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A colourful rainbow of houses scattered amongst hills and cliffs, surrounding a charming harbour

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You'll understand the appeal of this little town as soon as you set eyes on it. A colourful rainbow of houses are scattered amongst its hills and cliffs, surrounding a charming harbour.

Colourful houses in Tenby
Photo by shirokazan
Tenby is notable for being one of the few remaining walled towns in Britain. A good portion of its defensive battlements are still standing, including an imposing gatehouse known as "Five Arches". They were built by the English in the 13th century, to defend against a Welsh rebellion. Since then the town has gone through many different guises. It was once an important seaport, thanks to its sheltered bay, and in 1566 it received Wales' first ever shipment of oranges from Portugal. Later, it became a renowned Georgian health resort, famous for its healthy seaside walks. Tenby didn't become popular with tourists until the Victorians began flocking here, but ever since then it has remained one of the country's top destinations.

Five Arches in Tenby
Photo by net_efekt
The locals have gone to great lengths to preserve their town's old, quaint atmosphere. Cars are banned from the centre during the summer, and the cobbled lanes are still full of independent cafes and shops. One of the best things to do here is to just wander the streets and alleys, exploring all of the hidden corners. If your legs get tired, you can always hire a rickshaw, or a horse and cart, which will take you on a tour of the town centre.

Restaurants, Pubs and Cafe's in Tenby
Photo by Cubwolf (Dave Smith)
Keep an eye out for the old, historic buildings, which are scattered throughout the town. These include the Tudor Merchant's House, which is in the care of the National Trust. The interior is an accurate recreation of a 15th century home, which is sometimes attended by staff in full Tudor costume! Another old building that's hard to miss is Tenby Castle. It stands on a hilltop that sticks out towards the sea, interrupting the town's main beaches. While only one tower still remains, you can still see what a strong military position this fortress once commanded.

Tenby Castle
Photo by El Tonio
To find out more about the local area, and its past, pay a visit to Tenby Museum. It first opened in 1878, making it the oldest independent museum in Wales. The building now also contains an art gallery, which displays many works by local artists.
If you want to explore Tenby's beautiful coastline, you can take one of the many boat trips from the harbour. These vary from fishing expeditions, to wildlife cruises for birds, seals, or dolphins. One of the most popular trips is out to the nearby Caldey Island, just a couple of kilometres away. This calm, quiet place is famous for its monastery, which has its roots in the 6th century. The monks are happy to receive visitors, so you're free to explore the abbey buildings. There is also a free guided tour, as well as an informative video centre. But for a real insight into life at the monastery, you can attend one of the daily services, and take part in the prayers.

Boat Trips from Tenby Harbour
Photo by georgeowensfx
Of course, another way to relax is to throw down your towel, and have a long sunbathe on one of Tenby's beaches. The area has won several Blue Flag awards for cleanliness, making its sands among the best in the entire south coast. Once you add the colourful houses, the town walls, and interesting old buildings, it seems unsurprising that Tenby is one of Wales' most popular seaside towns. Interestingly, its Welsh name, "Dinbych-y-Pysgod", translates as "little fortress of the fish", which actually seems like a perfect description.

Tenby's North Beach
Photo by Cubwolf (Dave Smith)
Visitor Information
The Tudor Merchant’s House Tenby Museum is open is open daily (closed during Winter weekends and over Christmas), from 10am to 5pm. Entry costs around £4 for adults, £2 children. Castle Hill, Tenby SA70 7BP. Tel: 01834 842809

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