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Driving from Holyhead to Fishguard (with side trips to Llandudno and Cardiff)

My husband and I intend to take our car on the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, drive down the Pembrokeshire coast and take the ferry back from Fishguard to Rosslare. We are thinking of buying a camper some time in the future, so we wanted to stay in a few along the way. I know there is a nice campsite at Caerfai Bay (St Davids is the end-ish stop and the reason for the trip). I also know the entire Pembrokeshire coast is a walking path. I'd like to stop at Whitesands Beach, and possibly Snowdonia, and my DH wants to go to Cardiff (I'd prefer Swansea, but am willing to compromise-) but we want to take about a week in mid-late September and we don't want to break the bank. Any suggestions on where to stop/spend the night? Thanks!
Sorry- we live in Dublin, and would be taking our own car- no rentals necessary!

Posted by
9110 posts

Hold your horses, you've about to screw up from the git go!

Part 1. If you take a rental across the Irish Sea in either direction it voids the contract and the insurance.

Part 2. There are car rental places at both Welsh terminals, but there's an agency compatibility issue. You can rent one for a week at either place for about twenty bucks a day, but to rent between them ups the price to close to fifty per.

Facts and Semi-facts:
. Both ferries take about the same amount of time
. Fishquard is twice a day, I think Holyhead is more frequent, plus it has a choice of two lines
. I don't know what Rosslare has in the way of rental places
. You can drive from Fishquard to Holyhead in four hours, more or less

. The Pemprokeshire path is now part of the national path, and probably the best part
. I won't get into the Swansea/Cardiff squabble, Fab can balance the two better than I
. Llandudno doesn't seem to fit your mix, the best thing about it is that it has a Nero coffee joint
. I don't camp unless I have to, but there's good B&Bs and rural hostels all over the place
. With a week, you can do a lot more than the west coast, you could actually loop the Principality -- essentially following the coast and the old drovers' trails in a big oval

Posted by
2 posts

We live in Dublin, so would be taking our own car- no rentals needed! I've been to St Davids but my DH hasn't. He has been to Llandudno, but I haven't and have always wanted to go. Neither of us are "gotta fit ALL the tourist traps into 6 hours" type. We both prefer to go where the locals go, eat where the locals eat. We like to just wend our way and soak in the spirit of a place. Starting at Holyhead and finishing at Fishguard just seemed like the logical thing to do when we just want to drive the coastline (kinda like driving California 101 or the A1A in Fla-).

Posted by
9110 posts

Well, you could have saved me a lot of darn typing.

You could still do a loop of the whole place in a week without being rushed -- in which case one ferry port might make sense. In September you won't see much but natives (and idiots like me chasing megaliths out in the middle of the sheep fields) .

Posted by
1875 posts

What is the point of somebody from Dublin crossing to Holyhead to return from Fishguard and then be driving north through places in Ireland with which they would already be familiar? Far better to go across to Holyhead, do Snowdonia and then drive south-eastward through Wales (A470 = very scenic) to stay in the Brecon area (1 hour N of Cardiff) or push on & stay on the edge of Cardiff. Then, having done SE Wales, head for Pembrokeshire for 2 or 3 nights before heading back up the west coast & back on the ferry from Holyhead. That way, you have done a complete 'circuit' of Wales seeing new places rather than part of the journey being in your homeland.

From Fishguard to Cardiff would be 2 hours of non-stop driving so I would rule that out as a day trip. Swansea as a city is just not worth bothering with. Much of the centre got flattened in the war and the re-build used horrible 1950's architecture. Yes, Swansea does have a lovely position on a bay & a couple of nice parks such as Clynne Gardens & Singleton botanic garden but really it just ain't worth a visit. The only reason to drive through Swansea would be to reach the stunning Gower peninsula just to the west of the city. Rhosilli is considered to be one of the World's best beaches but the peninsula has a whole load of attractive beaches.

If you want cheap accommodation, then you could consider - certainly for Snowdonia. Caernarvon or Porthmadog would be good Travelodges to stay but Caernarvon only has on-street pay parking (I think) whilst Porthmadog has guaranteed free parking outside the door. will have links to accommodation sites including camping grounds. (Nights in September can be quite cold). I would also consider B & B or Farmstays.
Whilst in Snowdonia, I would definitely visit Portmeirion.

On leaving Snowdonia, I suggest you take the A470 to SE Wales. The Brecon area could make a good base as it is very scenic & about 1 hour's drive from Cardiff. However, it would be pushing it to see everything in the Cardiff area in one day. In the city centre - you have loads of shops in Victorian arcades as well as modern malls + Cardiff Castle and The National Museum of Wales. Then, 1 mile south, is Cardiff Bay with waterside restaurants, the Wales Millennium Centre (Opera House/Concert Hall), Norwegian Church, Dr.Who centre. Around the edge of Cardiff is Caerphilly Castle, Castell Coch & St.Fagans Castle / Museum of Welsh Life. If staying in Cardiff, you might also like to take a day trip to Bath as it is only a 1 hour journey. (You might like to use the train as parking in Bath is 'tight'). Do not stay in a central Cardiff Travelodge = noisy clubs & no free parking. A couple of hotels are located near M4 J32 which would be handy for those with a car. (You could commute into central Cardiff by train from Taff's Well or Radyr station if you wished).
For those with Caravans / Campervans, a nice site exists in Pontcanna Fields = about 1 mile NW of Cardiff Castle.

If you have stayed in the Brecon area, it is avery pleasant drive - mainly on the A40 to Pembrokeshire. If you have stayed in Cardiff, you can reach Pembrokeshire by using the fast M4 & A48. However, you may wish to take a detour from either route to visit the National Showcaves of Wales - about 1 hours drive NW of Cardiff or 40 minutes W of Brecon.
Also on the way to Pembrokeshire, you might like to detour to Carreg Cennen Castle near the village of Trapp. (Take first left going N form Caves - cross the mountain - then L at T junction & you can reach it via backroads - if you are really smart).

In Pembrokeshire - consider staying near Tenby as this is the most attractive resort. Stunning cliffs & Bays just S of Bosherston = 30 min drive W of Tenby.

On drive up W coast, Aberaeron is worth a look as is the coast road via Barmouth & Harlech.

Google the places I have mentioned see Google Earth.

Posted by
9110 posts

I don't know where the Caernarvon Travelodge is, but about the only free unrestricted parking in town is two spots along the Menai. One is on the outer wall of the recreational marina, the other at the northeastern corner of Castle Ditch. Sometimes there's a little on Church Street.

Posted by
9110 posts

Then it's maybe a hundred yards east of the marina.

Posted by
16883 posts

Looks like you've had some relevant advice. Happy driving!

Posted by
1341 posts

If you are looking for Travelodge/Premier Inn type hotels, I'd look at Bangor in North Wales. It is close by the Menai Bridges, a University City and has both with off street parking at these types of hotels. As a base personally I would look at Bangor before Caernarfon for Gwynedd and Anglesey. The Travelodge is on the A55/A5 junction with Premier Inn out towards Caernarfon.