthenshire
From upscale hotels, guest houses, B&B’s, budget hotels and Airbnb’s there’s a huge range of accommodation in Carmarthenshire.
Some of the best places to stay in Carmarthenshire include:
Stay at Cambrian Escapes Cilycwm
Looking for a boutique cottage in Carmarthenshire? Book a stay at the fabulous Cambrian Escapes in Cilycwm.
Their charming site consists of three self-catering cottages surrounded by rural Welsh countryside.
These unique cottages are fully equipped with kitchen facilities, luxurious bathrooms, log fire and quirky antiques.
We stayed in their New York Cottage, it’s a rustic, mezzanine cottage that with original features, including a free-standing bath, lovely log burner and a veranda with views.
Their gorgeous cottages are perfect couples holiday destination in Wales. They are also a great location for star gazing and exploring Llandovery and the Cambrian Mountains area.
Stay at Basel Cottage
This is a self-catering and dog-friendly rural retreat located in the glorious Cambrian Mountains countryside.
Unwind in their converted, self-catering cottage that is fully equipped with everything you need for a countryside break. Pop a few logs on the fire and relax in cosy surroundings.
The Nest at Bentley’s
Why not base yourself in the market town of Llandeilo and book a luxury Airbnb?
Book The Nest at Bentley’s’ on Airbnb and spoil yourself with a boutique stay. The Nest is an upscale townhouse right in the centre of the town.
It was built in the 1830s and combines its original features with contemporary style and modern amenities.
We loved our stay in this conveniently located property, It’s a perfect base.
It has all the little luxuries of home and is also just a short walk or drive away from attractions and the surrounding countryside of Carmarthenshire.
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Why visit Carmarthenshire?
Carmarthenshire is a perfect staycation in the UK if you are looking for a mix of historic market towns, seaside, outdoor activities and great food
The region is also conveniently located for exploring the West Wales region if you are looking for a longer stay in Wales.
There are routes leading out to Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Breconshire, Swansea and the Gower.
What do you think of my article on brilliant things to do in Carmarthenshire? Are you planning to visit? Let me know in the comments below.
Planning your trip to Carmarthenshire
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