"Lovely the woods, waters, meadows, combes, vales... All the air things wear that build this world of Wales"
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Rolling hills scattered with nimble sheep and sturdy wild ponies, green valleys punctuated by historic villages and ancient abbeys, a meandering coastline sprinkled with hidden coves and vast sandy beaches... Wales is a wild and wonderful place. The language is like the music it's so famed for, and the people are proud of their heritage and love welcoming visitors to their nation. Scale a mountain in Snowdonia, kayak the rivers that wind alongside the the ancient ruins of priories in the wooded valleys or walk the incredible coastal paths. For such a small country, Wales has a huge amount to offer.
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Best things to do in Wales
Wales is a nation that is small but mighty, and bursting with wonderful experiences. Here are some of the best things to do on a visit to this fascinating nation, but for true insider information don't forget to speak to our expert local partners.
From crumbling medieval forts to castles built by kings, Wales has some of the most magnificent examples of ancient architecture in Britain. For impressive military might, admire the formidable Caernarfon Castle which looms imposingly over the town harbour, or stalk the battlements of Conway Castle. Both were built by Edward I in the early 13th Century and are as magnificent as they are ancient. For beauty and splendor visit Powis Castle with its plush interiors and tiers of stunning French and Italian style gardens. And that's to name just a few out of dozens of castles worth visiting within Wales' borders.
Lace on your walking boots
Wales is renowned as an excellent destination for keen walkers, and its varied topography means that you can find walks to suit people of all ages and fitness levels. Family friendly day trips can be found all along the 177 miles of Offa's Dyke, as well as on the well marked trails of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, while more advanced hikes can take you off the well paved paths and deep into the Welsh wilderness if you so choose. Speak to your local expert to find out what hiking will suit you best on your trip to Wales.
Discover why Wales is the home of mountain biking
Crisscrossed by thousands of kilometres of trails, Wales is a fantastic place to set off exploring on a mountain bike, no matter what your age or level. Many of these trails are a fantastic way of getting off the beaten track and seeing a side to the country that only a few discover. From the rolling Brecon Beacons to the foothills of Snowdonia, there's a cycle trail for everyone.
Explore the stunning coastline
Whether you want to stroll the coastal paths and admire the views, birds and wildflowers, or tombstone from the rocks into the Irish Sea, Wales' shore has a huge amount to offer. When you've tired of the coastal wonders, head to the fishing and mining villages tucked away into the coves for some refreshment in a pub, cafe or perhaps an ice cream parlour.
Lesser-known things to do in Wales
There is much more to Wales than just castles, coastline and mountains (though they are pretty spectacular!) Below, we've listed some of the lesser-known attractions to this tiny, wonderful country.
Whether you're a keen birder or not, Wales' birdlife will certainly draw your eye. Red kites soar overland (head to RSPB Cwm Clydach for a good chance of a sighting) and colourful puffins are an iconic sighting at the South Stack RSPB reserve. Goshawks (once locally extinct) can now sometimes be spotted in the beautiful Wye Valley, and the dramatic coastline of the Gower is home to red legged and billed choughs. For more British bird sightings, head to the Ynys-hir reserve where salt marshes and beautiful woodland are home to elegant little egrets, lapwings and pretty yellow-green wood warblers.
Is this Italy...? Or Wales.....?
Well, since you're on a webpage telling you all about Wales, obviously Portmeirion is a Welsh attraction, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that you've stepped through time and space to be deposited in a classic Italian village. Designed and built by Welsh architect, Clough Williams-Ellis between the years of 1925 and 1973 to be the "ideal town", enhancing and beautifying the natural landscape, it really is worth heading to Gwynedd to admire the winding streets, manicured gardens and pretty harbour.
History beyond castles
It is not a secret that Wales is a hotspot for history lovers. But some people struggle to see beyond the castles, and there is a lot more to Wales than its glorious battlements! Head to St Fagans National Museum of History to explore the story of Wales in a whole new way. Over 40 buildings have been brought to life to show the day-to-day environments of people who lived hundreds of years ago, and as you explore, you will spot workshops where traditional craftsmen demonstrate historic skills. Another large part of Wales' history and heritage is mining, and you can get a taste of what this life was like by visiting the Big Pit. Whether you're travelling with children or not, these trips are sure to entertain and inform you!
Go chasing waterfalls
Mountains and west coast weather combine to make some spectacular water features... For sheer height and beauty, head to the Berwyn Mountains to admire Pistyll Rhaeadr (the tallest waterfall in Wales and England). It's not hard to see why it's considered one of the Seven Wonders of Wales! The Nantcol waterfalls are also worth an excursion, surrounded as they are be beautiful Welsh woodland and with an easily accessible walk (great for children). A more challenging walk is the Four Falls Trail in the Brecon Beacons, which takes in the stunning waterfalls of Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira. The loop is just over 7km so perhaps not one for smaller children.
The best time to go to Wales
Arguably, the best time to go to Wales is actually during its shoulder season of March - May. The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and by mid-April the Atlantic puffins have arrived on Skomer Island to nest and lambs are leaping in the fields.
The most popular time to visit Wales is in summer (June - August) where the weather is at its finest and the British schools have their summer holidays. This can mean that parts of Wales are very busy with holidaying families, so it's advised to book ahead.
Autumn can start to be sensed from September onwards, and at its height (October - November) the Welsh forests are ruffled by winds and their foliage is a magnificent gold, camouflaging the rare red squirrels that can still be spotted in some pockets of the countryside. This time of year is cooler, and the weather can be less fair, but this generally means fewer people to contend with and more affordable accommodation.
Winter in Wales (December - February) can be quite wild, wet and snowy, but the Welsh are well prepared for this. Pubs offer shelter after blustery walks, with good ale and rarebit, and most hotels and B&Bs welcome you with roaring fires.
Something worth bearing in mind whatever time you go to Wales, is that its green rolling hills and lush forests are vibrant for a reason. The west coast of Great Britain does tend to have more rain than the east. This means fantastic wildlife and even more beautiful surroundings, but you should pack a light raincoat even in summer. You could be wild swimming in the river one day and going on a showery walk the next - there's no knowing, so it's best to be prepared!
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