The Top 15 Destinations in Wales

Green field with a mountain in the background, Snowdonia in Wales

Alan Novelli / Getty Images

Wales is a beautiful country that's often overlooked by visitors to the U.K. in favor it more popular neighbors. But Wales has a lot to offer, from white sand beaches to tall mountain peaks to vast wilderness areas, as well as colorful cities and charming small towns. Here are some of the best destinations in Wales, from Cardiff to Snowdonia National Park.

01 of 15

Cardiff

Cardiff Castle on top of a small green hill on a cloudy day

Peter Barritt / Getty Images

Address
Cardiff, UK

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is a vibrant city with a lot to see and do like the historic Cardiff Castle, the vast National Museum Cardiff, and several beautiful parks. Dyffryn Gardens, a 55-acre collection of botanical gardens located outside the center of town, is a must-do, especially in the spring and summer. Cardiff is also known for its nightlife and restaurants, and there's plenty of shopping for those who prefer to skip the sight-seeing. The city is a good starting point for any trip to Wales, so allot a few days to explore its neighborhoods and to book a boat trip to nearby Flat Holm Island.

02 of 15

Snowdonia National Park

Llyn Idwal lake and Pen yr Ole Wen mountain in Snowdonia

James Osmond / Getty Images

Address
LL48 6LF, UK
Phone +44 1766 770274

The glacial peaks and sloping valleys of Snowdonia National Park are one of Wales' most iconic sights. The park, located in the northwest of the country, is home to Mount Snowdon, which attracts hikers throughout the year. Visitors can also summit the mountain via the historic Snowdon Mountain Railway (and hope to catch a glimpse of Ireland from the top). The park is popular for camping, fishing, cycling, and hiking, but there are also numerous small villages and historic sites, like Cymer Abbey, to explore. Snowdonia is huge and best accessed by car, so it can take at least a few days to see the area, especially if you plan to camp.

03 of 15

Brecon Beacons National Park

Cliff and hills of Brecon Beacons national park in wales

Michael Roberts / Getty Images 

Address
Libanus, Brecon LD3 8ER, UK
Phone +44 1874 624437

Brecon Beacons National Park is Wales' other famous national park, this one located in the center of Wales, just north of Cardiff. The park draws nature lovers year-round, particularly those interested in walking and cycling through the scenic mountains and wide-open countryside. It's popular with families and kids won't run out of activities, from horseback riding to boating to caving. Many visitors pitch a tent or book a glamping site, but you can also find many charming cottages for rent throughout the area's villages.

04 of 15

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle and grounds seen from above

James Petts / Flickr / CC-by-SA 2.0

Address
Castle Ditch, Caernarfon LL55 2AY, UK
Phone +44 1286 677617

Located in Caernarfon on the River Seiont, Caernarfon Castle is an impressive medieval fortress that dates back to the 11th century. It was built by Edward I over the course of 47 years and still stands tall more than 700 years later. Today, visitors can explore the rooms and grounds throughout the year (with opening hours varying by season). The Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum is also part of the castle and is included with admission. Don't miss the Caernarfon Town Walls and the Segontium Roman Fort located nearby.

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05 of 15

Conwy

boats in a harbor below Conwy Castle in North Wales

Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Address
Conwy, UK

Conwy's most iconic attraction is its 13th-century castle, but the northern town has many attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. The town is also home to the Smallest House In Great Britain, Aberconwy House, and Plas Mawr—a restored Elizabethan townhouse that offers daily tours. Conwy has a scenic harbor, inviting travelers to walk along the water or seek out waterside restaurants, and there are plenty of small hotels and B&Bs for a longer stay. Numerous beaches are located a short drive away, too—look for Colwyn Bay Beach or North Shore Beach.

06 of 15

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Colorful houses and boats in a harbor below in Tenby, Wales

Tim Graham / Getty Images

Address
United Kingdom
Phone +44 1646 624800

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has some of the most amazing coastline in the U.K., stretching around the southwest area of Wales. The coast is dotted with colorful towns, like the harbor village of Tenby, and there are amazing stretches of wild open space to explore (the park features more than 600 miles of trails). Rent a car and journey along the coast, stopping in various towns along the way. Don't miss the offshore islands, including Skomer Island, home to a colony of puffins, which can be accessed by boat tour. The coast, of course, also has some of the best beaches in Wales, from Marloes Sands to Saundersfoot Bay.

07 of 15

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

aqueduct over a body of water with trees on the banks

 Getty Images

Address
Station Road, Trevor, Llangollen LL20 7TY, UK
Phone +44 1978 292015

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, built by Thomas Telford and Williams Jessop during the industrial revolution, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that entices visitors interested in history or simply in its scenic surroundings. You can walk or boat across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, both of which take around 45 minutes, or you can book a more leisurely boat tour from Llangollen, which takes several hours. While in the area, stop by Chirk Castle and Valle Crucis Abbey, the remains of a 13th-century Cistercian monastery.

08 of 15

Anglesey

Llanddwyn Lighthouse on Anglesey

Osian Rees/Getty Images

 

Address
Anglesey, United Kingdom

Venture northwest to the Isle of Anglesey, an area of Wales known for its picturesque beaches and historic sites, which include Beaumaris Castle and the surrounding medieval town. The scenic island can be accessed by car via a suspension bridge and it's a good pairing with a visit to Snowdonia National Park. Look for amazing hikes, including the 130-mile-long Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, as well as great cycling and golf courses with unparalleled views.

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09 of 15

Llantrisant

sign post in a small welsh town center

 Courtesy of Rhondda Cynon Taf Tourism

Address
Llantrisant, Pontyclun CF72, UK

To experience a quintessential Welsh town, head to Llantrisant, located on the River Ely. The town showcases the Royal Mint Museum, the remains of Llantrisant Castle, and the Welsh Mining Experience—a heritage museum that exhibits the country's history with coal mining. The surrounding area is quite beautiful, with lots of nature spots to discover. Look for Brynna Woods, which is perfect for a country stroll, and Garth Hill, a small peak that attracts a lot of hikers. Llantrisant is an easy day out from Cardiff via car or public transportation, but visitors can also stay for a few days to see life outside the big city.

10 of 15

Bodnant Garden

canopy of trees with the foliage covering a walking trail

Sharon Jones-Williams / Getty Images 

Address
Bodnant Road, Tal-y-cafn, Colwyn Bay LL28 5RE, UK
Phone +44 1492 650460

Part of the National Trust, Bodnant Garden is a massive botanical garden that can be found in the Conwy Valley. It was established in 1874 and is filled with plants collected by famous explorers like Ernest Wilson, George Forrest, and Harold Comber. With plants and flowers suited for all seasons. It's open year-round, but you should plan your visit based on which plants you want to see in bloom (including the famed laburnum arch). You can access the gardens by car, or opt to take a train to Llandudno Junction before hopping a bus to the front gates. Book a timed ticket in advance online to help skip the lines.

11 of 15

Portmeirion

The village of Portmeirion in Wales

Mieneke Andeweg-van Rijn/Getty Images

Address
Portmeirion, Penrhyndeudraeth LL48, UK

It may seem strange to find an Italian-style village on the north coast of Wales, but Portmeirion is a charming tourist destination that's great for a day trip or a long weekend. The village, created by Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976, is open daily, with several shops and restaurants, as well as two hotels and a few holiday cottages. There are free guided walking tours and land train tours of the surrounding Gwyllt woodlands offered during the high season, and the sub-tropical gardens alone are worth the price of admission to the village. Portmeirion is best accessed by car, but travelers can also take a train all the way from London.

12 of 15

Barry Island

Field with a path going through it next to a beach

Andrew Jones / EyeEm / Getty Images

Address
Barry Island, Barry CF62 5AJ, UK

"Gavin and Stacey" fans will be familiar with Barry Island, a seaside resort community known for its beach and the Barry Island Pleasure Park. It's best seen in the summer when the beach is lively and the amusement rides are open. It has a vintage feel and the Barry Tourist Railway takes visitors on a 40-minute ride around the island. If you're a TV fan, look for one of the "Gavin and Stacey" location tours, which showcase the show's various sets.

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13 of 15

Mumbles

aerial view of a pier in wales
Graham Bell / Getty Images
Address
The Mumbles, UK

Venture out to the edge of Swansea Bay to find Mumbles, a beachfront area known for its connection to Dylan Thomas. There you'll find a Victorian Pier, numerous shops and restaurants, and the historic Oystermouth Castle, which is worth a visit just for the views. There are numerous beaches to explore, including the family-friendly Llangennith Beach and the wilder Three Cliffs Bay Beach. Mumbles can be a day trip from Swansea, but there are also several adorable waterfront B&Bs for those who want to stay a few days.

14 of 15

Wye Valley

The riverside village of Llandogo in Rye Valley, Wales

 Michael Roberts / Getty Images

Address
Monmouth, UK
Phone +44 1600 713977

Wye Valley, found along the eastern edge of Wales near the border of England is a proclaimed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an ideal stop for those who love the great outdoors. The expansive area, which surrounds the River Wye, is known for its walking trails, which range from long-distance treks to short strolls, as well as its canoeing and boating. Don't miss the ruins of Tintern Abbey, Monmouth Castle and Military Museum, and the many small towns that dot the valley.

15 of 15

Devil's Bridge Falls

Stairs leading past a small waterfall

R A Kearton / Getty Images

Address
Woodlands, Pontarfynach, Aberystwyth SY23 3JW, UK
Phone +44 1970 890233

Found in Ceredigion and located not far from Aberystwyth, Devil's Bridge Falls is one of Wales' most famous natural attractions. Three bridges overlook a series of cascading waterfalls, which have inspired writers like William Wordsworth for centuries. Most visitors opt to stroll along the nature trail to see the falls, which takes about 45 minutes and requires a ticket to enter. It's best for active travelers, although families with kids won't have any trouble. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring rain gear.

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The Top 15 Destinations in Wales