Things to do in Wales

By Ross Clarke 

Welsh travel writer 

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February 2018

Wales is steeped in culture and history, with ancient ruins, countless castles and fortresses, but also a thriving foodie scene, epic outdoor adventures and pursuits, and some of the most Instagrammable sights in the country, says travel writer and native Welshman, Ross Clarke. Only two hours from both London and Birmingham by car or train, and only 20 minutes from Bristol, it makes the perfect minibreak.

Best for history buffs

There’s no shying away from the fact that Caernarfon Castle is impressive, with no fewer than 12 enormous multi-angled towers. It’s also got its fair share of royal credentials, being the place chosen for the investiture of HRH Prince Charles as The Prince of Wales back in 1969. And Wales should know a thing or two about castles, it has over 640 of them – more per square kilometre than any other European country. 

Holidaying in South Wales? You’ll want to stop by the largest castle in the country, Caerphilly Castle, with its moat and leaning tower – it leans more than Pisa.

Wales should know a thing or two about castles, it has over 640 of them – more per square kilometre than any other European country.

Best for outdoor adventurers

Dedicated as the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Gower Peninsula is ideal if you’re into active pursuits including surfing, hiking and coasteering or if your interests are of the more relaxing variety, then that’s covered too with miles of sandy beaches. For the best photo spot, head to Worm’s Head for breath-taking views of Rhossili Bay. 

Known as the land of mountains and valleys, there is no shortage of impressive hikes to be had either in the Brecon Beacons National Park, or around the famous peak of Mount Snowdon. Looking for thrills? Head to Zip World, where you can ride the fastest zip wire in the world above a disused slate quarry, weave your way through the forest on a Alpine toboggan coaster, or bounce as high as you can through a cavern the size of a cathedral.

  • Get away from it all at The Grove, Narbeth © Phil Boorman.

    Walk this way 

    The Grove is located just a few miles from the Wales Coast Path, the 1,400-kilometre walking path that follows the length of the rugged Welsh coast. 

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  • Explore the imposing towers of Caerphilly Castle © Getty Images.

    Did you know…? 

    Caerphilly Castle hosts a famous festival with music, performance and food, known as the Big Cheese every July. 

    Visit Wales
  • Feast on locally-sourced seafood at one of Tenby’s tempting eateries.

    Catch of the day 

    Indulge Tenby’s quaint seaside charms at The Mooring and their little-known sister café, Loafley, serving cutesy cakes minutes from the town’s famous harbour. 

    Explore Wales 

Best for culture cravers

If you’re looking for a visit that’s a bit more alternative, how about heading down deep underground? Discover Wales’ rich industrial past with a trip down the Big Pit coal mine with a real-life miner as your guide. You’ll learn all about how Wales was once the largest coal exporter in the world, and how the land is rich with slate, minerals and the precious Welsh gold. 

If you’re a bibliophile, you won’t want to miss the market town of Hay-on-Wye. The book lover’s paradise, this tiny little town is the second-hand bookshop capital of the UK if not the world. Stop by the castle gardens to pick up a book or two, just don’t forget to put something in the honestly box in return. It also plays host to the famous annual Hay Festival

If you are a fan of a festival then don’t miss the National Eisteddfod, a celebration of Welsh music, literature, and the arts, which has its roots back in the 12th century – and the largest competitive music and poetry festival in Europe. Taking place every August, it moves from South to North Wales every year with its now infamous pink pavilion.

Best for foodies

Café by day, restaurant by night, The Mooring in picture-postcard Tenby is a great choice, whether you’re after a hearty breakfast, traditional Welsh rarebit for lunch, or line-caught sea bass for dinner. 

If you like locally-sourced food and a good choice of gin, you’ll love The Potted Pig, a modern Welsh restaurant housed in an old bank vault in the heart of the Welsh capital, Cardiff. Try the Welsh lamb rump, crispy lamb belly, harissa bulgar wheat, ratatouille, pesto and cherry tomatoes. 

On the Isle of Anglesey you’ll want to check out The Marram Grass. Yes, this is quite literally a shed of a restaurant, but it serves up food inspired by the surrounding land – and many of the ingredients are grown in the garden. For something a little special, opt for the Cegin tasting menu where you’ll get to taste a range of the eatery’s classic dishes and drinks.

  • Soak up the literary vibes at the Hay Festival © Elisabeth Broekaert.

    Talking books

    The festival’s line-up over the years has included Martin Amis, Hilary Mantel, Ian Rankin, Rob Brydon, Boris Johnson, and Stephen Fry.

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Where to stay

The Hilton is located right on the doorstep on Cardiff’s vibrant city centre, overlooking the historic castle and ornate civic buildings, making it the ideal spot for exploring the capital and further afield. 

The winner of many awards, The Grove Narberth is an elegant country mansion house set in rolling green Pembrokeshire countryside and is the place to get away from it all. Enjoy walks in the manicured gardens, surrounding dramatic landscape or take in the relaxing coastline.  

Cosy up on Wales’s north coast in one of the nine luxurious suites at boutique hotel, Escape – expect quirky design features, stellar views, hearty breakfasts, and all within walking distance to Llandudno centre and seafront.