Last updated on April 27, 2023 by Wandering our World
Porthcawl is a quaint and colourful town in South Wales known for being a great holiday resort for friends and family.
Home to many caravan and camping sites – including one of the largest trailer parks in Europe – you’ll never be too far away from sandy beaches, and in many cases, you’ll have them as your front garden!
It’s also a place steeped in history due to its origins as a coal port in the 19th century. There truly is something for everyone.
Luckily if you’re planning your own Porthcawl camping adventure we have everything you need right here. From what to expect at each campsite and any rules that exist, to the best places for food, and even what wildlife you could spot and what time of year is best to see them!
- Getting To Porthcawl
- The Best Campsites In Porthcawl
- Camping In Porthcawl: Rules, Regulations & Advice
- Things To Do When Camping In Porthcawl
- Places To Eat
- When To Go Camping: Weather, Wildlife & Events
If you’re planning to exclusively use public transport, use a journey planner like this one.
Porthcawl is popular during the summer. To avoid long queues or busy crowds, consider setting off early in the morning, or even a little before the holiday season starts.
Go via the M6 from Manchester, which will take you about 4 hours. From London, it’s about 3 hours via the M4. Keep in mind that there are some tolls on this route.
And from Edinburgh, going via the M6 will take you 7.5 hours. It’s only a measly 40 minutes from Cardiff however if you travel via the A4232 and then the M4.
From Belfast, your route will include tolls and a ferry, as well as passing through the Irish border. It also takes 9 hours.
From Manchester Piccadilly Station a train direct to Pyle will take 4 hours. From here take the 63 bus to John Street in Porthcawl (20 minutes). Other buses include the 404 and the 172 from Bridgend.
Or from London, Paddington get a train to Cardiff Central and then take the X2 Cymru Clipper coach to Lias Road in Porthcawl.
From Edinburgh, it’s not as easy and will take about 9 hours as you navigate over 10 changes, so you’re much better taking a plane to a city in England and going from there.
And from Cardiff, it’s an hour-long journey on the train to Pyle and then 20 minutes on the 63 bus.
Many coach operators like National Express, Alfa Travel and even Stagecoach will host seasonal excursions to places like Porthcawl from cities like London and Manchester.
From Cardiff, coaches can cost just £5 to Porthcawl. It takes longer but it is the cheaper option.
Some Of The Best Campsites In Porthcawl
Have a look at the websites linked to check availability and specific pricing. Also, make sure that the site allows pets if you are planning to bring them along.
Brooklands Leisure Park
Brooklands Leisure Park Camping is a large green space surrounded by wildlife ideal for caravans. You can also pitch your tent here.
It costs around £25 per night, but there are no toilets, showers, or water, so come prepared.
Brodawel Camping and Caravan Park
Brodawel Camping and Caravan Park is just a short walk from the beach and is set in the beautiful Welsh countryside. You’ll find standard pitches, electric pitches, tent pitches as well as pitches for motorhomes.
Facilities include toilets, showers, laundry, a shop, and a restaurant. Nearby you’ll find the Brooklands Leisure Park with a variety of amusements.
You’re also near Ogmore Castle. Low-season costs are around £35 a night.
Sandy Bay Campsite
Set on the golden and sandy coast of Porthcawl is Sandy Bay Campsite. Pitches include electric and standard pitches, as well as pitches for tents and motorhomes.
Facilities include toilets, showers, laundry, a shop, and a restaurant. Here, the beach will be your back garden for the duration of your holiday.
Trecco Bay Holiday Park
Trecco Bay Holiday Park is set on a Blue Flag beach with views of the Bristol Channel.
The biggest holiday park in the UK, it’s ideal for families with facilities like a swimming pool, a gym, a golf course, a play area, a bar, a restaurant, and a shop. Other facilities include toilets and showers.
There are pitches for tents, caravans, and motorhomes, with electric and standard options available.
Camping in Porthcawl: Rules, Regulations & Advice
The following is a guide: make sure you follow the individual rules of your chosen campsite.
Free Camping in Porthcawl
Free camping is generally not allowed in Porthcawl or Wales. There may be some exceptions, for example, if you are in a National Park, but you must check on an individual basis.
Some National Parks do not allow camping, and some simply tolerate it, but only if you leave no trace and only spend one night. In short, you need landowner permission.
If you really want a free camping experience, you can visit this site to join a club with an annual membership fee that will find you landowners that are happy to let you stay on their plot for a while.
Looking After Yourself & Nature
Whether you’re pitching up a tent or hooking up a caravan when camping in Porthcawl, you should aim to leave no trace of your stay.
This means leaving no litter behind, and fully putting out any fires – throw water, stir it, and water it again. Use designated fire rings or a fire pit.
Help protect the surrounding environment by washing or going to the toilet at least 30 metres away from any natural sources of water, so you don’t contaminate or disturb wildlife. Bury any waste. Tampons and pads should be taken with you – animals can dig them up.
Use organic toiletries and cleaning products without harsh chemicals – many supermarkets now sell soap bars (to reduce plastic waste) and organic cleaning products to help clean out your tanks. You can also now find biodegradable baby and disinfectant wipes.
Leave everything as you see it – this includes rocks, trees, pebbles, burrows, wildflowers etc. Watch out for any underfoot nests. If you disturb something endangered, you could be fined.
Stay as quiet as is reasonable so as to not disturb other campers or wildlife. Always keep your pets with you, and don’t feed any wild animals as they will become a nuisance and/or become ill.
To protect yourself from biting insects like gnats, midges, and mosquitos, wear long sleeves and use lots of insect repellent. You can also pitch your tent on high ground so as to avoid poorly drained and damp areas, which attract these insects.
If you want to make extra sure you’re avoiding these insects, you can even check the weather forecast and position your tent away from the direction of the wind. This way you won’t open your tent only to be greeted by an insect cloud.
Finally, make sure your tent is always closed, even if you’re just nipping out. You should also use non-fragranced products and seal away food, rubbish, and other waste. Remember that smoke deters insects too.
Watch out for ticks too. They latch onto your skin and burrow in, causing inflammation, itching, and possibly allergic reactions and even serious illness, including long-term diseases.
Wearing long sleeves and insect repellent reduces this risk. You can also remove ticks from the skin with tweezers – grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward steadily. Clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol.
Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, you may walk through fields of cattle. Just keep a good distance and don’t disturb them.
Read this overview of freshwater fishing rules in Wales. You need a rod licence if you’re over 13 years old and follow the rules of privately owned bodies of water.
Sea fishing does not require a licence but there are restrictions on what species and size you can keep.
Things to Bring
Make sure to take these things with you on your trip:
- A water filter
- Rubbish bags
- A filtered torch
- Warm clothing
- Waterproof clothing
- Insect repellent
- A fire pit
- First aid kit
- Plant-based/organic and non-fragranced toiletries
- Plant-based/organic cleaning products
Things To Do When Camping In Porthcawl
Porthcawl offers various beaches to experience when camping in the region, including the most popular beach Victoria Park Beach, as well as Parc le Breos Beach, Castel Coch Beach, Kenfig Pool and The Mumbles.
Victoria Park Beach is just what you would want from a Welsh beach: a large sandy expanse that slopes into the sea, with a promenade of shops and restaurants not too far away.
Parc le Breos Beach (western end of Porthcawl) is similar but smaller, quieter, and popular with swimmers and rockpoolers.
At the eastern end of Porthcawl is Castell Coch Beach, made up mostly of rocks and with unruly waters – perfect for surfing (responsibly!).
Just on the outskirts of Porthcawl is Kenfig Pool, a saltwater lagoon ideal for swimmers and wildlife watchers.
The Mumbles is a peninsula also just outside of Porthcawl, home to three bays that boast great beaches to explore.
There’s nothing better than playing golf with family and friends as the sea breeze blows around you, and there are various places to do this in Porthcawl, such as Porthcawl Golf Centre, The Warren Golf Course – set in beautiful woodland – and The Crazy Golf Centre for those looking for a more vibrant game, and The Pirate Golf Centre – great for the little ones.
Plenty of Amusements are to be found in Porthcawl, including Coney Beach Amusement Park, where you can expect traditional seaside rides for the whole family, like The Dodgems, The Waltzer, The Teacups, and Bumper Cars.
There’s also The Big Wheel, which is a giant Ferris Wheel boasting wonderful views of the Bristol Channel.
The most popular museum in Porthcawl is the Porthcawl Museum. Here you will find out about the town’s interesting history as a coal port and its role in the Second World War.
Volunteers that work at the museum will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Entry costs £2.50 for adults and 50p for children.
The Promenade, which stretches 3 miles along the coast, not only offers views of the Bristol Channel but also offers amusements to entertain the kids and places to eat.
This includes arcades and fish and chips. And why not have a picnic on one of its benches as you watch the sunset?
Places To Eat
The Prince of Wales
In Kenfig, you may come across The Prince of Wales pub, which serves classics like burgers, fish and chips, and pizza alongside your beer or cola. They also serve Sunday lunches.
Prices start from £4 and go up to £14. It’s the ideal place to go after a long walk, and dogs are welcome in certain areas of the pub.
The Seagull Inn
A little cheaper is The Seagull Inn, which is very much family-friendly, and has a terrace overlooking the sea.
Here you will be served dishes like burgers, fish and chips, pizzas, steaks, pasta, and seafood alongside your drink. There are also vegetarian and vegan options available.
Dockside Bar and Grill
For casual restaurant dining you can visit Dockside Bar and Grill, where locally sourced and fresh ingredients are used.
Their menus are seasonal, but you will find staples such as steaks and burgers, as well as delectable desserts, any time of year.
It’s a little pricier than a pub (£12-£25) but great if you’re looking for a meal out. Veggie options are available.
For pure Italian food visit Isabella’s. Of course, you will encounter classics such as pizza, pasta, and risotto, as well as a range of appetisers and desserts.
There are a few menus, including set menus and a drinks menu with a range of beverages to choose from. Veggie options are available.
The Angel Inn
Finally, The Angel Inn serves modern British food in a gastropub atmosphere. Dishes include steaks, fish and chips, curries, Sunday lunches, desserts, pies, cheeseboards, and seafood.
Prices start from £6 and reach around £18. You can also grab a pint here. Veggie options are available.
When To Go Camping In Porthcawl
The following is a guide to help you time your trip to Porthcawl perfectly.
Porthcawl has quite a predictable and temperate climate with cool, wet winters and mild, wet summers. The average annual temperature is 10 degrees C, and the average annual rainfall is 1197mm.
The warmest month is July, with an average high temperature of 17 degrees C, and the coldest month is January, with an average low temperature of 3 degrees C.
Take averages with a pinch of salt and play it by ear, because summers can reach up to 40 degrees C during heatwaves, and winters can be way below freezing.
The wettest month is January, and the driest month is April, with an average of 51mm of rain. Expect rain every month of the year!
The best time to visit for warm weather is during the summer months of June, July, and August. However, the weather is unpredictable, so it is always a good idea to pack a raincoat and umbrella, even if you are visiting during these warmer months.
Porthcawl is a great place to birdwatch at all times of the year, with species such as seagulls, terns, ducks, herons, and swans always about (less so in winter, during the migratory season).
Rarities can be spotted in springtime for the more eagle-eyed birdwatchers, such as the European serin, Eurasian stone-curlew, ring-necked duck, and wagtails.
In woodland areas around Porthcawl, you may spot rabbits, foxes, badgers, and deer. Early spring is the best time to see mammals like these, as mating season begins. These animals do not hibernate during winter.
Other mammals and birds include various species of mice and bats, but these are most active at dusk and during the night. Owls are also only active at night as they are out hunting.
Other wildlife in Porthcawl includes fish like mackerel, bass, and cod, as well as insects like butterflies, bees, and dragonflies, which are most active during the warmer months. At Ogmore River, you may see salmon, trout, and eels swimming about.
- Porthcawl Jazz Festival is held in April and features many jazz musicians from around the world.
- Porthcawl Flower and Music Festival is held in May and features a flower show, a music festival, and family-friendly activities.
- Porthcawl Rock Festival is held in June and features a variety of rock bands from around the world.
- Porthcawl Sea Festival is held in July and features a range of maritime activities, including a boat show, a seafood festival, and a sandcastle competition.
- Porthcawl Photography Competition is held in August and features a variety of photography exhibitions and workshops.
- The Nottage Beer Festival is held in September and features a mix of local and international beers.
- Porthcawl Elvis Festival is held in September and features a variety of Elvis tribute artists, as well as other family-friendly activities.
- Christmas markets will take place every year with a selection of stalls selling crafts, food, drinks, and gifts.