The 12 Best Things to See and Do in Wales

Atlantic Puffin on Skomer. Image courtesy of Visit Wales
Atlantic Puffin on Skomer. Image courtesy of Visit Wales
Photo of Poppy Jacob
27 June 2017

Wales is a beautiful, green and scenic land with a wealth of celtic culture and stunning natural attractions. If you’re thinking of going, here is our top selection of the best things to see and do across the country.

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, in which it was called a “visual overdose of beauty”. It’s a small curved beach, surrounded by rolling green hills, pine trees and sand dunes. With a 10-15 minute walk to get to it from the nearest carpark, 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. Credit- David Evans

National Botanic Garden of Wales

This multi-award-winning 560-acre botanical garden contains 8,000 different plant varieties and can be found in Wales’ beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside. 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.

National Botanic Garden of Wales. Image courtesy of Visit Wales

Sosban & the Old Butchers, Anglesey

Going to Anglesey is a treat in itself, made all the better with a trip to this fine-dining, michelin starred restaurant. Anglesey is a beautiful island off the north east coast of Wales. It’s whole rural coast is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it’s even the location of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s former love nest, where they lived at the beginning of their marriage. As for the restaurant, it’s a small affair with no menu and is only open for three days a week. Using local, fresh ingredients it’s a great way to discover Welsh cuisine: the food has received exceptionally rave reviews.

Cwm Idwal walk, Snowdonia

Wales is a walkers paradise thanks to its temperate climate, the wealth of information available on various walks and the stunning landscapes to be explored. 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”; a lake which the walk encircles. 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.

Cwm Idwal. Image 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 Camarthenshire 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 | © David Evans/Flickr

St Fagans National Museum of Welsh History

This large, open-air museum is the perfect way to spend a day while getting a sense of Wales’ past. From the traditional farm full of animals to the village of old fashioned shops, the collection of original buildings and houses from different periods, the gorgeous grounds of the 16th century manor house and the craftsmens’ workshops, there’s so much to explore and learn.

St Fagans, Cardiff. Credit: Mick Lobb

Zip World

For thrill seekers, zip lining is an unforgettable experience and 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 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.

Zip World. Image: Blazing Minds/Flickr

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.

Welsh skies. Image 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 which is 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.

Atlantic Puffin on Skomer. Image courtesy of Visit Wales

Watch a match at the Millennium Stadium

Cardiff’s Millennium 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.

Millennium Stadium. Image: 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.

Go to Oakwood

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

Megafobia, Oakwood. Image: WillMcC/Wikimedia

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