We love exploring the many beaches in North Wales.
They have everything you could want from a beach, whether it’s wild Welsh scenery, miles of sand for the kids to run along, somewhere to surf or kayak or just chill out in peace.
You often yearn for what you can’t have, and we’ve spent the last few months locked down in Europe, far away from the North Wales beaches we love – and indeed any beaches at all.
So we’ve had time to reminisce, and come up with this list of the best beaches in North Wales.
We’ve also veered slightly off piste to include some of the best Cardigan Bay beaches along the Wales west coast, to include the beaches either side of the Dovey estuary in Mid Wales, the southernmost point of the Snowdonia National Park.
Our guide to the best North Wales beaches begins with a run-down of the top beaches by type (family-friendly, scenic, and so on). We then describe 30 of the most beautiful beaches in North Wales in detail.
Make sure you read the whole list as we have featured many of the best beaches in North Wales that are only known to locals. These are some of the very best places to visit in Wales.
- 1 Our Top 6 Best Beaches in North Wales
- 2 Newborough Beach
- 3 Dyffryn Ardudwy Beach
- 4 Porth Dinllaen
- 5 Llandudno North Shore Beach
- 6 Llandudno West Shore
- 7 Dinas Dinlle Beach
- 8 Aberdesach Beach
- 9 Traeth Penllech Beach
- 10 Aberdaron Beach
- 11 Porth Neigwl
- 12 Abersoch Beach
- 13 Criccieth East Beach
- 14 Portmeirion Beach
- 15 Glaslyn Beaches
- 16 Morfa Harlech
- 17 Llandanwg Beach
- 18 Barmouth Beach
- 19 Aberdovey Beach
- 20 Ynyslas Beach and Dunes
- 21 Malltraeth Beach
- 22 Rhosneigr Beach
- 23 Porth Dafarch Beach
- 24 Cemlyn Bay Beach
- 25 Traeth Lligwy Beach
- 26 Talacre Beach, Point of Ayr
- 27 Rhyl Beach
- 28 Best Beaches in North Wales for Familes
- 29 Best Beaches in North Wales for Wild Scenery
- 30 Best Remote Beaches in North Wales
Our Top 6 Best Beaches in North Wales
1. Porth Iago Beach
Porth Iago (pronounced ‘yaggoe’) is one of our favourite Wales beaches, a gorgeous secluded sandy cove that gets very few visitors.
This is because it’s next to private land where you have to pay 5 GBP to park.
It’s a steep price but we’d pay again and again tò spend time in this pocket of paradise, with its soft golden sand and crystal-clear turquoise water. One of our favourite places in Wales to visit and of the very best beaches in North Wales.
2. Porth Oer Beach
Porth Oer is better known as Whistling Sands beach, and for many it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in North Wales.
Its English name came about because the sand crackles and whistles beneath your feet as you walk on it. Porth Oer is a few miles north of Aberdaron village, on the north coast of the peninsula.
The National Trust car park is on the hill above, so it’s a short walk down to the beach from there.
There’s a souvenir shop in the shop, housed inside a concrete bunker that, in fairness, has been very discreetly tucked away in the corner of the beach.
There’s actually a ‘second’ beach, which you’ll discover either at low tide or if you walk along the clifftop path to the end.
3. Llanddwyn Island
Visiting Llanddwyn Island – Ynys Llanddwyn in Welsh – is one of the absolutely best things to do in North Wales.
Very few places in the country – and, for that matter, Europe – come close, which is why it’s near the top of our Wales bucket list.
Llanddwyn is a small tidal island off the south-west coast of Anglesey, best approached by the stunning walk along Newborough Beach, with continuous views of the jagged peaks of Snowdonia and the Llŷn Peninsula.
It’s around 40 minutes’ walk in total from the Newborough car park to the tip of Llanddwyn, where you encounter two beautiful secluded beaches, each with a white lighthouse.
The island is named after Santes Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, and you pass her ruined medieval chapel on the way to the beaches. One of the best day trips in North Wales.
4. Church Bay Anglesey
Church Bay – Porth Swtan – is one of the best beaches in Anglesey – and there’s huge competition.
It’s on the north-west coast of the Isle of Anglesey, facing Holyhead across the bay. It’s a lovely sandy beach backed by cliffs with plenty of rockpools to explore.
The tiny straggling village is scattered around the network of narrow lanes, and just above the beach is the last remaining thatched cottage on Anglesey, Swtan, which is now a small rural life museum.
The area is one of the best places to go in North Wales, with some great coast walks to the north towards Carmel Head and our next beach, which is well within reach. It’s one of our favourite beaches in North Wales.
5. Harlech Beach
I’ve always rated Harlech Beach one of the best beaches in Wales.
I tend to think of it as the northern cousin of Rhossili Bay, one of the Gower beaches ‘down south’ to the west of Swansea.It’s an enormous sweep of sand stretching for several miles, and if anything, the view – whisper it – is even better than at Rhossili, with the whole Snowdonia range before you (weather permitting).
6. LLanbedrog Beach
Llanbedrog beach is one of the best sheltered beaches in the region, and it’s one of the best places to visit in North Wales with kids.
It’s a wonderfully enchanting place at the bottom of a leafy lane, with a stream trickling alongside and a bistro right next to the beach.
To your left is a long row of picturesque painted beach huts, and the right a forested, shady peninsula with just an old white stone house reflected in the calm waters. It’s an idyllic place well worth the £5 parking fee. It’s one of the best beaches. inNorth Wales for families.
I’ve introduced many people to Newborough Beach, in the south-west corner of Anglesey, and most of them have come back to me saying it’s possibly the best beach in Wales.
It’s part of a series of long beaches along this section of the Anglesey coast. It’s a very wide sandy beach with dunes behind and jaw-dropping views across Caernarfon Bay to western Snowdonia and the Llŷn Peninsula.
You reach it along a road from Newborough Forest from Newborough village: there’s a wooden viewing point right next to the car park.
If you’re thinking of planning some days out in North Wales, have a late breakfast or early lunch at the Marram Grass Café then an afternoon at Newborough and Llanddwyn.
Dyffryn Ardudwy Beach
Dyffryn Ardudwy beach is really three beaches merging into each other – the dune-backed Morfa Dyffryn Nature Reserve, Bennar and Llanenddwyn beaches.
I’ve always found the area an unusual mix, with its many ancient monuments and burial chambers, rugged mountains and some of the best beaches North Wales has, together with some of the biggest caravan parks and campsites in North Wales.
This series of beaches is fantastic. I’m not a fan of the caravan parks, but in fairness they don’t encroach on much of this long stretch of beach.
Along with a trip into the remote Rhinog mountains, a day at the beach here makes for one of the most rewarding days out in North Wales.
Porth Dinllaen beach is one of the most remote Llŷn Peninsula beaches, tucked in the leeward side of a peninsula that’s home to one of the best golf courses in Wales, Nefyn & District.
It’s one of the most beautiful villages in North Wales, around ten houses huddled near the shore of a lovely beach. One of these happens to be the Tŷ Coch Inn, one of the best pubs in Wales.
The beach is literally five metres from the pub, so despite its seclusion it rarely fails to draw a small crowd.
At low tide you can walk along the beach from nearby Morfa Nefyn – at this level the sand tends to get a bit muddy. The beach is at its best around halfway between low and high tide. Even when the weather is wild and the waves are lashing the western side of the peninsula, the water in Porth Dinllaen Bay is calm.
Llandudno North Shore Beach
North Shore beach Llandudno is one of the best-known beaches Wales can boast, stretching all the way between the Great Orme and Little Orme headlands.
The beach is sandy at the Great Orme end, and it’s mainly shingle the rest of the way, with some sand at low tide. One of the most popular things to do in Llandudno is to walk along part of the promenade, which is lined with grand Victorian (19th century) hotels, with an ornate pier at the Great Orme end.
Llandudno has been known as the Queen of Welsh Seaside Resorts, and there’s plenty to see and do, with or without kids. For the best view of the town, head up the path to the Great Orme.
Llandudno West Shore
West Shore beach Llandudno is a much quieter affair than nearby North Shore simply because most Llandudno attractions are concentrated around the latter.
West Shore is a broad sandy beach with an alternative view of the Great Orme headland, and views across Conwy Bay to the Carneddau mountains of Snowdonia.
Conwy Castle is three miles (5 km) around the corner and upriver.
Llandudno makes a great base for exploring North Wales, with the mountains and Betws-y-Coed almost on the doorstep.
Dinas Dinlle Beach
A trip to Dinas Dinlle beach is one of the best things to do near Caernarfon.
It’s a magnificent windswept spot a few miles south of Caernarfon and its Castle, backing onto Caernarfon Airport.
At low tide it’s a shingle and sand beach, expanding massively as the tide ebbs away. It’s overlooked by a rapidly eroding Iron Age fort, and has unforgettable views south to the triumvirate of peaks of Yr Eifl (known as ‘The Rivals’) in English.
It’s a stupendous location, one of the reasons I’ve always rated it among Wales’ best beaches.
A few miles south of Dinas Dinlle and closer to the looming peaks of Yr Eifl, Aberdesach is another beautiful Llŷn Peninsula beach, and the north Llŷn coast is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Wales.
Aberdesach is a tiny hamlet next to the main A499 road, and its beach is a mixture of sand, shingle and pebbles.
If you’re on a day trip to Caernarfon Castle and want to relax on a local beach afterwards, you can’t do much better than this.
Traeth Penllech Beach
Traeth Penllech is another secluded, utterly unspoilt beach on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula.
We once stayed in a farmhouse at the adjacent Porth Colmon cove, and fell head over heels with this wonderful place.
It’s one of the real hidden gems of Wales, secreted away down country lanes near the village of Llangwnnadl.
It’s a long crescent of light-coloured sand with plenty of rocks to explore at either end. One of the best Welsh beaches you’ve never heard of.
Aberdaron village is a remarkable little place, the departure point for medieval pilgrims on the treacherous boat crossing to Bardsey Island, the Isle of 20,000 Saints, and one of the best Welsh islands to visit.
The outstanding beach sits below the august church of St Hywyn, where the Welsh poet R S Thomas was parish priest until 1978.
The Ty Newydd Hotel also backs onto the beach, the outside deck giving superlative views.
It’s a beautiful wide sandy bay, and it’s worth the long journey to get there, the area around is full of some of the best things to see in Wales.
Porth Neigwl – also known as Hells Mouth beach – has long had a reputation as one of the best Wales beaches for surfing, and it often draws visitors from across the border in England, well over two hours’ drive away.
Hells Mouth is incredibly remote, a long narrow sweep of sand best seen from Mynydd Rhiw or the intriguing National Trust house Plas yn Rhiw, high above on the road to Aberdaron.
It’s always very quiet, partly because families opt for the more sheltered beaches nearby. Abersoch is also very close by.
Abersoch has long been of a slightly different cachet to the rest of the Llŷn Peninsula, as we mentioned in our article on the best villages in North Wales.
Prices tend to be that bit higher than elsewhere, and there’s more in the way of boutique Abersoch accommodation than in other places nearby.
But it’s undeniable that Abersoch is one of the North Wales best beaches, with fantastic sand, clear water, some great quirky old beach huts.
It’s ideal for families, with the water ideal for paddling, swimming or snorkelling. You can often get boat trips from the southern end of the main beach too.
Criccieth East Beach
Criccieth, on the south coast of the Llyn Peninsula, has two beaches, East and West, either side of its formidable seaside castle.
East Beach is the sandier of the two, and has marginally the better view of the Castle. The beach is a mixture of sand and shingle, with pebbles taking over the further you head away from the Castle.
It’s one of the most scenic castles of North Wales, a ready-made postcard view if you ever saw one.
There are also plenty of cafes and a Cadwalader’s ice cream shop close to the Castle entrance. One of the most enjoyable days out North Wales has to offer.
The beach at Portmeirion is either vast or not there at all. If you happen to visit Portmeirion village at high tide, the sands of the Dwyryd estuary are submerged.
But at low tide, it’s a different world, and one of the best things to do in Portmeirion is the walk on the sand past Hotel Portmeirion and around the peninsula. Just don’t try walking across the estuary to the island, Ynys Gifftan, where incoming tides can make things very tricky.
The beach’s official name is Traeth Bach – meaning Little Beach. It looks amazing at sunset from high up on the hill across the river at Llandecwyn.
The Glaslyn estuary to the south of Porthmadog joins the Dwyryd (which passes Portmeririon) on its way into Tremadog Bay and the Irish Sea.
On its way it passes the pretty village of Borth-y-Gest, which is less than a mile (a shade over 1 km) from Porthmadog town centre.
Borth-y-Gest is a lovely spot, but is more of a harbour than a beach. Follow the path around the cove and continue along the estuary footpath. Here you’ll reach the Pen-y-Banc nature reserve, where you’ll encounter a couple of gorgeous small beaches.
It’s one of the most pleasant places to visit in North Wales, with fine estuary and mountain views to savour.
Morfa Harlech beach is the northern continuation of Harlech beach (see below). At low tide it’s a vast area of sand, backed by one of the few sand dune areas in the UK that is still growing.
It’s part of Morfa Harlech National Nature Reserve, a haven for wildlife and rare flora.
You’ll probably have this huge beach to yourself, as it’s a long walk (over 3 km) from the car park next to Harlech Beach.
The views across the estuary and towards Snowdonia are astounding.
The coastal region between Harlech and Barmouth is the ancient area of Ardudwy, known for its mountains, its sparse population and its extraordinary sandy coast.
Llandanwg beach is 2 miles (3 km) south of Harlech, and is a more varied beach than its neighbour, with more rocks and pools to explore.
There’s also a tiny medieval church in the dunes, dedicated to local St Tanwg, which is occasionally open in the summer months. The scenic outlook to the mountains is magnificent.
Barmouth Beach is one of the finest in northern Wales, and of the many things to do in Barmouth, it’s the top draw in this quirky little seaside town.
At one end of this great Cardigan Bay beach you’ll find a small summer-only funfair, fish and chips, candy floss, amusement arcades, ‘kiss me quick’ hats, the whole British seaside works.
We also love it for the views of the Mawddach estuary from the dunes at the southern end, looking inland towards the brooding hulk of Cadair Idris, one of the best of all Welsh mountains.
Also try to explore the hidden lanes and backstreets of this most intriguing of North Wales towns.
Aberdovey – spelt Aberdyfi in Welsh – is the last southern outpost of the Snowdonia National Park, overlooking the extraordinary shifting sands of the Dovey estuary.
The beach starts on the estuary side of the town, continuing around to the sea and north past the golf course to Tywyn, where the Dysynni River meets the sea.
It’s one of those fantastic beaches with something for everyone, from picturesque fishing boats at the one end to wide open sand ideal for kite surfing at the other.
It doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, but it’s one of the best Welsh beaches, with enoughn space to stroll for hours.
Ynyslas Beach and Dunes
Ynyslas is the southernmost beach on our list, very much a part of Mid Wales, and the county of Ceredigion.
We’ve included it as you get a great view of it from the Wales Coast Path as it passes over the hills above Aberdovey.
Ynyslas is one of the best places to go in Mid Wales, a huge dune system at the northern end of a stupendous beach it shares with the village to the south, Borth.
The Ynyslas end is sparsely visited, and the area around Borth tends to get busier. There is also a petrified forest on the beach around Borth village, which is revealed at exceptionally low tides.
Malltraeth Sands is the northern continuation of Newborough beach, continuing along to the broad Cefni river estuary.
It’s one of the largest sandy beaches in North Wales, and because of its seclusion you’ll normally have a lot of it to yourself.
Rhosneigr has two beaches of quite different character. Traeth Crigyll is the more sheltered of the two, the culmination of a dune system that stretches 2 km or so inland.
It’s a beautiful spot, its vast sands an adventure playground for kids at low tide, with an abundance of rockpools.
Rhosneigr’s other beach, Traeth Llydan (Wide Beach) is one of the most popular Anglesey beaches.
It’s on the end of the full force of the south-westerlies that prevail in this part of the world, and the watersports there – especially surfing and kite surfing – are among the best things to do in Anglesey.
I’ve seen it get very blustery there, perfect conditions for surfers who flock there from the north-west of England for the waves.
Porth Dafarch Beach
There is some serious coastline packed into Holy Island (Ynys Gybi in Welsh), the small island off the west coast of the island that contains the port of Holyhead.
Porth Dafarch is a small, perfect package of a beach between the wide flat expanse of nearby Trearddur Bay and the soaring precipices around South Stack lighthouse.
For me it’s one of the best small beaches Wales has with great sand, rockpools, spectacular scenery and great for watersports including sea kayaking.
Cemlyn Bay Beach
Cemlyn Bay Anglesey is a haven for wildlife, and is massively popular with birdwatchers.
The beach is a steep bank of shingle, best walked along the top of the ridge. It shelters a lagoon where birds regularly nest, and there is also rare plant life around the water and on the shingle, including rare spiralled tassleweed.
The birds – including Sandwich tern, common tern and Arctic tern – can usually be seen in summer, most likely July.
The large, incongruous cubic block to the east of the beach is the old Wylfa nuclear power station site.
Traeth Lligwy Beach
Traeth Lligwy is across the island of Anglesey from Cemlyn Bay, on the east coast.
It’s a couple of miles north of the pretty fishing village of Moelfre, and the first of a run of excellent sandy, quiet beaches up to the tranquil Dulas estuary, which include the serene Traeth yr Ora beach.
Traeth Lligwy is a wide, spacious beach with dunes behind and rockpools near the shore. There are also many of the most interesting things to see in Anglesey nearby, such as Moelfre, its ancient sites nearby and the scenic Mynydd Bodafon, one of the best viewpoints on the island.
Talacre Beach, Point of Ayr
Talacre Beach North Wales is a wonderful surprise, hidden away behind the sand dunes stretching east from the seaside town of Prestatyn.
Point of Ayr is the northernmost point on the Welsh mainland, and it’s an immense sandy beach with a most unusual feature, a lighthouse on the sands.
I only visited once, just as the drizzly murk was descending from the nearby Clwydian Hills, but was still rather taken by the place. There are a couple of holiday parks in Talacre, so it’s quite popular for short breaks in North Wales.
If you’re restricted to mainly flat seaside walks, this is one of the best walks in North Wales for you. Hands down one of the best things to do in Flintshire.
The seaside town of Rhyl, on the north Wales coast around an hour’s drive from Liverpool, has seen better days. It has become pretty run-down over the last few decades but still has one of the prime North Wales attractions in its beach.
It’s a superb beach for kids, and as the tide retreats hundreds of fascinating rockpools form, great for crabbing. I was amazed at the sheer positivity of the some of the people I met there, and they gave me a bit of a soft spot for the place. I hope it sees better days.
It’s not somewhere I’d suggest staying, but several of the best places to go in North Wales are close by, including Rhuddlan Castle.
Looking for more fun things to do in Wales ? Find them here
Best Beaches in North Wales for Familes
Church Bay, Barmouth Beach, Ynslas Beach, Abersoch Beaches, Benllech Beach, Newborough, Llanbedrog Beach, Rhyl Beach
Best Beaches in North Wales for Wild Scenery
Dinas Dinlle Beach, Porth Oer Beach (also known as Whistling Sands) , LLanddwyn Island, Barmouth Beach, Harlech Beach
Best Remote Beaches in North Wales
Porth Iago Beach, Traeth Penllech Beach , Church Bay, Morfa Harlech Beach