We explore what lies behind common misperceptions the English have of their closest neighbours and unearth a rich cultural heritage.
1. You Have To Pay To Get Into Wales
You only have to pay if you drive on the westbound M4 over the Second Severn Crossing toll-bridge. Before 1966 when the first toll-bridge opened, the Severn was crossed by car ferry. The new route soon became congested and the architecturally splendid new toll-bridge opened in 1996. There are, however, many ways of driving into Wales. For example, south from Chester, west from Shrewsbury or Gloucester. Whichever route you take you are guaranteed to marvel at the spectacular scenery.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
2. The Welsh Are A Nation Of Singers
The list of world-class Welsh voices covers a vast range of music genres – featuring international stars Dame Shirley Bassey and Sir Tom Jones, classical singers Aled Jones and Kathleen Jenkins, pop divas Charlotte Church and Duffy, and indie bands the Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals and the Stereophonics. Welsh male voice choirs hold a special place in Welsh popular culture, and are emblematic of the mining communities of the South Wales Valleys. With this legacy it’s easy to understand this particular misperception.
3. The Welsh All Wear The National Costume
Welsh school children and some community groups dress up to celebrate St David’s Day on March 1st, the feast of the patron saint of Wales. Otherwise you won’t see the tall hat, shawl, apron and petticoats unless in a museum. This costume is not in fact Welsh at all. Historically it was worn by countrywomen in England and Wales. In the late 19th century a determined Welsh woman, Augusta Hall – Lady Llanover – popularised it as the Welsh National costume. She was committed to preserving the native wool industry and promoting Welsh culture in the developing tourist business.
4. The Welsh Are All Obsessed With Rugby
The Welsh national sport was originally introduced from England in the mid 1850s. The Welsh Rugby Union formed in 1881. The national side has a fierce reputation and have never failed to qualify for the Rugby World Cup. Many Welsh people have a deep sense of pride in their team. However, not everyone pours into the Millenium Stadium to watch them play. Many watch the match on TV or simply prefer another sport.
5. Wales Is The Same As ‘The Valleys’
Wales’ most iconic region, ‘the Valleys’, is comprised of more than 20 valleys cutting through hills and moorland in the outh-east. The region had a significant role in the iron, coal and steel industries, but now all these have declined. Levels of unemployment in the Valleys are amongst the highest in the UK. The region covers only one eighth of the area of Wales. Alongside the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, the area accommodates almost three-quarters of the total population. The rest of Wales is largely rural, much of it mountainous and remote.
6. Welsh Place Names Are Unpronounceable.
This is probably best translated as: ‘I don’t know how to say this’. Most Welsh people — whether or not they speak Welsh — can pronounce place names. The most famous place name in Wales has to be: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. This translates as ‘St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave’. Locals, however, refer to it as ‘Llanfair P.G.’
7. Everyone At The Pub Speaks Welsh
Today, just 20% of the native population speak Welsh, mainly in the north and west, as well as the Isle of Anglesey. The national Eisteddfod of Wales is an annual peripatetic festival to celebrate Welsh culture and language.
8. The Welsh Accent
People from Cardiff or Newport speak with a distinctly different accent to their neighbours from Swansea or Neath. The Valleys has a characteristic accent, as do areas further west or north. A related misperception is that Welsh people call each other ‘boyo’. Nowadays you may hear this address occasionally in the Valleys, but it’s a dated stereotype. Wales has a rich tapestry of regional accents.
9. The Welsh Are All Descendants Of Sheep Farmers Or Miners
These are just two of a wealth of possibilities in a nation steeped in agricultural and industrial heritage. Today, young Welsh people are more likely to have parents working in health and social services, education, the finance and business sector, tourism, or the hotel and catering industries. The National Museum of Wales offers compelling insights into the nation’s social and demographic history.
10. Wales Is Full Of Sheep
The population of sheep and lambs in Wales is nine million. This is three times that of the general population. However, unless you are involved in sheep farming or live in the hilly countryside, you may not see a sheep for months.
11. It Rains All The Time In Wales
Of the ten rainiest places in the UK, three are in Wales and seven in Scotland. Rainfall is related to mountainous territory, so it rains a lot in England’s Lake and Peak districts too. Looking on the bright side, annual days of sunshine in Wales and England are similar at 58 and 62 respectively.
12. Wales Has No Decent Cuisine
Five Welsh restaurants made the Observers’ 40 best restaurants in the UK, 2015. The list includes Milgi, a popular vegetarian restaurant in Cardiff with its own backdoor yurt; Y Polyn in west Wales, where you don’t have to dress up to feast on salt marsh lamb, Camarthenshire rib-eye and free home-made bread and butter; and The Hardwick near Abergavenny, owner-chef Stephen Terry’s restaurant bar specialising in locally sourced cuisine.
13. Miscellaneous English Misperceptions Of The Welsh
The Welsh have been joked about in ways that most Welsh and English people now consider racist. ‘Taffy was a thief’ comes from an 18th century English nursery rhyme. Its origins are in Celtic mythology. Taffy– a nickname for a Welsh person –comes from ‘Amaethon,’ God of Agriculture, renowned for poaching wildlife from Arawn, God of the Otherworld. The slang “to welsh” means to renege on a deal. The origins are obscure but thought to be linked to betting on horses. An early reference appeared in the Racing Times in the mid-19th century.
14. Wales Is Part Of England
England and Wales share a border of 160 miles based on the 8th century path Offa’s Dyke. Nobody in all of England lives further than 100 miles from Wales. Today, half a million English people live in Wales, comprising 20% of the total population. This proximity will challenge assumptions and English misperceptions of their neighbours should melt away.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.