25 of the best things to do in Wales

harlech castle, wales
Spectacularly sited Harlech Castle seems to grow naturally from the rock on which it is perched. ©VisitBritain/Britain on View

We’ve scoured the length and breadth of Wales to bring you the top 25 things to do, from historic castles to beautiful beaches.

harlech castle, wales
Spectacularly sited Harlech Castle seems to grow naturally from the rock on which it is perched Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

Wales has everything from history and stunning landscapes to great sport and contemporary arts. Here are our suggestions for a great day out.

1 Rest up in Rhossili Bay, Gower

One of the many fines beaches around Gower, in Wales, and the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Rhossili’s timeless beauty never disappoints. It’s the perfect place to while away a sunny, or not so sunny, day.

2 Step into history at St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff

Wales, St Fagans
Kennixton Farmhouse at St Fagans National History Museum. Credit: Ethos Media 2013/St Fagans National History Museum

An open-air museum in Cardiff chronicling the historic lifestyle, culture and architecture of the Welsh people, which is home to more than 40 original buildings from all over Wales. Fascinating, fun and a free way to discover the history of Wales in a day.

3 Dig into the National Botanical Gardens, Carmarthenshire

A visionary project and botanical science showcase built to celebrate the millennium, the garden in the Towy ValleyCarmarthenshire, is both a visitor attraction and a centre for botanical research and conservation, and features the world’s largest single-span glasshouse.

4 Stay at Dylan Thomas’s Birthplace, Swansea

Stop off at the birthplace of Dylan Thomas, Wales’s most famous literary son, where you can dine and stay the night in the poet’s childhood home.

Bodelwyddan Castle and Park, Denbighshire

This historic house has more than 500 years of history and has been restored to the height of its Victorian splendour as a family home to the Baronets of Bodelwyddan. There are nine historic rooms to discover with collections from the V&A Museum and Royal Academy of Arts the National Portrait Gallery, as well as acres of parkland to explore.

6 Hoard books at Hay-on-Wye

Hay on wye, wales, days out, books
Looking over Hay on Wye at the time of its famous literary festival Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

A bibliophile’s paradise, the lovely little market town of Hay-on-Wye lies on the east bank of the River Wye just inside the Brecon Beacons National Park and is home to a wealth of bookshops and an internationally-renowned literary festival.

7 Get poetic at Tintern Abbey, Gwent

This Cistercian abbey is one of the greatest monastic ruins in Wales and only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, founded in 1131. Its bucolic setting near the River Wye inspired Wordsworth’s eponymous poem. That’s some recommendation.

8 Stroll along Mumbles seafront, Swansea

Take a stroll down the famous Mumbles pier, shop in independent boutiques and dine next to the water in this gorgeous seaside town, a favourite haunt of Dylan Thomas.

9 Celebrate at the National Eisteddfod

The premier artistic event in Wales and one of Europe’s largest and oldest cultural festivals, the eisteddfod celebrates Welsh language and culture – both ancient and modern – over a wonderful week, which moves location each year between north and south.

10 Wander along Neath Valley waterfalls

Neath Waterfalls, wales
Sgwd Gwladys waterfall, River Neath, Brecon Beacons National Park. Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

Waterfall Country, a sequence of mystical waterfalls that are particularly striking in the Neath Valley is a hidden treasure with breathtaking richness and diversity within such a small area.

11 Scale Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park

Yr Wyddfa, or Snowdon, is the highest mountain in Wales and England. A walk up it offers spectacular views over the staggeringly beautiful Snowdonia National Park and out to sea. There are six different paths to conquer this 1,085m giant and, mercifully, a train to the summit, too.

12 Visit the Lovespoon Gallery, Swansea

Pick a charming and traditional Welsh lovespoon for your beloved and remember: each carving has a different meaning.

13 Take in Cardigan Bay, Pembrokeshire

The largest bay in Wales on the Irish Sea, Cardiff Bay has golden sands, award-winning beaches, cliffs, coves and caves, tiny ports and harbours and a rollicking seafaring history to discover. All that is topped off with amazing marine life, with dolphins regularly spotted.

14 Beautiful Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

One of Pembrokeshire’s best-kept secrets this crescent-shaped golden beach of deep, soft sand, is reached after an invigorating half-hour romp across the clifftops. Named one of the top 12 beaches in the world and the best place in the UK to picnic, it’s more than worth the effort.

15. Go underground at Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon

Blaenavon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the part the area played as the world’s major producer of iron and coal in the 19th century and Big Pit – a working coal mine from 1860 to 1980 – offers real, underground coal-mining experience with tours by former miners and a warm Welsh welcome.

16. Discover the Glamorgan Heritage Coast

Less well known than some of Wales’s other coastlines, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast is 14 miles of unspoilt coastline and breathtaking scenery. Don’t miss the spectacular sand dunes at Merthyr Mawr and the stunning cliffs at Southerndown.

17. Perfect Portmeirion, Gwynedd

The village of Portmeirion was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village but right in the heart of Snowdonia on the Gwynedd coast. With stunning views, glorious gardens and amazing architecture, Portmeirion is a sight to behold.

18. Historic Harlech Castle, Gwynedd

Spectacularly sited, Harlech sits like a sentinel keeping watch across land and sea. Built by King Edward I in the late 13th century, it was one of the most formidable of his ‘iron ring’ of fortresses designed to contain the Welsh and is one of the most important historical sites in Wales.

19. Take in Menai Bridge, Gwynedd

Menai Bridge is a small town and community on the Isle of Anglesey in north Wales. It overlooks the Menai Strait and lies by the Menai Suspension Bridge, built in 1826 by Thomas Telford.

20. Check out St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire

Built on the site of St Davids 6th-century monastery, St Davids Cathedral has been a site of pilgrimage and worship for many hundreds of years. St Davids is a beautiful and unique city surrounded by some of the finest coastline in Europe, and the UK’s smallest city.

21. Explore Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey

Beaumaris Castle, located in the town of the same name on Anglesey was built as part of Edward I’s campaign to conquer the north of Wales after 1282. Technically perfect and constructed according to an ingenious walls within walls plan, Beaumaris Castle was high-tech in the 13th century and regarded by many as the finest of all the great castles in Wales.

22. Conquer Cardiff Castle

There’s so much to do in Cardiff that it’s easy to pass by the city-centre castle walls without giving it too much thought, but inside houses a double dose of history with a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion. The grand mansion was lavishly remodelled by William Burges during the 19th century and is considered one of the finest examples of his work.

23. Walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path twists and turns its way for 186 miles along one of the most beautiful coastlines in Britain. It covers almost every kind of maritime landscape, from rugged clifftops and sheltered coves to wide-open beaches and winding estuaries. World-famous, and rightly so.

24. Scale the Brecon Beacons

Wales, Brecon Beacons
Cribyn and the landscape of the Brecon Beacons. Credit: VisitBritain/Joe Cornish

One of four ranges of mountains and hills in South Wales that make up the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Beacons is home to southern Britain’s highest point, Pen y Fan. At 886 meters, the summit provides stunning views of the Black Mountains to the east, the Bristol Channel to the south and the most spectacular red sandstone ridgelines. Already unmissable for walkers and other outdoor pursuits enthusiasts, the region is also perfect for stargazing and is home to the only Dark Sky reserve in Wales.

25. Discover Roman Wales at the National Roman Museum, Caerleon

A village on the River Usk, Caerleon is a site of archaeological importance, being the site of a notable Roman legionary fortress, Isca Augusta, and an Iron Age hill fort. The excellent Wales National Roman Legion Museum and Roman Baths Museum are in Caerleon close to the Isca Augusta remains.

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