I know what you’re thinking when a trip to Wales is suggested. Mountains and castles.
Strictly, you’re right – Wales is home to an amazing range of mountains, including the superstar of Snowdonia, the walker’s dream of the Brecon Beacons and the fabulously named Sugar Loaf mountain. It’s also got over 600 castles (what?!) dotted across the land, a homage to the fact that Wales is a separate country from England.
But Wales is made of other stuff too – discovering beautiful places, exploring iconic wonders of nature and doing exciting things that we wouldn’t do at home. If you’re British, it’s the perfect place for a staycation; or if you’re an international traveller, it’s worth a side trip (the border of Wales is only about three hours from London).
If you need some inspiration, look no further! Here’s a list of some of the best Welsh experiences to have while here.
The Best Experiences in Wales
Tackle the obstacles at a floating aqua park (Martletwy, Pembrokeshire)
Bring your A-game to Wales’ first outdoor aqua park. It’s great fun – you can work your way around the floating obstacles at Pembrokeshire Wake Park, imagining you are on Total Wipeout, being cheered on by thousands of impressed viewers.
Obviously, they won’t be there when you slide off into the water by mistake so it’s a win-win for us. If you don’t have the competitive gene, try some wakeboarding or get dragged across the water with a pal on one of their fun Ringo Rides.
Fly across the sky at Zip World (Penrhyn Quarry, Bangor)
If you like to keep your adrenaline levels sky-high when away, head over to the fastest zip line in the world. Not only will you be treated to spectacular views as you are whizzing along over the bright blue lake of Penrhyn Quarry at speeds of 100mph, but there are lots of other exciting things to do. Trampolining disco extravaganza in a cave, anyone?
Take a waterfall walk and discover fairies and legends galore
You can’t come to Wales without experiencing the beauty of the country’s magnificent waterfalls – they’re definitely something to put on your UK bucket list. Whether you happen upon one of these magical cascades on a romantic walk or make a special trip to tour these stunning wonders of nature, you won’t fail to be entranced by their beauty.
Look out for fairies at the enchanting Fairy Falls near Llanrwst, discover the legends of Devil’s Bridge Falls near Aberystwyth and enjoy a scrumptious afternoon tea at Tan-y-Pistyll – ‘the little house under the waterfall’ – in the Berwyn Mountains.
Make a splash with some wild swimming in Snowdonia
An activity you usually associate with the fjords of Norway or the warm waters of Mexico, you can find your own secret spot nearer to home in enchanting Snowdonia. Discover glistening lakes, flowing rivers and whimsical waterfalls, all waiting for you to strip off and jump in.
Dive into the deep green pool of the magical Blue Lagoon in Moel-y-Faen, channel your inner Lara Croft at the filming location of Llyn Gwynant and watch out for naughty fairies in the remote lake of Llyn Du’r Arddu. Finish off with a picnic in the sun as you dry off.
Stargaze under the clear dark skies of the Brecon Beacons
Marvel as blankets of glittering stars come alive by night at the International Dark Sky Reserve of the Brecon Beacons. Discover huge expanses of sky by joining an organised stargazing event or just wrap up warm, grab your binoculars and head out with friends to see them for yourself.
Study the constellations before you go, so you know what to look out for and keep an eye out for the Perseid Meteor Shower which peaks in mid-August.
Check into The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence (Port Talbot)
If you want quirky, we’ve found it. This is no building full of ancient exhibits in glass cabinets though – the museum is actually a two-bed flat in Port Talbot. Those committed to the humble orange bean should continue regardless and immerse themselves in the Heinz Kitchen and the Branston Bathroom at this unique museum.
This museum is the brainchild of world-record holder Barry Kirk aka Captain Beany from Planet Beanus, (who sat naked in a bean-filled bath for reasons we can only imagine), and is one for the committed.
Discover Celtic mythology and folklore as you go cave hunting underground
Wales has some absolutely fantastic caves and mines to discover, many with tales of Celtic folklore to get you in the mood. Kayak under glowing stalactites, hop aboard an eerie boat tour with the hooded boatman through King Arthur’s Labyrinth, or book an adventure with Go Below in Snowdonia where you will spend hours exploring with zip lines, cave climbing and abseiling. Our favourite by far!
Discover secret Wales at the beautiful village of Portmeirion
An Italianate village inspired by a little fishing resort on the Italian Riviera, you wouldn’t believe this stylish spot is in the UK. The beautiful architecture, rustic golden colours and exotic gardens will make you feel like you’ve just stepped out of a 1950s Fellini film.
The village is home to a cluster of ancient cottages as well as stylish shops. a spa, award-winning restaurants and laid-back cafes with plenty of delicious food and drinks to offer, right by the beach!
Where to Stay in Wales
After a day of adventures in Wales’ outdoor playground, there’s no better place to rest your head than in a lovely holiday cottage. There are many cottages in the area that are more than just a place to sleep, and become an intrinsic part of your holiday in Wales!
One of the most highly-rated accommodation providers in the area is Sugar & Loaf. They have a fabulous selection of cottages in Wales, whether you want to escape to a hut in a magical forest, swing between trees above a glistening stream or cosy up in a stone cottage with its very own hot tub.
How to Get to Wales
The nearest Welsh border is about a three-hour drive from London. Alternatively, you could take a train or coach to Cardiff or other main destinations in Wales, and then transfer to local services. If you are travelling from abroad, some European cities fly to Cardiff airport; also fairly close to Wales are Bristol airport (if visiting the South of Wales), Birmingham airport, Manchester airport and Liverpool airport (if going to the North of Wales).
You may, however, want to rent a car while in Wales – it will make exploring the country a lot easier!
Wales Travel Tips
- Wales is a pretty safe area of the UK, and everyone is very friendly. Don’t hesitate to stop and ask people for advice if you need!
- The Welsh have a strong sense of national identity, so do be aware of this while travelling around so you don’t offend anyone – ie. don’t call anyone English!
- English is the main language, but in Northern Wales, Welsh is spoken. This sounds nothing like English, so don’t worry if you can’t understand it! If you’re in an area where Welsh is common and can learn ‘hello’ and ‘thankyou’, the local people will love you for it.
- The Welsh currency is the British Pound and the plugs are three-pin British plugs.
I hope this post has enticed you to visit Wales! If you’re travelling around the UK, be sure to check out my other posts in the area – I’ve lived in Bristol, Bath and London and have lots to share! – and follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook for more!