Get your adventure on, we’re rounding up the best places to visit in Wales that will make you want to pack your bags. Wales is often overlooked by its surrounding destinations like England, Ireland, and Scotland, but once you visit this tiny country on the west coast of the United Kingdom you’ll wonder why you never thought to visit Wales earlier!
We had the pleasure of doing many amazing adventures during our time in Wales. After getting our adrenaline on, we understand why many people call it the adventure capital of Europe. The Welsh are a quirky bunch who like to jump off things, bounce around, and dangle high in the sky.
Best Places in Wales
The best way to get around Wales is by rental car. We flew into Machester, England, and picked up our car at the airport before heading out to explore Wales in a counter-clockwise direction. It was a great route to see all the top Wales attractions over the course of 8 days in Wales. Check rental car prices at RentalCars.com
With a rich history and a land filled with castles, Wales is also a fantastic destination for culture as much as it is for adventure. Did you know that Wales has more castles per square km than anywhere else in Europe? Wales surprised us, so we’re rounding up all the top places to visit in Wales that will entice you to visit Wales and add it to the top of your UK travel list. Are you ready to explore Wales?
The Welsh Language can be a bit of a tongue twister to get your head around, but don’t worry everyone speaks English in Wales. The hardest part of the trip is just trying to read some of the signs. But then again, isn’t learning another language part of the fun of traveling?
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park in North Wales is one of three national parks in Wales and it tops our list for its pure beauty. The star attraction is going to the summit of Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in all of Wales. Adventure lovers will love exploring the Snowdon mountains and they can hike the many trails to explore the incredible mountain views.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
If you have limited time, you can take the Snowdon Mountain Railway up to Britain’s highest visitor center. The century-old narrow-gauge railway opened in 1896 and its historic steam train travels up five miles to the peak of Mount Snowdon. When you arrive you get out to do some hiking and to take in the extraordinary views from the 1085 meter (3645-foot) peak. You can take the train back down or hike down the mountain. Want to hike up the Snowdon Mountain Summit? Book this guided hike with an expert guide.
Llanberis is a great place to make a base when exploring Snowdonia National park. Plus there is plenty to see including the National Slate Museum, and another historic railway, the Llanberis Steam Railway.
Besides Snowdon Mountain, Snowdonia National Park houses 14 mountains over 3000 feet making it one of the best-hiking destinations in the United Kingdom. Climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding are also popular in Snowdonia. Watch our video of our trip up to Mountain Snowdon
Places to Stay in Llanbernis
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
One of the wildest and rugged places to see in Wales is the Pembrokeshire Coast National park on the West Coast of Wales. With rugged sea cliffs, sandy beaches, and churning waters, the best way to explore the Pembrokeshire Coast is by going Coasteering. Coasteering was invented in Wales and we decided that if we were ever going to give the adrenaline adventure of Coasteering a try anywhere, it would be here.
What is Coasteering you ask? Coasteering is a unique adventure sport or coastal exploration where you traverse along the coast of Wales by rock climbing, cliff jumping, and swimming into sea caves. It offers remarkable views and as much adventure as you desire. You can jump from 10 meters or you can simply slip easily into the sea. With skilled guides and the beautiful scenic coast, Coasteering is a must try adventure when you visit Wales.
If you are looking for another place in Wales for beaches, the Gower Peninsula in South Wales is known for its long sandy beaches and clear waters. Rhossili Bay is an iconic beach with dramatic sea cliffs stretching 3 miles (5.8km) to Worm’s Head which got its name from the Viking word for a sea serpent.
Portmeirion Tourist Village
One of the most unique places in Wales is the Italian-style town of Portmeirion. Portmeirion is a quirky tourist village in Gwynedd, Wales. Nobody lives in this town, but it’s a wonderful stop on your visit to Wales that gives a quiet retreat in a very different destination. It was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who modeled Portmerion after the Italian Riviera village of Portofino located very close to the Cinque Terre.
Spend a day eating ice cream and have some hot coffee with fresh scones and cream as you explore the fairytale village. Or better yet, stay overnight at the Portmeirion Hotel where you feel as if you have stepped back in time.
Where to Stay in Portmerion: Hotel Portmeirion – We loved our stay at Hotel Portmeirion. The advantage of staying here is you have most of the village to yourself in the morning and evening before and after the tour busses have left.
Wales is the castle capital of Europe and one of our favorite castles to visit in Wales is Conway Castle in North Wales. Commissioned by Edward I, it has stood the test of time since it was built between 1283 and 1289. It is considered one of the greatest fortresses in Europe. Its well-preserved wall still surrounds the castle and small town of Conway today. When you go inside, you’ll witness the great hall, chambers, and kitchen, and a more secluded inner ward with private chambers and a royal chapel.
When visiting Conway, be sure to stop and see Britain’s finest townhouse of the golden Elizabethan age the Elizabethan Plas Mawr, and the Smallest House in Great Britain.
Witness the towering cliffs of the Great Orme in North Wales to see fantastic wildlife, from seals to seabirds as you take a Sea Fishing trip in North Wales, takes people out on this unique adventure where you board his fishing boat to check his lobster traps in the bays. Not only do you learn how to catch a lobster, but to also understand the conservation of this popular seafood entrée known as the Black Gold of the Sea. For more information on fishing trips and lobster safaris to the Great Orme visit: Sea Fishing Trips North Wales
This village is so picturesque that the BBC Movie, The Finest with Bill Nighy and Sam Claflin of Hunger Games fame shot here while we visited. There is an excellent pub that you must stop in for a pint, the Slooth, and it is also a picturesque coastal walk that is so perfect, that the Red Bull Cliff Diving Event took place here in 2013. You don’t have to jump off the massive cliffs, but walking along the coast offers extraordinary views of the coast of Wales. For hiking this is an excellent place in Wales.
Brecon Beacons National Park
The third installment of the three national parks to visit in Wales is Brecon Beacons National Park is an outdoor lovers paradise. From stargazing to mountain biking its rolling hills, there is something for everyone. With four mountain ranges, there are plenty of places to explore within its 520 square miles. Brecon Beacons houses the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark and it is a dark sky preserve. The Beacons Way is a 100 mile route through the national park and the Taff Trail is a long-distance cycling route that goes through the park from Brecon to Cardiff in South Wales.
Book this adrenaline adventure from Cardiff to Brecon Beacons. Start with a guided tour of world famous Rhondda Valley in Southeast Wales before beginning your adrenaline fuelled adventure of canyoning, swimming and jumping into crystal clear mountain streams
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and no trip would be complete without visiting this bustling urban center. It’s a great place to make a base while exploring South Wales and there are plenty of things to see and do. Cardiff Castle is one of the best castles to visit in Wales, The National Museum of Cardiff is free to visit and the Wales Millennium Centre is a great place for a night out.
Book this Cardiff guided Walking Tour with a local guide to admire the Cardiff Castle, National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park, and the Cardiff Civic Centre that was built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And travel through time as you explore the old Roman and medieval areas of Cardiff.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal
One of the most picturesque scenes in Wales is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the highest canal aqueduct in the world. Its 18 arches rise 38 meters (126 ft) feet into the air spanning 1000 feet. Pedestrians can walk beside the water or you can take a canal boat. But if you are looking for something adventurous, try taking a guided canoe tour
One of the most colorful places in Wales is the lovely seaside town of Aberaeron. Make sure to try its honey ice cream in which has been locally made by the Holgate family for 35 years. Aberaeron is also known as the Lobster Capital of Wales, so be sure to enjoy locally caught lobster in the evening.
Places to Stay in Aberaeron: Harbour Master Hotel is a lovely hotel overlooking the sea with a great restaurant.
Llandudno is the Queen of the Welsh Resorts. It is the largest seaside resort in Wales situated on a narrow strip of sand that connects the Welsh mainland and the Great Orme. Llandudno has two wonderful beaches, making the perfect place to visit in the summer. Its beautiful seaside promenade makes for a lovely stroll out to the pier that juts 700-meters (2,300-foot) into the bay. Be sure to hop on the Great Orme Tramway, the only cable-hauled tramway on a public road in Great Britain.
Place to Stay Llandudno Bay Hotel: We loved our stay at this boutique hotel located on the Llandudno Promenade with sea views. Get your hop-off hop-on tickets – The splendid Welsh resorts of Llandudno and Conwy lie between two gorgeous sandy beaches. This bus offers two different routes to enjoy views all the top attractions.
Llandeilo is another picturesque fishing village in Wales. When in Llandeilo, you will be near two notable Gardens – The National Botanic Garden of Wales and Aberglaseny Gardens.
Carreg Cennen Castle
There are more than 100 castles to explore in Wales that are in excellent condition and there are countless more ruins. We were told that if there is one castle to visit, make it Carreg Cennen Castle in South Wales just north of Cardiff. This dramatic fortress is part of King Edward I’s 13th-century ‘iron ring. They weren’t lying when someone told us that we can often be the only person there. We had it all to ourselves.
Harlech Castle is the most dramatically sited fortress in Edward I’s 13th-century ‘iron ring’. Looking over Tremadog Bay from the top of a sea cliff is a stunning view. This UNESCO designated site is one of the top places in Wales to see. Make sure to go inside to explore the castle tower. If you’d like to visit the castle, it opens at 10:00 am and costs £6.90 pp
Bounce Below is a giant underground trampoline that offers adults playtime in the ultimate jungle gym. The series of trampolines, nets, ladders, and slides make for a heart-pounding experience that gives as many thrills as it does laughs. Located at Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog, the cave is twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral and is the result of an old mining quarry. Let me tell you it’s huge! Read more: Bounce Below – The Ultimate Underground Trampoline for the Kid in You!
The Llechwedd Slate Caverns is definitely the place to visit for unique adventures. While you are there, make sure to do the Via Ferrata and Zip Line. This hair-raising course takes three hours to complete and takes you through a dozen zip lines while you traverse along high cliffs plunging to the caverns below. There are caves, ropes, and bridges to cross and it’s an excellent adventure for those seeking something unique to do in Wales. If you want something really fast, head outside to the Titan Zipline, it’s the fasted in Europe!
Devil’s Bridge Falls
Devil’s Bridge is a village named after the bridge it is famous for. It has been a tourist attraction since the 1700s. Devil’s Bridge is actually series of three bridges built on top of one another. The original dates back to the medieval times. Instead of demolishing the bridges when they became unstable, they simply built another atop them.
Legend has it that it got its name from after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. So, when the bridge was completed the woman threw a crust of bread for her dog to retrieve. When the dog jumped over the bridge, it was the first living thing to cross the bridge.
So there you have it! These are our recommendations for the best places in Wales. Doesn’t it make you want to book a ticket right now? While writing this, it made me want to go back. There is still so much more to see and do. What’s your favorite place in Wales?
Reat More About Travel in Great Britain
Our trip to Wales was in partnership with Visit Britain and Visit Wales as part of their #OMGB campaign. Check them both out for more information on travel to the UK.