Wales is connected with plenty of myths, massive landscapes, lush greenery, and rich history, making it one of the distinctive holiday destinations worldwide. Aside from its Celtic culture, Wales has numerous impressive sights and landmarks, including the medieval castles, enchanting national parks, and beautiful coastlines. To guide you through your trip, here is the top-ten list of the most prominent tourist attractions in Wales.
1. Snowdonia National Park
Without question, your trip to Wales won’t be complete without visiting Snowdonia National Park. In fact, the park is among the top tourist attractions in Wales, welcoming more than 4 million visitors annually. Despite its name, it’s much more than just a park. Yes, Snowdonia encompasses more than 800 miles of stunning green hills and picturesque landscapes. But, the area consists of many villages; each has its own identity, with charming cafes, restaurants, and holiday cottages. Also, tourists get to explore many Neolithic burial cairns and Roman ruins.
So, what exactly can be done in Snowdonia National park? – I’ll tell you! – The park boasts a wide range of activities from hiking and mountain biking to horse riding. It is actually home to about 14 mighty mountains, including Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. There are many ways to explore the place and enjoy the stunning views of the lakes, estuaries, rivers, and villages from a height more than 3,000 feet. You can follow the bike trails or go for a scenic trip on the train. Seeking a little more of an adrenaline activity? – Let’s go hiking, rambling, or better, try out the zipline. Another mountain, Cadair Idris is famous mostly due to its mythology. It’s believed that if you sleep on that mountain, you either wake up as a poet or a madman.
While you are there, you can’t surpass one of the most beautiful destinations in Wales, the Mawddach Estuary. It is the gorgeous site where River Mawddach meets the broad sea. After a long day out, a pub with a roaring fireplace seems like a great idea. Excited yet?!
2. The Historical St. David’s Cathedral
Situated in Pembrokeshire, the St. David Cathedral is one of the famous holiday destinations and the iconic symbol of Wale’s Christian heritage. St. David, the patron Saint of Wales, constructed this cathedral in the 6th century and was also buried there, along with many other bishops. The cathedral was attacked several times by raiders, including the Vikings.
As a result, many bishops were murdered such as Bishop Abraham. His grave was marked using a special stone, “Abraham Stone” that you can view within the Cathedral Exhibition at Porth-y-Twr. Besides, the Cathedral houses many valuable treasures like 800-year-old bishop gold staff, a 1620 edition of the Welsh Bible, and silver chalices, dating back to the 13th century. Aside from being a place of worship or a pilgrimage centre, it is evidence of the stunning religious architecture during the Middle Ages.
3. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Welcome to the only coastal national park in Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast national park, where new adventures are waiting for you. Considered as one of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in Britain, Pembrokeshire Coast is one of the top tourist attractions, welcoming more than 4 million visitors annually. According to the National Geographic magazine, it is the second-best coastline worldwide. Stretching for over 186 miles, the coastline offers an iconic mix of high cliffs, outstanding beaches, and rock pools, jewelled with gorgeous coves.
Enjoy a beautiful walk across the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail, surrounded by nothing but the land, sky, and sea. Moreover, visiting the Coast’s Blue Lagoon is such an amazing experience. Also, if you are a wildlife lover, Welsh Wildlife Centre will be worth the visit. You can take a boat to Ramsey Island, which is a Natural Reserve and home to numerous species of birds. Go for a walk along Whitesands Beach or hop into more exciting activities such as wind or kite surfing. As you wander, you’ll find many ancient villages and unique castles. Pembroke Castle and Laugharne fishing harbour are among the noteworthy highlights of the place. Come on, a whole bunch of landmarks and features are waiting to be explored!
4. The Ancient Town of Conwy
Just a short distance from the forests of Snowdonia, the ancient town of Conwy has a great package for history enthusiasts, showcasing the impressive medieval architecture. The Conwy Castle, with its 21 majestic towers and military fortifications, looks as if it’s part of a movie. The good thing is that you can explore the castle from inside and roam across its chambers, halls, kitchen, and royal chapel. It’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to a different era!
So you know, the Conwy Castle isn’t the only significant landmark of the fortified town. The 14th-century Aberconwy House is a popular tourist attraction and a surviving medieval merchant house. You can also visit Plas Mawr, a magnificent Elizabethan townhouse, dating back to the 16th century. Another idea, what about squeezing yourself in a house of just 10*6 feet? – The Quay House is also a tourist attraction, famous for being the smallest house in Britain. Also, you can’t skip the Bodnant Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in Britain, with its stunning plants, notable trees, and magical waterfall.
5. Brecon Beacons National Park
Another popular holiday destination, Brecon Beacons National Park is the perfect place to enjoy peaceful countryside and have a break from the cities. Get back to nature, lay down on the grass-hills, and just stare at the sky. Magical, isn’t it?
The Brecon Beacons boasts a massive area of river valleys, rolling hills, grassy landscapes, water meadows, and beautiful lakes. Numerous underground caves and gorgeous waterfalls are among the significant wonders of the place. The park is rich in history, including many archaeological remains such as Iron Age forts, Norman castles, and Neolithic cairns. You can go hiking, biking, rambling, or explore the blue lakes, using a canoe, kayak, or a paddleboard. Visitors enjoy the park’s waterfalls, in particular, especially Henrhyd Falls and Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall. Up for an adventure? – You can camp beside Llyn Cwm Llwch Lake and have a nourishing, bonding experience with the lovely nature over there.
6. The Iconic Tresaith Beach
It’s time to get a relaxing break for yourself and what can be a better venue than the award-winning beach of Tresaith?
Borth, Ynyslas, Aberdyfi, and the Dyfi river by Pedrik:Flickr [link]
Tresaith Beach offers a striking combination of sandy beach, high cliffs, and outstanding waterfalls. You won’t be able to resist the mesmerizing views of the waterfalls, falling majestically from the cliffs into the beach. The beach offers many watersports and activities, including swimming, surfing, sailing, or exploring the rockpools. If you’re not in the mood, you can just lie down on the golden sand, refresh by the beach, and soak up the sun. Tempted yet?!
7. Cardiff Bay and Cardiff Castle
Well, you can’t visit Wales without passing by Cardiff Bay, the largest waterfront development in Europe. Enjoy the best views of the bay through a leisure boat trip, especially the waterside attraction, World of Boats. Step back in time through a tour in the Norwegian church and the Pierhead. Cardiff Castle is among the noteworthy landmarks and top tourist attractions in Wales, with its massive landscaped parks, surrounding the castle.
Over the centuries, the castle served as a Norman Keep, a medieval fortress, then a gothic residence. With more than 2,000 years of history, the iconic castle gives a brief explanation of the Welsh culture. As you roam inside or around the castle grounds, you get the feeling that you’re in a fairytale. Go on a tour and explore the castle’s apartments, the interior of the rooms, medieval walls, and fireplace.
The magnificent old chapel and Banqueting Hall are among the impressive highlights of the place. If you have plenty of time after your small adventure, visit the National Museum Cardiff and view the Roman exhibits and amazing jewellery, dating back to the Bronze Age. The good thing is that you can get an informative audio guide from the visitor centre to help you through your tour. Also, the castle organizes medieval-themed escape by holding traditional banquets, with plenty of food, wine, and music. Interested?!
8. The UNESCO Heritage Site Caernarfon Castle
The medieval castle of Caernarfon is considered among the top tourist attractions in Wales and one of the distinguished castles in the entire of Britain. The fortress gives you a glimpse of the impressive architecture, dating back to the 11th and 13th centuries. At first, it was built as a royal palace, and then King Edward I used it as a military stronghold. Although some of the inner buildings disappeared, you can still see the gates, towers, wall, and murder holes. It also showcases the exhibitions, belonging to the Prince of Wales, King Edward’s son. Many legends have been surrounding the castle since its construction. Today, it still stirs everyone’s curiosity and imagination like no other medieval castle.
Caernarfon castle by James Petts:Flickr [link]
9. The Stunning Rhossili beach
What about a sandy vacation at the stunning Rhossili Beach, one of the best beaches in the world?
With its turquoise clear water and spectacular scenery, Rhossili Beach has become one of the popular holiday destinations in Wales. So, what’s all the fuss about? -The beach offers 3 miles of golden sand, many water sports, hotels, restaurants, and bars; the perfect package for a relaxing holiday. You can go surfing, build a castle in the fine sand, and of course, the incomparable views are worth a walk. And, if you’re lucky enough, you may see dolphins and basking seals playing in the surf. Spending a day on Rhossili beach, it’ll be hard walking away from the tranquil environment and perfect weather. Don’t you think?
Rhossili, Wales by Nigel Swales:Flickr [link]
10. The Magnificent Island of Anglesey
At the end of your holiday, a mini-break at the Island of Anglesey will be the perfect reward ever. With an iconic mixture of history and unparalleled beauty, the Isle of Anglesey is one of the top tourist destinations in Wales. The place offers a combination of urban and countryside, with its historic sites, museums, shops, and beautiful beaches. Enjoy a walk along the 125 miles of the Anglesey Coastal path and you get to visit one of Britain’s large collections of ancient sites. Llanddwyn Island is truly one of the picturesque destinations in Wales that you can’t skip. It includes the ruined church, dating back to the 5th century AD. The church was home to Saint Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers. Oh, La-La!
You can also visit the South Stack lighthouse, with its cliffs and the unique landscape of Parys Mountain.
South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey by Stuart Madden:Flickr [link]
The National Trust’s Plas Newydd House & Gardens includes a military museum, an exhibition of Rex Whistler paintings, and an Australian arboretum. Moreover, you get to visit the famous village, with the world’s longest name; Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch. I dare you utter the name! Well, I guess you can’t skip one of the best picnic spots in Britain, Ligwy Beach, can you? – You get to enjoy the amazing sight of crashing water, with dolphins and seals playing in the horizon. Perfect, right?
However you want to spend your vacation in Wales, I can assure you that you’re in safe hands. From breathtaking views and countryside to the Welsh heritage of castles and fortifications, Wales is definitely worth the visit, whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a thrill-seeker. Of course, the obvious difference -you’ll notice- between Wales and any other place in Britain is the old Welsh language.