There’s a lot to demystify about Wales. Steeped in a rich history of druids, medieval castles and wartime conflicts, with curious local cuisine menu items such as Welsh Rarebit and Bara Brith, national emblems that include a dragon, spoon and an odd-shaped ball, Wales dares to beg a closer look for the tourist and traveller alike.
Beyond this, Wales is also a land luscious in nature, abundant in National Parks that hark to fairytale like landscapes, sky kissing mountains and endless coastlines. Bountiful is a word that comes to mind when thinking of things to do Wales.
Whether you’ve contemplated visiting Wales already, or are yet to be enlightened about this British Isle, read on for a touch of the best places in the country, where to visit and things to do in Wales. It’s everything you wished you knew before visiting this slightly undercover destination.
Places to visit in Wales
Portmeirion is a true example of beautiful places in Wales. Nestled in amongst exotic woodlands Portmeirion is a quaint holiday town and the brain child of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.
Built in two stages between 1925 and 1976 Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’ vision for Portmeirion was to demonstrate how a pristine part of nature could be developed in harmony with its surroundings. What resulted is an enchanting village, Italian inspired, with tall bell towers, cobbled streets and white washed buildings tucked in amongst the greenery of its surroundings.
A visit to Portmeirion places you in a state of wonderment and with over 225,000 visitors making the trip here each year it’s easy to see it’s certainly a slice of the best of Wales that’s not to be missed when you next visit.
Pembrokeshire should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Wales, but more specifically the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, which spans across Wales’ south-western coast, should be your key destination when visiting this area.
It can easily be said that Pembrokeshire is one of the most enchanting places in Europe and it is certainly one of the best places to visit in Wales. The wild and rugged coastline is home to some of the most diverse wildlife that can be found in Europe (bird watchers rejoice), there’s also plenty of Welsh medieval history to dip your toe into and the cute Welsh fishing villages along the way provide a rare glimpse into a unique part of the Welsh way of life.
CAT (The Centre for Alternative Technology)
When you’re deciding on where to go in Wales CAT (The Centre for Alternative Technology) may not have been the first thing that came to mind as a place to visit. But anyone who knows about this centre definitely knows better. Based on a 7 acre piece of land CAT works towards educating and enabling people to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
As a great alternative for places to visit in Wales you’ll be well fed on local, fair trade food, the kids will be entertained with arts, crafts and activities and you’ll be all the better for the educational information you pick up on the environment and sustainability. Top tip, jump aboard the water powered train!
Envisage soft green pastures that roll on into the sunset, sandstone peaks, quiet canals and magnificent waterfalls and you have Brecon Beacons. Another top attraction in Wales, Brecon Beacons is a National Park abundant in both leisure activities and luxury indulgences.
Take a hike up Pen-y-Fan and you’ll be greeted with a well deserved view out over the rolling vista. As far as picturesque canals go you also can’t get much better than Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, jump aboard a boat for the afternoon, sit back relax and take note of the Heron, Kingfishers and Woodpeckers flying by.
Stop in at St Iltyd’s Church to picnic at lunch or for a more refined experience there’s also a good few Michelin Star restaurants in the region. For something a little different try out some food foraging too! Just be sure to do your homework or take a local with you so you know what makes for good eating.
If you’re seeking out the best of Wales then of course Snowdonia will be on your wish list of destinations. A huge National Park that spans the northwest of Wales, the landscape plays home to expansive glaciers, lakes, picturesque valleys, craggy peaks and the highest mountain in England and Wales, Mount Snowdon Peak.
The hike up Mount Snowdon Peak is a mighty one, but the view that rewards you at the top is one of those images you’ll keep in your mind’s eye long after the experience. Abundant in outdoor activities and rich in local culture (you’ll find over half of the population speak Welsh!) Snowdonia is a true reflection of beautiful Wales. Ink this spot into your itinerary.
Making the most of the diversity of Wales a trip to the island of Anglesey is one of the best places to go in Wales. Spotted with plenty of grand estates, (including one that plays holiday home to Wills and Kate!), Anglesey is a place of great popularity. The rolling green hills give way plummeting cliffs and pebble stone or sandy beach shores that entice adventure and relaxation alike.
You’ll also come across plenty of ancient castles for a wander back in history. Be sure to visit Beaumaris Castle, built in the 13th century as a medieval stronghold by Edward the I it is one of the most impressive to be found in Wales. If you’re seeking outdoor activities cycling and walking opportunities are abundant across the countryside and coastal areas too.
Things to do in Wales
Hiking and walking
With Wales being so rich in nature it is a mecca for hikers and walkers. The trails are well maintained and walk you through mountain ranges, medieval historical sites, untouched coastlines and wide open landscapes that melt into the horizon. Some top recommendations are Bala and Penllyn in Snowdonia, Ynys Gybi in Anglese and the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.
Although you’ll need to jump into a thick wetsuit against the cold when surfing in Wales, the waves make it well worth your while. Check out the best surfing spots in Wales shared by local surfers and you’ll realise there’s plenty of options in Wales for both beginner surfers to gain confidence in the swell and experienced wave lovers to get their fill of barrels.
Mining is a big part of Wales and with that comes quarries. When the quarries have run their course you’re left with a huge hole in the ground which fills with water and is made use of by locals for swimming! A top recommendation for trying out quarry swimming is Blue Pool at the Golwern Quarry. Surrounded by jumping rocks that fall off into an expansive turquoise blue pool you can easily laze away a whole day here solo or with a group or family. A real local’s thing to do in Wales.
This is really just a snippet of all the things to do in Wales. If your Wales wanderlust has been piqued you best make you way there on your next trip!