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Solo traveller from Chicago to Wales seeking seaside village experience...

Yes-I confess, I'm in love with the Port Isaac vistas shown in "Doc Martin". I don't want to do a lot of tours; I would like to stay put in one or two places and get to know the people of the village(s).
Any suggestions? I am a good walker and a light packer, if that helps.
Thank you so much for your suggestions!

Posted by
1294 posts

I assume you know Port Isaac isn't in Wales. It is in Cornwall.

Many of the charming villages in Wales (and the only ones I'm familiar with) are so charming that they attract a lot of tourists, so I don't know if you're going to get the chance to connect with villagers in any of these places.

I was in Colwyn Bay a while back. It's not exactly a tiny village, but the people were very friendly. Conwy is probably the most attractive town I was in, but it's pretty popular with tourists.

I think you might do best to pull up Google Maps and Wikipedia and check out each town along the Welsh coast until you find one that seems to fit what you're looking for.

Is there a reason you don't want to actually go to Port Isaac?

Posted by
3 posts

Oops-I realized a moment ago that Port Isaac is in Cornwall.. I guess I thought Port Isaac would be a huckster's paradise and wanted to avoid that. I would like to stay there if it wasn't too touristy...

Posted by
703 posts

if you particularly want to see port isaac, I would say do it. last year we visited there ( they happened to be filming that day and my wife got to meet 'the doc') yes there were tourist walking around the town, but we were able to easily walk through the back lanes etc and really were unaware of any tourists. the coastal scenery there and at tintagel was spectacular. ( we stayed in padstow, it was easier with a car, for parking etc)
we also spent time in wales around the porthmadog area. we did not visit any coastal areas to compare to the cornwall area, though I am sure they exist.

hope this helps.

Posted by
1834 posts

I think you will need to clarify whether you wish to go to Wales or Cornwall. If Cornwall, then you should put your post in the England forum.

When selecting a place, consider how you would reach it without a car. Trains at
Also check

Many villages by the seaside have a high proportion of their cottages sold off as holiday homes for city slickers. You will also find many people on vacation or day trippers. Of course, these coastal villages & towns do have locals who are permanent residents.

For a seaside town in Wales, I would consider Tenby:>

If you are still thinking of going to Cornwall, I would consider Fowey.

Find the places on Google Earth to see where they are and how big.

Posted by
5817 posts

I think you might have a slightly overly optimistic view of British seaside villages!:-)
Seaside Villages in Cornwall and Wales are quite different in appearance so it might be worth doing a bit more research to identify what type of atmosphere you are looking for.

What you will find will vary depending on when you choose to visit. Popular seaside towns can be quite dead and closed up in the winter, and very busy, full of tourists, in the summer.
If you don't drive you will be limited by the availability of public transport . Public transport will generally only be available to the more popular, therefore busy, locations.

Tenby is a good suggestion, but again it definitely isn't quiet during the holiday season.

Regarding "getting to know the people of the villages", again this might be slightly optimistic. Why would they want to get to know you?! I say this as someone who was brought up in a tourist town. Don't get me wrong people will be friendly, kind, helpful etc but don't expect to build a relationship with all the "colourful locals". You will be just one of many that walks their village every year.

If you do choose to visit north wales be aware that the first language in many of the villages is Welsh. People do speak English but the chat you will hear in pubs, shops etc will be in Welsh, which will limit opportunities for interaction. Some people interpret this as rudeness/standoffishness. It isn't, but it can be a little offfputting to a visitor.

Another area worth looking at is Yorkshire. There are some lovely seaside towns and villages up there,.

Posted by
831 posts

St. David's at the western tip of Wales would fit the bill. Nice village (although technically the smallest city in the UK), good tourist infrastructure (but not over run with tourist), great seaside walks.


Posted by
533 posts

I recently had a very rewarding experience in the "English Riviera" (in south Devon) in late February that might offer some of the things you're looking for. It was quiet and pleasantly uncrowded in the off-season, but most things were still open and there was plenty to do. Two of the main towns - Torquay and Paignton - have National Rail stations, and there's frequent bus service (as in every 10 minutes in some cases) to some of the smaller towns and more rural areas.

It's a heavily touristed area in general, but again, less so in the winter, and it seemed like American tourists were almost unheard of: Almost everyone we met, upon hearing our accents and where we were from, asked "So what are you doing here?" That opened the door to some great conversations - the proprietor at our B&B telling us all about his trip to San Francisco, a waitress who served us dinner talking about why she lives in small-town England rather than London, and a couple of people asking us what we thought of Donald Trump. Hardly the beginnings of lifelong friendships, but still, some great conversations.

There are plenty of places to hike, both along the coast and inland, with beautiful scenery. The weather in February is fine for being outside (or maybe we were just lucky), as long as you have a sweater, a raincoat, and good shoes.

Posted by
97 posts

Years ago I stayed in Criccieth and really enjoyed it. I found it very easy to get around by bus and train to see the sights of North Wales.

Posted by
5817 posts

Criccieth ( pronounced "criketh" ) is a good choice. As is the even smaller village of Nefyn ( pronounced Nevin). Both are on the Llyn peninsula which is a nice area to explore, although they will be touristy in summer.

As I continue my informal lesson "teach the world Welsh pronunciation" :-)...Pronunciation of Llyn - the double L sound in Welsh doesn't have an English equivalent. It is like a lispy "cli" sound, air forced out of the sides of your mouth, so Llyn is kind of pronounced "clin" but not quite.
Here endeth the lesson.....

Posted by
2070 posts

Wales is fabulous. You can find numerous villages along the coast that are wonderful. St. Davids was my favorite of the places we stayed. It is called a city only because it has a cathedral, but it is very small. The cathedral is a bonus. If you go, look into staying at Ramsey House -- we loved it. The wonderful thing about St. Davids and the entire Pembrokeshire coast is that there are frequent buses all along the coast. You can hike as far as you want and hop on a bus to get back. Or take the bus out and hike back. And the hiking along the coast is stunningly beautiful. At night you can have a great dinner and beer in a pub, and it doesn't cost much. The Welsh people are very friendly too.

We also stayed in Criccieth. I don't think it has as much to offer as St. Davids (less restaurants and shops), but it is a great location for seeing the Llyn peninsula and Snowdonia. We stayed at Caerwyland Hotel which had lovely views of the beach and the castle (a small but picturesque ruin).