10 Things to Do & Places to Go in Wales

10 Things to Do & Places to Go in Wales

Check out Wales and its plethora of attractions, which include the stunning Snowdonia National Park, over 600 castles and the charming village of Rhossili.

When you think of travelling to the UK, you’d probably envision the grandeur of the Big Ben in London, the majestic Stonehenge in Wiltshire or even the famed Loch Ness in Scotland. What if I told you that there’s a hidden gem waiting to be uncovered in the UK? Well, there is. Introducing to you: Wales.

Wales (Cymru) is relatively unknown as compared to its UK counterparts, England and Scotland. However, that doesn’t make its sights any less attractive. Wales is home to many magnificent coastal views, national parks and mountains. With fewer visitors to some of the most amazing spectacles in the UK (and possibly the world), Wales will leave you longing for more. To prove my point, here are 12 things to do and places to go to in Wales that will leave you falling in love with this country.

1.  Embrace nature in Brecon Beacons National Park

From cycling, fishing, rock climbing to caving, the Brecon Beacons National Park has got you covered when it comes to outdoor activities. The national park plays host to the Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr (Great Forest of Brecknock) and the River Usk, giving you plenty of opportunities to embrace nature in the Welsh countryside. Hike up to Pen y Fan, the highest peak of the national park, to see the Bristol Channel and Swansea Bay!

On top of being a natural spectacle, the national park doubles up as a training destination for the UK armed forces and as a selection ground for the UK Special Air Service. Walk in the footsteps of these commendable military personnel as you embark on your own hike! With wild sheep and ponies grazing the acres of moorland, you’ll definitely be amazed by this magnificent display.

2. Brush up on your Welsh

Before you ask, yes, the people in Wales predominantly speak English. However, Wales’ other national language is the medieval Celtic language of Welsh. The Welsh take great pride in their unique language and most, if not all, signboards and directions will feature both English and Welsh.

Try your hand at deciphering the English meaning of phrases such as S’mae (Hello), Sut ydych chi (How are you) and Croeso (You’re welcome) as you make your way around the country. Don’t worry, the friendly Welsh people will be more than happy to teach you, if necessary.

3. Conquer mountains in Snowdonia National Park

Cross bridges, scale mountains and trek across acres of grass in this Lord of the Rings-esque destination in Wales – Snowdonia National Park. Not for the faint hearted, Snowdonia National Park’s raw, natural landscape is sure to capture the heart of many nature-lovers! The tough terrain, however, invites many adventurous trekkers looking to scale the highest mountain in Wales: Snowdon.

For those just looking to take in the magnificent natural scenery, get on the Snowdon mountain railway for a breathtaking view up Snowdon. Otherwise, a relaxing walk in this spectacular national park is sure to bring you the peace and quiet that you’re seeking for on your visit.

4. Marvel at Rhossili Bay

A visit to Wales isn’t complete if you have yet to pay a visit to Rhossili Bay. This stunning bay, designated as the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the United Kingdom, has seen visitors flock from all corners of the world to marvel at its beauty. Boasting one of the best beaches in the world, Rhossili Bay is sure to leave you awestruck at its natural beauty.

During low tide, the remains of several shipwrecks surface on the pristine beaches and make for a great photo opportunity. For those just looking to take in the sights, sip on some coffee at the town’s cafe and witness the waves crashing onto the beach from afar.

5. Visit quirky Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

Image credit: Richard Ash

Known to be the longest placed name in Europe and the second longest in the world, the village most commonly known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave) attracts visitors from around the world due to the length of its name. Most visitors stop by the village for an iconic photo with the sign at the train station. Go ahead and knock yourselves out with a photo to remember.

6. Climb breathtaking Worm’s Head

Accessible only during the low tide, the small tidal island of Worm’s Head marks the most Westerly tip of the Gower Peninsula. Featuring a natural rock bridge known as “Devil’s Bridge”, Worm’s Head proves to be a challenge to climb even for nimble adventurers!

Worm’s Head is only exposed for two and a half hours a day, before and after low tide, and the rocky causeway path to get there means that potential climbers have to race against time before the tide rises again. But think about it, after all that trouble, you’ll be on the Westerly tip of Gower and on the edge of Wales!

7. Grab luxurious ice cream at Joe’s

Ice-cream lovers, you’re in for a huge treat. Benefitting from a great influx of Italians 19th Century, Wales is far from short of a good number of ice-cream parlours. Once a bustling port of call and an important European trading outpost, Wales saw a great number of Italian traders bringing goods and most importantly, Italian recipes, into the country. Perhaps the best thing to have come out from those recipes is the luxurious ice-cream that originated from age-old family secrets. From Frank’s Ice Cream in Carmarthenshire to Fecci & Sons Ice Cream in Tenby, Wales has an eclectic selection of ice-cream parlours to satisfy your sweet tooth. Most prominently known for having the best ice-cream in Wales (and even the UK), nationally acclaimed Joe’s Ice-cream is a must-have when visiting Swansea. Regarded as a venerable institution in the city, Joe’s reputation precedes any other ice-cream parlour in town and no visit to Swansea is complete unless you’ve patronised his establishment! Oh and for those visiting Cardiff, you’re in luck – Joe’s has a lone ice-cream parlour in the city centre dedicated to serving the sweet tooths unable to make the journey to Swansea. Croeso.

8. Uncover ancient Welsh castles

With over six hundred castles to choose from in Wales, it’s not long before you’ll chance upon one on your visit to this country. However, as with everything, there are still some castles more impressive than others; for instance, the majestic Caernarfon Castle.

Construction for Caernarfon Castle began under King Edward I of England in the year 1283 but till today, this old structure stands as one of Wales’ most beautiful castles. The intrinsic exteriors of the castle pay tribute to the architectural effort put into it. However, the interior structures aren’t as fortunate as most of them did not survive through the years. Yet, thousands of visitors throng the compound to see this magnificent structure despite its interior being incomplete. Perhaps when it comes to castles, it’s not always the inside that counts.

But don’t take our word for it! With six hundred castles to choose from, you’re sure to have varying opinions on which castle is best. From the majestic Caernarfon Castle to the quirky Castell Coch, Wales will surprise you with its peculiar plethora of castles.

9. Explore a quaint book town

Image Credit: Griffin Guiding and Zach Beauvais

Described as the “National Book Town of Wales”, Hay-on-Wye plays host to the annual Hay Festival, a literary festival that draws prominent writers from around the world. The town hosts rows of shops selling hundreds and thousands of books. Even the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, has graced the event as a fellow bibliophile! Not visiting when the festival is taking place? Fret not. The town still remains a book enclave for bibliophiles. Those not interested in books can still visit this quaint town to see how books have played an enormous role in this town’s economy.

Whether you’re a bibliophile or not, be sure to check out this town for a vastly different experience like no other!

10. Work on sprawling farms

There are three times the number of sheep in Wales than people, and that means that there are approximately nine million sheep in Wales. With that number of sheep in one country, the farmers are definitely going to need help with the farming.

Many Welsh farms still offer lodging and food in exchange for labour on these farms. Looking to pick up some new skills on your travels? Look no further as many Welsh farmers welcome an additional pair of hands to help them in their work! Try your hand at herding sheep, pruning fruit bushes and cleaning hen houses. Step aside from the usual sightseeing and shopping and choose this unconventional travel experience that not many countries provide.

With such an eclectic mix of activities and destinations, Wales deserves to be on the itinerary for your next UK trip! The breathtaking scenery and unique blend of activities more than justify your decision to visit this hidden gem of a country. Forget England and Scotland, Wales is the place to be.

About Author

Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak

Apart from catching overly-dramatic movies, quenching his voracious appetite and just lounging in his free time, Kevin finds François Rabelais' quote "I am going to seek a grand perhaps" resonating with him at times. It is this very desire that sees him travelling to foreign lands in search of new experiences, and food. In his adventures, the only thing that can temporarily impede his journey is his soft spot for pizza.