Along with England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, Wales is one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom. It is on the mainland of Great Britain, sharing a border with England and boasting a long, splendid coastline.
Wales boasts some of the finest scenery in the UK, has numerous historical sites, offers a distinctive Celtic heritage, is home to some very pretty beaches and coastal areas, and also offers modern cities and thriving towns. With such a great variety, there are plenty of reasons to visit Wales!
There are numerous places to sleep, eat, and drink in most parts of Wales, and you should definitely try and taste some local dishes that are difficult to find in other parts of the UK. Rail journeys make it even easier to admire the country.
Some top reasons to visit Wales include:
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Towering mountains, undulating hills, rolling plains, and lots of lush greenery can be found right across Wales. It also has many nice waterfalls and rivers and offers terrific opportunities for numerous outdoor activities. Whether you want to go hiking and biking, try abseiling or rafting, or have a go at some extreme adventure sports, you will find something to keep you happy in Wales. There are three national parks, as well as other fantastic picturesque areas.
The Snowdonia National Park is home to the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon Mountain. At the Brecon Beacons there are four different mountain ranges, caves and caverns, numerous ancient monuments, various outdoor activities, and an abundance of wildlife. The Pembrokeshire Coast combines fine beaches and wild and rugged coastal areas, and Skomer is a favourite with bird watchers.
History fans will love the huge selection of castles across Wales. You can find those that are really well preserved as well as those that are little more than a few stones and the remains of the foundations. Built to protect the country from invasions, it is easy to wander around the grounds and imagine the days of power struggles and bloody battles.
Climb towers and lookout points for incredible views, walk around the protective walls, poke around in various quarters and chambers, and discover part of Wales’ history and heritage. There are over 150 castles across Wales, with some favourites being Caernarfon Castle, Criccieth Castle, Harlech Castle, Chirk Castle, Conwy Castle, Boddylwyddan Castle, Beaumaris Castle, Ruthin Castle, Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch, and Monmouth Castle.
You can also enjoy a plethora of historic sites, ancient burial grounds, pretty churches, impressive stately homes, and other architectural gems.
With over 1,000 kilometres of coastline, a great way to spend a sunny day is on the lovely beaches of Wales. You can find those that attract visitors by the hundreds, with great facilities and amenities, as well as those that are fairly remote with little to disturb the peace.
North Wales is especially noted for its wonderful beaches, in particular the island of Anglesey. Llandudno offers a quintessential beach break, with animated puppet shows on the shore, a cable car, and fine architecture. There are also stunning beaches along the spectacular Pembrokeshire coast. Some top beaches to check out include Barmouth Bay in Gwynedd, Tenby Castle Beach and Saundersfoot, both in Pembrokeshire, Three Cliffs Bay in Swansea, and Trearddur Bay in Anglesey.
Longest Place Name
On the island of Anglesey you can visit the place with the longest name in the United Kingdom. It is also the longest place name in Europe and one of the longest in the world! The local train station proudly displays the name on an extra long sign – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – it’s a bit of a mouthful! Breaking it down, it sounds like clan-fire-poof-gin-gill-go-gerith-win-drob-lan-ti-sill-ee-o-go-go-goff. It means “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of Saint Tysillio with a red cave”.
Myths and Legends
The whole country has places that are steeped in interesting myths and legends from long ago. Churches, mountains, stones, ancient sites, dwellings, and more can have wonderful and expressive tales attached to them.
Hear about the ill-fated faithful dog at Beddgelert, try and spot the Lady of the Lake at Llyn y Fan Fach in the Black Mountains, and learn about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Merlin the Magician at numerous sites, including Arthur’s Stone on the Gower Peninsular, Llyn Llydaw, which is said to be where Excalibur was hurled, Carmarthen, the birthplace of Merlin, and the site of King Arthur’s last battle at Bwlch y Saethau.
The Welsh flag bears testament to another great legend – the red dragon that is said to have helped Wales in times of trouble and now sleeps in a cave waiting until the land needs him again.
A Lively Capital City
The capital of Wales, Cardiff, is a modern city with a long past and plenty of attractions. It also boasts great shopping and a lively night life. Cardiff Bay is very popular, and the city is home to several top class museums and three important performing arts venues. The Senedd is found in Cardiff.
Take an underground tour of various caves and mines, and learn about previous industries that grew from Wales’ natural resources. You can venture into former slate mines, copper mines, coal mines, tin mines, and gold mines. Some are eerie, some are educational, and some are surprisingly modern – all, however, offer lots of fun!
In the village of Corris you can go on a fascinating adventure in a previous slate mine – ride an underground boat through King Arthur’s Labyrinth!
These are just a few of the myriad reasons to visit Wales on your next UK adventure!