With rolling green mountains, formidable castles and ruins, and rocky seaside cliffs, Wales is a country that doesn’t quite feel part of the modern age. The landscape evokes mental images of King Arthur and of mythical creatures like fairies and the dragon that embellishes the Welsh flag, and this magic comes to life in Wales, with destinations varying from the lively capital city of Cardiff to the quiet seaside town of Aberystwyth. Visitors will find ample opportunities for hiking, drinking, sailing, and shopping in this country full of market towns and long, meandering footpaths, and after a few days in this green land of legends, they may never want to leave.
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Abergavenny is a thriving market town located 6 miles from the border between England and Wales, in Monmouthshire. Its historic flea markets, craft markets, antique markets, and farmers markets are held on a weekly or monthly basis, and in the center of town, the Brewery Yard offers visitors a beautiful terrace and piazza to enjoy food and drinks as well as a lovely view of this ancient town. Abergavenny is home to several large festivals throughout the year, where guests can enjoy a wide variety of food, drink, and goods from all over Wales and England. The town is located in the Brecon Beacons mountain range, and also offers a great opportunity for walking and hiking.
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A popular seaside town in Northern Wales, Abersoch is a lovely destination for visitors looking for beaches, sailing, and a quaint town with a nice climate. Located on the Llyn Peninsula, Abersoch is home to some of the nicest beaches in Wales, with waters that are internationally sought out for sailing, but are also great for surfing, paddleboarding, and windsurfing. Fishing is also quite popular, both in the sea and in the well-stocked freshwater Llyn Lakes. The gorgeous coastline of Abersoch is available for exploration via the Wales Coastal Path, which passes through Abersoch on its 870-mile route.
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Aberystwyth is an ancient town located on the western coast of mid-Wales. Visitors to Aberystwyth can explore the ruins of a 13th-century castle and an old hill fort, ride a funicular train to the top of Constitution Hill and, of course, enjoy the beautiful seaside. At the Ceredigion Museum and the National Library of Wales, visitors can enjoy exhibitions about local and national history, while at the Penglais Nature Park they can experience beautiful views of the town and the sea. Nearby, tourists can visit the waterfalls of Devil’s Bridge or the waterwheel at Dyfi Furnace.
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The Welsh Lake District of Snowdonia is located in the northwest region of the country and contains some of the most beautiful mountains and scenery in the country. Bala is on the eastern border of this region, and is home to Bala Lake, the largest natural lake in Wales. Visitors can canoe, kayak, sail, or go fishing on its waters, and there are many beautiful mountain trails that overlook the lake as well as a scenic railway that follows the shore. While staying in Bala, visitors can camp in the wilderness, stay in a caravan park, rent a holiday cottage, or enjoy one of Bala’s quaint bed and breakfasts, all while enjoying some of the best that Snowdonia has to offer.
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Barmouth is the place to go for all types of nature – both on land and at the seaside. Located on the west coast of the Snowdonia region in Wales, Barmouth offers beaches, mountain hiking and activities, and a harbor for boating, fishing, and rentals. This town is the very picture of a traditional holiday at the seaside, complete with all the fresh air anyone could want. Families, couples, friends, and solo travelers will love the wide variety of activities in Barmouth, from donkey rides to crabbing. In the evenings, visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink at one of Barmouth’s restaurants, pubs, or cafes, and perhaps an evening out at The Dragon Theatre, which shows films, concerts, and stage productions in a beautiful space that was once an old chapel.
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6.Brecon Beacons National Park
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A range of mountains in South Wales called the Beacons give this national park its name and one of its defining skylines. The scenery in this 520-square-mile park is stunning, with mountains, rolling hills, forests, caves, and waterfalls into its lakes. It is one of the last remaining habitats for wild Welsh ponies, which roam the hills and rugged terrain of the uplands, and the clear skies of the park are dotted with the soaring figures of red kites, which were once endangered. The park contains ancient monuments built by the Romans and the druids, including historic hillforts and stone circles. Visitors can hike the trails during the day and camp at night to watch the bright stars of the night sky.
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Caernarfon is home to Caernarfon Castle, one of the most prominent Welsh castles in history. Built in 1283 by Edward I when he conquered Wales, Caernarfon was designed with the architecture of Constantinople in mind, and stands today as a majestic stronghold with polygonal towers and colorful stonework. The castle is open to visitors, and the town that has grown around it is a lovely place to visit. After exploring the battlements and towers of the castle, visitors can take a pleasure flight over the region with Caernarfon Air World, get their adrenaline pumping at the Beacon Climbing Centre, or explore the wood and meet Shetland ponies, pygmy goats, and pigs at Gypsy Wood.
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Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and is a popular tourist destination with plenty of attractions. Located only a short 2-hour train ride from London, Cardiff is great for a day or weekend trip as well as a longer stay. Visitors can tour historic houses and castles, see the work of famous artists at the National Museum, or explore one of the best Edwardian gardens in Wales, Dyffryn Gardens. At Y Pierhead, visitors can learn about Cardiff’s history as a port city and get a whiff of salty seaside air that will leave them wanting more. This thriving city is a wonderful holiday destination that is full of culture, great shopping and food, and history.
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Cardigan is located in west Wales on the Teifi River Estuary where it meets Cardigan Bay. This ancient town is picturesque and lovely, with markets, shops, and eateries all set to the backdrop of Cardigan Bay. The town of Cardigan gives visitors a good starting point from which they can also explore Ceredigion County as well as the surrounding counties of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, for a full Welsh experience. In Cardigan, guests can take a boat ride out into the bay, where they might spot dolphins, or explore the town and its galleries and shops. If the weather is pleasant, the Ceredigion Coastal Path runs through the town and offers walkers and hikers the chance to see some local birds and wildlife as well as gorgeous views from the coast.
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Chepstow is a quaint riverside town located on the western banks of the River Wye. This ancient town has seen quite its share of history, and from the medieval walls to the 11th-century castle, much of this history is still evident today. Visitors will see architecture from all ages, Norman to Georgian to Victorian, as they explore the town and its shops, restaurants, and pubs. Chepstow Castle is a must-see destination, and for the best views of the castle’s sweeping curtain walls and towers, visitors should head to the center of Chepstow Bridge, a historic 19th-century cast iron bridge spanning the River Wye.
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In the walled town of Conwy, located in North Wales, tourists will find no shortage of things to do. The town is home to Conwy Castle, which has eight towers and many rooms open for exploration, as well as over 20 more towers in the historic walls that have protected the town for centuries. Inside these walls, visitors can squeeze into the Smallest House in Britain, or explore Plas Mawr, a 16th-century townhouse in fantastic condition. Those looking for an outdoor adventure can check out the paths and lakes of Conwy Mountain or watch birds and learn about local flora and fauna at the Conwy Nature Reserve. After a full day of exploration, a drink is definitely in order at The Albion Ale House, which is run by four local breweries and was voted one of the best pubs in the world.
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12.Forest of Dean
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The ancient Forest of Dean is located in the Wye Valley and offers a plethora of activities for tourists. The trails within the forest are open for walking, cycling, and horseback riding, and more adventurous visitors can even see the forest from above as they zip line through the canopies on the high ropes course. Families will love the Puzzlewood as well as the steam train rides through the forest, and exploring the caves in the forest are sure to thrill everyone. The forest is close to the River Wye, which is perfect for kayaking and canoeing, and some of the nearby lakes are great for fishing.
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The Gower Peninsula extends for 19 miles along the southern coast of Wales and is the UK’s original Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With tall rocky cliffs, relaxing sandy beaches, and lush green countryside, the Gower Peninsula is absolutely a beautiful place to visit, with plenty to do. The Wales Coast Path passes through the area, as do many other walking trails, and the region is packed with areas of archaeological importance, including caves, castles, and forts from the Iron Age. On the coast, visitors will find some of the best waves in the country for surfing, and the huge limestone cliffs beckon adventurous souls to jump from them into the sea.
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Holyhead is a large port town located on the island of Anglesey, and is a great stop for travelers on their way to or from Ireland, as there is a ferry that travels to and from Holyhead and Dublin. Yet this lovely town has so much more to offer than just a means of travel; it is home to some great opportunities for fishing, walking, watersports, and golf. For the full experience of this seaside town, visitors can experience the Holyhead Maritime Museum, where they can learn about some of the many shipwrecks in the area, or check out some of the amazing historical sites that Holyhead has to offer, including Porth Cwyfan, a church in the sea, or Llys Rhosyr, the site of a prominent medieval Welsh prince.
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Llandudno is a resort town located on Colwyn Bay, North Wales. With a picturesque seafront, several beaches, golf courses, restaurants, and mountains, Llandudno offers no shortage of activities for tourists. On the pier, visitors will find attractions like a traditional Punch and Judy show, and in town, they can eat at one of Llandudno’s cafes, restaurants, or pubs or shop at one of the boutiques. The Llandudno cable cars offer a scenic option for transportation, and the conservation zoo will excite and entertain families. Llandudno also offers a great base for those wishing to explore North Wales, including other beach towns, inland regions, and Snowdonia.
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In the Vale of Llangollen, surrounded by green hills and built around the River Dee, visitors will find every kind of accommodation from campsites to bed and breakfasts, and every type of food from fish and chips to formal tea rooms. Home to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors can relax as they glide down the canal in a boat drawn by horses, ride in a steam train, or step it up a notch and go whitewater rafting in the river. For hikers, Llangollen is also home to one of the most challenging sections of the national Offa’s Dyke path, along with plenty of other trails situated in the gorgeous hills of the countryside.
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Monmouth is an incredibly historical town that is renowned as the birthplace of King Henry V. Located at the border of Wales and England, and over the confluence of three rivers – Trothy, Monnow, and Wye – Monmouth is also home to a 13th-century bridge that is the only one of its kind left in existence. Visitors to Monmouth will find a wealth of shops and restaurants as well as some stunning natural scenery, where they can paddle along one of the three rivers, paraglide over the countryside, or ride horses through the green hills.
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Newport is located in the scenic Wye Valley and is an easy drive from several nearby locations, including the Forest of Dean and Brecon Beacons National Park. The city lies at the border of Wales and England and is just a 90-minute train ride from London. Much of the city’s history lies in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, though it has been around for much longer. Visitors to Newport can visit the Newport Museum and Gallery or the Tredegar House for more of a peek into history, or check out the Newport Wetlands Reserve or the Explorer Trail for a closer look at the beautiful nature in the area.
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Porthmadog is a small port town in the northeast of Wales, located in Gwynedd on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. The town is full of shops and restaurants, with a strong presence of the Welsh language, and a steam train that runs through the town. Its beauty, with beaches and coastlines on one side and the majesty of Snowdonia on the other, makes it a picturesque destination worthy of any Instagram account. Porthmadog serves as an excellent base for visitors who wish to explore Snowdonia, where they will find the Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, and wildlife galore.
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Two thousand years ago, a Roman legion occupied the area now known as Prestatyn, and even today, traces of the Romans can still be found in this coastal town. History is very present in Prestatyn, where visitors can see the remains of a Roman bathhouse and wander the national trail of Offa’s Dyke, which was built in the 8th century to mark the boundary between England and Wales. In town, guests can enjoy a variety of eateries, from cafes to pubs, and shop at the Prestastyn market or one of the unique boutiques for a full experience of this charming town. Outdoors, visitors can walk some of the many trails and paths in the area, or even see the beaches and hills from horseback.
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Located on the north coast of Wales, Rhyl is a lovely resort town with beaches and attractions for the whole family. From the sharks and sea lions at the Rhyl SeaQuarium to the quiet elegance of the gardens at Bodelwyddan Castle, Rhyl has something for everyone. At the Rhyl Marine Lake, visitors can canoe or water ski on the water, or take a ride on the Rhyl Miniature Railway, which will take kids on a scenic ride around the lake on the oldest miniature steam train in the country. For a relaxing day at the beach, Rhyl offers miles of sandy coastlines, where visitors can sunbathe, swim, or even rent a kite buggy or sand yacht.
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St. Davids is a beautiful small village on the southwest coast of Wales that was granted city status in the 16th century because of its 12th-century cathedral. It is located within Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which is a truly beautiful piece of the world, with spectacular coastlines and views of the sea. Visitors to St. Davids can explore the cathedral, where they will learn of the history of the site, dating back to the 6th century, see the impressive Gothic-style architecture up close, and wander the cloisters and ruins of the Bishop’s Palace. At Whitesands Bay, tourists and locals alike can enjoy a day at the beach at one of the most beautiful and renowned Blue Flag beaches in the UK.
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Many of the places on this list are located on the coast and boast plenty of great beaches and watersports, but the city of Swansea, located on Swansea Bay in the southwest corner of Wales, is a particularly wonderful destination. The city is the birthplace of illustrious poet Dylan Thomas and has plenty of museums for visitors to enjoy. The city is home to hundreds of shops and restaurants as well as a huge market, while the 5-mile long Swansea Bay beach is a great destination for a day of sun, sand, and swimming.
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Located in Pembrokeshire, Tenby is a walled harbor town filled with history. The ruins of Tenby Castle date back to the 13th century and stand large and imposing on Castle Hill, while the walls that surround the town are one of the most important remaining medieval walls in the UK. At the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, visitors can learn about all this and more of the history of the town, or take a guided walk through the streets and alleyways of Tenby for more stories from the past. Located on the coast, Tenby is home to some great beaches and coastlines, and visitors can also visit the nearby islands of Caldey and St. Catherine’s, where they will find an ancient priory and a Victorian fort.
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In Wrexham, visitors can ride in a canal boat along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which was built over 200 years ago, peek into the lives of the historically rich at Erddig Hall, or explore the remains of Valley Crucis, a 13th-century abbey that was destroyed after Henry VIII’s split from the Roman Catholic Church. Much of the abbey has been preserved, and some of the rooms have been restored so that visitors can fully enjoy the space and learn about the history of the building and the eras in which it stood. The town itself is conveniently located only a short distance from historical sites, other towns, and some amazing nature.
25 Best Places to Visit in Wales
- Abergavenny, Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Thompson - Fotolia.com
- Abersoch, Photo: Courtesy of jay - Fotolia.com
- Aberystwyth, Photo: Courtesy of gb27photo - Fotolia.com
- Bala, Photo: Courtesy of Harvey Hudson - Fotolia.com
- Barmouth, Photo: Courtesy of Gail Johnson - Fotolia.com
- Brecon Beacons National Park, Photo: Courtesy of brickisred - Fotolia.com
- Caernarfon, Photo: Courtesy of Sergii Figurnyi - Fotolia.com
- Cardiff, Photo: Courtesy of philipbird123 - Fotolia.com
- Cardigan, Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Thompson - Fotolia.com
- Chepstow, Photo: Courtesy of hipproductions - Fotolia.com
- Conwy, Photo: Courtesy of samott - Fotolia.com
- Forest of Dean, Photo: Courtesy of dianamower - Fotolia.com
- Gower Peninsula, Photo: Courtesy of Steve Mann - Fotolia.com
- Holyhead, Photo: Courtesy of Sergiy - Fotolia.com
- Llandudno, Photo: Courtesy of sas - Fotolia.com
- Llangollen, Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Meese - Fotolia.com
- Monmouth, Photo: Courtesy of acceleratorhams - Fotolia.com
- Newport, Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Rhodes - Fotolia.com
- Porthmadog, Photo: Courtesy of Graham - Fotolia.com
- Prestatyn, Photo: Courtesy of pristineimages - Fotolia.com
- Rhyl, Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Rowlands - Fotolia.com
- St. Davids, Photo: Courtesy of valeryegorov - Fotolia.com
- Swansea, Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Thompson - Fotolia.com
- Tenby, Photo: Courtesy of Brown - Fotolia.com
- Wrexham, Photo: Courtesy of L. Shat - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of R.Babakin - Fotolia.com