They say the best things come in small packages, and that’s certainly true of Wales, a diminutive hidden gem of peaks and valleys that encourages relaxation and exploration in equal amounts. Famed for its wraparound coastline, stunning mountain vistas and veritable cornucopia of medieval castles, Wales, with its celebrated ‘Wales Coast Path,’ a 1400 km dedicated coastal path that is the first of its kind in the world, promises a uniquely special vacation filled with fun and adventure.
From the epic mountains of the north to the buzzing urban centre of the south, culture, castles and cuisine are the order of the day for Wales vacations. There is no better place for a truly unique and relaxing getaway break!
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Discover the Natural Wonders of the North
Brimming with natural beauty and rolling landscapes that beg to be explored, a trip to Snowdonia National Park is an absolute must-do for any Wales trip. From the steep hiking trails of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, to a somewhat less strenuous stroll around the waters of Llyn Pardarn, the vast Snowdonia National Park has something for every fan of the great outdoors. If hiking is not a favourite past-time, feel free to take the weight off with one of Snowdonia’s many railway tours. A trip on the popular Snowdon Mountain Railway journeys to the very summit of Snowdon, while the Ffestiniog railway hugs the mountainside as it chugs its way through forests, lakes and waterfalls. When it’s time for a break, be sure to make time to visit one of the many postcard-pretty villages dotted round Snowdonia National Park: Betws-y-Coed is well worth checking out for its stunning Swallow Falls waterfall alone.
They say one could spend a whole year in Wales and visit a different castle every day – and that is no exaggeration. In fact, it’s an understatement. Wales boasts more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe, with numbers estimated at up to six-hundred, many of which lie in ruins. It is little wonder then that Wales is sometimes referred to as the ‘castle capital of the world.’ Some castles to check out on a Wales vacation include the medieval Conwy Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Penrhyn Castle and Garden in Snowdonia, and Caernarfon Castle, an imposing medieval fortress built by King Edward I of England in the 13th Century.
Next up is Portmeirion, a colourful Mediterranean-style village that doubles as one of the most popular attractions in Wales. Famous for its popular music festival Festival N°6 and for its appearance in the 1960’s TV show The Prisoner, Portmeirion is unique in appearance and unlike anywhere else in Wales. Top tip: Be sure to indulge in a gelato at Portmeirion’s very own Angel Gelataria.
For somewhere a little more off the beaten path, head to the island of Anglesey, a place of great natural beauty and home to the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, famous as the place with the longest town-name in Europe.
Savour the Urban Centre of the South
A visit to the coastal capital city of Cardiff is an absolute must-do when you travel to Wales. With a whole lot of attractions on offer, including the National Museum of Wales and the Principality Stadium, home to the Wales national rugby union team, there is a whole lot to pack in to a getaway break in the so-called City of Arcades. One of the capital’s top attractions is Cardiff Castle, an impressive medieval monument, which just happens to be located right in the city centre. Dating back to the 11th Century, the castle features a unique animal wall and is said to be the site of a number of spooky happenings. Why not take a late-night ghost tour of the castle for some seriously eerie times! Speaking of castles and hauntings, nearby Caerphilly Castle, with its spooky ‘Green Lady’ and haunted maze is also well worth a visit.
Conveniently located opposite Cardiff Castle, cheese specialist Madame Fromage is the place to go if you’d like to indulge in some of the culinary delights Wales has to offer. Why not try its signature Welsh Rarebit, made with two types of cheddar cheese, along with a hearty helping of Cawl, a traditional Welsh soup consisting of potatoes, root vegetables and meat. For a Wales tour with a difference, embark on a culinary tour of the capital with the award-winning Loving Welsh Food.
Picturesque Pembrokeshire with its beautiful coastline, rugged and wild, is one of the highlights of southwest Wales. A beach-lovers dream, Pembrokeshire boasts no less than fifty beaches, many of which are hard to find, difficult to reach, and known only to the locals. Nolton Haven, a secluded sandy beach in Saint Bride’s Bay is worth seeking out for total seclusion away from the crowds, while Marloes Sands, famous for its spectacular scenery and breath-taking views, achieved superstar status in 2011 when it featured in the Hollywood movie Snow White & the Huntsman.
It may have beaches galore, but Pembrokeshire also boasts a very impressive and historically significant castle. The birthplace of King Henry VII, privately-owned Pembroke Castle is open to the public, and offers a guided tour of its great halls, prison towers and medieval dungeons. Top tip: Climb to the top of the Great Keep, which stands at an impressive eighty foot high, for great views out over Pembroke and beyond.
For something completely different when you travel to Wales, pay a visit to the West Wales Museum of Childhood. With toys that date from as far back as the 18th Century, an outing to this quirky museum is guaranteed to take visitors on a nostalgia-filled trip down memory lane.
Want to discover more? From coastal escapes to city breaks Authentic Vacations has got you covered with a host of Wales Vacations: Get started today!