Must-Visit Attractions in Wales

Conwy Castle is one of the top things to see in Wales
Conwy Castle is one of the top things to see in Wales | © Image Professionals GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Poppy Jacob
2 September 2021

Wales is a beautiful country with lush greenery, dramatic landscapes and medieval castles galore. With plenty to explore – from the extraordinary Dan-yr-Ogof caves to the magnificent Conwy Castle – “the land of song” has something for everyone. Here are the top attractions to visit the next time you travel to Cymru.

Looking for the whole package? You can now travel with Culture Trip to North Wales for an experience that will leave you feeling in awe of this country, if slightly breathless. Hiking, biking, coasteering and zip-lining are all included in our five-day itinerary, put together by travel experts, and led by a local guide.

St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire

Cathedral
Map View
View of St Davids. Image: Visit Wales
© Visit Wales
This perfectly-preserved cathedral is situated in the picturesque St David’s of Pembrokeshire. It sits in a bowl and can therefore be viewed from above, making it a spectacular sight for visitors. Find it near the little shops and country pubs of St David’s and then head for a walk along the nearby coast.

The Big Pit National Coal Museum

Museum
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The Big Pit National Coal Museum, often referred to as the Big Pit, is a museum showcasing the industrial past of Wales. Set in Blaenavon, south Wales, it was a working coal mine until the 1980s, before being opened to the public as a tourist attraction. Feel the claustrophobia of coal mining as you go deeper underground.

Cardiff Castle

Historical Landmark
Map View
inside the grounds of Cardiff Castle with the Norman Keep Cardiff South Glamorgan Wales UK GB EU Europe
© eye35 / Alamy Stock Photo
This castle right in the centre of the city used to, until recently, feature free-roaming peacocks. Even without them, there’s plenty to see. Go on a tour and learn about the history, enjoy the beautiful and intricate interiors and walk around the lush, green grounds. Locals who want to visit regularly can get a “key pass” for unlimited visits.

Fairbourne Railway

Architectural Landmark
Map View

The Fairbourne Railway is a traditional, volunteer-run gauge railway that runs for 2mi (3km) 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.

Conwy Castle

Historical Landmark
Map View

This medieval castle in beautiful Snowdonia was a powerful fortress in its time. It is situated beside the Conwy Estuary and dates back to 1283. 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 regular educational events for kids.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Architectural Landmark
Map View

The magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is built on pillars high above the River Dee and is one of the few Unesco World Heritage sites in Wales. 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.

Wales Millennium Centre

Theatre
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The Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru/Wales Millennium Centre which opened in 2004, in Cardiff Bay, Wales. Designed by  Jonathan Adams.
© Maurice Savage / Alamy Stock Photo
This building in Cardiff Bay is an impressive feat of engineering, made of Welsh slate and copper. Above it, in English and Welsh, are words by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis – “in these stones horizons sing” – which are illuminated at night. The centre itself is a hive of activity, hosting opera, ballet, comedy and musicals.

Mawddach Estuary

Natural Feature
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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.

Cadair Idris

Natural Feature
Map View

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 an unparalleled view of the 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

Aquarium
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Anglesey Sea Zoo, on the pretty island of Anglesey, is an aquarium that focuses purely on British marine wildlife. You’ll get to see British marine life, 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.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales

Botanical Garden
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Admire the huge variety of plant species spread across 568 acres (230ha) of parkland in beautiful Carmarthenshire. With 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 get the most out of your visit.

National Roman Legion Museum

Museum
Map View
Grass covered remains of the ancient Roman amphitheatre at Caerleon Roman Fortress, Isca, near Newport, Gwent, south Wales
© Graham Prentice / Alamy Stock Photo
The Romans had a big impact on Wales – a history explored at this museum through the remains of an amphitheatre, baths and barracks. Caerleon, where the museum is situated, was a major Roman site, and numerous relics have been found here, including a stone coffin, a wooden tablet inscribed with the oldest writing in Wales, and treasure including coins and gems.

Brecon Mountain Railway

Architectural Landmark
Map View

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.

Portmeirion

Architectural Landmark
Map View

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.

Dan-yr-Ogof caves

Natural Feature, Historical Landmark
Map View
Dan Yr Ogof. The National Showcaves Centre for Wales
© Michael Olivers / Alamy Stock Photo
In the Brecon Beacons National Park, the National Showcaves Centre for Wales, or Dan-yr-Ogof as it’s more commonly known, is an extraordinary place to explore. Comprising more than 10mi (16km) of subterranean cave networks, the site features a number of well-known markers, including the Rasher of Bacon, the Alabaster Pillar and the Angel. There are even a few prehistoric residents around, to keep some of the younger visitors on their toes.

Anglesey

Architectural Landmark, Natural Feature
Map View

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 to visit. Lying 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.

Gladstone's Library

Library
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Built in 1889 to house the personal book collection of William Gladstone, Gladstone’s Library has become a must-visit for any self-proclaimed bookworms. Set in a beautiful building on beautiful grounds, the library is one of only a few that offers residential stays. As Gladstone was a firm believer in moral and social engagement, Gladstone’s Library offers reasonable rates for anyone looking to stay.

Devil’s Bridge Falls

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Map View
In the centre of the Cambrian Mountains and a short drive from the town of Aberystwyth, the Devil’s Bridge Falls is one of the best-known tourist destinations in the country. Comprising three bridges, with the earliest dating back nearly a thousand years, the site is an eerily beautiful location. There is a resident nature trail that will take you across the bridges as well as to some of the park’s spectacular waterfalls.

Principality Stadium

Stadium
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Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales
© Julio Carmelo Fuentes / Alamy Stock Photo
There’s nothing quite like Principality Stadium on game day, from the hustle and bustle of the food vendors to the roar of the crowd and the electricity of the match before you. With rugby being the national sport, it’s no surprise this stadium fills its 75,000 capacity when the national team takes the pitch. If you’re looking to learn a bit more about the history of the sport in Wales, the stadium also offers guided tours for a more detailed look behind the scenes.

Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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