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The Best Things to See and Do in Wales

Wales is a land of castles, make sure to stop by an ancient fort during your time here
Wales is a land of castles, make sure to stop by an ancient fort during your time here | © funkyfood London - Paul Williams / Alamy
Photo of Poppy Jacob
2 September 2021
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Wales is a green and scenic land with a wealth of Celtic culture and stunning natural attractions to visit. If you’re thinking of going, here’s our selection of the best things to see and do across the country.

Looking for a real adventure? You can now travel with Culture Trip to North Wales on a thrilling five-day tour. Led by a local insider, you’ll ramble through Snowdonia, go coasteering on the Anglesey coast, zip-line through dark caves, and much more in just five days.

Barafundle bay, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

You may be more likely to associate the Maldives with amazing beaches than Wales, but in fact this small country has a great many to rave about. Such as Barafundle Bay, which has been named one of the best in the whole world by Passport Magazine. It’s a small curved beach, surrounded by rolling green hills, pine trees and dunes. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from the nearest car park, so you’ll have a scenic route before you arrive, and the beach itself is sandy and pristine, with clear blue waters. A must-see.

Barafundle Bay was named one of the best beaches in the world | © David Evans

National Botanic Garden of Wales

This award-winning, 560-acre (227ha) botanical garden in the beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside contains 8,000 plant varieties. It can be seen a long way off due to the huge pod-like glass structures creating the right conditions for the exotic specimens. As well as conserving different plant species, the aim of the garden is to educate while providing a beautiful and interesting experience. There are themed gardens to explore and tons of activity days throughout the year.

There are 8,000 plant varieties at National Botanic Garden of Wales | © Alistair Scott / Alamy

Sosban & the Old Butchers, Anglesey

Going to Anglesey, a beautiful island off the northeast coast of Wales, is a treat in itself, made all the better with a trip to this fine-dining, Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s whole rural coast of Anglesey is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge lived at the beginning of their marriage. As for the restaurant, it’s a small affair with no menu and it’s only open three days a week. The dishes are made using local, fresh ingredients, so it’s a great way to discover Welsh cuisine.

Cwm Idwal walk, Snowdonia

Wales is a walker’s paradise thanks to its temperate climate, wealth of information on various walks and the beautiful landscapes to explore. Appearing on the National Trust’s list of legendary walks, Cwm Idwal follows “a bowl-shaped hollow filled with the crystal clear waters of Llyn Idwal”. It’s a stunning way to spend a few hours, with rock formations and the dramatic mountainous scenes of the oldest National Nature Reserve in the country. The route also passes the lake Llyn Ogwen, said to be where King Arthur’s sword lies.

The Cwm Idwal walk takes you past the clear waters of Llyn Idwal | Courtesy of Visit Wales

Dinefwr Castle

In a land full of castles it would be wrong not to visit one and soak up the history. Dinefwr is in a particularly attractive setting in Carmarthenshire with beautiful views of the countryside, as well as a nearby nature reserve. The fortress dates back to the 1100s, when it was associated with the rule of Lord Rhys.

Dinefwr Castle in Carmarthenshire dates back to the 1100s | © Billy Stock / robertharding / Alamy

St Fagans National Museum of Welsh History

This large, open-air museum is the perfect way to spend a day while diving into the history of Wales. See traditional farms full of animals, a village of old fashioned shops, and a collection of original buildings and houses from different periods. Also make sure to explore the gorgeous grounds of the 16th-century manor house and the workshops.

St Fagans National Museum of Welsh History is home to traditional farms | © D. Callcut / Alamy

Zip World

North Wales is one of the best-equipped places to zip line in the world. Enter Zip World, which comprises four different, equally epic options: Zip World Velocity at Bethesda, where you can reach speeds of 100mph (161kph) on a pair of zip lines a mile long; Zip World Titan, a four-person zip line at Llechwedd Slate Caverns; Bounce Below, a huge underground play area; and Zip World Caverns, an underground adventure on zip lines, rope bridges, ferrata and tunnels, both found at Llechwedd Slate Caverns. Take your pick and feel the adrenaline rush.

Reach speeds of up to 100mph (161kph) at Zip World | © Nigel Wilkins / Alamy

Star gazing at Brecon Beacons National Park

Wales is officially one of the best places in the world to see star constellations, planets… even shooting stars if you’re lucky. Several parts of the country have been awarded the rarely-granted Dark Sky status, meaning a place where light pollution is at a minimum and sky displays are exceptional. The Brecon Beacons National Park was the first place in Wales deemed to be an International Dark Sky Reserve and it is brilliantly place to go stargazing. Just pack your telescope, find a beautiful spot and get ready to be enthralled.

The Brecon Beacons National Park has been named an International Dark Sky Reserve | Courtesy of Visit Wales

Go to Skomer Island to see the puffins

The number of reasons to visit this island off the coast of Pembrokeshire is huge considering its small size. Skomer is protected due to its wildlife and scientific value and much of it is designated as an ancient monument. There is a huge population of Manx shearwaters as well as other birds, rabbits, and a species of vole entirely unique to the island. Then there are its archaeological attractions such as standing stones and prehistoric house remains. Despite all this most people go for the Atlantic puffin colony. Go between April and July to see them and marvel at how close you get – they go about their business collecting fish and running across paths to their burrow nests with barely any regard to humans. There is now a hostel on the island too.

Most come to Skomer Island to see the Atlantic puffin colony | © ATHENA PICTURE AGENCY LTD / Alamy

Watch a match at the Principality Stadium

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, home of the Wales national rugby union team, takes pride of place in the town centre, exemplifying the city’s love of sport. Coming to Wales would not be complete without watching a match here – the atmosphere inside the stadium when the crowd are raring to go cannot be beaten.

Check the fixture list for a rugby game at the Principality Stadium | Courtesy of Visit Wales

Go the National Eisteddfod

The National Eisteddfod of Wales, usually held August, is the pinnacle which other smaller eisteddfods lead up to. It is an important Welsh festival of music and poetry, presented in the form of competitions and performances. Despite everything being in Welsh, non-Welsh speakers can still appreciate the sounds, ceremony and sheer Welsh-ness of the festival. The prizes are awarded in colourful, druid-style ceremonies by prominent Welsh figures dressed in robes and the ceremonies include flower dances and trumpet fanfares. For a flavour of traditional Wales, this cannot be missed.

If you like culture, stop at the National Eisteddfod | © Phil Rees / Alamy

Go to Oakwood

If you have children, or even if you don’t, you’ll love this adventure theme park. Set in beautiful Pembrokeshire, it has big name rides such as Hydro, Megafobia or Vertigo (likened to skydiving without the plane) plus many other smaller rides and attractions.

Dare you take on the Hydro at Oakwood Park? | © James Davies / Alamy

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