The unique, privately-owned Italianate village of PORTMEIRION (daily 9.30am–5.30pm; Web: www.portmeirion-village.com ; £6) is set on a small rocky peninsula in Tremadog Bay. Perhaps best known as "The Village" in the 1960s cult British TV series The Prisoner, Portmeirion was the brainchild of eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis, and his dream to build an ideal village using a "gay, light-opera sort of approach". The result is certainly theatrical: a stage set with a lucky dip of buildings arranged to distort perspectives and reveal tantalizing glimpses of the seascape behind.
In the 1920s, Williams-Ellis bought the site and turned an existing house into a hotel, the income from this providing funds for his "Home for Fallen Buildings". Endangered structures in every conceivable style from all over Britain and abroad were brought here and arranged around a Mediterranean piazza: a Neoclassical colonnade from Bristol, Siamese figures, a Jacobean town hall, a campanile and a pantheon. Painted in pastel shades of turquoise, ochre and buff yellows, it is continually surprising, with hidden entrances and cherubs popping out of crevices – eclectic yet never quite inappropriate.
More than three thousand visitors a day come to ogle in summer, when it can be a delight; fewer in winter, when it seems just bizarre. Other than buying Prisoner memorabilia there's little to actually do, so bring a picnic and spend the afternoon exploring the lovely grounds. In the evening, when the village is closed to the public, patrons at the opulent, waterside Portmeirion Hotel (Tel:01766/770000, Web: www.portmeirion-village.com ; Price: £150) and the chic Victorian "castle" Castell Deudraeth (same contacts; Price: £150) get to see the place at its best – peaceful, even ghostly.