On a natural promontory of great strategic importance, beguilingly old-fashioned TENBY (Dinbych-y-Pysgod) is everything a seaside resort should be. Narrow streets wind down from the medieval centre to the harbour past miniature gardens fashioned to face the afternoon sun, and steps lead down the steeper slopes to dockside arches where fishmongers sell the morning’s catch.

First mentioned in a ninth-century bardic poem, Tenby grew under the twelfth-century Normans, who erected a castle on the headland in their attempt to colonize South Pembrokeshire and create a “Little England beyond Wales”. Three times in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the town was ransacked by the Welsh. In response, the castle was refortified and the stout town walls – largely still intact – were built. Tenby prospered as a port between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, and although decline followed, the arrival of the railway renewed prosperity as the town became a fashionable resort.

Today, wandering the medieval streets is one of Tenby’s delights. The town is triangle-shaped, with two sides formed by the coast meeting at Castle Hill, and the third by the remains of the 20ft-high town walls, built in the late thirteenth century and massively strengthened by Jasper Tudor in 1457. In the middle of the remaining stretch is the only town gate still standing, Five Arches, a semicircular barbican that combined practical day-to-day usage with hidden lookouts and angles acute enough to surprise invaders.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Wales features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

6 must-visit places in Wales you've probably never heard of

6 must-visit places in Wales you've probably never heard of

For a small country, Wales offers incredible diversity – and many of its (beautiful) landscapes and experiences remain surprisingly undiscovered. From pristin…

19 Sep 2017 • Emma Gibbs insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
6 of the best road trips in the UK

6 of the best road trips in the UK

There is something about a road trip that creates an endless state of heightened excitement. It comes with a heart-in-mouth, funfair-like thrill. And no matter …

11 Apr 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook