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Wales packs in an extraordinary amount of beauty for such a small country. Home of epic mountains, mile-after-mile of staggering coastline, and endless rolling valleys, something spectacular is never too far away here.
From the wild beaches of Pembrokeshire to the broken peaks of Snowdonia, the gentle countryside of Monmouthshire to the rugged cliffs of the Gower Peninsula, Anglesey’s deserted pebble coves all the way down to the awesome Brecon Beacons, its diverse landscapes draw thousands every year.
In and amongst, you’ll find cosmopolitan cities, like Cardiff and Swansea, and pretty little towns, such as Dolgellau and Tenby, tucked beneath mountains or overlooking the sea. Centres of Welsh culture, art and history, where a warm welcome comes as standard, and the unmistakable song of the Welsh language tinges conversation.
From brilliant beaches and magnificent mountains to cultured cities and tiny towns, Wales isn’t short of wonderful things to see and do.
Best things to do on a weekend break
Wales has plenty of options for a weekend break. Walkers tend to head straight to Snowdonia National Park, home to Wales’ tallest mountain and a sprawling network of hiking paths. Other hiking options include the Brecon Beacons in the country’s southeast, the green hills of Monmouthshire just outside Cardiff, or the area around Barmouth on the west coast.
For a city break, capital Cardiff is the country’s hotspot for culture and nightlife, while Swansea is a top spot if you’re after a break with a beach. North Wales, around Llandudno, and over on the isle of Anglesey, is ideal if you’re after a weekend by the coast.
Best things to do for families
When it comes to family holidays, Wales is a dream destination. It’s almost impossible to get bored!
For a bit of adventure, take the kids surfing down on the Gower Peninsula at Llangennith beach. Down in Pembrokeshire, the kids will love coasteering – a crazy combination of swimming, climbing and jumping – and seal spotting near Strumble Head.
For little ones, there are medieval castles galore, with some of the most dramatic at Cardiff, Conwy, Welshpool and Caernarfon. With rare animals, like tigers and snow leopards, the Welsh Mountain Zoo at Colwyn Bay is another top idea for young kids.
Best walks in Wales
A country of tremendous natural beauty, Wales is not short of a good walk or two. If you’re into mountain summits, the Pony Path up Mount Snowdon, is one of the most popular in the country. The Carneddau (also Snowdonia), the highest range in the country; Cadair Idris (Southern Snowdonia), a much quieter mountain with sweeping views; and Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons are other adventurous options.
When it comes to coastal walking, few places in the world can compare with the rugged beauty of Pembrokeshire. Walks from Porthgain to the Blue Lagoon, to Stackpole and to Strumble Head are some of the best.
Best restaurants and bars in Wales
For homely country pubs with a bit of character, try any of the following: The Glengower, Aberystwyth; The Boat Inn, Redbrook; The Druidstone Hotel, Pembrokeshire; and Tŷ Coch Inn, Porthdinllaen.
After something a little fancier? Heaney’s, Cardiff; BrewStone, Swansea; Medina, Aberystwyth; Beach House, Oxwich; and The Whitebrook, Monmouthshire, are great picks.
Head to either Ten Mill Lane or The Dead Canary for cocktails in Cardiff. For craft ale, Beer Riff Brewing, Swansea; Bottle and Barrel, Aberystwyth; and Blue Sky Café, Bangor are worth the stop.
Best attractions in Wales
A tiny Italian fishing village on the coast of Wales? No, you’ve not had too much Welsh ale – you’re in Portmeirion. The fanciful brainchild of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the resort town was built to mirror the Amalfi Coast and comes complete with its own gelateria.
Up in northwest Wales, Anglesey is a wonderful spot for a day trip. Connected to Wales by the impressive Menai Suspension Bridge, the island is as quaint as they come, with tiny fishing villages and hidden beaches aplenty tucked away along its coastline.
Other must-visits include Snowdonia National Park, The National Museum Cardiff, The Mumbles in Swansea, Llandudno’s Victorian promenade and beach, and the pastel-coloured village of Tenby on the south coast.