Wales is a beautiful country boasting lush greenery, dramatic landscapes and no shortage of castles. With plenty to explore, from the extraordinary Dan-yr-Ogof caves to the magnificent Conwy Castle, Wales has something for everyone. Culture Trip has rounded up the top 25 attractions to visit the next time you travel to Cymru.
The Big Pit National Coal Museum, often referred to as the Big Pit, is a museum showcasing Wales’ industrial past, set in Blaenavon, Torfaen, South Wales. It was a working coal mine until the 80s, before being opened to the public as a tourist attraction. Feel the claustrophobia of coal mining as you go deeper underground.
The Fairbourne Railway is a traditional, volunteer-run gauge railway that runs for 2mi (3.2 km) from the village of Fairbourne to the end of a peninsula at the Barmouth Ferry railway station. This is a must-see, especially if you have little ones who love Thomas the Tank Engine. Adult tickets cost £10.50 return, but children under 12 can travel for just a pound.
This medieval castle in beautiful Snowdonia was a powerful fortress in its time. It is situated beside the Conwy Estuary and dates all the way back to 1283. Visitors to the castle will find the most complete set of historical residential rooms inhabited by the medieval monarchy anywhere in England or Wales, connected by spiral staircases and large chambers. Look out for the weekend schedule for the castle’s regular educational events for the kids.
Pontcysyllte’s magnificent aqueduct is built on pillars high above the River Dee and is one of Wales’ few Unesco World Heritage sites. If you’re looking for a unique experience, try one of the horse-drawn boat trips that take you along the canal wharf in Llangollen.
Perfect to visit, walk around or bike along, the Mawddach Estuary is a gorgeous, broad and sandy estuary in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales. It is where the River Mawddach meets the sea, and it used to be the site of gold panning and ship building. Explore it via the Mawddach Trail, managed by the Snowdonia National Park Authority.
The famous Welsh writer wrote many of his most important works in this picture-perfect boathouse, where he lived with his family. It is found in Laugharne, Wales, and has views of the Taf estuary and the Gower Peninsula.
This network of Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades in the centre of the capital, retaining many original features, is a throwback to the city’s past. It is full of interesting independent businesses, from fancy dress shops and food vendors like Madame Forage to the world-famous record shop Spillers Records.
Cadair Idris Mountain is one of the top destinations in the Snowdonia National Park. Its name is said to come from local Welsh mythology and means “Idris’ Chair”, Idris being a giant in Welsh mythology. Nowadays, though, it offers its visitors an unparalleled view of the surrounding area. Be sure to leave before dark, as legend has it that if you sleep on the mountain, you’ll wake up a madman or a poet.
Anglesey Sea Zoo, on the pretty island of Anglesey, is an aquarium that focuses purely on British marine wildlife. You’ll get to see the stars of the British coast and seas, such as octopuses, lobsters, seahorses, conger eels and catsharks. Even better, this is a zoo with a mission: to educate visitors on marine habitats, research and conservation work vital to preserving British sea life.
Admire the huge variety of plant species spread across 568 acres (230ha) of parkland in beautiful Carmarthenshire. With its huge pod-like domes creating the right climate for exotic specimens, the site is spectacular to behold. There are also several nature trails dotted around the gardens to ensure you really get the most out of your visit.
Tenby is a quaint seaside town and harbour in Pembrokeshire. Great for a summer’s day out, this place has a good old-fashioned Welsh holiday feel. There’s plenty to do too, including hiring a boat to go fishing, getting an ice cream or fish and chips, visiting Caldey Island or going on a coastal walk.
This little steam train takes you through the natural beauty of Brecon Beacons National Park: across valleys, past woods, and along the Taf Fechan Reservoir and gorge, before travelling upwards to Torpantau. The journey takes an hour and 40 minutes from start to finish, with a 35-minute stop-off that’s perfect for grabbing a bite to eat.
Developed over 50 years by the eccentric architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is a picturesque, if slightly surreal, village in North Wales. After buying the land that would later become the village in 1925, Williams-Ellis wanted to show the world how to develop an area without ruining its natural beauty. Taking inspiration from Mediterranean architecture, Portmeirion is an amazing place to visit. Now one of the top tourist attractions in Wales, it is still known by many people as the setting for the wildly popular 1960s TV show The Prisoner.
With much of its coastline declared an area of outstanding natural beauty and its mainland comprising several picturesque villages, the island of Anglesey offers no shortage of reasons for a visit. Lying just slightly off the west coast of Wales, the island is home to an abundance of scenic views and mesmerising landscapes and is perfect for hikers and cyclists or those just looking for a quiet place to relax.
Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham