For many people, Wales evokes images of misty mountaintops, coal mines and choirs, yet the country has much more to offer than a spectacular countryside, industry and culture. In recent years, Wales has emerged as one of the United Kingdom’s most popular tourist destinations, with the cosmopolitan capital city of Cardiff drawing hordes of visitors as an urban balance to the wonderful west coast beaches.
The country’s rich past has left a mark on the landscape, with a wealth of historic monuments from the extravagant and formidable castles found in Cardiff and Chepstow to the impressive engineering feat of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Wales is also revered as a top outdoor destination, with an abundance of natural attractions and sports, including hiking in the scenic Pembrokeshire National Park, biking through the Brecon Beacons, and walking along the picturesque beaches of the Gower Peninsula.
Accommodation options in Wales are similar to those found throughout the UK, ranging from cozy lodgings in the remote countryside to five-star hotels in the hip capital, Cardiff. Camping is also extremely popular due to the breathtaking scenery; however, is only recommended during the summer months. Expect to find the usual, wholesome British dishes on menus around the country, in addition to a plethora of international cuisine served up in the big cities. Wales is also famed for unusual sounding culinary delights, such as cawl (lamb stew), bara brith (fruitcake), and Welsh rarebit (cheese on toast cooked with spices, onions and ale).
A variety of day trips are available throughout the country to National Heritage sites, such as the Glamorgan coast, while trawler fishing tours can be arranged from most of the port towns scattering the northwest coast.
Wales has a reputation for being a very grey and dreary place, but along the coast the weather is actually pleasant for most of the year - in the summers the temperature hits highs of 80-degrees F. Although, in the winter the temperatures can dip to as low as 10-degrees F. Naturally the further north you travel, the colder and wetter it is going to get. The most mild regions of the country are the southeast and southwest. July and August are typically warm and dry, while the winters are cold and wet. The best time to visit is spring or fall, with the high seasons being in September and April.
Most travelers tend to visit Wales from neighboring England, in which case bus and train travel are easiest ways to get here. Cardiff Airport is the primary international gateway and welcomes seasonal connections from Orlando-Sanford, as well as year-round links to Paris and Amsterdam from where US flights are plentiful. A number of ferries also operate to and from Ireland.
- Trek along the flora-adorned cliffs of the Gower Peninsula, admiring the sweeping beaches below
- Hike through the charming and rugged terrain of the Brecon Beacons and visit the quaint country villages
- Experience the curious, mock Italian village of Portmeirion, made famous as the set of numerous TV shows
- Catch the train to the summit of Wales’ highest peak, Mount Snowdon, and meander through the awe-inspiring scenery
- Spend the day exploring the vibrant and cosmopolitan capital, Cardiff
- Go sea fishing off the stunning, northwestern Welsh coast
- Head underground at Big Pit, the region’s top mining museum, and discover what life as a miner was once like