Portmeirion in Wales could easily be mistaken for a village in Italy

·2-min read
Photo credit: Edward Haylan
Photo credit: Edward Haylan

As you arrive in the unique village of Portmeirion and wander through its quaint streets of pastel-coloured buildings you could be forgiven for thinking you'd arrived on the Italian Riviera.

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Set in rural North Wales, this picturesque destination is just outside the boundaries of the stunning Snowdonia National Park.

So what is this story of this unique village that looks distinctly Mediterranean, despite being right on our doorsteps here in the UK?

Photo credit: Ramiro Olaciregui
Photo credit: Ramiro Olaciregui

The village was the vision of the influential architect and landscape designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. His vision was to build a town inspired by a Mediterranean piazza and when he found a site close to his hometown in North Wales, his dream became a reality.

He acquired the site in 1925, and work soon began on developing Portmeirion. Williams-Ellis wanted to show that a naturally beautiful area could be developed in a way that wouldn't spoil the surrounding scenery and actually enhance the environment.

Endangered buildings and artefacts from all around the world were brought to Portmeirion and reconstructed as the grand porticoes and brightly coloured terracotta-roofed houses you see today.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

This passion project took around 50 years to complete, and today it delights tourists from all over the UK and further afield throughout the year, although it's especially wonderful for a sunny summer holiday. Visitors love to stroll around the streets and see the colour-washed buildings, the pretty central piazza and the verdant gardens.

The subtropical forest here is well worth a visit, too. It's home to some of Britain's largest trees, a derelict castle and a selection of rare flowers, with 70 acres of lush greenery to explore.

You'll also find wonderful white sandy beaches on the Dwyryd Estuary, which Portmeirion overlooks and where you can spend time exploring hidden caves and gullies or simply relaxing with an ice cream.

Photo credit: joe daniel price - Getty Images
Photo credit: joe daniel price - Getty Images

When the weather is less Mediterranean than the architecture, there is still plenty to do, with excellent restaurants, shops, a town hall with a 1950s style café, and a spa offering a range of treatments.

Tempted by a trip to this eccentric Italianate village? You can visit on Prima's five-day heritage rail tour of Wales, with departures between May and October 2022.

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