The best things to do in Wales include the beautiful rolling valleys and rugged mountains of the country's massive national parks. The people there are welcoming and friendly, and known for the lyrical lilting of their accent. The place has a slow pace and easy-going atmosphere, which you can feel even in the big cities like Cardiff and Swansea.

    Between hiking up Mount Snowdon, walking along the promenade in the North Wales resort towns, trying a bit of Welsh Rarebit or trying to pronounce the name of…that village with the really long name, there are a lot of reasons to enjoy a trip to Wales. Take a look at some of these great reasons to visit the ‘land of song’.

    What are the best things to do in Wales?



    Climb the tallest peak in Wales

    Snowdonia is a beautiful and iconic national park in the northwest corner of Wales and is where you’ll find Snowdon – 1 of the tallest mountains in the UK. There are 13 other peaks over 3,000 feet high in the massive 823 sq mile park, making it an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. In fact, it is listed among the most popular places for hiking and climbing in Britain, although there is also the Snowdon Mountain Railway for those who want the view without the walk. The rugged landscape is bathed in history and legend, featuring in the tales of King Arthur.

    Phone: +44 (0)1766 770274


    Brecon Beacons National Park

    Hike through beautiful rugged countryside a short distance from Cardiff

    Some areas of the Brecon Beacons are so bleak and mountainous that they are famously used as a training ground for the UK’s elite soldiers. The rest of the 520 sq mile national park is one of Wales’ more beautiful bits. The park contains loads of great hiking routes, beautiful waterfalls, caves and wild ponies, among other wildlife. Be sure to check out Zip World, which lets you fly above an old slate quarry on 1 of the world’s fastest ziplines.



    Visit the Italian coast in North Wales

    Portmeirion Village is a little taste of Italy on Wales’ west coast. Built over most of the 20th century, the beautiful gardens, colourful buildings, fountains and church closely resemble a Mediterranean coast village. You can enjoy pizzas, gelato and coffee on the terrace, or explore the 70 acres of woodland gardens, which are home to unusual imported trees like Californian coast redwoods, Chilean maiten trees and a New Zealand dancing tree. If it sounds a little like a theme park, you’re not far wrong. The village has limited opening hours and a fairly reasonable entry fee.

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1766 770000


    Caernarfon Castle

    Walk on the walls of 1 of Wales' most important castles

    Among over 640 castles in Wales, Caernarfon really stands out. Since its construction in 1283, it has been besieged, captured and retaken several times, yet remains among the best-preserved medieval fortresses in Europe. It was still playing an important role in national history as recently as 1969, when it hosted Prince Charles’ investiture as Prince of Wales. The castle itself is a formidable structure, featuring many multi-sided towers along its walls, though the buildings within have long-since disappeared. The charming historical town around the castle is also fun to explore, and is home to plenty of good cafés, pubs and restaurants.

    Location: Castle Ditch, Caernarfon LL55 2AY, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1286 677617



    Relax in a peaceful Welsh beach resort

    Of the resort destinations along the North Wales coast, Llandudno is probably the largest and most popular. Known as the “Queen of the Welsh Resorts”, the town is nestled beneath The Great Orme. An attraction in itself, there’s a tramway leading up to the top, from where you get spectacular views of the town and its pier. You’ll also find a cable car and an artificial ski slope nearby.

    The town itself has a good selection of hotels, cafés and restaurants. If you’re in Wales around the May bank holiday weekend, don’t miss the Victorian Extravaganza – a fun Victorian-themed carnival in Llandudno.


    Cardiff Castle

    Centuries of Welsh history in one place

    Cardiff has had a castle since the Romans were in Britain, and it’s been built on and developed ever since, making it quite an eclectic display of history. The Norman keep stands atop a small hill, surrounded by impressive defensive walls which were used as air raid shelters during the Second World War. There’s a Georgian mansion in one corner and a museum of Welsh army regiments in another. It’s a very convenient and interesting place to explore, being just north of the city centre, and has a guide app for Android and iOS. The Clock Tower is especially worth visiting, but tours are only available on weekends. The Animal Wall along Castle Street is also worth a photo.

    Location: Castle St, Cardiff CF10 3RB, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2087 8100



    Crack a book at the Hey Festival

    Hay-on-Wye is a tiny riverside village right on the Welsh-English border that's very charming and pretty. It’s also a book lover's paradise. It is home to numerous second-hand book stores and the annual Hay Festival, which has rapidly grown from a tiny village fete to one of the biggest literary events of the year. The festival attracts big-name authors and readers by the thousands for the 10-day event around the end of May. 

    The village itself has a beautiful rustic, rural look – the perfect example of a typical Welsh village, with a small historical castle and a few local pubs.



    A name so long that it breaks our website...

    This Welsh village holds the undisputed title of the longest name in the UK and one of the longest in the world. The village itself is extremely unremarkable, being little more than a collection of houses, a couple of pubs, a post office and a train station. It’s fun to visit anyway, just for a selfie by the ludicrously long road signs. 

    There’s also an old church, which gives the villages its remarkable name. The translation from Welsh is: “St Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the red cave”. Usefully, the train station sign shows the 58-letter name written phonetically, so you can try pronouncing it yourself.


    photo by Robert Linsdell (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Principality Stadium

    Feel the atmosphere of an international rugby match

    Originally known as the Millennium Stadium, Principality Stadium is among the UK’s best and most modern stadiums. As the national stadium of Wales, it is more known for its rugby matches than football. It has also hosted boxing, motorsport, concerts, conventions and has even been a film set a few times. As you can imagine, the atmosphere in the stands during a match, among well over 70,000 other people, is breathtaking. The stadium is conveniently right next to Cardiff Central train station, making it very easy to get to.

    Location: Westgate Street, Cardiff CF10 1NS, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)844 249 1999


    Swansea Market

    Taste great local produce

    The delight of Welsh cuisine mostly comes from the use of the freshest and tastiest ingredient. You’ll find the best examples of these at the various farmers’ markets around the country, but one of the biggest and best is Swansea Market. The most noticeable smell, as you wander around the giant indoor market, will be the fresh Welsh cockles and fish. Look out for the fresh meats – especially the Welsh lamb – as well as the bakers selling Welsh cakes. The market also contains a few clothing, jewellery and electrical stalls, for when you’ve eaten your fill.

    Location: Oxford Street, Swansea SA1 3PQ, UK

    Open: Monday - Friday from 8 am to 5.30 pm, Saturday from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1792 654396

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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